Mason County’s Future Five.

May 2, 2015

all_access_sponsorship_100114By Rob Alway and Kate Krieger.

Tonight the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce will honor its second class of the Future Five, a group of five individuals, under the age of 40, who are making a difference in Mason County.

This year’s group includes Kaley Petersen, Lisa Cooper, Linda Matson, Dean Raven and Carrie Kosla.

In the spirit of MCP’s ongoing series, The Millennials, we feature each of those five today.

Kaley Petersen: A 2005 graduate of Mason County Central High School, left the area after completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Grand Valley State University. With a major with an educational focus in health services, she got a job working for Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.

“My husband Fritz and I would frequent Ludington on the weekends to visit family and enjoy the parks and water,” she says. “Ludington always felt like home but we never thought the right career opportunities would exist to allow us to return. In 2013 our local hospital became Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. I kept my eyes and ears wide open for career opportunities that might present themselves as the result of the integration. The hospital foundation was in need of a new director; this was an incredible career opportunity.”

In June 2014 Petersen was hired as the director of the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital foundation. She said that she and Fritz had always intended to return to Mason County to be closer to family.

“This is where we envisioned raising our children, the community we grew to love, and where we always felt was home,” she says. “There is something about the lake that you just can’t describe. There is a wonderful energy about this area and you realize how special it is when you away. We are so thankful to be back in Mason County and don’t take family, the lake, the park and our up north live for granted.”

Petersen is also the director of the Miss Ludington Area Scholarship program, which is affiliated with the Miss Michigan and Miss America systems.

“ Our organization is focused on providing opportunities for young women,” she said. “The Miss America System is the leading provider of scholarships for women in the United States and our organization is founded on scholarship and service.”

Lisa Cooper: A 1998 graduate of Ludington High School, Lisa attended West Shore Community College and later received degrees from Grand Valley State University with a major in elementary education. While attending Grand Valley, she worked for Ludington Area Schools as the Michigan School Readiness Preschool Parent Involvement and Education Coordinator.

Lisa is the founding executive director of Oak Tree Academy child development center in Hamlin Township. She and her husband, Paul, live in Victory Township.

“Our life in Mason County is very much about our extended family,” she says. “I am most comfortable in a rural setting with traditional rhythms, and we don’t have to looks outside of Mason County for that!  We are lucky to be supported by relatives, friends, and colleagues who also value our community.  I have a serious case of wanderlust, but couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Creating Oaktree Academy was an accumulation of visions she has had over the years.

“Working as a child care provider, being an active parent, and then consulting, training, and supporting early childhood providers and educators gave me a unique perspective of the needs and gaps in services for families with young children in our county,” she says. “I revisited a vision for a new child care center over the years, playing with ideas and filing them away each time.  As I worked on my master’s degree, I began to develop a more focused vision that centered on solving our need for after school care, additional infant/toddler slots, and ways to utilize additional preschool funding from the state. 

“I was talking with area schools and leaders in the field but not finding the right partner or host for my vision.  Meanwhile, the business leadership behind the Pennies from Heaven Foundation was noting the need for additional child care options in our area.  Pennies from Heaven reached out to community stakeholders seeking a potential partner to take the lead on such a project.”

Lynda Matson: A 1997 graduate of Mason County Central High School, Lynda received her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University, majoring in public relations and advertising. She also holds a master’s degree as well.

Lynda and her husband, Brian, live in Victory Township. She is the director of the West Shore Educational Service District’s Career Technical Education (CTE) and Academy of Science, Math, and Technology (ASM) programs. Staying in the area and supporting youth are two of her passions. 

After college, Lynda got a job in Florida and discovered that she was a small town woman. “I walked into a grocery store, looked around and realized that I was never going to know anyone in that store, no matter how many times I came there,” she says. “Then, it occurred to me that I would spend my holidays boarding a plane if I wanted to see my family. I knew I belonged back home.”

She moved back to Ludington where she got a job at Lake Michigan Carferry Service. She worked her way up to vice president of marketing and customer service before leaving for a job at the West Shore Community College Business Opportunity Center. When the chance to lead the CTE program, located in the same building, arose, she decided to go for the challenge.

“It seems like I have been through a lot of jobs in my life but I feel they have all led up to this point,” she says. “I’m extremely content in this job. It offers a lot of things my personality needs in order to be successful: change and synergy, student involvement and the ability to make a difference. It’s also a really great time to be involved with CTE. The governor has recently changed the Michigan Core Curriculum that recognizes the classes these students have taken.”

Lynda also serves as chair of the Ludington Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, which is symbolic of her pride in the community.

“Our family is pretty close,” Lynda says. “My husband was born and raised here and graduated from Mason County Eastern. We feel extremely fortunate to be able to have our parents here and be part of our children’s lives. This area and the people who live here have been very good to me. I’ve always felt this is home.”

Carrie Kosla. A 2001 graduate of Mason County Central High School, Carrie has had a diverse working career. She spent 10 years traveling and performing with her family’s band. During that time she learned a lot about business and customer service. When it was time to settle down, she chose to return to Mason County to raise her family.

The Ludington resident now works as the fundraising and outreach coordinator for COVE (Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters). With assisting in fundraising for a new facility and advocating for clients all across the community, Carrie is so proud of the staff at COVE and to be a part of the family that has developed there.

“I’m proud of what I have done there in the last year,” she says. “They needed someone like me to come in and everyday I was there made me realize how insane the issues are here. I didn’t really know. I took a leap of faith and non-profit is where I want to be. Everything I’ve done has been a part in who I am now. I’ve always said if I’ve made someone say ‘wow, if she can do one of those things, so can I.’”

Carrie also serves on the Miss Ludington Area Scholarship board, the Downtown Ludington board and is a founder of Lakeside Civic Players. She is also involved with the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital Foundation.

Dean Raven. A graduate of Mason County Central High School, Dean went on to earn a degree from Albion College.

“After college, my wife Andrea and I explored job opportunities across the state,” he says. “Mason County was a place that was at the top on my list due to the many childhood and high school memories I had made here growing up.   We were fortunate that  Andrea was hired into Ludington Area Schools and that made our decision easy.  Shortly thereafter I was hired at Smith & Eddy Insurance.  After our first year here we felt Ludington was a place we wanted to call home. The generous people, welcoming community, and job experiences allowed us to feel this way. As our first daughter was born in December we look forward to spending time with family, participating in community functions, and enjoying outdoor recreational activities in Ludington.”

Dean is the third generation of Ravens to serve the community. His grandfather, Dean, was an extension officer for Michigan State University while his father, Mark, was a probate court judge.

“My vision is to be a trustworthy, responsible, and committed husband, father and community leader,” he says. “I am willing to put forth my best effort to make our community a better place to live and this nomination has given me a clearer picture of what I want to  accomplish.  I am willing and open to listen to different opinions and perspectives and  implement ideas to the best of my ability.  I want to do whatever it takes to leave our community in better shape than when we inherited it.”

Dean is involved with the annual Community Auction in Scottville, the Ludington Petunia Parade and the Ludington Optimist Club.

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