Honoring the empowered women working at Southwest Solutions!

March 31st, 2021
Women working at Southwest Solutions honored for their inspiring and empowering example

March was Women’s History Month and, to mark the occasion, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council invited staff to nominate women at our organization who inspire their colleagues through their work, dedication, and example. The nominees were honored at a special virtual event on March 24.

Here are the honorees and what was written about each of them in the nomination submissions:

Paige Beasley

Paige Beasley, Assistant Coordinated Assessment Model (CAM) Manager. “Paige is one of the smartest, most resourceful people I have ever known. She somehow manages to be amazing at all the hats she wears – manager, friend, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, and so many others. Paige inspires me every day to be better, and I know her wisdom and passion has also been felt by so many others.”

Patricia Bleeda-Vineyard

Patricia Bleeda-Vineyard, Clinical Manager at the Housing Resource Center (HRC). “Pat has been with Southwest Solutions for 12 years. Pat a patient with her staff and gives them all the resources they need to accomplish success with their jobs. She has been instrumental in ending homelessness by working with our consumers who were formerly homeless. She has a non-judgmental approach to working with the consumer we serve. Pat is also a caregiver to many of her family members. She has been through many struggles and I am proud to be her co-worker and friend because I learn what true strength is from her everyday actions!”

Grace Cini

Grace Cini, Certified Peer Support Specialist with Adult Outpatient Services. “Grace uses her lived experiences and life journey to provide support and guidance to our clients. Among her roles with Southwest Counseling Solutions (SWCS), Grace worked at our former drop-in center Go-Getters, co-facilitated groups in our Health Solutions programs, led exercise groups and provided transportation allowing our clients to participate in therapy groups. Over the past year, Grace has been making wellness calls to clients, helping them through this challenging and isolating time. Our clients truly connect with Grace and she has been able to calm their fears, helping them from feeling completely isolated. Additionally, through her efforts, Grace has been able to keep clients connected with their services at Adult Outpatient Services. Grace inspires others through empathy and strong belief that everyone deserves to live his/her best life.”

Catherine Distelrath

Catherine Distelrath, CAM Manager. “Catherine is a phenomenal leader who goes above and beyond in her role as CAM Manager. Under Catherine’s leadership, CAM has steadily grown and plays a crucial role in efforts to end homelessness in Detroit. Catherine tirelessly works with CAM staff and community partners to improve services for clients and advance system-wide change. She does an excellent job balancing her roles as a community leader with her duties as a manager. Catherine is one of the best supervisors I have had, and I know that she cares deeply about each person on our team. She provides both the support and challenge to grow professionally and personally. The CAM team is like family and has a ton of fun and support for each other, and that is in no small part because of Catherine. Her hard-work, dedication, and leadership is inspirational.”

“Catherine is a strong dynamo in the operation of CAM.  She is a role-model leader in the values that Southwest Solutions professes in helping homeless individuals find housing and support.  She leads her team in a quiet but strong way and is seen as a leader in this space in the Detroit community.”

Denise Elhaje

Denise Elhaje, Deputy Director of Adult Counseling Services. “Denise is a tireless leader who never stops.  She is one of those behind-the-scenes individuals who just gets it done, which is so important to the success of the operations of Southwest Counseling Solutions. In addition, she has a positive attitude and leads by doing. She is a go-to person by many and has a wonderful font of knowledge about operations. She also has a very good relationship with our physicians who also appreciate her efforts.”

Tasia Evans

Tasia Evans, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Southwest Solutions (HR). “Tasia has taken a broken, outdated process (Recruiting) and brought it into the current century and made it more viable and useful in attracting top industry talent. Tasia is a wife and mother who continues to better herself by obtaining industry-leading credentials (Society of Human Resources Management) showing that she is willing to not only put in over 50 hours week for Southwest Solutions but willing to invest in herself to be better for Southwest Solutions.”

Marquita Felder

Marquita Felder, Director of Children, Youth and Families (CYF). “Marquita has been so wonderful to work with. I look up to her as she juggles the roles of Director, mom of small children, wife, child advocate and so much more. She started in wraparound services and worked her way to being Director of CYF which reminds me that even through professional challenges, you can still be authentic, professional, caring, supportive and do diligent work in this profession.”

