Executive Board

Meet the 2022-2023 Executive Board

Carmen Feeny

After teaching for ten years, Carmen switched professions and became a child life specialist. After her practicum at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital and internship at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Carmen accepted a fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and worked with children receiving a bone marrow transplant in the inpatient and outpatient setting. After her fellowship, Carmen accepted a full-time position with Bronson Children’s Hospital at Bronson Battle Creek Emergency Department.

When Carmen takes off her child life hat, she enjoys putting on her sun hat and working in her gardens, go kayaking, ride or walk the trails, swing in the hammock, and enjoy the sunset and bonfire. Live music, family, friends, and road trips fuel her soul. Carmen’s creative mind enjoys a good challenge, so she always has a puzzle to do. Carmen has growing interests in tiny homes, plants of all kinds, reading, and cooking/baking. 

Fun Fact: Carmen went skydiving in Arizona!

Jalyssa Kessler

Jalyssa graduated from IUPUI with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Jalyssa is a Certified Child Life Specialist and also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician & Special Needs Technician. She worked for 3 years in the ER at a level 2 trauma center and also worked in mental health in the community setting. Jalyssa has continued working in the community setting and is currently working for a non-profit serving individuals with disabilities. Jalyssa enjoys spending time with her daughter and son, dog, husband, family and friends. For self-care she enjoys baking, crafting, reading, traveling, playing with her kids, date nights with her husband and having fun with family and friends.

Fun Fact: Jalyssa started out as a nursing major wanting to work in pediatrics but then found out about child life and switched her major within 24 hours.

Olivia Rauschenbach

Olivia obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in child development and child life from Ball State University and her Master’s Degree in family and human development from Arizona State University. She became a Certified Child Life Specialist in 2016, then started her career at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children on a med/surg unit. Olivia now works in a variety of clinical areas at IU Health Arnett Hospital, where she has been building a new child life program for over the past four years and has added two additional child life specialists to her team. Olivia enjoys going on walks with her dog, traveling with friends and family, and trying new coffee shops. She has been a member of GLACLP since 2014 and loves to learn and grow alongside professional and student members!

Fun Fact: Olivia used to show livestock (pigs, sheep, and cows) in 4-H!

Maggie Alvstad

Maggie iscurrently an Emergency Room Child Life Specialist at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Maggie completed her internship at Marshfield Children's Hospital in Wisconsin during the thick of the pre-vaccine pandemic. Because patient care was so limited, Maggie learned a lot about the behind the scenes work of child life. Maggie graduated in 2020 from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Child Life with a minor in Psychology. After graduating college, Maggie took some time to manage the renovations of her church after a fire. She managed the finances, insurance and banking that was involved in the $140,000 renovation. Maggie moved to Michigan in November of 2021 for a dream job at Bronson and loves living here! Maggie spends her free time hanging out with her roommate, reading by the pool, and FaceTiming her family.

Fun fact: Maggie loves to travel and has been to 42 states and 10 countries!

Vanessa Shields

Vanessa is is currently a Certified Child Life Specialist in the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic at Parkview Regional Medical Center. She previous worked in Same Day Surgery at Beacon Children's Hospital.  In her role, she has been a strong advocate for children and families in her area. She is also currently a member of the GLACLP Research Committee, serving as scribe for the committee meetings for the last year.  Prior to this position, and her involvement on the committee, Vanessa completed her internship at SIU School of Medicine at St. John's Children's Hospital and completed her practicum at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. She completed her bachelor's degree in Family Life, with a concentration in Child Life, from Concordia University Ann Arbor.

Fun Fact: Vanessa's hidden talent is styling hair, which she learned how to do from her mom and watching many YouTube tutorials. 

Mallory Gutchall
Traditional CCLS Member-at-Large

Mallory is a child life specialist on the Oncology Unit at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University and then went on to work at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital for 7 years. Throughout her time as a CCLS she has been an informal mentor for students and new staff, as well as those in the child life community through the ACLP Mentor Program. She also currently serves on the Bulletin Committee. Mallory values integrity, innovation, and collaboration in her work. She also loves spending time with her pup, Beau.

Fun Fact: Mallory tried out for American Idol in 2015!

Julie Piazza
Non-Traditional CCLS Member-at-Large

Julie Piazza is a Senior Project Manager for the Office of Patient Experience leading innovations for comfort management, healing environments, nature and healing and preparation for public health. Piazza serves as project lead for the  adult non-pharmacologic interdisciplinary care in partnership with the Department of Child and Family Life at University of Michigan Health’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center. She has a BS in Child Development from Iowa State University and a MS in Children in Health Care Settings/Administration from Wheelock College. Piazza has worked at University of Michigan Health since 2001 and shares from her over 40 years of experience in clinical care as a CCLS, program implementation, patient experience, community partnerships, servant leadership, pain management research, and compassionate  connected care.

Fun Fact: She went on a 700 mile bike trip in Europe when she was 17, starting her quest for exploring and pioneering! She also loves coffee and chocolate!

Nancy McCurdy
Educator Member-at-Large

Nancy began her career as a Child Life "Worker" at Riley Hospital for Children long before certification was in place.  She was part of the original Child Life Study Group, and then Task Force, with the Association of Children's Health (ACCH).  She was an original member of the Child Life Council, when it became independent from ACCH.  She has a particular interest in the history of the Child Life profession.  She did an internship at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London through Wheelock College, now part of Boston University. 

She has worked at Riley Hospital for Children, Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, and Lifelines Children's Rehabilitation Hospital at St. Vincent.  Additionally, she has worked in non-traditional Child Life roles in early intervention and hospice.  She was a co-founder of CHAMP Camp, a camp for children and adolescents with tracheostomies and those requiring ventilator assistance, which celebrated its 30th year in 2021. 

She has taught Child Life coursework at Ball State University in Muncie, IN from 2013 - 2016 and returned again in 2020 to develop a new course, ""Infants, Children and Families in Health Care Settings"", which involves a Simulation Lab.  Presently, she also works PRN in Same Day Surgery in the Riley Outpatient Center. 

Fun Fact: Nancy ran in the cross country Olympic Torch relay in 1984. Her mile was in the middle of Kansas!

Jade Mergen-Henry
Child Life Student Member-at-Large

Jade graduated from Western Michigan University with her Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development in 2022. She is currently working toward her Master’s degree in Family Consumer Sciences with a child life concentration also at WMU. Jade recently completed two, year-long volunteer experiences at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital as a Phase 1 Child Life Student and another at the Children’s Healing Center. She worked with many diverse groups of children and families and gained an increase of knowledge, love, and appreciation for the field of child life. Jade has served on the GLACLP conference committee where she helped plan the 2022 conference, give student input, and learn valuable collaboration skills. If she’s not at school or work, you can find her outside exploring nature with loved ones. Some of her favorite outdoor activities include hiking, paddle boarding, and camping. Jade is passionate about the field of child life and can’t wait for the opportunities that are to come.

Fun Fact: Jade’s living room looks like a jungle because she is a plant mama! She loves all kinds of plants!

Holly Campbell
Child Life Assistant Member-at_Large

Holly Campbell has been a child life assistant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for the past 3 years. Holly is currently working toward a Masters of Child Life and Child Development from Texas Woman’s University and is excited to be working toward becoming a CCLS. She is looking forward to gaining more leadership roles and joining the GLACP E-board. She loves to travel, be with family and friends, and help her mom run her dance studio outside of work. Fun Fact: She competed in dance competitions growing up and won many national competitions with her tap routines.

Fun Fact: You can always find her planning her next Disney World trip!!