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Our Event Staff

Deborah Droppers

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".   


Claire Burton

Program Director

Claire Burton is the incoming program director at KELC. Claire comes to KELC with an breadth of experience and knowledge in the event and sport management industries. Claire has served in different capacities for the Western Michigan University Women's basketball team, Kalamazoo Growler's minor league baseball team and, most recently, the community relations department of the Chicago Bears (NFL). 

Claire is deeply antiquated with the Kalamazoo community. As a Western Michigan University graduate, she knows the area well. During her time at WMU, Claire served as the executive vice president for the College Panhellenic Council and the chairwoman of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility for Sigma Kappa at WMU.  

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Olivia Darmos

Remote Event Strategist

"The crazy part of events is you never stop learning from them. My internship here has taught me so much, from the details of planning to the anticipation of event day. Working for KELC, and for nonprofits in general, you get that intimate experience with events, you really get to build them from the ground up in some cases, and that's the coolest part. 

Our team is so dedicated to the surrounding community and putting our best foot forward, not only at every event, but throughout the entire process and all that goes into them behind the scenes. I am blessed and so grateful to be doing what I love and surrounded by people as passionate as I am about others, our community, our vision, etc.  

I couldn't imagine doing anything else surrounded by anyone else at this point in my life. I love what I do and who I do it with, & I couldn't ask for more"

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Current Event Coordinators & Interns

Bryce Munn

Major: Public Relations

Minor: Marketing

Favorite Event: Food Truck Rallies

KELC Project: PR and Marketing materials

"What I enjoy most about working at KELC is seeing the outcome of the behind the scenes work we do here. Interacting with the community and watching them enjoy the events we put together is a rewarding experience." 


Noa Green

Major: Sports Management 

Minor: General Business

Favorite Event: Kalamazoo Holiday Parade

KELC Project: New Year's Fest

"I enjoy KELC because of how hands-on everything is. There isn't a day I come into work and am not thrown into some element of the event planning process, which makes for a great learning experience." 

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Mallory Smith

Major: Sports Management

Minor: Event Management

Favorite Event: Kalamazoo Regional Spelling Bee

KELC Project: Food Truck Rallies

"My favorite thing about working at KELC is getting to experience and play a role in the planning process of all different kinds of events. It makes for a well-rounded learning experience." 

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