“Marquita is truly inspirational in the way she leads her team with a calm but resolute style.  She has been committed to Southwest Solutions for many years and continues to role model the organizational values of Respect, Equity, Integrity, Partnership, Service and Impact.  She represents the organization magnificently in the community and is considered a strong leader in the children’s services community in Detroit.”

Latanya Gater

Latanya Gater, Clinician-Case Manager at Children, Youth and Families. “Latanya is the union chair unit person, and in that role, she has shown tremendous leadership. She leads with bravery and intelligence while demonstrating the strength of character and passion. I’m impressed with her ability to rigorously advocate and remain respectful and sensitive to the concerns of others. And she continues to stay focused on her duties as a social worker. Being a union chairperson is a difficult and demanding position and oftentimes unpopular among union and non-union staff alike.”

Veronica Gutierrez

Veronica Gutierrez, Medical Assistant at Adult Counseling Services . “Veronica is genuinely a nice person. She gives good advice and she’s a hard worker. Veronica is a good mom, wife, and friend.”

Barbara Gray

Barbara Gray, Program Manager at Adult Counseling Services. “Barbara has been a leader who is willing to ask hard questions but also be empathetic in her supervision of staff. She maintains a focus on meeting the needs of our clients, willing to think outside-the-box in order to develop creative ways for meeting unique needs. She is also an advocate, willing to raise concerns seen at the ground level to higher administrative levels, both within and beyond our own agency. I appreciate her example and work to emulate it.”

Kristina Henning

Kristina Henning, Clinician/Case-Manager at Adult Counseling Services. “An average day for Kristina may involve helping people on her caseload get their water turned back on, apply for SNAP food benefits, search for better housing, and delve into issues of an early life trauma that continue to impede someone from having a healthy, fulfilling life. In addition, Kristina serves as a Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model group facilitator, SWCS Quality Committee member, and DEI Committee member. Every day, Kristina inspires her colleagues by providing thoughtful, comprehensive services, approaching clients with compassion and professional expertise.”

Melanie Horton

Melanie Horton, Property Manager at Southwest Housing Solutions. “Melanie has worked hard to coordinate this event in celebration of Women’s History Month. Melanie has made sure that we are able to celebrate and recognize female entrepreneurs from within our own agency. Empowered women empower women! Melanie is the type of person you’d want on your team in any situation.”

Stephanye Lavenant

Stephanye Lavenant, Support Coordinator Assistant at Adult Counseling Services. “Stephanye juggles numerous responsibilities and is very much the lynchpin of the Integrated Health Team- we would be pretty lost without her! Not only is Stephanye an exceptionally hard worker but she is also an awesome mom and thoughtful friend. I’m so grateful to have met Stephanye here at Southwest Solutions!”

Terri Lopez

Terri Lopez, Leasing Specialist at Southwest Housing Solutions. “Terri assists with our entire housing portfolio, including Piquette Square for Veterans. She works diligently to help applicants secure safe, affordable housing in Wayne County.”

Alex Makohn

Alex Makohn, Manager of Homeownership Assistance Team. “Alex is incredibly friendly, organized, and motivated. Her passion for DEI and being such a team player inspire the DEI Council as a whole. Alex has gone above and beyond helping us to organize this event to recognize and empower the amazing women here at Southwest Solutions!”

Erica Medina

Erica Medina, Bilingual Clinician / Case Manager at Adult Outpatient Services. “During the summer of 2020, Erica moved across the country from California to Michigan, eventually accepting a position at SWCS. Over the past seven months, Erica made a smooth transition from working with adolescents to providing therapy and case management to adults in Southwest Detroit. When Erica arrived, her team members were scattered throughout the region because of remote work, but they have been welcoming and helpful, paving the way for Erica to jump right into her work with clients. Erica inspires others by the way she embraces the challenge of the complexity each client presents, skillfully providing therapy and case management to meet those needs.”

