I am a freelance writer specializing in issues of faith, values, education and spirituality. I write a weekly religion column for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com as well as stories for other publications. I am also a staff writer for School News Network, an online publication covering public schools in Kent County.
I wrote for The Grand Rapids Press from 1985 to 2009 and have been writing for newspapers since 1978. I became Religion Editor in 1994, covering daily religion news, planning each week’s Religion section and writing features and columns for the section. Previously I was a feature writer for the Flair section, and covered education and Wyoming city government for The Press.
I have a particular interest in spirituality and personal growth, the work of the church and of individuals for social welfare, interfaith understanding, music and the arts, community history, education, teen and men’s issues, minority concerns and disabilities. And, of course, baseball, rock music and the future of the ever-expanding universe.
Before coming to the Press I worked at the Murray Ledger and Times in Murray, Ky., was editor of The Enterprise in Williamston, Mi. and sports editor of The Towne Courier in East Lansing. Long, long ago I was a high schooler who covered sports for The Enterprise, which was quite a bit better than playing trombone in the marching band.
The Press took the Religion Newswriters Association award for best religion section in the years 2000 and 2002 among U.S. and Canadian mid-sized newspapers. Our section placed third for large newspapers in 2006 and 2005, third for all newspapers in 1999 and second in 1996.
I have won several awards for column writing, including third place in the 2012 Religion Newswriters Association Commentary of the Year Award. My columns also have been recognized by the Michigan Press Association, the Associated Press and the Kentucky Press Association. My five-part series on infant mortality won a Public Service Award from the Michigan Association of Local Public Health in 1991.
I have a bachelor’s degree in English from Murray State University (1984), and did undergraduate work in creative writing at Michigan State University.
I serve on the steering committee of the 2012 Year of Interfaith Understanding in Grand Rapids. I was an active member of Arts Advocates and organizer of Arts Jam, a yearly benefit concert and art auction for art and music programs in Grand Rapids Public Schools. I teach journalism and liberal studies at Grand Valley State University, and also have taught at Aquinas College and Grand Rapids Community College.
I have two grown children and am an avid fan of Max and Emily, who are both much smarter than I am. My band, the Honeytones, has been pleasing Festival crowds and annoying the neighbors for more than 25 years.