Meet the Team! A Look at the Faces Behind GRKIDS

GRKIDS & Co is the Premier Media Source for Life in West Michigan & Beyond

Ever wonder who’s writing those Facebook posts for GRKIDS? It’s not the all-powerful Oz pulling all the bells and whistles.

It’s a real live woman (or two) right here in Grand Rapids. And they’re just one part of the large GRKIDS & Co team that works to bring you the best of West Michigan family life.

What began as a one woman venture by our founder Melody VanderWeide has grown into a full-blown enterprise that serves millions across Michigan.

We love connecting you with the adventures, organizations and companies that mean something in your community.

You trust us to give you honest, helpful information about the next best date night, playground, pediatrician and local coffee shop.

We love sharing our insider intel with you on everything fantastic about Michigan.

Our reach spans our website, Facebook page, Instagram, regular newsletters, and TikTok.

We thought you might like a look at the faces behind GRKIDS & Co.

Each woman brings special skills to the table that ensure a consistent product for you. We are proud to be part of such a great team and are excited to bring you the best local content.

–April Hunt, Senior Editor

Leadership Team

Melody VanderWeide

Creative Director

INFJ. Mom of 3. Idea chaser-People believer-Inspiration seeker. Together we make GR amazing – Let’s go!

Editorial Department

April Hunt

Senior Editor
Editor, GRKIDS

Curious. Daydreamer. Vintage home improver. Modern sewist. True Crime podcast enthusiast.

I love telling stories of the people and places of Grand Rapids and beyond!

Liz Delonis


Liz is native to the Mitten, having grown up in Metro Detroit. As a Kalamazoo transplant, this mom of two is passionate about connecting parents to find their villages. She enjoys working outside, using nerdy technology, and consuming more Twizzlers than necessary.

Robyn Eklund

Editor, Lansing Family Fun

Robyn is a Lansing native and mom to four kids from young elementary up to teenagers. Robyn has pride in her community, enjoys finding new places to explore, and loves to meet new people.

Marketing Team

Kelly Dentler

Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Kelly has a diverse background that has led her many different directions in her life, with her current combination of mom and GRKIDS team member being her favorite. From 911 operator to box salesperson to interior decorating, her life experiences have taught her to “never say never” and always be open to new experiences. She lives in Alto with her husband and two children and loves meeting new people and exploring new places.

Laura Gifford

Guides and Sales Manager

Laura is often found volunteering at her son’s activities, coaching various sports, and helping with school and STEM events. Time to herself, while rare, is spent riding horses, walking the dog, and enjoying meals with friends, She hopes to do some “far away places” vacation planning soon.

Ashley Grace

Sales Support

Ashley is a mom of 5 and a Military wife. She always on the go, when she is not in her car driving kids around town she is a big home DIYer. From remodeling her home to helping her friends. She love to make others happy in their own space.

Katie Russell

Lead Gen Manager

Katie is a mom to 3 wild boys. She loves to travel, go camping and do DIY projects with her husband. She is always in the action with her kids, whether it’s coaching sports or volunteering at their school. At the end of the day, you can find Katie reading a book with a Diet Coke in hand.

Administrative Team

Erin Russell

Office Manager

Erin is a musician who attempts to balance out her right-brained career choice with some left-brained office management and organization here at grkids. During the lulls in her active schedule, Erin enjoys time with her family, cottage time by the lake and trying out new recipes for healthy meals. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two children.

Keri Siemens

Ad Manager 

Keri is a mom of four who enjoys “pizza and movie nights” at home with the family. When she is not managing ads for GRKIDS, chauffeuring children, or trying out a new crockpot recipe, you can probably find her attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee before it gets cold.

Tiffany Kamphuis

Giveaway Manager
Calendar Coordinator

Tiffany is a wife and mom to three active, hungry, growing boys. She thrives on organization, cooking and baking healthy food, as well as time spent with family. She lives in the Lakeshore area and enjoys all that West Michigan has to offer, but loves to travel, explore different areas, and photograph all of their adventures.

Christie Tidd

Graphic Designer 

Christie is a Chicago native, turned Michigander.  She’s a freelance graphic designer, wife to Gary and stay at home mom to 3 pretty great kids!  When she’s not being the social director, she enjoys date nights and Netflix watching with her hubby, crafting and curating the walls in her house, organizing, camping, hanging out at the lake and snow skiing with her family.

Kristine Fluker

Social Media Ads

Copy Writing

Elizabeth Rudd

Head Writer
Guide Specialist

Elizabeth is a former elementary school teacher, now stay-at-home mom, to three young kids. She moved to the Grand Rapids area in 2012 and has enjoyed driving her kids around town to discover what the area has to offer. Elizabeth spends her time taking kids back and forth to preschool, attending mom’s groups, hunting for great deals and spending way too much time on Facebook. She is looking forward to the day when she can get back to reading all the books she’s bought and hasn’t had time to read.

