Meet Our Team

Sara Lowe, LMSW

Executive Director

Sara provides mission based, collaborative leadership to Emmanuel Hospice. She brings over ten years of health care experience working in both Hospice and Long-Term Care. Sara has served patients in a variety of settings, as well as provided leadership and education regarding end-of-life issues to healthcare staff and the community. In addition, she has collaborated with community organizations on initiatives to improve the quality of healthcare across the continuum in our community.

Sara earned her BSW and MSW from Grand Valley State University. Sara has called West Michigan home for her entire life. She currently lives in Grand Rapids with her husband Elliott and their two children, Avery and Hudson.

Shannon K. English, MD

Hospice Medical Director

Dr. English has served as Emmanuel Hospice’s Medical Director since its inception and is part of the Mercy Health Physician Partners Geriatrics Group in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a graduate of the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY and completed a residency at the Williamsport Hospital Family Practice Residency Program in Williamsport, PA. She is board certified in Family Medicine and also holds Certificates of Added Qualification in Geriatrics and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. English was born in New York State but has practiced medicine in Michigan since 2006.

When she is not working, Dr. English enjoys spending time with her family, playing the French horn, traveling, and being outdoors.

Melissa Schmidt

Director of Clinical Services

Brenda Jaszczyszyn RN, CHPN

Director of Education and Quality

Brenda brings over 38 years of healthcare expertise to Emmanuel Hospice. She is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse with over 16 years of experience caring for the dying and their loved ones. Brenda has had nursing experience in a variety of settings over her career but found her passion in providing end-of-life education to healthcare professionals and families of West Michigan to better serve individuals at the end of their life. Stemming from her passion for hospice care, Brenda has been an active member of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Michigan for almost 16 years and is also a member of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association..

Born, raised, and residing on the West Side of Grand Rapids, Brenda loves cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Heather L. O’Brien, MA, LPC, NCC, CVA

Director of Bereavement and Volunteer Services

Heather has over 15 years of experience working in the hospice industry. She has obtained a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Additional certifications include being a National Certified Counselor, Certified Volunteer Administrator, and she is also the past president of the Michigan Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Association.

Heather is born and raised in Grand Rapids and is excited to be back after living in Northern Michigan for over 22 years. Heather believes it is a genuine privilege to be a strong resource for anyone in the community walking through the journey of grief.

Nicole Sharpe

Director of Community Outreach and Marketing

Nicole brings over twenty years of sales, marketing, and education experience to her role as our Director of Community Outreach and Marketing. Nicole received her BA in Sociology from the University of Dayton and her English/Secondary Teaching certification from Grand Valley State University. Prior to joining Emmanuel Hospice, Nicole lived in Sarasota, Florida and worked in education and marketing.

Nicole is a native of Grand Rapids and is excited to be back in West Michigan. She enjoys spending time with her dogs and family, as well as outdoor activities.

Katie Kirouac, MPA

Director of Development

Katie joined the Emmanuel Hospice team to raise support for Emmanuel’s ministry and share the mission with the community. Katie received her BA and MPA from Grand Valley State University. She was a community health worker in Ghana for more than two years before returning to the states to conduct research on philanthropy.

Katie serves on several nonprofit boards and volunteers for local and international causes. In her spare time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, camping, and painting.

Racquel Ladd

Director of Support Services

Racquel’s passion for Senior Health Care and Services started in the home as she directly cared for her Grandparents while pursuing her education as a West Catholic, Grand Rapids Community College, and University of Houston Alumna. Experience within a variety of health care roles and settings equipped Racquel to bring a diverse set of strong administrative, customer service, and leadership skills to Emmanuel Hospice.

Between her role as the Director of Support Services and Mom to her son Brodach, Racquel enjoys planning her wedding to fiancé Daniel, tending to her garden (and really anything outdoors), spending time with family, and pursuing continued education at Davenport University.

David Stephens, RN

RN Case Manager

David began his career in healthcare as a CNA and moved into his nursing role within long-term care, rehab, skilled care, and memory care settings. He has always felt a calling to work with older adults. David says, “The feeling of gratitude that I get from helping people in what can be their greatest time of need, was a major influencing factor when I decided to pursue a career in hospice.”

