If you need to contact any of the board members, please send an email to admin@detroitatd.org and your inquiry will be redirected to the adequate board member. 


President - Albina Ortiz

Albina Ortiz has nearly 20 years of experience in instructional design, human resource development, and labor relations. She currently works for GP Strategies as a Training Project Manager supporting the Rockwell Automation account.

Some of her accomplishments have included: designing, developing, and deploying training materials in the areas of Project Management, Lean Manufacturing, Craft skills, Automation, Leadership Development, and Executive Coaching.

She has performed training needs, course adaptability, and knowledge transfer and deliverance assessments, written case studies and proposals, and developed train-the-trainer participant and instructor guides for various clients in the manufacturing, food and beverage, and Health Care fields.

Albina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Development from Oakland University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and is currently attending Grand Canyon University to obtain her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership.

President Elect - Diane Fox

Diane Fox has over 10 years’ experience in the Learning and Development field with experience in managing projects and teams to enhance learning and development programs and analyze learning effectiveness. She also has expertise in strategic planning, LMS management and facilitating instructor-led and virtual classroom training.

She is currently the Training Manager at MotorCity Casino Hotel where she oversees a training department that supports the organization in 5 key areas including Compliance, Leadership, Development, Management and Guest Service.

Diane holds a BA Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Concordia University and an MBA from Lawrence Technological University.

Diane achieved her Certified Professional of Learning and Performance (CPLP) through ATD in November 2015.

Past President  - Laura Vavrek

Laura Vavrek is a project manager and instructional designer at Innovative Learning Group.

She has 15 years’ experience in the training and performance improvement field. Before joining ILG in 2012, Laura did freelance work on one of ILG’s major retail accounts. Immediately prior, she was a senior instructional designer at O/E Learning, where she worked on projects for the National Safety Council, PNC Bank, and Meijer.

From 2005-2007, Laura was an instructional designer at MSX International, where she completed projects for the Ford Motor Company Design Institute. Previously, she was a consulting associate at Triad Performance Technologies, where she was responsible for designing and developing instructor-led and web-based courses.

Laura has a bachelor’s degree in human resources development from Oakland University.

Vice President of Technology- Johnnie Thayer
After working for many years in the legal field, and frequently finding herself in the position of helping others, Johnnie realized that she really loved the feeling of helping others succeed.

She returned to college to get a degree that will allow her to fulfill her goal of support the learning and talent development of others.

She currently works at Sun Communities Inc. as a Learning & Development Coordinator. 

Johnnie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Human Resource Development/Training and Development from Oakland University.   

Vice President of Finance - Chris Olson
Chris Olson is the Manager of Organizational Development at Chemical Bank. His responsibilities with Chemical Bank include overseeing the leadership development program, talent management curriculum and corporate learning technology solutions.

He brings 17 years of experience in the finance industry, from seven different banking organizations. Eleven of those years were spent focusing specifically on learning and development.

His expertise involves strategic planning, instructional design, LMS management, eLearning authoring, facilitating instructor-led and virtual classroom trainings. Through his professional career, he also brings an eclectic background of performing in national touring indie rock bands, establishing a Third Wave coffee roasting company and providing consulting for Michigan craft breweries.


Vice President of Marketing and Communications - Karen Gates  

Karen is the Vice President of Human Resources for Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. Her responsibilities include training and development, performance management, succession planning, talent acquisition, compensation, benefits, and labor/employee relations.

Karen has extensive experience in human resources and in developing and implementing leadership programs. The Leadership Academy and Leadership Lessons twelve month curriculum are included in courses developed by Karen for Goodwill of North Georgia, her previous employer.

Karen holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from Oakland University and a Master's Degree in Human Resources from Central Michigan University.

Vice President of Programs and Events- Esther Jackson 

Esther is an Instructional Designer/Trainer with over 12 years of experience in training and development. She has worked in various capacities to provide training and consulting services to city employees, public school personnel, court employees, library workers, and state workers. She has a background in creating training materials, facilitating more than 30 course topics for soft skills and technology courses, presenting at retreats, coordinating conferences, and managing projects.

