Board of Directors
Jennifer Cole- Founder and President
As the founder and President of Brody’s Be Cafe, Jenny Cole feels extremely blessed to have a coffee shop run by such wonderful people right here in the Ada community! Jenny began planning and organizing the opening of Brody’s Be Cafe in October 2018, opening the doors for the first time in October 2019.
Jenny knew from a young age that her passion was working with children and teaching kids of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. As a 1999 graduate from Grand Valley State University’s teaching program, Jenny was anxious to begin teaching. After several years as an elementary school teacher, Jenny decided to pursue her teaching career at Lowell Middle School in Lowell, Michigan. She continues to teach and impact the lives of the students she encounters.
Jenny’s desire to open a coffee shop was inspired by her son, Brody, who was born with Down syndrome. The birth of her son, although unexpected and unfamiliar, has now been the gateway to opportunities beyond her wildest dreams. Her continued love and support for individuals with various intellectual and physical disabilities is displayed in the beloved Brody’s Be Cafe. Jenny is so grateful for the employees at Brody’s Be as well as the support from local communities making Brody’s Be Cafe possible and providing equal working opportunities.
Chip Rennaker- Vice President
Retired from Medtronic, a global leader in the healthcare industry, Chip’s passion has always been to help others and to get results. He was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO. Respecting those with special needs should be no different.
Growing up in a household with two sisters with special needs, he has always been compassionate for both the individuals and the families involved. Learning from those with disabilities can be very rewarding. He knows that including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers will allow all of us to see their full potential.
Brody’s Be Cafe has given their workers with special needs the ability to be front and center as well as providing meaningful jobs and allowing them to engage in valuable roles.
Jane Weatherford- Secretary
“Change won’t just happen. You need to make it happen. Nothing will change if we don’t ask for it to change.” This is a mantra Jane has repeated many times.
For twelve years, Jane has passionately advocated for her son, Cam, born with cerebral palsy. In turn, Cam has taught her to advocate for herself as a professional business woman in a career dominated by men. Cam exudes a pure joy and happiness that can lift up his mom even on her worst day. His compassion for others is always evident, and he accepts every challenge put before him.
Jane is a manager and communications specialist for Atos, a global company headquartered in France. As a remote worker, using technology and building relationships is second nature, and Jane hopes to use those skills as a member of the board. In addition, Jane has board experience in Grand Rapids with United Cerebral Palsy Board of Directors, GVSU PT Advisory Board, and she is a Guild Member of the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
Jane is positive by nature and believes every day is an opportunity to make someone else’s day brighter. Brody’s Be Cafe is all about change and advocating for others. It’s the first and ONLY place in our community that is purpose-built for acceptance. She is passionate about its message of inclusion, acceptance, and bringing everyone together. From its inception, Cam has told his parents that when he is old enough, he cannot wait to work at Brody’s Be Cafe. It is hard to say if it’s because of the cafe itself or the fact that his best buddy, Brody, will probably be there too!
John and Tammy Wade- Board Members
Our names are John and Tammy Wade. We have 2 sons and 3 small dogs. We have been married for 25 years, and we have run a small business for 18 years now. Currently, our territory covers all of west Michigan, but we are striving to grow to the east side of Michigan (where we both grew up). We live in Lowell and enjoy watching our youngest son and his friends play soccer. We love boating, biking, tennis, and traveling. We can’t even express enough how much we enjoy being a part of Brody’s Be Cafe. We can’t wait to get to know and spend more time with the leaders of this inspiring cafe!
Dawn Carbines- Board Member
Dawn Carbines, Marketing Specialist, mother of 2 daughters, wife to Jeff Carbines, strives to create a place where everyone feels accepted, valued, and supported. With her extensive experience in profit management and long-range strategy development, Dawn believes that smart, ethical initiatives and long-range thinking can make the world a better place.
Dawn fell in love with charitable work when she was only 13. Heavily guided by her Faith, she quickly developed a deep passion for anyone who felt different or unsupported. Her charitable work spans many organizations including the United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the Noorthoek Academy, an organization that helps individuals with special needs go to college.
Dawn provides marketing support for Brody’s Be and is firmly rooted in our mission. She is the happiest when spending her days keeping the West Michigan area and amazing place for everyone to live.
Kelly Jandernoa- Board Member
Kelly Jandernoa is excited to contribute to Brody’s Be Cafe board with her creative problem solving skills and advocacy for inclusion. She sees growth, love, and hope when people of all abilities live and work alongside one another. Kelly comes to Brody’s Be Cafe for the good feelings and warmth from the staff and stays for the pastries and hot tea.
She is executive director of the Red Glasses Movement and a registered nurse with Cancer & Hematology Centers of West Michigan. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Kelly holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is mother to Tommy, Samantha, and Audrey and lives with her husband Carl in Grand Rapids.
Chris Manion- Board Member
Chris Manion is an Environments Consultant for Ada Bible Church— coordinating campuses with design for easy flow, spatial organization, and consistency in environments. She enjoys sharing this skill set with other churches, businesses, and organizations.
Her most recent adventure has been to partner with the Tim Tebow Foundation to organize and design a Night to Shine event at Ada Bible Church. Night to Shine is an incredible prom experience for people with special needs and their families.
Chris is a wife, mom, and grandma to 5. She is blessed to have Hazel, her granddaughter who was born with Down syndrome.
Chris is excited to be a part of Brody’s Be Cafe board of directors because she believes everyone is beautifully created and have a special gift they can share with the world. Brody’s Be Cafe is providing opportunities for those gifts to shine.
Tara Veldman- Board Member
Tara Veldman grew up on the west side of Grand Rapids, and is currently raising her family in the Lowell area. She has been married for 19 years and has two wonderful children. Tara is a Registered Nurse at Spectrum Health and has worked the majority of her time in the Emergency Department. However, for the past year she has been working as an Interventional Radiology Nurse.
