Meet the Team! A Look at the Faces Behind GRKIDS & Co

GRKIDS & Co: a Premier Media Source for Life in West Michigan & Beyond

Ever wonder who’s writing those Facebook posts for GRKIDS or Instagram Memes for HeyGrandRapids? 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 founder Melody VanderWeide has grown into a full-blown enterprise that serves millions across Michigan and includes several brands including HeyMichigan, KZOOKIDS, HeyGrandRapids, and LansingFamilyFun.

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 goes beyond the website, to social media channels on Facebook page, Instagram, TikTok, to regularly sent newsletters.

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.

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

Elizabeth Rudd

Editor, GRKIDS

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.

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.

Marketing Team

Kelly Dentler

Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Kelly is a West Michigan native who has worked in a variety of fields from 911 Operator to interior design, but above all enjoys working with people. She has a passion for the arts, good coffee, and traveling with her family. Working for Hey Michigan fits perfectly with her creativity and love of 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.

Kristine Fluker

Sales, Client Reports

Kristine is a Michigan native and loves exploring our great state while camping with her husband and two teenagers. If she has any time to herself you will probably find her curled up with a good book.

Amy Newport

KZOOKids Guide Sales, Contracts

When she’s not busy being supermom you can find Amy in nature with her trusty hiking boots and a backpack full of snacks for the family. She’s also known to start a mean bonfire, playing in the garden and loves traveling!

Administrative Team

Erin Russell

Office Manager

Erin is a musician who attempts to balance 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 game nights with her family, cottage time by the lake, gardening and long walks with her dog. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two children.

Keri Siemens

Ad Manager

Keri is a wife and mom of four who loves exploring new spots around GR, but is equally happy enjoying “pizza and movie nights” at home with the family. When she is not managing ads for GRKIDS & Co, 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

A mom to three active teen boys and a wife of a former backpacker, Tiffany enjoys camping, being outdoors and hiking with her family. When she’s not managing a family or work calendar, she can often be found meal prepping in the kitchen to feed her hungry crew.

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, crossing off all 50 states with her family, she enjoys time at the lake, organizing anything, watercolor painting, enjoying a good hard cider and volunteering at school and church.

Writing Team

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!

Robyn Eklund

Social Media, 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.

Amber Cox

Promotions Manager, Writer, Strategy Coordinator

Amber has spent hundreds of hours over the past 15 years researching, planning, and taking her family on outdoor adventures.
She’s passionate about having fun, getting her three kids outside exploring their own backyard in Michigan, and encouraging other families to get outside, too.

Anna Taets

Team Writer, Guide Specialist
HeyGR Newsletter

Anna was born and raised in Illinois and now lives with her husband and 4 boys in Michigan. She enjoys working from home for GR Kids, as well as the lakeshore and being outdoors. Her hobbies include body movement, playing volleyball, reading, and needlework.

Hannah Austin

Team 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

Team 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!).

Lauren Augustyn

Team 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 family bike rides, exploring local trails and cheering her kids on in their activities.

Staci DeVries

GRKIDS Newsletter Writer

Born in Cereal City USA (Battle Creek, MI), Staci moved to Grand Rapids for college and decided to stay. She’s a wife, mama, and happy member of the GRKIDS family. She’s passionate about community, spending time outside, and firmly believes ice cream is meant to be enjoyed all year long.

Jamie Woodburn


Jamie is a Starbucks-addicted, pun-loving mother of eleven-year-old twins. She lives in Portage with her husband (who she met during a one-week free trial for an online dating site), said twins, and three Boxer doggos named LuLu, Dipper, and Mabel.

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 two, with four graduates. Michelle enjoys classical ballet and live theater, especially musicals, both being in the audience and working backstage.

Ashley Buckner

Writer, Newsletter Writer, Facebook Creator

Ashley is a stay at home, girl mom to one spunky little toddler. When she’s not mom-ing, you can find her walking the aisles of HomeGoods with a coffee in hand or dreaming up crazy DIY projects at home. She’s always down for a delicious cider at a new brewery or some good eats on a sunny patio!

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.

Sara Weeks

KZOOKIDS Newsletter

Sara is a mom of two and a preschool teacher. Originally from Metro Detroit, she settled into her old green house in Marshall after moving across the country with her husband a few times. When she’s not driving her kids to their activities, you can catch her reading, baking cookies or planning their next family trip.

Jen Olson

HeyGR, GRKIDS Newsletter Writer

Jennifer is a born and raised Grand Rapidian. Since she’s spent her whole life here, she loves this area. When she’s not raising her two daughters and two cats, she enjoys reading, British tv and cooking for her family – who doesn’t eat what she makes! In addition to spending time helping others see all the great stuff Grand Rapids has to offer, she works at a hospital on an orthopedic floor

Social Media Team

Crystal Vriezema

Social Media Manager

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.

Carla Hardy

Facebook Admin 

Carla is Michigan-born and raised and lives in Rockford, MI with her husband, daughter and rescue pup. In addition to her roles with GR Kids, she works as a librarian at a local private school – and she absolutely adores both of her jobs! She enjoys reading, word games & trivia, spending time with family & friends and binge watching TV shows with her husband.

Katie Weyenberg

Promotions Manager, Facebook Admin, Guide Specialist

Katie is a multi-passionate freelance professional with experience in digital marketing, sales, content creation, and social media management. She currently lives in Texas Corners (Kalamazoo) with her family and is the mother of two children; her son is in 3rd grade and her daughter is in 7th grade. Katie is excited to join the KZOOKIDS team and bring her creativity, passion and problem solving skills to the company.

Lavanya Gowda


Lavanya is a mom of 2. She is originally from India and moved to the United States in 2011 with her husband. After spending her initial years in Minneapolis, she now calls Grand Rapids home. Lavanya is a social media content creator and loves sharing her family adventures with the world. When she is not online, you can find her busy doing house chores, spending time with family & friends, and exploring the world outside.

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!

Norah Vanderweide


Norah’s an adventurer; always striving to make new memories. She’s a baker, athlete, dog mom, artist, and photographer.
When she’s not working, she’s exploring and spending time in nature or the gym with her sister and her best friend.

Cassandra Mickel

Kalamazoo Kids Facebook Lead

Cassandra is a native Michigander with a love/hate relationship with Michigan weather. Raising three boys and a husband is quite the adventure, spending time outside is a must for this family. Cassandra is a book lover who loves the escape of the page. She is passionate about her friends and family and bringing people together.

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

  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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