Downtown Planning Group:  Member Bios

Barbara Griffith-Watkins has been living and running a business in Northfield Township for over thirty years.  She has been active on many boards and committees for the community, township, and the veterinary profession.  She has been president of the Northfield Chamber of Commerce for many years, chairperson of the Planning Commission, Chairperson of the High School Scholarship Committee, and Chairperson of the Downtown Development Authority.

Jeni Olney has lived in the Whitmore Lake community for six years and is the Academic Program Manager for Innovate Blue, the network of entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Michigan. Jeni and her husband Adam have two beautiful little girls Avery and Opal, and their 210lb English Mastiff, Maggie. Jeni attended Grand Valley State University where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, then completed her Master’s degree in Counselor Education from Clemson University. Jeni is on the leadership team for the inaugural Advising Council for the University of Michigan, a graduate of the Advanced Leadership Program sponsored by the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan, a member of the Women in Student Affairs chapter at the University of Michigan, and a member of the National Academic Advising Association. Jeni’s hobbies include playing volleyball and attending concerts.

Suzanne Bellore - Bio Coming Soon!

Marlene Chockley - Bio Coming Soon!

Tom DeKeyser has served Whitmore Lake Public Schools as the high school principal since 2002.  In 2014, he became the superintendent.  Tom earned a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Western Michigan University.  Following a five-year career as an environmental toxicologist, he earned an M.A. from the University of Michigan and began a teaching career.  Tom also has an Education Specialist degree from Wayne State University.  He served as a board member for the Ypsilanti-based Center for Occupational and Personalized Education and has been the president of the Greater Whitmore Lake Area Kiwanis Club since 2015.  

Denise Kabisch grew up in a suburb of Detroit named Riverview. Like so many young people in their late teens, she came to this area for college and never left.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Michigan teaching certificate for Art education and also general education. Shortly after graduating she returned to college for certification to teach the emotionally impaired child and taught for approximately 4 years at the University of Michigan Inpatient Children Psychiatric Hospital (also known as CPH).  Eventually she left teaching and began working in the computing industry as system and application trainer. People would always tell her that if she could teach emotionally impaired children she probably could teach adults.

For the past fourteen years, she has owned a home in Whitmore Lake on Main St. after selling her home in Ann Arbor. She came to this community to enjoy the lake and ended up with so much more than we could have anticipated.  Living on the lake and on Main Street has added a wonderful dimension to her family’s life; they are so much happier.  We enjoy walking and bicycling to local restaurants and business, watching parades and being a part of local events as well as participating in both Summer and Winter lake events. Whitmore Lake reminds her of the community that she grew up in and loved. There are other advantages to being in Whitmore Lake, for instance, working so close to home. For approximately the last ten years Denise has been working in Ann Arbor for the University of Michigan Health System as a Business Systems Analyst for the Health Information Technology and Services Department. When she’s not working at the University she spends time as an Artist in Clay and Vice President of the Ann Arbor Potters Guild. She also has the pleasure of being a member of the Whitmore Lake Downtown Planning Group.

Paul Lippens is the Director of Urban Design at McKenna Associates. He specializes in planning and design of multimodal transportation systems, using strategies that reflect the values of people and their communities. He has led bike planning and design projects in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, and served as the lead and supervising planner on dozens of multimodal plans and design studies.  His interests examine interconnections between transportation design, living ecosystems, and economies. Mr. Lippens is the primary author of “Complete Streets, Complete Networks: a Manual for the Design of Active Transportation,” winner of the APA-IL 2012 award for best practices.  Paul also worked with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Cook County Highway Department on Complete Streets policy implementation. Paul led the development of “Bike Walk Livonia,” winner of the 2016 Michigan Planning Association Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Plan. Paul has a Master’s of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s of Arts from Hampshire College.

Linda Lupi is a lifelong community member.  Linda attended Whitmore Lake Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.  Linda served as Trustee on the Northfield Township Board for 16 years.  She also served on the Northfield Township Planning Commission for several years.  Linda currently serves on the Northfield’s Human Services and People’s Express boards and is a board member for the Whitmore Lake Rod and Gun Club. After a career as a probation officer, Linda is now the Dean of Students for Whitmore Lake Middle and High School.

Tammy Menzel divides her time between teaching, consulting, and parenting. She has a Bachelor’s degree majoring in both Psychology and Music, and received her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of the District of Columbia. Tammy has been teaching at the college level for 16 years and is currently a Psychology Instructor at Lansing Community College. Prior to teaching she worked on an Early Head Start evaluation project through Michigan State University. Tammy is a passionate advocate for quality care options for children and has consulted with start-up preschool and child care facilities to create environments where children thrive physically, cognitively, and socially. She currently teaches voice and piano lessons part time through the Fine Arts Academy and is the parent of two young women in college. Tammy and her husband Scott moved to Whitmore Lake in 2002 when her husband was hired as Superintendent of Whitmore Lake Schools. After relocating for another job for a few years, they returned to Whitmore Lake in 2015, eager to be involved in supporting and improving this awesome community.

Tim Saville is the Owner and Operator of a private landscaping business. He’s been in construction and landscaping for over 20 years. He grew up in Ferndale and moved to the Whitmore Lake area in 1998.  He and his wife Sharon own 5 acres on Whitmore Lake Road -  a unique property, he and his wife Sharon rescued the former homestead on the Whitmore Lake School property moving the house and multiple barns. Tim serves on the Historical Society of Whitmore Lake board and on the Parks and Recreation Committee.  He is also the proud recipient of the Elmer Klump award which recognizes Northfield Township community members for community volunteerism. Tim looks forward to continuing to make Whitmore Lake a great place to live. 

Cyndi Secrist has been a resident of Northfield Township since 2013 when she and husband Jack moved back to Michigan after Jack retired.  Cyndi was raised and educated in Redford Township, west of Detroit and spent a good deal of time in Washtenaw County during the summers at a family residence on North Lake.  She worked as a dental assistant and then after she and Jack married and moved away, worked in insurance.  Cyndi and Jack have two grown children, one in Indiana and the other in Maryland and two granddaughters and a grandson expected in June.  During their more than 30 years in Birmingham, Alabama, Cyndi volunteered as a room mother, at their church serving as an Elder and as Secretary and President of the Women’s Group.  She also is a member of an international philanthropic organization and has held a number of offices in her Chapter.  This group sponsors scholarships and loans for women to further their education.  Cyndi is now a member of the Whitmore Lake Downtown Planning Group and enjoys reading, needlework, puzzles and cooking.

Jack Secrist has been a Northfield Township resident since 2013, when he and his wife moved back to Michigan after his retirement.  Jack has a B. S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan (long ago!), a Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.  Early in his career he was a Professor of Chemistry at another Big Ten university, and then moved to focus on medicinal chemistry research at the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Alabama.  He spent over thirty years there, the last seven as the President/CEO of the research institute.  He has served as the president of two international societies and on many committees of scientific societies.  He has served as a consultant and/or board member for a variety of companies, and has been involved with several start-up companies.   In Alabama he served on committees focused on issues affecting the state of Alabama, the city of Birmingham, and the Birmingham school system.  Since being in Michigan, Jack has become a member of the Board of Trustees of the Northfield Township Area Library, the Board of Inverness Country Club, and of course a member of the Downtown Planning Group.  Jack has participated in sports all his life, but these days mainly enjoys golf, and mixes in a bit of woodworking, as well.  Jack’s wife Cyndi’s bio mentions their family.

Doug Wilbur - Bio Coming Soon!