During AmeriCorps Week, we put a special emphasis on thanking and celebrating our currently serving AmeriCorps members. At the same time, MCAN is taking the opportunity to recognize outstanding AmeriCorps alums who are continuing to serve their communities every day. As a program, AmeriCorps has been around since 1994, and VISTA has been engaging members in service since 1965. To date, there are well over one million AmeriCorps alums!

AmeriCorps alums go on to work in nonprofits, schools, colleges, all levels of government, foundations, and businesses around the country. They are, in general, more civically engaged than the general public and more likely to vote. In other words, AmeriCorps alums live out the words they recited as part of their AmeriCorps pledge:

I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.

At MCAN, we have eight AmeriCorps alums on staff who have leveraged their AmeriCorps service to launch their own professional careers and continue to take positive action for Michiganders.

Get to know MCAN’s AmeriCorps alums:

Kiersten Nolan

Current position: Strategy Assistant, High School Innovation
Service details: City Year Denver at John F. Kennedy High School, 2019-2020, and Michigan Community Service Commission VISTA at MCAN, 2020-2021

My favorite memories my time with AmeriCorps are the moments I was able to celebrate the growth of the students I was working with. I specifically remember the time I told one of the students I'd been goal setting with all year that I was choosing them as my City Year "Spotlight." As I watched the shock on their face turn to excitement about being recognized for their hard work, I felt privileged to have witnessed their growth and to give them the celebration they deserved.

City Year gave me an incredible school team that I was able to trust and rely on when times were tough, and I still consider them to be some of my dearest friends. Through AmeriCorps, I also learned to trust myself and my abilities, and I developed a confidence I don't think I could have developed anywhere else.

Ashley McCloud

Current position: Program Supervisor, AdviseMI
Service details: Michigan Nonprofit Association VISTA at University of Michigan-Flint, 2017-2019

Some of my favorite AmeriCorps memories came from the times I was able to interact with other AmeriCorps members. Whether it was through the Flint National Service Accelerator meetings, Member Celebration, service projects, or through training with my program, it was such an amazing feeling to be around people who had the drive to make a difference for communities in need.

When I started as an AmeriCorps member, I had little confidence that I would be able to fulfill the duties at hand. I'd never been in a position where I had autonomy in my work, so naturally I thought I wasn't the right person for the position — so much so that I almost withdrew from the program before I ever started! With a bit of encouragement from my site supervisor, I decided to stay, and although there were challenges along the way, my confidence grew and I began to do things I never thought I'd be doing. I learned to look at challenges as a way to develop personally and professionally, rather than as something that is holding me back.

Jayme Green

Current position: Program Supervisor, College Completion Corps
Service details: College Completion Corps at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, 2020-2021

There are so many great memories from my AmeriCorps experience and true friendships that were built during my service year. A bittersweet memory would have to be when I was leaving SCTC and the outpouring of love, encouragement, and support I received from the students and staff. Their stories of how I positively impacted their life will always stay with me.

Before I joined College Completion Corps, I had worked in a fitness center for 13 years. I had recently graduated with my master’s degree and knew I wanted a career change, but I wasn’t sure where. Higher education interested me, but I had no experience working in that field. Becoming a coach at SCTC pushed me out of my comfort zone, gave me experience, and ignited a new passion for helping students persist and complete college. Serving for a year expanded my professional network and opened the door to my position with MCAN.

Jamie Dorman

Current position: Program Supervisor, AdviseMI
Service details: AdviseMI at Fennville and Saugatuck High Schools, 2017-2019

My favorite AmeriCorps memory is AdviseMI's end of year celebration, because we celebrated how much we all accomplished for the year, learned how connected we had become from our service, and shared our excitement about where everyone was headed in the future.

I made so many connections with the advisers I serve with, and some of them are still close friends that I talk with on a regular basis. The advisers I served with still help each other professionally by sharing jobs, finding ways to collaborate, and more. My service years also showed me that the career path I was on would not be a good match, so I completely changed my path to focus on higher education and being more involved with college access.

Rachelle Hilliker

Current position: Strategy Manager, Community Mobilization Strategy
Service details: Michigan Nonprofit Association VISTA at Delta College, 2013-2014

I have so many great AmeriCorps memories, but my favorite had to be creating and implementing a multiple-day program following the public achievement curriculum, which focused on how youth can use their voice to make a positive change in the world and to organize around an issue or problem.

AmeriCorps helped me grow professionally by laying the groundwork for my career and teaching me to dream big with program implementation. It also taught me how important relationship-building can be for programming success and stability.

Jenny McArdle

Current position: Director, Service Strategy
Service details: The LEAGUE Michigan VISTA, 2011-2012, and Michigan Nonprofit Association VISTA Leader, 2012-2013

I was fortunate to be able to support dozens of impactful service-learning projects with students and schools all over Jackson County. One that stood out was getting to work with a group of high school students to create videos and messaging for their peers to help combat hunger in their community and raise awareness. These young leaders were passionate and hard-working, and they helped me see the power of young people to create a better world.

My AmeriCorps service shaped by professional journey by allowing me to see and interact with amazing people doing amazing things — nonprofit champions, philanthropic leaders, education administrators, and higher education advocates. I got to see the potential that service had to positively impact individuals and communities. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my career than joining this good fight alongside these inspirational Michiganders.

Katie Wittenauer

Current position: Director, Strategic Engagement
Service details: Teach for America South Louisiana at Opelousas Jr. High School, 2005-2007

Some of my favorite AmeriCorps memories are from the time I spent with the first cohort of Opelousas Jr. High School's drama club. The students gathered together after school several days a week to rehearse. They performed at school assemblies, and we even traveled to Baton Rouge to see a performance of STOMP. I applied for a grant to start the club after hearing from so many students about their interest in a space to be creative and experiment with theatre, and serving as the club coordinator was an honor and an invaluable experience.

AmeriCorps gave me my first opportunity to be a teacher, and I can't overstate how grateful I am for that experience leading to the next 15 years of working with students and educational organizations. It also gave me the chance to learn from my peers at the school and across the TFA South Louisiana network, and to recognize how much I wanted to return to school to learn more about teaching writing and grant writing.

Jordan Baah-Sackey

Current position: Strategy Assistant, Service Strategy
Service details: Michigan Education Corps at Kent Elementary, 2018-2019, and Michigan Nonprofit Association VISTA at MCAN, 2019-2020

I loved seeing my K-3 students grow and develop their confidence over the school year. One student was so shy when we started working together, and by the end of the year, she had volunteered to read in front of the whole school.

I was able to have a lot of autonomy in my work, and that allowed me to develop an interest in project management — something I still do and very much enjoy today!