Board of Directors

Tamela R. Aikens
Tamela R. Aikens is the Executive Director of
Detroit Community Justice Partnership (DCJP), a 501c3 non profit corporation, committed to preventing crime and empowering residents to play active roles in improving the quality of life in their communities through crime prevention, education, and family development. DCJP is an officially recognized Weed and Seed site working in partnership with the United States Department of Justice. In addition, she is the Community Coordinator for the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative in Wayne County, Michigan and is responsible for serving as the liaison between all vested public and private stakeholders and the Michigan Department of Corrections to ensure effective communication and proficient systems building throughout the County and she is responsible for all contract compliance and community organizing on behalf of MPRI Wayne County. Tamela earned a Masters of Economics from Walsh College, and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University. She is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, and is a graduate of the FBI Michigan Citizens Academy. Her community organizing skills bring needed experience to MCCD.

Robert Brown, Jr
Before his retirement in 1991 Bob worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections for thirty years (1961-1991). He started as a prison counselor and ultimately became Director. Bob is a recipient of the American Correctional Association’s prestigious Edward R. Cass Award. Since retiring from state service, Bob continues to work as a Criminal Justice Consultant and has served as a Consent Agreement Monitor for the Federal Court in the Central District of Illinois. He serves as an expert witness for jail and prison cases and has worked as a member of two to five person teams charged with evaluating the prison systems in several states. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.
His experience includes all aspects of state adult corrections systems and he has worked extensively with county sheriffs. He also served as an auditor in over one hundred accreditation audits of corrections agencies at the local, state and federal levels. His knowledge of how the corrections system operates brings a unique perspective to MCCD.

Lynn Burdell-Williams
Currently Lynn is the Vice President of Programs at Wayne Center in Detroit. She previously worked at Wayne County Community Mental Health as the Director of Special Projects. Lynn has extensive experience in program development and implementation. Lynn has been a member of MCCD for several years and has served as Vice President and Secretary of the MCCD Board. Her experience with mental health and youth services continues to be an asset to MCCD.

Joe Finkbeiner
Joe has been an MCCD member since the early 1980’s and has previously served on the Board of Directors. He has served on the Finance, Long-Term Planning, and Personnel Committees. Joe is a Past President of the ACLU where he’s been a member for 30 years. Joe is also very active in UAW Local 1618 and has served as President. He was a former Editor of the Lansing Labor News. Joe is a charter member of Blue Care Network/Health Central and served on their Board of Directors. Joe’s experience with organized labor will be very beneficial to future Board considerations.

Susan Herman
Susan is currently the Director of the Michigan Jewish Conference; an organization that represents the political and community relations needs of the statewide Jewish community. Prior to that Susan was the Director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a statewide advocacy organization for criminal sentencing reform. Susan has over 25 years experience in community coalition building and advocacy, and has worked on public policy issues at the state and local levels of all three branches of government. Susan has also developed and conducted training programs nationally on numerous issues. Her public policy experience assists MCCD with system change efforts.

William (Bill) Long
Bill Long received a Masters Degree in Social Work from Wayne State University in 1971 and a Law Degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1977. Bill has been active in a volunteer and professional capacity with a number of non-profit human service agencies and policy organizations at the local and state level. He worked in State Government from 1971 to 1991 as a social worker and in several administrative positions including directing the Michigan Department of Labor, Chair of the MI Public Services Commission, Member of the Civil Service Commission and Legislative Director for Governor Milliken. He directed an association of non-profit child and family human service agencies for 10 years before “semi-retiring” in 2004. Semi retirement includes labor arbitration law and consultant to non-profit organizations and lots of volunteer work with several social advocacy organizations. Bill represents MCCD as co-chair of the Michigan Collaborative on Juvenile Justice Reform.

Louise Sause
Louise has been a member of the Council for 15 years. She received her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in education from Columbia University. Since retiring from MSU, Louise has provided service and leadership to the League of Women Voters of Michigan. She has served on several boards and committees including: Michigan’s Children; KIDS COUNT; Middle Start - Kellogg Foundation; Ingham County/City of Lansing Youth Violence Prevention Coalition; Michigan Coalition for Children and Families; and the Association for Children’s Mental Health. Louise’s knowledge of children’s issues and her advocacy experience are an asset to MCCD.