David lives in West Michigan with his wife – Kerri, and two daughters. When he is not caring for our patients and families, David enjoys family get-togethers, fishing, mountain biking, riding motorcycles, and reading about history.

Beth Rogers, RN

RN Case Manager

Beth brings 39 years of nursing experience in the acute care setting to our hospice ministry. Her background includes working in the Regional Burn Center and the Bariatric/Medical Colo-Rectal floor of a local hospital in Grand Rapids, MI. Beth felt called to work in hospice because of the intimate, tender work with patients and their families. She loves the hospice philosophy of helping her patients live their final days as they desire. As a staff RN and the co-educator for Bariatric classes, Beth also found passion in educating her patients and fellow staff members.

When Beth isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her three small granddaughters. She also enjoys the family pets, listening to music, reading, camping and spending time enjoying nature. Beth has been married for 36 years and has three grown daughters.

Joyce Robinson-Beck, RN

Admissions Nurse

As a life-long West Michigander, Joyce received her nursing degree from Grand Rapids Community College. She has been a nurse for 28 years with mostly acute care experience from Med-Surg, IV team, and clinical coordinator of the intensive care unit. Recently, she cared for residents in long term care for the last 7 years as a Director of Nursing. Since joining the team at Emmanuel Hospice, Joyce says hospice has been the most rewarding job of her career due to the intimate time of an individual’s life, and how her patients can be themselves again.

Joyce has 4 wonderful children and says the greatest thing is her 4 wonderful grandchildren. She enjoys all sports, especially her Michigan teams, and loves being the ‘coolest basketball Mom around.’

Tabitha Brown, RN

Extended Care Hospice Nurse

Born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona Tabbi found her way to Grand Rapids in 2007.  Here she completed her Bachelor’s in Nursing Science with minors in both Spanish and German.  Tabbi brings over four years of acute ICU/ER care to our team and has enjoyed finding her “new love” in her transition into being a hospice nurse.

When she is not serving our patients and families, Tabbi enjoys spending time with her family, reading, music, working out and traveling. Tabbi and her fiance also enjoy numerous outdoor activities from kayaking and hiking to walking and playing with their cat and two dogs in the yard.  In addition to their shared interests, the happy couple welcomed their first child in late 2016.

Jennifer Radaz, RN

RN Team Leader

Jennifer obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Ferris State University.  Her nursing background includes acute care experience – acuity adaptable and post-anesthesia care/outpatient surgery.   She has always wanted to work as a hospice nurse and loves her job as an Admissions Nurse/Hospital Liaison.

Jennifer loves spending time with her family including her husband, four children, daughter-in-law, and two dogs.  She lives in Rockford and enjoys running, attending her children’s many sporting events, and being involved in her community and church.

Rev. Jan Lancaster, RN, MDiv

Extended Care Hospice Nurse

Jan has been providing Hospice Care for over 20 years, and found God’s calling caring for patients at their bedsides.  She has been certified twice in hospice care, has held a Nursing Home Administrator’s license, been a parish nurse, a psychiatric nurse, and in 1996, was voted the ‘Michigan Hospice Nurse of the Year’ by the Michigan Hospice Nursing Association.

Jan achieved her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University, her diploma in nursing from the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing, and Master’s Degree in Divinity at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio.  Jan is also an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, and passionately respects others’ beliefs, because her faith is so important to her.

Wendy King, RN

RN Case Manager

Diane VanAlstyne, RN

RN Case Manager

Shasta May, CHPNA

Hospice Aide

Shasta has been serving older adults and their families for over 15 years now.  She has led teams in creating high quality care outcomes in a variety of settings as well.  Shasta has been a primary member in the creation of our care values.

When she is not serving our patients and families, Shasta loves spending time with her two children and other immediate and extended family around home in Grant, MI.  She also loves having fun in the sun, camping, and traveling.

Theresa Weichman, CHPNA

Hospice Aide

Theresa has been working with older adults for over seventeen years as a home health aide, resident aide and CNA in an assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility, and a hospice house.  She became passionate about hospice care because the hospice philosophy believes in supporting the whole person: physically, mentally, spiritually, socially and emotionally.  20 years ago, she told herself “someday I’m going to work for hospice”, and has been called to care for hospice patients for most of her career.