Hannah Austin

Copy Writer

Hannah is a wife to her husband Chris and stay-at-home mom to their two boys. Among her favorite things are singing, pilates, opera, dabbling in knitting and hand embroidery, writing, spending time with her family, waffles, Jesus, and a good cup of tea. She loves Michigan with her whole heart and is proud to call it home!

Helen Williams

Copy Writer
HeyGR Newsletter

Helen moved to Grand Rapids in July 2021 from the UK with her husband and 2 kids. They are excited to explore Michigan as a family, and want to visit as much of the US as they can while they are based here. Helen is also a freelance editor for a number of UK publishers and loves meeting friends for drinks and coffee, long walks, board games with the kids, bingeing TV shows with her husband, being at the beach, and has even taken up pickleball (which she totally thought was a made-up sport!).

Sarah Koss

Hey Michigan Newsletter  

Sarah is a working mom of two boys and a dog, and she’s a multi-tasking ninja between two jobs, two kids (and all their activities), one dog, and a husband (it’s a wonder that she remembers where she’s going half the time).

She and her husband met after graduating from MSU and have been together for almost 15 years. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading, naps, planning vacations, and catching up with family and friends. In the fall, Sarah can be found rooting for her Spartans on any given Saturday. Sarah grew up in the Lansing area and has lived here all her life. Go Green!

Lauren Augustyn

Copy Writer
HeyGR Newsletter

Lauren is passionate about local journalism, politics, and spotting birds at the feeders outside her window. She enjoys exploring West Michigan with her five young kids, fire pit dates with her husband, and reading every chance she gets. After growing up in Boston and living in DC, she’s proud to call GR home and is no longer startled when people are friendly to her in the grocery store.

Caitlin Malski

Newsletter Manager Hey Michigan & Lansing Family Fun

Caitlin is a stay-at-home mom to two young kids. She enjoys dancing in the kitchen, eating breakfast foods, and reading too many books at once. Caitlin is a coffee enthusiast and lover of Lake Michigan. After growing up in the Grand Rapids area, she now lives on a small hobby farm and vineyard in Grand Haven.

Jill Clarin

Guide Specialist 

Jill is a mom to three who loves living in West Michigan and being able to enjoy all the area has to offer. Her other loves include trying out new recipes in the kitchen, visiting local parks and trails with her children, and photographing the everyday moments of her family.

Michelle Smith

Writer, Guide Specialist

Michelle Smith and her husband live in Lowell where they have been homeschooling their children for many years. They are currently educating three, with three graduates. Michelle enjoys classical ballet and live theater, especially musicals, both being in the audience and working backstage.

Jacqui VandenToorn

GRKIDS Newsletter

Mama of 3 kiddos (4, 3 and 4 mo). Love to play tennis competitively, spend summers on the lake, and travel outside of Michigan in the winters 🙂 I am a speech pathologist and own my own private practice.

Social Media Team

Carla Brooks

Social Media Coordinator // Community & Culture Advisor

Carla is an Oregon born, Michigan raised photographer, runner, mom of two awesome boys, and wife to poet Sareem Poems. Carla enjoys adventuring, playing the piano and singing, trying different foods, reading or watching a good story, and most of all spending time with her family.

Carla Hardy

Facebook Admin 

Carla is a wife and a girl mom of one sweet girl. She enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, organizing, finding new and fun things to do with her daughter, taking far too many pictures, and binge watching TV shows and movies with her husband. She also works at a local school in the library as the Learning Commons Aide.

Kim Guider


Kimberly is a mom to 2 sweet and busy kids and wife to her high school sweetheart. When she’s not acting as activities coordinator for school, dance or sports, she enjoys DIY house projects and dreaming about her next beach vacation. She’s lived in Chicago (suburbs and city), Indy, and Washington DC, but loves raising her family here and is happy to call GR home!

Lavanya Gowda


Lavanya is a mom of 2. She moved from India to the USA in 2011 with her husband. After staying in Minneapolis, MN for six years they moved to Grand Rapids, MI in 2019. Lavanya enjoys being active on social media, especially on Instagram and shares her family & travel stories!

Crystal Vriezema



As a mom to 3 crazy kids, Crystal’s life is busy, but she always finds time for her favorite hobbies. When she’s not working on a new painting or decorating a cake, she can often be found exploring the nearby hiking trails or spending time near the water. Crystal loves to travel and experience new things, and she has taken her family on many adventures over the years.

About The Author

11 thoughts on “Meet the Team! A Look at the Faces Behind GRKIDS”

  1. If you wanted to add another house for Halloween Decorations, I have a cemetary with the Scooby doo gang running thru, and then we have a Batman display on the house and in the driveway, we also run a light show with Halloween tunes that you can tune your car radio too. We are at 5261 Brookwood Drive SE, Kentwood, MI 49508.

  2. I just discovered this brilliant page! Love it…I am in Northeast MI and I want to have this for our community. Great work!

  3. Wow didn’t know your team was so big!! Thanks so much for all each one of you do!! I don’t know what I would do without your sight!!

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