Staff and Students

Portrait of Bonnie Ballard

Bonnie Ballard, Administrative Associate, joined the Pastoral Care Department in January, 2009. Prior to joining the Pastoral Care Team, she worked in the Registration Department for almost two years. Before coming to Covenant HealthCare, Bonnie worked as a customer service representative/supervisor for many years. She received her Associates Degree in business from Delta College and became a certified professional secretary in 1985. Bonnie is a member/past president of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Bonnie can be reached at 989.583.6042 or

Portrait of Kathy Bonn

Kathy Bonn, Director of the Pastoral Care Department, is a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She brought a variety of experiences to the role of director in July 2007, including being a high school math teacher, college professor, and Hospice volunteer. During her chaplaincy training, Kathy did her CPE internship at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center (in La Crosse, WI) and her CPE residency at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center (in Toledo, OH). For her Master of Arts in Diaconal Ministry she specialized in hospital chaplaincy, and her Ph.D. is in Curriculum & Instruction. Kathy can be reached at 989.583.6037.

Portrait of Jeff England

Jeff England, a 2019-2020 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Resident Chaplain, received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Akron. He spent five years working in the engineering field before being called into full-time vocational ministry. Jeff and his family moved from Ohio to Michigan in 2000 so he could attend Grand Rapids Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 2004. Jeff has pastored three churches and was ordained in 2009. He has served as a fire chaplain, hospice chaplain and a marketplace chaplain. Jeff and his wife have three children. Jeff enjoys sports and spending time with his family. His dream is to play a round of golf at St. Andrews, the Old Course in Scotland. Jeff may be contacted at

Portrait of Ruth Estell

Ruth Estell, a staff chaplain, has continued serving at Covenant HealthCare after completing a CPE residency here from 2018-2019.  She completed a previous unit of CPE at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Grand Rapids, MI.  Ruth is an ordained minister with the Reformed Church in America.  Prior to that, she served on the mission field in Taiwan and China.  She has an MDiv from Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI) and both an MA in Intercultural Studies and TESL and a BA in Christian Education from Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL).  She is delighted and honored to be a member of the Pastoral Care team at Covenant HealthCare.  She can be reached at

Portrait of Forest Fisher

Forest Fisher, a 2019-2020 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Resident Chaplain, grew up in Alaska. He completed a B.S in Christian Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. He then got accepted into the Air Force where he completed Commissioned Officers Training and the Chaplain Candidate Intensive Internship as well as 35 days of Active Duty Training. From there he did his first unit of CPE in Lynchburg, Virginia serving Centra Hospital. He completed a Masters in Divinity from Liberty University and is ordained by the National Association of Christian Ministers. He is endorsed through Liberty Baptist Fellowship. Forest can be reached at

Portrait of Jodi Grimaldi

Elizabeth "Jodi" Grimaldi,a Canadian, relocated to Michigan in 2017 with her husband of 21 years and their youngest child.  Three of their four children work and/or go to University in Canada.  Jodi received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carleton University, Ottawa in 1993. Receiving a call to enter seminary, Jodi left her position as a special needs educator of 15 years to enter full-time master’s studies at Tyndale University in Toronto.  Jodi has achieved a Masters of Divinity in Clinical Counseling.  She also completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Covenant in August 2019.  In her role as an occasional chaplain, Jodi has a strong desire to care for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the patients she meets at Covenant. With a compassionate and empathetic heart, she approaches all individuals, and their unique needs, with an understanding that everyone is purposefully made and equally loved. Jodi feels eternally grateful and tremendously blessed for the opportunity to share in life’s experiences with all persons she encounters. She can be reached at

Portrait of Marie Koperski

Marie Koperski, a chaplain intern at Covenant hospital grew up near Dayton Ohio. As a teenager she recognized her desire to care for those in need. Since then, she has been involved as a lay person in ministry to many kinds of people, and most recently has enjoyed being trained in Stephen Ministries and volunteering for Hospice. She is thrilled and grateful to be participating in CPE at Covenant. Marie received a BS in Science Education with a specialty in biology from Wright State University and completed graduate work toward an MA in School Administration at Wright State University and the University of Dayton. Marie taught in the public schools of Dayton and Columbus, Ohio as well as at a State Demonstration School in Bedford County, VA. After her first child was born, and her children were school aged, Marie dedicated her teaching efforts to homeschooling her three boys for twenty-two years. In addition, she volunteered in many teaching capacities in the homeschool community of Mid-Michigan. In her spare time Marie enjoys being with her four dogs and loves being with her grown children whom she shares with her husband of thirty-two years. Marie can be reached at

Portrait of Elsie Marvin

Elsie Marvin serves as a Resident Chaplain at Covenant. She has brought a variety of experiences from her diverse pastoral background. As a daughter of a pastor, Elsie has served in outreach programs across southern rural India. She spent 18 years in the quality engineering industry before being called into full-time vocational ministry. Elsie is an ordained minister with FRC/IAC chaplain network and also serves as a volunteer chaplain at Heartland. She is passionate about people and caring for others in need. Elsie enjoys spending time with her daughter Sheena, her dog Missy, and two cats, Max and Jack. Elsie can be reached at

