Our Team

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Michelle Kees, PhD
Director
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Dr. Michelle Kees is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. She holds a Without Compensation (WOC) appointment at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA), and an Adjunct Appointment in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kees’ expertise centers on risk and resilience in women and families, including female veterans and military spouses; peer programs supporting veterans on college campuses; and large-scale evaluation and dissemination of evidence-based programs. She is the Principal Investigator for HomeFront Strong, a Department of Defense funded resiliency intervention for military and veteran spouses and their children. Dr. Kees also leads a resiliency program for women veterans, After Her Service, that focuses on the intersection of mental health and professional success. Additionally, she oversees Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE), a national peer mentorship program for student veterans returning to college on the Post 9-11 GI Bill. Dr. Kees received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at SUNY Stony Brook, completed a clinical internship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL, and completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Center on Child Abuse & Neglect at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She has been at the University of Michigan for 17 years, and was a founding member of M-SPAN in 2008.  She is also the spouse of a former National Guard soldier.

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Kali Lake, MSW
Program Manager
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Kali Lake is a Program Manager for Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE), a peer support program for student veterans offered through Military Support Programs and Networks (M-SPAN) at the University of Michigan. Ms. Lake oversees the implementation of the PAVE program, including supporting partner campuses, building partnerships, and managing program grants. She was involved in the initial design and development of PAVE as a Program Coordinator when the program formed in 2012 and rejoined the M-SPAN team in 2020. Ms. Lake completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work at the University of North Dakota. She served in the Army National Guard as a Combat Medic, and in the Air National Guard as a Firefighter and Intelligence Officer. She retired in August 2021 from the Air National Guard with 20 years of service.

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Riva Szostkowski, MFA
Program Coordinator
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Riva Szostkowski is the Program Coordinator for Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE). She is responsible for supporting the partner campus teams in the implementation and delivery of the program. A veteran herself, Ms. Szostkowski served as an aircraft maintainer in the Air Force for 8 years. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in English at the University of Michigan in 2017 and her Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Texas State University in 2020. Since separating from active duty, Ms. Szostkowski has been involved with several national veterans organizations and knows firsthand how instrumental veteran-specific programs are. She believes that everyone can be successful with the right resources and support, and she is interested in connecting veterans with the tools they need to succeed.

Chrysta Meadowbrooke, MA, MSI
Senior Research Specialist
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Chrysta Meadowbrooke is the Senior Research Specialist for M-SPAN, working on research and evaluation for multiple projects, including Peer Advisors for Veteran Education, HomeFront Strong, and After Her Service. She earned her MS in Information at University of Michigan and her MA in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University. Through several years of experience with community-based health and clinical research projects, Ms. Meadowbrooke has developed skills in both qualitative and quantitative research, such as study design and management, data collection through surveys and interviews, and data analysis. Her professional and personal experiences with veterans and military families help strengthen her person-centered approach to research and her commitment to helping people improve their quality of life.

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Alyssa Wealty, MA
Communications and Marketing Manager
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Alyssa Wealty is the Communications and Marketing Manager for PAVE and coordinates the various marketing communications activities for it and all M-SPAN programs. As a native of Military City, USA (San Antonio, Texas), veteran spouse, and former military base employee, Ms. Wealty has a firsthand appreciation of service members, their families, and the sacrifices they make for our country. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from St. Mary’s University and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Marist College and has diverse experience working in marketing communications, particularly for non-profit organizations. She focuses on how to use strategic, targeted communications to increase PAVE’s reach and connection to its partner campuses as well as the student veterans it serves.

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Iris Hadziegric, BA
Research Assistant
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Iris Hadziegric is a Research Assistant for all M-SPAN programs, assisting with implementation and evaluation activities such as data collection, review, and analyses. Additionally, she provides support to the PAVE's communications and program coordination activities. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and continues to pursue a focus on understanding the adverse experiences that individuals face, as well as ways to positively influence the outcomes that may follow. Prior to joining the M-SPAN staff, Ms. Hadziegric volunteered on the child team for HomeFront Strong. Her educational studies, past research experiences, and volunteer work with at-risk individuals and unique populations have all led her to M-SPAN, where she has become interested in working to reduce mental health stigma for service members, veterans, and their families.

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Emma Czajka, BS
Research Assistant
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Emma Czajka is a Research Assistant for all M-SPAN programs, assisting with implementation and evaluation activities such as data collection, review, and analyses. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from the University of Michigan in 2019. Prior to joining the M-SPAN staff, Ms. Czajka volunteered on the child team for HomeFront Strong and assisted with After Her Service research. Her educational pursuits, volunteer work with M-SPAN, and experience as part of a military family have all fostered her desire to help improve the mental health and well-being of service members, veterans, and their families.