Tara’s passion in life is to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Tara’s daughter Elyse is a Cystic Fibrosis Warrior. Through this journey, Tara has learned that when others come alongside you, and join you on your journey, amazing things can be accomplished.
Tara is honored to be a part of Brody’s Be Cafe and come alongside Jenny to pursue her dream and passion.
Sarah Wilson- Board Member
There is no greater privilege in life than to love and serve one another through sharing out God-given gifts and talents. A visit to Brody’s Be Cafe, surrounded by authentic, uplifting people of all abilities, is an opportunity to see this in action. Through her career as a physical therapist and certified case manager, Sarah has been inspired by people of all ages and abilities. Motivated by a desire to provide individualized, comprehensive rehabilitation services, Sarah and her longtime friend and colleague launched MI Rehab Solutions. MI Rehab Solutions is composed of impassioned interdisciplinary innovators on a mission to unleash the potential of every individual served. Sarah hopes to serve Brody’s Be Cafe with her passion for supporting individuals to be the best versions of themselves, no matter the circumstances. When she’s not enjoying her favorite drink at Brody’s Be Cafe, an Americano with lots of cream, Sarah loves jokes, traveling, hiking, reading, and spending time with her husband, Geoff, and their children, Grace, Liam, and Adele.
Kendra Webb- Board Member
Kendra Webb is a passionate occupational therapist serving students within the Forest Hills district. Kendra’s love for kids continually fuels her pursuit to lead in her profession as well as through volunteering in coaching. As a mother of three young children, Kendra’s free time is spent chasing kids, enjoying backyard adventures, lots of laughter, and learning to treasure each phase of life she finds herself in.
Kendra is excited to see how Brody’s Be Cafe went from a mother’s vision to a cherished place in our community. Being able to support Brody’s be Café as a board member is a huge honor for Kendra. She is looking forward to sharing her dedication and enthusiasm for children with the Brody’s Be Cafe team and the surrounding community.
Kevin Curtis- Board Member
Kevin and his wife and three children have resided in Allendale for the past 20 years, and he currently owns two State Farm Agencies within the Grand Rapids area. The Cole family, especially Brody, has been a huge part of our lives for the past 9 years. I vividly remember the day when I had the chance to play basketball with Brody in his driveway and those 15 minutes forever changed my life. I sat back and watched a 9-year-old boy with a deep love for life, a smile you would long to have, and the deepest laugh you could imagine. I remember thinking to myself that if I lived my life with half the amount of joy that Brody shows on a daily basis my life would be more fulfilled. I believe that my discipline in the workforce, attention to detail, and passion to change lives will allow me to be a positive part of the Brody’s Be Cafe board. Brody has always amazed me with his ability to show unconditional love to everyone he meets, and i believe my leadership on the board will follow his example.
Allie Cowden- Board Member
Allie is a passionate advocate for herself and others with special needs. She brings a positive attitude to Brody’s Be Cafe along with a unique perspective from her Down Syndrome advocacy experience. Allie is excited to serve on the board where she can share her special advocacy viewpoints and is thrilled that she also gets to work as a barista.
Allie loves to stay busy and in addition to Brody’s Be, she works at McDonalds and she volunteers at Cookie Chicks, where she makes cookies, cakes, and other treats. She also volunteers at the West Michigan Down Syndrome Association doing office work. In her free time, Allie likes to exercise, read, draw, and participate in group activities with her friends.
Bill Cole- Board Member
Bill Cole has been a State Farm agent for the past 11 years and is passionate about serving others and making a difference in people’s lives. Bill and his wife Jennifer are proud to have opened Brody’s Be Cafe in 2019 in order to provide equal working opportunities for individuals with special needs.
He is a father of three and enjoys spending time watching his children thrive in the Ada community. Bill loves to travel, learn about different cultures, see new places, and is always in search of a good adventure.
Bill is a huge sports fan and has thoroughly enjoyed coaching and being involved with the Special Olympics, where he is able to watch and guide his son, Brody, in the various sports in which he participates.
As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, he has enjoyed residing in the Grand Rapids area since 1994. Bill and Jennifer met there in 1995 and have been married for 17 years.
Bill is happy to serve as a board member for Brody’s Be Cafe and looks forward to bringing knowledge, experience, passion, and support to the position.
Erica Konkle- Board Member
Erica’s passion for Brody’s Be comes from her students. She feels fortunate to be Brody’s, and his friends’, current teacher. Erica loves being able to teach individuals with unique special needs every day. The best part of her job is watching authentic friendships occur between students with special needs and those without.
Erica feels honored to be on the board at Brody’s Be. She hopes to bring the love and compassion she has for these unique individuals to the group. As a teacher, Erica always worried about where her students would find meaningful employment. When the coffee shop opened, she felt relief and hope for a bright future for all of her kids. She believes that Brody’s Be is an amazing place where everyone feels accepted, loved, and cared for.
Currently, Erica is a teacher at Northern Trails 5/6 building. She teaches students who have special needs and talents. There is never a day she does not smile and laugh with her students. In her 5 years she has never had a boring day!
She is creative and has the ability to think outside the box. She is patient and determined. Above all, Erica always tries to see the positive in any given situation!
Rachel Stadt- Executive Director of Brody’s Be Cafe
Rachel feels it is a great privilege to be a part of this amazing community. When Jenny first presented the idea to Rachel, she could have never imagined the journey she was about to embark on. Rachel loves coffee, and more than coffee, she loves people. This journey so far is nothing short of a mom’s love for her son. Rachel has been perplexed by how she has seen herself changing and she now looks at all people through a different lens. Rachel feels honored to be a part of this dream, and she looks forward to helping bridge the gap.