Staff & Leadership

Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy

Our People

WACA Staff

Leadership

President/CEO

Kathy Homan, President - Washtenaw ACA

Kathy Homan

Kathy Homan serves as ACA’s President & CEO, where she performs all executive activities and leads day-to-day operations, while also coordinating long-term strategy with the board of directors, with whom she also sits.

Vice President

Kristen Columbus, VP - Washtenaw ACA

Kristen Columbus

Kristen was thrilled to return to Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy in October 2023, building on her previous work with WACA as an advocate for transition-age youth and their families in 2013-2014. As Vice President, her work involves special education advocacy, development and grant writing, and program planning and evaluation. Kristen’s interest in disability advocacy comes from her experiences as the mother of a young adult who lives with complex developmental disabilities. Kristen was a project manager at the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University from 2020-2023, and a parent mentor with Michigan Alliance for Families from 2011-2020. Kristen holds a master’s degree in social work from Michigan State University and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Wayne State University. She lives in Saline, Michigan with her family and enjoys birdwatching, hiking and a strong cup of coffee every morning.

Staff

Emily Pasternak

Emily Pasternak

I have worked at WACA since March of 2006. I do accounting for WACA and for the trusts for which WACA is trustee. Although my work is behind the scenes, supporting the important work our advocates do makes my job worthwhile. I hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting and passed the CPA in the early 1990s. In my free time I run with our small münsterlander pointer, Ginny and our standard poodle, Presto.

Beth Garlock, Administrator - Washtenaw ACA

Beth Garlock

I began working for Washtenaw ACA in 2007 as a part-time Administrative Assistant.  In 2009 I became the full-time Office Manager. My job includes many “hats” by nature but generally I try to assist all staff where needed and keep the office functioning as smoothly as possible.

I began working as Direct Care Staff in group homes in 1987 and worked several years for the Arc of Livingston County. When I became a mom I stopped working in group homes so I could be with my daughter.  I ran a small daycare center with a former colleague and we were proudly the only daycare center in Livingston county that accepted children with disabilities. When my daughter started going to school full time, I did the same and finished my degree in Business and Medical Office Administration.

In my free time I enjoy my family, especially my grandchildren as we all live together in a multi-generation house. I also like reading, heading up north and my guilty pleasure is watching reality TV.

Christina Oliver, WIPA Coordinator - Washtenaw ACA

Christina Oliver

I originally started in 2009 as an advocate and assisted people with disabilities apply for Social Security disability benefits and Medicaid, as well as appeal denials of these. I am now working as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) under the  Work Incentives and Planning Assistance program (WIPA).

I assist beneficiaries who are receiving SSI and SSDI to understand the work incentives offered by Social Security to return to work and how to build a more secure financial future. I am passionate about helping those who are underserved in society and have lived experience in this area.

I have an Associate’s In Human Services from Washtenaw Community College and some undergrad study in social work at Eastern Michigan University. My experience in the nonprofit human services field started in 1997. I passed the SSA Direct Payment Non-Attorney Representative exam, I am a trained SSI/ SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) provider and am the agency representative for Washtenaw County Barrier Buster’s.

I like to spend free time with my family, volunteer at school sporting events and attend basketball, football and baseball games.

Emily Pasternak

Nicole Fear

Nicole joined the WACA in 2020 as a Certified Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) for the WIPA Program. She has extensive experience working on Social Security Administration Projects and partnering with Employment Networks. She believes all people deserve the right to feel and be self-sufficient with their lives. She enjoys assisting beneficiaries in understanding benefits and navigating the resources and opportunities available to them. In her free time she loves to garden in her native plant flower beds (for her bee hives!), read and dabble in the fiber arts-favoring knitting. A huge animal advocate, Nicole also fosters dogs and cats for local rescues and spends a great deal of time snuggling her dog Albert Einstein.

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