Rose Paczkowski

Rose Paczkowski, Controller at Southwest Solutions. “Rose has been with Southwest Solutions for about a year now but came on board in the midst of many challenges in finance and accounting. She quickly jumped in and tackled the work. Rose has brought many good ideas to Southwest and continues to push us forward in her areas of responsibility. She is positive and doesn’t complain. She is mission driven and has helped us a lot.”

Ursula Price

Ursula Price, Controller at Southwest Counseling Solutions. “Ursula exhibits one of the best positive attitudes within Southwest Solutions. You’ve heard the phrase ‘attitude is everything.’ That is more true today than ever before. When many see the amount of work before us and let that stifle them, Ursula just keeps pushing on. She leads a good team that has improved greatly in recent years. She will always respond positively, even if the task ahead seems daunting.”

Regina Reed

Regina Reed, Courier at Southwest Solutions. “Regina supports all of us in our efforts every day and always with a smile.  Her consistency in her work and her willingness to always take that extra step never goes unnoticed with us.”

Vicki Rodriquez

Vicki Rodriquez, Property Management Administrative at Southwest Housing Solutions. “Vicki has been a rock for Southwest Housing during the pandemic by making sure our office still functioned at full capacity.”

Laura Santos, Director of Property and Asset Management. “Laura is a phenomenal woman who gets the job done! Her kindness and gentle nature can be felt virtually in every interaction.

Laura Santos

She always goes above the call-of-duty and is available whenever needed. Laura is like a star in the sky… you may not always see it, but you know she’s always there.”

Jane Scarlett

Jane Scarlett, Deputy Director of Housing Resource Center. “Jane is one of the unsung heroes of SWCS. She is a get-it-done individual whose knowledge of HUD grants and the intricacies of affordable housing are crucial to our delivering the organization’s mission in the Housing Resource Center. Her style is unique and it takes a while to get to know her, but once you do, you will appreciate her dedication and straightforwardness. We’re fortunate to have Jane in our ranks!”

Michelle Sherman

Michelle Sherman, COO/CFO of Southwest Solutions.  “Michelle is really a role model, especially as a woman in executive leadership. Her skills and leadership have been a significant part in stabilizing Southwest’s financial situation. She also brings a very poised, honest, confident and respectful presence to the agency, which I think really helps a lot of people feel comfortable that Southwest is in good hands with her being an executive team member.”

Candice Taylor

Candice Taylor, Employment Specialist at Adult Counseling Services. “In the fall of 2018, Candice was asked to join our Individual Placement and Support – Supported Employment (IPS-SE) program in order to utilize her experience and expertise in workforce development. Candice accepted the rewarding yet challenging task of helping people work through their mental health recovery by finding competitive jobs in the community through this evidence-based practice. While many may think that those with severe and persistent mental illness cannot work, Candice proves them wrong every day. She successfully assists clients obtain and maintain employment by skillfully guiding and thoughtfully believing in them. When a client accepts a new job, Candice is sure to celebrate the client’s success as enthusiastically as the client does. Candice inspires others by the way she approaches her work – with persistence and passion for the achievement of others.”

Loren Latham and Karen Pugh

HR Team: Patty Castillo, Tasia Evans, Loren Latham, Karen Pugh and Kim Watkins. “For the past year during the pandemic, this amazing group of women have done an outstanding job supporting all of the HR needs of the agency while balancing their own family concerns, struggles and personal losses. Since the Covid crisis began, each has worked a hybrid schedule even though it may have involved risk to her personal health risk. They continue to work as partners and in groups to accomplish tasks, both large and small, to ensure that no one has to wait too long for the support that they need.”

Robin Provencher

Payroll Team: Robin Provencher and Yvonne Zublick. “Robin and Yvonne are a dynamic duo who make sure that we each get our pay every two weeks to keep us going. They have also worked the hybrid model since the beginning of the pandemic. Robin and Yvonne partner with HR on much of our work, but they’ve always supported Finance in other areas, too, and now they are both learning and taking on new responsibilities as well.  Robin and Yvonne deserve all of our thanks for the work they do.”



 Congratulations to all the honorees!

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