Staff and Facilitators


Maria Peak

Executive Director

Maria Peak worked in the field of Special Education for 30 years as a classroom teacher and transition coordinator for Eaton Regional Education Services Agency, and a project coordinator for Michigan Transition Outcomes Project through Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education. Maria first became involved with ASPPIRE as a facilitator and curriculum consultant. In 2015, she became the Executive Director of ASPPIRE. Maria enjoys spending time with her family and friends, antiquing and decorating their old farm house.


Bob Steinkamp

Deputy Director

Bob Steinkamp is a retired special educator in Michigan, who worked for intermediate school districts as a teacher and principal. He also taught special education at Lansing Community College, and co-authored a book and mobile application on Autism Spectrum Disorder. With a colleague, Bob started a social coaching program to help adults with developmental disabilities. Bob has 12 grandchildren, two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum.


Aileen Hecht

Financial Analyst, Customer

Aileen lives in Lansing with her husband and two children. Aileen graduated from Baker College in 2009 with a degree in Business Management concentrated in Accounting and has worked for ASPPIRE since 2012. As a previous participant, she relates well to others in the program and acts as a peer mentor in various capacities. In her spare time, Aileen enjoys reading, cooking, and British TV shows.


Jennifer Brandenburg
Program Analyst

Jennie has worked for non-profits for 15 years. She graduated with a bachelors degree in Community Services from Central Michigan University. She has worked as a case manager in job development, administrative services for various grants with the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education and as an Event Planner with Michigan Public Health Institute. For the last year and a half she has been a stay-at-home mom for her son Calum. She has 3 cats, enjoys northern Michigan, and spending time with her family and friends.


Lisa Barnett

Lisa Barnett is a retired special education teacher who taught in Bellevue for 25 years. She enjoys spending time with her children and vacationing with friends and family. Lisa also enjoys cooking, gardening, and making arts and crafts. She became involved with ASPPIRE through her sister Maria Peak.



Kathryn Bailey

Kate recently graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology. During her time at MSU she was president of an autism advocacy organization called “Spartan Spectrum”, and it was during this time that she became involved with ASPPIRE. She currently works at the MSU Autism Lab, where she is studying the service needs and well-being of college students with autism. Kate has an adult brother with autism and has been involved with the autism community for the majority of her life. She enjoys playing the classical guitar in her spare time, and loves MSU football!


Chantal Charron


Chantal has worked in Special Education for 30 years as a Program Consultant and a Speech and Language Pathologist at the Livingston Educational Service Agency. Her experience includes working with students of all ages and disabilities, providing social coaching for high school students with High Functioning Autism and co-authoring a resource for individuals with social and cognitive challenges. She finds great satisfaction when individuals increase their advocacy skills and achieve maximum independence in their lives.  Her husband, Dave, and two wonderful children, Max and Renee, love to spend time in northern Michigan and travel to new places.


Joanne Davids


After working for 31 years as a Design Engineer for General Motors, Joanne Davids retired and went back to school to become and a Special Education Teacher. She currently works doing Applied Behavior Analysis therapy with young students on the Autism Spectrum. Joanne has been married to the love of her life for over 20 years, and together they have four children, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, and 11 grandchildren.


Leanne Decker


Leanne is retired with over 32 years working in schools. She is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist. She has worked for Ingham Intermediate School District and Lansing Schools as Itinerant Staff, in Early On, and in a center-based program. She has also worked for CMH, provided home-based Occupational Therapy, and has taught for MSU. Leanne is married to a wonderful man, has 3 children, 2 dogs and one cat. She has a strong faith. Leanne loves warm sunny weather, beaches, and water. She enjoys boating, swimming,  traveling, camping, reading, and time spent with people. She feels life is meant to be fun!


Steve Peak


Steve Peak has worked as an adaptive physical education teacher for over 30 years. He earned his Master’s degree from Michigan State University and his Bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University. In Steve’s free time, he enjoys restoring his 1959 Shasta travel trailor and driving his 1970s classic Oldsmobile. Steve was the varsity boys and girls soccer coach for Olivet Community Schools, and still enjoys playing soccer on a local league. Steve and Maria have three adult children that they spend as much time as possible with.


Matt Arends
Social Club Facilitator

Matt has been with ASPPIRE as a participant and advisory board member since 2009. Matt currently works at the Securitas in Lansing. Matt lives in the first Lansing Intentional Communities, Inc (LINCS) home. Matt attended local community colleges, Michigan State University, and Michigan Career and Technical Institute. Matt has had experience working with young people with disabilities as a community living support staff member and respite care worker through Community Mental Health. Matt enjoys spending time with his niece, nephew and family members. He loves to watch movies, play board games, read books and socialize with friends.



Facilitator Assistants
Volunteers from MSU, LCC, and the Greater Lansing area support ASPPIRE’s social coaching programs. If you would like to volunteer, please check out the Get Involved tab.