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.

Jonathan Ringel - Great Start 4 Kids

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

Trusted Advisors

Great Start 4 Kids

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.

Parent Meetings

Great Start 4 Kids

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 4 Kids

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

Great Start 4 Kids

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
  • Raise A Reader Education Series

Parent Leadership Training

Great Start 4 Kids - Parent Leaders

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
  • Educators
  • Community Leaders
  • Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Paramedics, Stakeholders


Great Start Collaborative

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!”

Great Start Collaborative

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!”

Great Start Collaborative

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!”

Great Start Collaborative

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!”

Great Start Collaborative

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!”

Great Start Collaborative

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!”

Great Start Collaborative

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…”

Great Start Collaborative

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!”