Great Lakes Bay Region

Mental Health Partnership

Steering Team


 James W. Fisher, P.E.

Steering Team Chair


Fisher Contracting Company


J. W. has worked for the Fisher family businesses throughout his life and for Fisher Contracting since 1979, becoming president, and serving in that role since 1996. He also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for all of the Fisher Companies.  J. W. has a B. S. in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Michigan. J. W. has been married to Yvonne for 33-years and they have four children. Together J. W. and Yvonne serve on several boards for local for-profit and nonprofit organizations.


Rob Vallentine


Mary Laffey

Steering Team At-Large Member

Owner and President

MultiMedia Communications Consulting 


Mary was born and raised in Midland and has a strong commitment to the Great Lakes Bay Region.  She started her communications business more than 30 years ago and has especially enjoyed advocating for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities – elderly citizens, low-income families, and those struggling with mental illness.  Mary has a B.S. in Hospital Management from Ferris State University.  She has served on a number of community boards and committees, and has worked with the Great Lakes Bay Mental Health Partnership since its inception.


Dr. Furhut Janssen


 Janine Ouderkirk

Steering Team At-Large Member

Division of Victim Services, Quality Assurance Team 

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Janine is the Retired Executive Director of Shelterhouse of Midland and Gladwin Counties. Janine received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Michigan State University, and is a Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) with the State of Michigan, a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), and a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).  She is a past president and board member for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, a member and past president of the Midland Noon Rotary Club. She is a 1999 Leadership Midland Graduate, a 2012 Graduate of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Leadership Institute, and a 2013 Leadership Gladwin Graduate. In 2018, Janine was part of Midland’s first Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology program.

A life-long resident of Midland County, Janine is married to Paul, has two children and

six grandchildren. It was her privilege to be a Midland County Court foster parent to

teenage girls for 16 years, accepting over 100 placements during that time.


Dr. Matt Samocki

Steering Team Standing


THRIVE Portfolio Director

Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and Michigan Health Improvement Alliance


Matt was formerly an administrator with the Central Michigan Science, Mathematics, Technology Center (SMTC) at Central Michigan University.  Prior to that, he served as an assistant principal at H.H. Dow High School and was a teacher at Freeland High School.  Matt earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in interdisciplinary social sciences and a minor in psychology, plus a master’s degree in curriculum and teaching from Michigan State University.  He earned his doctoral degree in educational leadership from Central Michigan University.  With a strong commitment to improve health and sustain economic growth, he embraces highly effective and coordinated stakeholder collaboration to positively impact health, healthcare and economic success in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Steering Team Standing


Director, Psychiatry Residency Program and Assistant Professor, Psychiatry

CMU College of Medicine

Dr. Janssen is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. She earned her medical degree from the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Janssen is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Covenant HealthCare and Genesys Regional Medical Center. Dr. Janssen serves nationally in setting and maintaining high standards for board certification as the child psychiatry representative to the American Board of Osteopathic Neurology and Psychiatry, as well as to the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists. Dr. Janssen is the psychiatry residency program director at CMU Medical Education Partners.

Steering Team Standing At-Large Member

Executive in Residence

Saginaw Valley State University

Rob is currently serving as an executive in residence for Saginaw Valley State University. In this role, he is working closely with various departments and student organizations in an effort to reduce the stigma of mental health and strengthen access to resources within the university and the community. Rob also works closely with the President’s staff , University Communications, SVSU Foundation and Alumni Relations to further advance the SVSU experience on campus and in the community.


He served as president of the Dow Company Foundation, providing strategic direction for Dow's philanthropic priorities around the world. He managed implementation of the Foundation’s $40 million annual charitable contributions, with a keen commitment to education, sustainability and community development.


Over the last several years, Rob has become a community advocate, working tirelessly to break the stigma of mental health by sharing his own story of hope, healing and growth with thousands of people. He is a certified trainer for the SafeTALK Suicide Prevention Program and Mental Health First Aid. He serves on the National Advisory Board for the University of Michigan Depression Center and the National Advisory Council for the National Network of Depression Centers.   Rob also serves on the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance Board of Directors, Shelterhouse Board of Directors and is a Community Director for TCF Bank.


Rob earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a master’s degree in business administration from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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