Great Start Parent Coalition

The Great Start Parent Coalition is a planning and decision-making parent leadership organization that  represents the voice of the family, 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.  Michigan’s Great Start prioritizes PARENT VOICE by promoting Parent Coalitions to implement parent-led initiatives and to take on parent leadership roles in organizing events  and parent leadership trainings.  Parent Coalition leaders also educate other parents by taking on roles as mentors, action team leaders and Trusted Advisors.

Parents know best!  Who better to ask how an early childhood program is working than parents? Approximately 20% of Great Start Collaborative Members are parents.  Parent leaders love to share ideas relating to improving family and school readiness for children.

Dickinson-Iron Great Start Parent Coordinator: Jonathan Ringel, M.S.

Trusted Advisors

Michigan’s Trusted Advisor Program has been recognized throughout the nation for supporting and empowering parents as leaders.

The purpose of Michigan’s Trusted Advisors Grants is to engage Great Start Parent Coalitions, through competitive grant funding opportunities, to strengthen parent engagement, parent leadership development and leadership opportunities.

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Parent Meetings

Great Start Parent Coalition Meetings are held monthly in Dickinson County and Iron County.

The Dickinson-Iron Great Start Parent Coalition, under the leadership of Jonathan Ringel, provides group meetings and parent mentoring sessions on a regular basis. Core parent leaders assist in meeting preparation; i.e., presentation topics, speakers, children's activities, new initiative proposals, event planning, trusted advisor leadership roles and more.

Parent Mentors

Great Start Parent Mentors work with families to provide support, resources and information.

By focusing on the goal of engaging, enhancing and improving families, Great Start Parent Mentors take on the role of providing peer-to-peer support by sharing similar experiences and giving out valuable resources; i.e., Help Cards, Service Tool Kits, childcare contacts, event flyers and more.

Parent Success

Parent leaders THINK BIG and take QUICK ACTION especially when supporting families of children with disabilities, economic challenges and academic needs.

Parent Coalition Leaders originated THINK BIG Dickinson-Iron Great Start Initiatives and events that are now held annually:
Community Connect, Family Fun Days, Family Celebration Event, Parent Leadership Academy Training Pods, Grandparents Parenting Education Series, Book Walks and Raise A Reader Education Series.

Parent Leadership Training

Great Start Parent Leadership Academy Training Pods focus on leadership development and the role of parents becoming leading advocates for children and families by assisting families in the navigation of early childhood mixed delivery system; such as, licensed child care programs, schools, Head Start programs . . .

Outcomes of parent leadership training relate directly to strengthening families, system navigation and community connections. Leaders from 8 System Categories will be trained in 2021-2022:
New Parent Leaders
Great Start Members
Childcare Providers
Iron County Parent Leaders
Parents of Newborns      
Core Parent Coalition Leaders
Community Leaders
LawEnforcement, Firefighters, Paramedics, Stakeholders    



Megan Buck
Core Parent Leader

Megan, Director of the DC Library, is a huge advocate for families reading together and getting books in the hands of children.  "Read daily with your children!"

Kaitlyn Beurjey
Core Parent Leader

Kaitlyn works with foster families at Catholic Social Services.  Kaitlyn sees the huge benefit of empowering parents to be leaders.  "Parent leaders are our STARS!"

Misty Lefebvre
Child Care Specialist

Misty, Great Start to Quality Child Care Specialist, believes in Star Ratings, professional development and quality child care. "Dickinson-Iron has great child care!"

Kim Webb
Core Parent Leader

Kim leads initiatives on event planning and fundraising. Kim enthusiastically supports the "Imagination Factory, a place where all children will play, laugh and learn!"

Barb Reisner
Trusted Advisor Co-Coordinator

Michigan's Trusted Advisor Program has greatly benefitted our Parent Coalition. "PARENT VOICE is at the very core of the Dickinson-Iron Great Start's Mission!"

Jonathan Ringel
Parent Coordinator

Jonathan coordinates all parent-led initiatives, the DIGS Parent Coalition and Trusted Advisor Program.  Jonathan models, "It Is All About The Children!"

Becky Nord
Volunteer Coordinator

Becky is Coordinator for Volunteer Launch and the Imagination Factory Museum volunteers. Becky believes in "acts of kindness and making a difference!"

Sara Pericolosi
Core Parent Leader

Sara, an exceptional proponent for Michigan early childhood, is also a parent advocate for early literacy. "Reading helps children's empathy, memory, vocabulary..."

Ryan Gendreau
Core Parent Leader - Media

Ryan, father of 3, is a talented media specialist.  Ryan is a champion when it comes to helping others, especially families. "I love teaching my children!"