Great Start

Dickinson & Iron County

Great Start

Dickinson & Iron County


Great Start Collaborative

The Vision

Great Start leaders are positive role models who consistently motivate others to high levels of performance that result in trusting relationships and high levels of teamwork. The importance of leadership in Great Start is never underestimated.

Historically, the Dickinson-Iron Great Start leaders have set a clear vision of accomplishing their Motto: IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN!‍

great start vision

Great Start Impact


  • 25 BOOK BINS

About Us

Great Start members function as a team exemplifying loyalty, productivity, unity, work ethic, confidence, kindness, decisiveness and most of all a high level of empathy and compassion! Great Start is a movement that ensures every child in Michigan is safe, healthy and eager to succeed in school and in life. Great Start has become the voice for children and their families. Great Start prioritizes relationships with lawmakers and business-community leaders to make MICHIGAN a place where all children have the opportunity to thrive.

The Dickinson-Iron Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition is responsive to the needs of families by understanding local root causes and early childhood trends.

Executive Board

The Great Start Executive Board is responsible for administrative oversight. The Great Start Director and Parent Coordinator report directly to this governing body that is made up of key decision makers representing 12 Great Start Partners. Board members assist in formulating policies and procedures; and evaluate and endorse the Great Start work plans and operating guidelines

Dickinson-Iron Great Start is valued in our community through the exemplary service and collective impact made by the Great Start Executive Board and all the believers in the positive impact Great Start makes in the lives of children and families.

The Great Start Executive Team, made up of Directors, Parent Coordinator and Chairperson are responsible for completion of the Strategic Plan and all data collection and assessments; as well as oversight of Action Teams, budgets, initiatives and local early childhood system building.

Barb & Jonathan


Barb is the Director of the Dickinson Iron Great Start Collaborative. Barb’s leadership role in Great Start is to engage Dickinson and Iron County community partners in providing services, resources and support to families! By system building and involving the entire community, Great Start meets the challenge of achieving school readiness for all young children.


Jonathan is the Coordinator of the Dickinson Iron Great Start Parent Coalition. Jonathan’s leadership role is to bring parents together to enhance their leadership and parenting skills. Strengthening families and promoting parents as leaders is the key to Great Start’s success!

Executive Committee Members

Jennifer Cescolini
Cherie Fila
Christina Hellberg
Jennifer Huotari
Denise Maloney
Ruth Manier
Casey McCormick
Barb Reisner
Jonathan Ringel
Curtis Vandusen
Kim Webb
Joyce Ziegler
Angela Applekamp

executive board picture

Action Teams

Great Start takes on specific tasks to accomplish the detailed work and processes written in annual work plans. The Action Teams provide support and advocacy to sustain Great Starts initiatives. Presently, the Dickinson-Iron Great Start has 5 ACTION TEAMS:

  • COMMUNICATION & EARLY LITERACY: planning and promoting initiatives
  • CHILD CARE & SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL HEALTH: supporting child care providers
  • PEDIATRIC & FAMILY HEALTH: developing and disseminating prenatal and family resources
  • SCHOOL READINESS ADVISORY COMMITTEE: overseeing GSRP and communicating policies
  • PARENT LEADERSHIP & FAMILY SUPPORT is also an action team led by the Parent Coordinator, core parent leaders and Trusted Advisors in the Great Start Parent Coalition.
action teams

Answers To Common Questions

How is the DIISD involved in Great Start?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District provides significant leadership in the oversight of Great Start funding, strategic planning and annual work plans.  The DIISD is Great Start’s fiscal agent performing accounting and financial management.

What do Parent Trusted Advisors do?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

Trusted Advisors strengthen parent engagement through parent leadership development and training. The goal of Great Start Trusted Advisors is to improve communication and mentoring to families with at- risk children birth to age 5 who are challenged by early learning and program development opportunities and related community supports and services.

Is early literacy a Great Start goal?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

By preparing children to succeed in fourth grade and beyond by obtaining reading proficiently by the end of third grade, Michigan prioritizes early literacy and achieves an important Early Childhood Outcome Goal – an expectation set by Michigan’s Department of Education.

When and how often are Great Start Meetings held?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

Great Start Parent Coalition Meetings are held monthly and Great Start Collaborative Meetings are implemented 5-6 times per year.

Can anyone join Great Start?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

Great Start membership is open to community and parent leaders who provide services for children birth through age 8.

What is the Parent Coalition?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

Great Start’s Parent Coalition is a planning and decision-making parent leadership organization that represents the voice of parents, the child and the community relating to the Great Start Collaborative by connecting parents to services that provide childcare, early education and parent leadership development.

What is the Office of Great Start?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

Michigan’s Office of Great Start leads all efforts to coordinate and integrate Michigan’s investments in children from birth through age 8.  The Office of Great Start creates health and early learning systems that align, integrate and coordinate Michigan’s early childhood investments from prenatal to third grade, by focusing on children with the highest needs to assure all children enter kindergarten prepared for success.

How many Great Start Collaboratives are in Michigan?2022-01-27T18:45:30-06:00

In 2020, 54 Great Start Collaboratives were active in Michigan.

Action Team Leaders

barb reisner

Barb Reisner

Early Literacy & Trusted Advisors

jonathon ringel

Jonathan Ringel

Parent Leaders & Trusted Advisors

kim webb

Kim Webb

Publicity & PR

casey mccormick

Casey McCormick

School Readiness Advisory Committee

curtis vandusen

Curtis VanDusen

Pediatric & Family Health

misty lefebvre

Misty Lefebvre

Child Care & SE Health