Meet Our Staff
Wendy Borden: Founder & Executive Director
Wendy Borden is committed to promoting health through nutrition, fitness and positive leisure time choices. Prior to entering the field of nutrition, she received her M.S. in Recreation Administration and has shared the beneficial aspects of outdoor recreation through youth development programs. Discovering the need for youth to develop healthy eating skills, she pursued a career in holistic nutrition. Wendy received her M.S. in Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University after receiving her Nutrition Education certificate from Bauman College. After learning about the Ceres Community Project she made the heartfelt commitment to model the program in Grand Rapids and founded the Revive and Thrive Project. She is hopeful that we can create a culture of community where wholesome foods are not controversial, complicated, or confusing, but where healthy eating is valued, supported, and available to all.
Jenny Bongiorno: Kitchen & Garden Manager
Jenny Bongiorno has been involved in organic farming and education for the last 7 years. She believes that food is fundamental for good health and a healthy environment. She received her BA in Public Relations from GVSU in 2006 and is fluent in Spanish. She started a youth farming program at GlenBrook in New Hampshire and has grown food locally in West Michigan since 2010. She is thrilled to be part of the Revive & Thrive Project that combines two of her greatest loves: healthy, whole, fresh foods and helping build strong community.
Chris Fehsenfeld: Lead Chef
Chris has been in the restaurant and catering business for 35 years. He has owned 5 restaurants and managed dozens. Most recently, he owned Skywalk Deli & Catering for 12 years. In addition to his vast experience, he is an excellent teacher and mentor. Chris will be joining us in June and will be our lead chef at Park Church.
Meet Our Board
Anette Estrada: Board Treasurer
Anette Estrada is an audit partner at BDO USA, LLP and serves as a liaison for managers of international companies, leveraging her firm’s resources in 145 countries. She has more than 20 years of experience performing and coordinating audits of clients with international operations and assisting clients with international accounting and business issues. Anette has lived and worked in Germany, Spain and Colombia. German is her native language, and she is also fluent in Spanish. She is active in her community, serving on the board of the World Affairs Council of West Michigan and chair of the Spectrum Health Finance Advisory Committee.
Her personal interest in preparing and enjoying fresh, wholesome food, and a commitment to her community make supporting the Revive & Thrive Project as a board member and Treasurer a natural choice for Anette.
Cindy Hogan: Secretary
Cindy Hogan has a strong passion for helping others. She has over 20 years’ experience developing products and brands to help make people’s lives better, more enjoyable, safer and healthier while working at 3M and Kimberly-Clark. Currently at Meijer, Cindy leads the Meijer Grocery Store Brands, including the Health & Wellness brand, True Goodness. She also serves the community as a Science Olympiad volunteer and District Commissioner for Grand River Pony Club, a non-profit organization that educates youth about the safety, health and care of equines.
Cindy’s enthusiasm for encouraging the direct link of wholesome, nutritious foods with our overall health & well-being, and her desire to help others is a natural fit with the vision of the Revive & Thrive Project.
Werner Absenger: Board President
M.Sc., Human Nutrition, PhD(c), Mind-Body Medicine
Absenger recently left a chefing career that spanned two continents, 32 years, and numerous 4-diamond resorts and restaurants to become the CEO of the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation (ACEF). It is the mission of ACEF to empower and improve the quality of life of cancer survivors, their loved ones and caretakers, through research, education, and integration of evidence-based nutrition and mind-body modalities.
As a research scientist, Werner uses state-of-the-art techniques to investigate nutrition interventions and mind-body modalities in cancer survivorship.
While bringing extensive real-world restaurant and research experience, Werner hopes that his role at the Revive and Thrive Project will enable him to learn extensively about a food model that he believes could very well be “THE” future delivery system of essential micro and macro nutrients to chronically ill persons.
Lorraine Pearl-Krause: Board Member PhD, CS, FNP-BC
Dr. Pearl-Kraus joined Mary Free Bed in 2012 as a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner and coordinator of the cancer rehabilitation program. In her role as CEO of LPK Healthcare Research, Policy and Consulting Services, LLC, Dr. Pearl-Kraus, provides servant leadership and health policy guidance at local, regional, and national levels. Guidance is specific to health promotion/prevention/maintenance and chronic disease management, especially focusing on oncology and neurological/neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Pearl-Kraus has more than 30 years of advanced nursing practice clinical experience. Areas of expertise include neurosurgery/trauma, primary care, and oncology clinical research trials and has been teaching graduate-level courses to college students for more than 20 years.
Renee Rivard: Board Member
Renee Rivard, voted Outstanding Student in Secondary Education in her graduating class at Grand Valley State University, helps build strong, healthy communities through outreach that links education, healthy eating, and youth development.