She has a passion for sharing knowledge and skill development which she demonstrates in her volunteer work with community youth development programs and parent workshops.

Esther holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Arts Degree from Wayne State University. She is pursuing her doctoral degree from Walden University.

Vice President of Membership - Michael Haynes

Michael Haynes is a licensed attorney in Michigan and an experienced HR and employee relations professional. His specialty areas are training and development, employment law, and health insurance. He also teaches Employee Benefits courses at Oakland University.

Michael has spent hundreds of hours organizing and delivering trainings and presentations, and has served individual clients in a multitude of legal areas, including labor relations, employment contract negotiation, and benefit brokerage and explanation.

In addition to years of practical experience, Haynes holds academic credentials from Eastern Michigan University (B.S. Public Administration; MSHROD) and Penn State University (J.D.). He also is a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) as credentialed by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

Vice President of Administration - Kristy Graszak

Kristy is the Staff Development Manager for the Michigan Human Society (MHS) and has been with MHS for 10 years. She developed the first training programs to reach across all three adoption centers and multiple off-site locations. MHS staff training programs ensure the quality of customer service, animal care and safety are consistent across locations.

She achieved her CPLP in the Fall of 2016. She has completed the certificate course in Instructional Design for E-Learning and Train the Trainer through ATD. Kristy has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Central Michigan University.

Vice President of Career Development - Tarnisha McLaughlin

Tarnisha McLaughlin is a Senior Learning and Development Specialist at the University of Michigan Health System.

Some of her accomplishments include: successfully designing a competency based leadership development program and administering an organization wide career development pilot program.

Previously, she was responsible for the delivery of selection and assessment projects for various clients, including behavioral based interviewing, day- in the life simulations, personality inventories, career batteries, and skills tests.

Tarnisha holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Development from Oakland University and a Master’s in Education in Instructional Technology from Wayne State University, and has also acquired her Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certifications.

Member at Large - Eric Nalian

Eric Nalian is a Learning Project Lead for Sun Communities, Inc. where he has been since 2008.

He has lead and been involved with projects that pertain to system and software implementation, process improvement and anything that can help drive the business forward. In his own words, "The most satisfying moments of my job are those moments when I can see team members learning and growing from a training/learning solution that I implemented."

Eric has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Development and a Masters in Training and Development. Both degrees are from Oakland University.

Member at Large - Valerie Santoro

Valerie Santoro is the Director of Training at Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. She oversees the design and implementation of employee training in the areas of Onboarding, Sales, Wine and Spirits.

She is experienced in curriculum planning, developing and conducting instructor-led and virtual classroom events, LMS Management, and instructional design.

Valerie is a Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Specialist of Spirits, and has a B.S. from Michigan State University, specializing in Viticulture and Enology.

In addition to her role as a member at large with ATD Detroit , she serves on the board of directors for the Society of Wine Educators and is the Committee Chair for an amazing pack of Cub Scouts.

Member at Large - Larry Gelfund

Larry is a talent management/improvement and organizational development professional in the retail, customer service, supply chain, financial services and manufacturing industries.

He is recognized for his in-depth knowledge and broad expertise including: domestic and international leadership development, organizational development, talent management, performance management, training, human resources, classroom instruction, motivational speaking, team building, strategic planning, staff management, operations, video scripting, production and acting.

With over 30 years of professional management experience, he is currently the Principal of Laredo Learning, LLC.

ATD Detroit Account Manager - Cheryl Dry

Cheryl is the account manager at Meeting Coordinators, Inc., the leading association and meeting management firm in Southeast Michigan.

Cheryl's experience in the meetings and hospitality industries started when she was a catering sales manager, working at the Hilton, Marriott and Ramada hotels in Florida, New Jersey and Michigan.

Meeting Coordinators, Inc. is proud to manage the daily logistics and administrative activities for our chapter. In addition to ATD Detroit and several other associations, they also manage and coordinate corporate meetings and conferences.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software