Board of Directors Biographies
Nicole Jennings | President & Co-Founder
President Nicole Jennings. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Granddaughter of Anna Whitten, who was well known in the Kalamazoo community for her numerous works and who is the namesake of Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Arcadia Commons Campus building. She attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a degree in Nursing and is the proud wife of former WMU Bronco and NFL wide receiver Greg Jennings.
As a couple, Nicole and Greg are extraordinarily active in charitable works. In 2008 they started the Greg Jennings Foundation to enrich the lives of the youth. In addition to giving back to the community, Nicole says a side benefit is setting a positive example for their children–Amya, Alea, Ayva, and Aice.
“It’s important to Greg and I that our children understand the value of sacrifice and hard work, that not everything they want will be automatically given to them,” says Nicole. “Part of the lesson is learning that they have a responsibility to give back. Our faith teaches us that to be blessed, you have to be a blessing to others.”
Greg Jennings | Founder & Vice President
Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Mich. Married his wife, the former Nicole Lindsey, in June 2005 and now reside in Edina, Minnesota with their four children–Amya, Alea, Ayva and Aice. He attended Kalamazoo Central High school where he was all-conference in three sports – football, basketball and track. Drafted to the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and in 2011 led the Packers to the first Super Bowl victory in 14 years.
In 2008, Mr. Jennings and his wife, Nicole, founded the Greg Jennings Foundation, a private family foundation that partners with and assist Minneapolis, Minnesota and greater Kalamazoo, Michigan organizations in educating youth by providing the necessary resources in order for them to reach their academic potential
Quite simply, Greg goes BEYOND in everything he does. Whether on the practice field, in the community, or at home with his friends and family, Greg always gives more than expected. He is the consummate “good guy”, positive role model, and family man. Honesty and integrity are of the utmost importance to him. Recently retired from the NFL, Greg is currently pursuing his career in TV broadcasting and holds a position with Fox Sports.
Sydney Parfet | Secretary | Lake, Parfet & Schau PLC
Sydney is a partner in the law firm Lake, Parfet & Schau, PLC. She joined the firm in 2003. Prior to that, Sydney was an associate at Lewis Reed & Allen and Reed Stover P.C. Sydney’s practice focuses primarily on estate planning, estate administration and tax planning. She works with individuals, closely held businesses and family foundations to create a plan
that best suits the needs of the particular client.
Sydney received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1999 and earned her J.D. cum laude with a tax concentration from Michigan State University College of Law in 2002. Sydney is a member of Kalamazoo County Bar Association as well as the State Bar of Michigan. She is the recipient of the ICLE Probate and Estate Planning Certificate.
Sydney is from the Kalamazoo area and is active within the community. She is on the Board of Directors of Greenleaf Trust and serves on several non-profit boards within Michigan and Kalamazoo. She is the mother of 2 wonderful boys, Will and Charlie.
James Liggins |Treasurer | Miller Canfield
James Liggins, a former in-house counsel for a major gas and electric utility company, is an experienced litigator. He is licensed to practice law in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana and in the federal district courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana.
He has litigated a broad range of complex cases including contract disputes, construction litigation, personal injury defense, premises liability and property and real estate. James also regularly advises clients on business-related matters. Utilizing his experience as a former in-house counsel, he has worked closely with various municipalities in Michigan on issues such as civil and criminal statutes, ordinances and codes, housing code enforcement and property disputes.
James is passionate about community service and diversity. He serves on various non-profit boards of directors and committees including the Greater Kalamazoo United Way Campaign Cabinet, the Kalamazoo County Bar Association, the Douglass Community Association and the Greg Jennings Foundation. James is also the founder and past president of the Judge Charles A. Pratt Bar Association, the first minority bar association in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. James is a member of the American Bar Association and National Bar Association and a frequent attendee at the NBA Corporate Counsel Conference and Annual Meeting.
Patricia Coles-Chalmers | Kalamazoo Public Schools
Patricia (Pat) Coles-Chalmers graduated from West Virginia State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education. Her Specialist Degree for Elementary Education came from William Patterson College in Wayne, New Jersey. Her Master’s Degree in Special Education with emphasis in Gifted and Special Needs Students was granted from West Virginia University in Morgantown, Wes Virginia.
After graduation, Pat immediately started teaching in West Virginia for one year. For the next almost four years she lived in France and Germany and taught school on the U.S. Army Bases when needed. She has supervised the running of a US/USO Service Club for military staff.
Upon returning to the United States and New Jersey, she was a Field Executive for the Girl Scouts of Bergen County, New Jersey. In this position, she serviced ten North Bergen Communities for scouting and professional development training. In 1970, while living in Oakland, New Jersey she started her teaching career in New Jersey as a classroom teacher and an Instructional Specialist for Gifted and Special Needs Students. She taught in Mahwah, New Jersey until her family relocated to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1979. Pat immediately began working as a teacher for the Kalamazoo Public Schools. In Kalamazoo, she was a classroom teacher, art teacher, Instructional Specialist, Assistant Principal, Principal and for the rest of her years of service as the Assistant Superintendent of the Teaching and Learning Services Department. This position was considered to be the top instructional position in the district. Pat has impacted the lives of thousands of students, families and colleagues in her 31 years of service to KPS.
As a community leader, Pat has served as President and Vice President of the YWCA of Kalamazoo and The Kalamazoo Nature Center Boards. Earlier she was the President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Dulcet Club. She served for many years on three grant funding committees of the Kalamazoo Foundation. She has been recognized for her service on the City of Kalamazoo Planning Commission for seven years.
Pat has been honored for her many school based and community wide contributions. Recently she was honored as The YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement Award for 2010. Other awards include the Genevieve U. Gilmore Volunteer Leadership Awards, YWCA Woman of Achievement and the Kalamazoo Public Schools Excellence in Education Administrator of the Year Award. In June 2010, she received the Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae Chapter Mary McLeod Bethune Education Award.
Mrs. Chalmers is the mother of two adult sons in Atlanta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida and the grandmother of five energetic and active teenagers. She stays busy. With one grandson living in the Kalamazoo area and attending KPS, she will always stay invested in this community.
Being on the Greg Jennings Foundation Board gives her the opportunity to work with her former student and his family in their quest to be of service to the children and families of the Kalamazoo Community. The education and positive empowerment of youth in this community will build a more powerful and economic based community in the future for the all.