Our Event Staff

Founder & Executive director

"My mom, Shirley Van Hoeven, inspires me every day and it is in her spirit that I founded the Center.  She lived her life for college students when she was teaching at Western Michigan University.  Her impact still resonates through her Scholarship Fund in the Communications Department.


This center is my dream. I love working with non-profits and enjoy the chaos of working with interns. I am inspired to think of new ideas to make events more interactive, customer-focused, and multi-layered.  I teach at Western Michigan University and run the Event Management Minor.  It's insanely fun.  Every day I learn something new in preparation for the lectures that hopefully engage, inspire, transform.  Within this pledge, we celebrate the passion of the product and the people we serve.


 It's an amazing adventure".   

Director of events

"After working as an intern at the learning center upon graduation from Western Michigan University, I hoped that my passion for events and community outreach would eventually bring me back. I became a KELC board member in 2015 and, after 4+ years in corporate sales, I decided to take the leap back into the non-profit and event planning world. Deb has been such a great role model and mentor to me and I only hope that I can follow in her footsteps during my time here.

I wake up every day excited to go to work and do something to make a difference in the community. The center is a dreamy place to work, and no day is the same. I love having the ability to be actively involved in the community, while coaching interns, and meeting new people. I am excited to continue to grow as an individual as well as grow this organization alongside Deb. I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store.



Event Coordinators

Maddie - "I graduated with my degree from Western and was honestly still at a loss for where I saw myself working. A friend referred me to where she did her internship, which was with Deb Droppers at KELC. I always had a love for non-profit organizations and the causes they stand for. Working for KELC, you get to play a role in making a difference in MULTIPLE organizations by partnering with them on projects. As an intern, I was given so much responsibility, and it makes the successful outcomes of events that much more satisfying because you played a real role. KELC has taught me so much".

Nicole - "In college I minored in Event Management which allowed me to take most of the required classes with Deb Droppers. After interning with a Wedding Planner and having a complete change of direction of the career path I wanted to go down, Deb offered me an internship at KELC. Having Deb as a professor was incredibly rewarding, as well as having her as a boss. KELC has taught me so much more then just event logistics. I continue to gain more knowledge every time I come into work. Being an Intern at KELC was a great experience."




Nick Palizzi

  • Major: Public Relations

  • Minor: Event Management

Julia Jackson

  • Major: Fashion Merchandising

  • Minor: Event Management

Our events wouldn't be possible or successful without all the hardwork that our interns are putting in on a daily basis. Join our team!