Portrait of Janet Myers

Janet Myers,Staff Chaplain, is an Elder in the United Methodist Church and is endorsed as a chaplain by The United Methodist Endorsing Agency. She brings several different areas of experience with her. Janet has earned ten units of accredited clinical pastoral education with a specialized focus in adult behavioral health. She served the local church for seventeen years as a pastor, six years as a Life & Safety Officer at Wichita State University, two- and one-half years at the Department of Corrections and seven years in The United States Air Force. While serving in the military she had the opportunity to live overseas in Japan and South Korea. Janet earned her Master of Divinity at St. Paul School of Theology and BA from Southwestern College, Kansas. She grew up in Indiana and lived in Kansas for several years after serving in the military. She enjoys spending time with family, fishing, gardening, and her toy poodle, Teddy. Janet can be reached at

Portrait of Don O'Brien

Don O’Brien is a chaplain intern at Covenant hospital. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saginaw Valley State University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has worked in the legal and insurance fields for more than thirty years. He is also the co-owner of a local insurance agency. For the last ten years, Don has been a staff writer for a large, international Christian ministry where he writes weekly articles and answers Bible questions. He has written extensively on many subjects and has taught classes on the book of Genesis and how to defend the biblical account of Creation. Don enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family. He is married to Deb and has two sons, Michael and Connor. He is excited to be a part of the pastoral care team at Covenant and can be reached at

Portrait of Mark Oswald

Mark Oswald is serving as an occasional employee at Covenant. He completed his Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship in August of 2016. He is a Lay Minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2008 and has been trained in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. Mark was also a licensed nursing home administrator and has 19 years of experience in firefighting and rescue. He is the leader of the St. John Jail Ministry Team and is married with 3 grown children. Mark can be reached at

Portrait of Jannet Russell

Jan Russell, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) 2020 Intern, has an eclectic background. She received an Associates in Psychology and Music from Lansing Community College and a Bachelor's Degree in Religious Education and Counseling from Great Lakes Christian College. Before coming to Covenant, Janet served as a UAW Chaplain. She has over 20 years combined experience in youth, children’s and music ministry with the Church of God (7th Day), and the Assembly of God. Janet loves spending time with family and friends, and she enjoys traveling. She is excited to be part of the pastoral care team at Covenant! Chaplain Jan can be reached at

Portrait of Lafayette Simpson

Lafayette Simpson, an occasional employee, joined Covenant’s Department of Pastoral Care & Education in October 2015. In 2014, he completed a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) internship and received his CPE Certification from Covenant’s CPE Program. In 2014, Lafayette was installed as the second pastor of the 63-year-old congregation of the historic Bethlehem Baptist Church of Saginaw. Along his journey serving in ministry for 16 years, he has been ordained and appointed as the Chairman of the Deacon Board, licensed and ordained as a minister.  Lafayette gained ministry knowledge by attending Midwest Bible College in Pontiac, Michigan. He can be reached at

Portrait of Vivian Smith-Fountain

Vivian Smith-Fountain was the co-pastor of First Baptist Church of Berwick, PA 2-1/2 years, pastored St. Luke’s AME Church in St. Augustine, FL 3-years, was associate pastor at Historic Mt. Zion AMEC 6-years. She earned an MBA at Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 2004, earned an M.Div. from the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, GA 2006. She taught elementary and high school in the Florida school system for a few years. Vivian completed her CPE residency 2008, CPE fellowship in a pediatric hospital 2009 and completed CPE educator certification in 2013. She has supervised more than 150 CPE students since starting her CPE supervisory journey. Vivian is honored to continue the work she loves as Covenant Health’s CPE Program Manager. Vivian can be reached at

Portrait of Carol Wesolek

Carol Wesolek is serving Covenant as an occasional employee. She has completed 4 units of CPE at Covenant, which included a year residency. She has been a licensed ordained chaplain through the International Fellowship of Chaplains since 1999, with emphasis on trauma, grief and loss. Carol is a member of a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and Management team, having taken training through ICISF (International Critical Incident Stress Foundation) of which she is a member, and the IFOC (International Fellowship of Chaplains). She also attended Mid-Michigan Bible Institute. She can be reached at

Portrait of Julie Winklepleck

Julie Winklepleck, a 2019-2020 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Resident Chaplain, served Lutheran parishes in Muskegon and East Lansing before coming to Covenant. She is excited about returning to an intentional learning atmosphere while continuing to minister to God’s people here. Believing strongly in the spiritual dimension of healing, Julie is glad to be part of an organization that recognizes the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit. She grew up in Brighton, Michigan, received her B.A. in History from Oakland University, and after a career in publishing in Detroit, began her M.Div. at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, receiving her degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, in 2002. Julie completed her first unit of CPE at Providence Portland Medical Center in Oregon. She may be reached at

Portrait of Betty Zeestraten

Betty Zeestraten serves as part of the Pastoral Care Team after many years of ministering in Saginaw area churches and in children residential foster care facilities and substance abuse recovery programs for adults and teens. Her background includes a BA in Education from the University of Toledo, an MA in Pastoral Studies from Marygrove University and another MA in Counseling from Spring Arbor University. She has additional educational experiences in Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) units through Covenant’s CPE program. Chaplain Betty enjoys ministering to patients, staff and visitors at Covenant with the WE-CARE values. Chaplain Betty can be reached at