Renee’s combined passion for youth, education and nutrition have fueled her work in community outreach, where she developed some of the first urban garden projects in Grand Rapids. Renee has extensive training in Search Institute’s Developmental Asset Model. Currently employed by the American Cancer Society as a Community Events Specialist, Renee’s expertise is in volunteer management, event planning and fundraising development.
Nora K. Gavin: Board Member
Recently retired, Nora has more than 43 years experience as an Oncology Research Nurse. As a Research Nurse Coordinator with 20 years of experience with the Cancer Research Consortium of West Michigan, she has been involved in coordinating and implementing nationally sponsored clinical trials. She was the Education Chair for the Grand Rapids Prostate Cancer Screening committee for 12 years, as well as being involved in multiple health education community promotions.
As a self-trained amateur chef, Nora has a great love of cooking healthy, nutritious, fresh meals, with she confesses, an occasional decadent dessert , especially for family and friends. The personal association with cancer patients has strengthen her belief that healthy eating is an important component in the treatment and recovery of every patient. The Revive and Thrive Program directly addresses these nutritional needs, providing healthy meals for both cancer patients and their caretakers, and finds a passionate new board member who embraces the project mission statement.
Rick Savino: Board Member
Rick is passionate about service to others. His encore career as a Realtor with Greenridge Realty allows him time to give back to the community. With the Revive & Thrive Project, Rick is a grocery shopper, Delivery Angel and a Board Member. Rick has lost family members to cancer so he is invested in helping make that journey just a little easier for someone else. He also volunteers every year at Laugh Fest and is an active member of the Planning Committee for two Gilda’s Club events, People and Pets and The World’s Largest Dog Wash. He is Vice-President of The Alger Heights Neighborhood Association chairing the Planning and Green Committees. This year he is also the Vice-President of the International Committee at the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors (and proud holder of the GRAR International Real Estate Practitioner designation).
In his previous lives, Rick spent over a decade as a Marketing Manager for a local wild bird feed company, and another decade as TV Commercial Production Supervisor. Rick’s passion is music. He loves to sing and listen. He advocates using music as therapy. His wife calls it “life with a soundtrack”.
Sue Gilbert: Board Member
Sue Gilbert has a longstanding personal interest in nutrition and cooking, particularly as it relates to exposing children and youth to delicious, healthy foods and teaching them the importance of establishing lifelong healthy eating habits. For several years, she helped cook meals for Gilda’s Club and Hope Lodge, and in recent years she became involved in studying the impact of nutrition on cancer patients and preparing appetizing and revitalizing foods for a family member in treatment.
Professionally, Sue retired in 2014 after a long career with the federal government where she most recently served as a Hearing Office Director and Special Projects Officer for a component of the Social Security Administration. Since retiring, Sue has spent a significant amount of her time volunteering, initially as a cook/nutritionist for Hill Child Development Center and currently as the Program Coordinator for Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project. She enjoys a very active lifestyle engaging in sports, fitness and travel and spending as much time as possible with family and friends.
Shelby Kalinowski: Board Member
Shelby has always been enthusiastic about making a difference in the lives of those around her. She has been with Spectrum Health for the last 7.5 years, and is currently at Healthier Communities which specializes and focuses on improving the well-being of the underserved populations of Grand Rapids. Shelby is very passionate about volunteering, and has always been an active member in the community by organizing fundraisers and other events. As a young professional, she is an emerging leader in the community with fresh, new ideas to bring to the Revive and Thrive Project. Having seen loved ones battle cancer, Shelby wants to be a resource for those that are going through a tough time, and let them know that they are not alone.
Kelley Oates: Board Member
Meet Our Ambassadors
Heading the initiative to launch our Ambassador Program is our board president, Laurie Cirivello. Laurie has a long professional history leading and advising nonprofit organizations including nearly eight years as Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Community Media Center. Currently, Laurie is an Information Services Project Manager for Spectrum Health and an artist on the side. Foodie, locavore, and cancer survivor ... all things about Laurie that help explain her passion for the mission of Revive and Thrive Project.
Sally holds a Master degree in Public Health Education. She has over 25 years experience in health care service delivery and currently supervises the Women’s Health Network at the Kent County Health Department. Sally witnesses the affects our personal environments, and lifestyle choices have upon cancer treatment and outcomes.
Sally avidly embraces the Revive and Thrive community solution for caring nutrition while utilizing our generous West Michigan resources, stewardship and spirit. “Daily honoring our bodies with harm free food and nourishing exercise naturally creates a balance within, a harmony, which is very toxin resilient yet powerfully compelling.” Sally hopes someday to see the planet enthused more with the power of love than the pollution of indifference.