Board of Directors
Fire was co-founded by Michelle S. Johnson, PhD and Denise Miller, MA over ten years ago. We're grateful they began this creation, and that we can honor them by continuing to grow.
Of course, many more people
than are listed on this website
make Fire possible.
Read more about Dr. Johnson and Fire at UnCaged Kalamazoo.
I'm honored to fan the flames of Fire that have been going so long. When I moved to Kalamazoo five years ago, Fire was a lighthouse - constant, and guiding me to shore. I have overwhelming gratitude for its cofounders, Denise & Michelle, the interim Executive Director, Laura, and every person who has added their light and warmth. Thank you.
If you're curious, I grew up in Ann Arbor and grew my voice through the Volume Youth Poetry Project at the Neutral Zone. Since coming to the westside of the state, and attending Kalamazoo College, I concentrated on amplifying stories that defy shame through leading workshops with returning citizens. That was my first contact with Fire - attending the First Friday readings and open mics.
The past two years, I've rooted myself further in Kalamazoo and growing as a community organizer. I believe powerful stories demand change. Over a year ago, I co-founded Humans Beyond Boxes with Kendall Campbell. Humans Beyond Boxes is a storytelling collaborative made of people impacted by incarceration. For the past two years, I've worked closely with Michigan United's Fair Chance for All team putting our stories in action to fight for our loved ones with criminal backgrounds to have a fair chance at employment. I'm also an artist.
My current priorities as Fire's director, are in building relationships in the city and in the Edison neighborhood, sustaining current projects, rekindling partnerships and growing a core community of people who believe putting our stories into action can impact our city.
Thank you for your sustaining warmth. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get to know you better. I'm always looking for new/old connections, collaborators, and more.
Interim Executive Director
Laura will be finishing the Great Writers' Project at Fire until June 2016.
Laura K. Henderson has been involved in the performing arts since she was 8 years old. She loves utilizing performance as a catalyst for social change. (It was actually the thesis of her MA program as Western Michigan University!) Given the parallels between Laura's own motivation for social justice through the arts and Fire's mission to create social awareness through the arts and mentorship, she was thrilled to become an official part of the Fire staff in 2013. First working as the director of marketing and theatre, she soon advanced to an EDA position. As an Executive Director Associate she worked closely with Dr. Michelle Johnson and the rest of the team, leaving her ready to take on the role of Interim Executive Director upon Dr. Johnson's retirement from Fire. (Those are some amazing shoes to fill!)
As proof Fire's creative justice model works, Laura was inspired to found her own non-profit, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo. She has been performing since grade school in one capacity or another and has finally realized her dream of changing the world, one stage, one film, one work of art at a time. Fire provided a home for the theatre to get started, for Laura's film and photography business to grow, and both QTK and She Films have tried to return the love as best as we can.
About Fire's Co-Founder, Former Executive Director