Ralph Simpson
Ralph is an attorney in private practice specializing in criminal appeals. Previously he was an Assistant Defender, State Appellate Defender’s Office in Detroit. Ralph is a member of the National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union, a former President of the Metro Detroit American Civil Liberties Union, and past Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Criminal Law Section, as well as a member of the Drug Policy Forum of Michigan. Ralph’s knowledge of the Detroit area and background in criminal law provide needed information to MCCD.

Ilene (Beany) Tomber
Since 1996, Beany has been the Ready To Learn Coordinator for Broadcasting Services WKAR - Michigan State University. In her role as Ready To Learn Coordinator, she works with community agencies to plan and implement Ready To Learn training workshops and other activities for WKAR-TV. From 1982 to 1996, Beany was the Corporate Development Director for Broadcasting Services at Michigan State University. She is a current member of the Capital Area Community Services Board; serves on the Ingham County Birth-5 Subcommittee; chairs the Early Childhood Literacy Coalition; and is a member of the State Reach Out and Read Advisory Committee. From 1976 to 1982 she served as the Chairperson for the Governor-appointed Michigan Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice. Beany has many years experience as an advocate for children. Her knowledge and expertise is extremely helpful to the MCCD Board.

Kristine VandenBerg
Currently, Kris serves as a pro se law clerk for the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, where she is responsible for prisoner civil rights and habeas corpus filings. Kris was a career law clerk for United States Judge Douglas W. Hillman from 1995 until Judge Hillman’s retirement in 2002. Kris is active in numerous professional and community activities. Presently, she serves as a Trustee of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and chairs its Diversity Committee. She is the past president and board member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Western Region. She also serves on the boards of the YWCA-Grand Rapids and the Gary Byker Memorial Library. And, for the past three years, Kris has been an active member of the Grand Rapids Prostitution Roundtable and the Michigan Public Defense Task Force. She provides leadership to MCCD’s Task Force on improving Public Defense services.

Francisco (Chico) A. Villarruel
Francisco A. Villarruel is the Acting director of the Julían Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University. He also holds the positions of University Outreach and Engagement Senior Fellow and Professor of Family and Child Ecology at Michigan State University. He is co-author of the nation’s first report that focuses on analysis of disproportionate and disparate treatment of Latino and Latina youth by the U.S. justice system. The report, entitled ¿Dónde Está la Justicia? A Call to Action on Behalf of Latino and Latina Youth in the U.S. Justice System, was published by the Building Blocks for Youth initiative and has received national and international visibility. Villarruel also authored the book Lost Opportunities: The reality of Latinos in the US Criminal Justice System, which is available from the National Council of La Raza. His perspective on juvenile justice furthers MCCD’s advocacy agenda.

Frank Weichlein
Frank is currently the Director of the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home and has served on the board of MCCD for two years. Frank was recently elected to continue on the board after being appointed in 2004 and serves on the board Personnel Committee. He has worked in the Juvenile Justice field in a variety of capacities in Kalamazoo for over 28 years. Frank was a past President of the Michigan Association of Youth Serving Programs and in order to further promote the concepts of restorative justice he serves on the Board of Dispute Resolution Services in Kalamazoo. He is also a part-time instructor of juvenile justice classes at Western Michigan University. Frank’s knowledge of delinquency treatment provides needed perspective to MCCD.

Matt Wojack                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Matt has worked for over 14 years with youth with serious emotional disturbance and their families. He currently serves as the Project Director for Impact, Ingham County System of Care Initiative , a county-wide initiative to develop and implement a System of Care to better serve youth with serious emotial disturance. This initiative is a consortium of Community and Mental Health, Ingham County Department of Human Services, the Family Division of Circuit Court, private agencies, schools, and law enforcement. Matt has a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work. He was recently appointed by Governor Granholm to serve on the Michigan Board of Social Work.

Ruth Zweifler
Ruth retired in 2004 as the Executive Director of the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She was a founding member of the Center and has served in many capacities since 1975. She continues to advocate for school children on both individual and policy levels by providing written documentation of school systems’ failure to serve students. Ruth also continues to push governmental agencies to exercise their mandated responsibilities to provide effective monitoring and oversight of local school districts to ensure services and supervision are provided to children who have been expelled from school under the zero-tolerance law. Her knowledge of the school system is invaluable to MCCD’s advocacy efforts.