She has raised her three children living in West Michigan her whole life.  Outside of her passionate role as a Hospice Aide, Theresa enjoys reading, nature, and spending time with family and friends.

Cynthia Stephens, CHPNA

Hospice Aide

Cynthia has over 22 years experience as a Certified Nurse Assistant in long-term and home-based care settings. During that time, she has cared for West Michigan, Georgia, and a Native American reservation in Arizona. She says this has given her a widened perspective of diversity in cultures, customs and ethnic groups.

Cynthia has found home with Emmanuel Hospice because she says “I know at the end of the day; I made a positive difference in someone’s life.” In her spare time Cynthia enjoys spending time with family, listening to music, writing, dancing and travelling.

Anna Crain, CNA

Hospice Aide

Anna brings over 10 years of experience as a CNA to our hospice ministry. Though she was born in Lansing, Anna grew up in Grand Rapids and considers West Michigan her home. She brings a warm spirit to her work, and loves laughing and being with her friends and family.

When she’s not serving patients, Anna enjoys a range of summer activities with her two children and trying new restaurants and breweries.


Jacqueline Malinoski

Hospice Aide

Jacqueline has worked in various customer service roles throughout her career. Caring for and helping others has always been her passion. Jacqueline found her way into healthcare working as a CNA and as a clinical secretary, and recently graduated with a BA in Sociology from Grand Valley State University. She felt called to work for a faith based, non-profit, and Emmanuel has given her a sense of “home.”

Jacqueline is a single mother of two children, and they enjoy going to zoos, museums, water parks, camping…you name it! Spending time and having fun with friends and family is their favorite thing to do.

Christina Sanders

Hospice Aide

Born and raise in Grand Rapids, Christina is one of the newest hospice aides to join our team. She brings 20 years of experience as an aide, having worked at Story Point before joining the Emmanuel Hospice team. She has long had an interest in hospice care, and feels that she has found her calling.

Christina loves camping and riding horses in her spare time. She has 4 teenage children that keep her busy.

Emily Brown, CNA

Hospice Aide

Jessica Vanbelkum, CHPNA

Administrative Assistant

Jessica was born and raised in West Michigan. Over five years ago, she was called to her career as a certified nursing assistant in the skilled nursing setting. Jessica feels a “huge reward” while serving older adults and found home with Emmanuel Hospice caring for those facing end-of-life issues.

When Jessica is away from her calling, she enjoys spending time with her significant other – Chad and two daughters along with camping, fishing and arts and crafts.

Karen Hill

Quality Assistant

Born a Michigan native, Karen has worked administrative duties in a variety of settings and locations. Led by personal experience with her grandparents, Karen was called to serve in the hospice setting a few years ago. She found home at Emmanuel Hospice and now plays a crucial role in our ministry.

When she is away from Emmanuel Hospice, Karen enjoys watching Netflix, crocheting, walking and scrapbooking.


Jackie Chandler, MA, LBSW

Volunteer Coordinator

Jackie Chandler joined Emmanuel Hospice as the Volunteer Coordinator in the spring of 2017. Jackie comes to Emmanuel Hospice from our partner Porter Hills, where she served as a Wellness Coordinator and a Volunteer Coordinator. In addition to her work at Emmanuel, Jackie is an adjunct instructor at Western Michigan University. Jackie received her Bachelors of Social Work and Masters of Family & Consumer Sciences from Western Michigan University.

In her spare time, Jackie enjoys being a spectator at her children’s extra-curricular events, bike riding, running, and Pickle Ball.

Amanda Scott

Medical Records Assistant

Amanda brings over 22 years of health care work experience to Emmanuel Hospice team. She is passionate about the holistic hospice care approach for patients and their loved ones. Amanda received her Bachelor of Science in Community Development and Master of Science in Administration degrees from Central Michigan University, both with honors.

In her free time, Amanda enjoys time with her family, Michigan’s coastline, hiking, kayaking, travel and cooking.

Kaitlyn Cavanaugh, LLMSW

Hospice Social Worker

Kaitlyn was born and raised in Grand Rapids. She received her Bachelors of science in Social Work and Spanish from Franciscan University of Steubenville and her Masters in Social Work at Grand Valley State University. She was first introduced to Emmanuel Hospice when she worked with the team as an MSW student intern. She has experience in geriatric care management, individual counseling, and knowledge of community resources. She is grateful to be a part of the Emmanuel Hospice team, especially to be able to provide the ministry of presence to our patients and families.

In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys, quality time with family and friends, reading, running, trying out new recipes, prayer, and a good game of Jeopardy!

Ashley Huisman, LMSW

Bereavement Coordinator and Social Worker

Ashley was born and raised in the West Michigan area. She earned her BSW from Kuyper College and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University. In addition to being a licensed Social Worker, Ashley received a bachelors in Bible Theology, a minor in Communications, and licensing as a Certified Empowerment Coach. Before settling into the hospice setting, Ashley enjoyed working with young adults and their families in individual therapy, education, and overall support.

In her free time, Ashley enjoys being outside (walking, biking, and camping), traveling, and cooking. Time with family, friends, and her dog is especially important to her.

Alison Grosse, LMSW

Hospice Social Worker

Alison has been a Social Worker for over 10 years, working in the healthcare setting.  Alison earned her BSW from Hope College and MSW from Western Michigan University.  Alison is passionate about the holistic approach of end-of-life care and supporting those in need.

Alison is a West Michigan native and currently resides in the Zeeland area with her husband, Jimmy, three children, and dog.  Alison enjoys spending time with family, camping, cooking, music, and animals.

Katie VanRyn, LMSW

Hospice Social Worker

Katie has been a social worker in the health care field for over a decade. Most recently, she has been a long-term care social worker and dementia unit coordinator, before joining the team at Emmanuel Hospice. She earned her BSW from Grand Valley State University and her MSW from Western Michigan University, and also enjoys being a field instructor for many social work students over the years.

Born and raised in West Michigan, Katie currently lives in the Jenison area with her husband Nate and their two boys, Mason and Connor. While she is away from her calling in hospice care, Katie enjoys knitting, listening to music, singing and being an active member of her church.


Jenny Kellogg, LMSW

Hospice Social Worker & Team Leader

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Jenny is grateful to serve West Michigan as an Emmanuel Hospice social worker. She received her BSW from Hope College and her MSW from Western Michigan University. Before finding her calling in hospice care, Jenny gained extensive social work experience in the hospital setting, individual counseling, long-term care and short-term rehabilitation.

In her free time, Jenny enjoys being outside and active during all four seasons (especially the painful game of golf), traveling to new places, and experiencing all that the ever-changing and growing Grand Rapids area has to offer.

Sister M. Gabriela Hilke, RN

Hospice Chaplain and Nurse

Born in Missouri and raised on a dairy farm with her three siblings, Sister was called to do the Lord’s work over 50 years ago.  God brought her to Milwaukee, WI where she became a licensed Registered Nurse and also a licensed nursing home administrator.  Sister Gabriela has called Grand Rapids her home for over 20 years now and is currently the Assistant Director of St. Ann’s Home, and also RN Chaplain and acting board member for Emmanuel Hospice.

Sister Gabriela feels blessed to work with the dying and their families, and feels called to be “that presence, the listener, the companion on that last journey,” which she calls the “Heavenly Discharge”.  She has truly loved her role God has granted her and helped tirelessly ‘raise’ Emmanuel Hospice since the beginning.

Vern Bareman, MDiv


Vern’s responsibility is to provide guidance and oversight of the day-to-day operations of hospice services and the supervision of clinical staff to ensure that coordinated and exceptional end-of-life care is delivered to all those we serve. Vern joined our ministry as a chaplain to guide Emmanuel Hospice participants as they live out their final days.  His comforting presence often brings a calming influence to our team and our patients.

Vern served as a pastor for over 30 years before becoming a hospice chaplain.  He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.  Vern and his wife Sandy have been married for over thirty years and enjoy golfing, biking, gardening and vacationing together.

Sister Annunciata Auger


Sister Maria Faustina