Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts & Technology | Board of Directors
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Board of Directors


board_03Board Meetings

Samantha Edison-Howell – Board President
Samantha is the Sales Advisor for the Sales & Marketing Division of Amway Corporation. She has expertise in developing materials that effectively promote marketing campaigns and extensively analyzes business performance data for trends in support Sales & Marketing Planning. She has extensive experience presenting ideas around vision and mission to external organizations, as well as process and continuous improvement. Samantha has conducted market research and analysis through interviews and surveys. She has designed customized performance interventions and training. An additional strength is her background in training and facilitation of corporate training programs. Samantha has her Bachelor of Science, Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI and a MBA from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Evette Pittman – Treasurer
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena
Evette Pittman is the Director of Development Events and Community Engagement for the Grand Rapids Symphony. Previously, she was the Director of Public Relations and Marketing for 91.3, WCSG Radio at Cornerstone University. At the Symphony, Evette conceives and plans fund-raising events, develops event marketing strategies and engages Symphony donors as well as the greater West Michigan community. In her role with Community Engagement, Evette strives to broaden the reach of the Symphony to be seen as an inclusive and diverse arts organization. Evette serves on the board of Autism Support of Kent County, the Downtown Development Authority Taskforce for Experience, the Grand Rapids Symphony Strategic Planning Committee, GREAAT Schools Inc. Events Committee and is a member of Multiracial Association of Professionals and Women in Development. Evette has been married to James Pittman Jr. (JR) for 21 years and has two sons, Joshua and Noah. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communications and Mass Media from Cedarville University as well as an Associate of Biblical Studies degree from Moody Bible Institute. Evette can be reached at epittman@grsymphony.org.

Dr. Damon F. Arnold – Board Trustee, Vice President
Dr. Arnold is an author, consultant and motivational speaker. Dr. Arnold provides training in leadership and motivation across the United States. Dr. Arnold understands the psychology of success and failure and how to motivate others to achieve their dreams. After getting kicked-out of two different high schools and ultimately graduating from a continuation school, his message is simple: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts.” He has been a facilitator at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) leadership conferences. He has served on panels to discuss the state of public schools and is the author of The African American Student Athlete Experience at a Predominately White Institution. It is his goal to inspire his clients to confidence in all situations. Dr. Arnold holds an A.A. in Behavioral Science from Citrus Community College, a B.A. and an M.A. from Chico State University, as well as an M.S. in Sports Psychology from the University of Idaho. Dr. Arnold received his Ph.D. in Education Administration from Washington State University.

Tishanna Ferguson – Board Secretary
Tishanna Ferguson is a Critical Care Nurse Technician for The Meijer Heart Center. Previously, she served as a Certified Nursing Assistant for Spectrum Health Hospital and Whitehills Health Care Center. Tishanna obtained a Bachelor of Science, in Health Studies and a minor in Sociology from Michigan State University, and is Certified as a Nursing Assistant and Basic Life Support Responder. Tishanna is also a Sunday School Instructor at Light House Full Life Center. Tishanna has committed herself to the education of children and believes firmly that children should posses the skills necessary to attend college, excel in college courses, internships and career choice. Tishanna has volunteered for numerous organization such as Student Parents on a Mission at Michigan State University, The Mother Teresa House, and Jackson High School.

Marilyn Davidson-Booker – Board Trustee
Marilyn Davidson-Booker is currently a School Counselor for Kalamazoo Public School’s Alternative Learning Program. Previously she served as the Inclusion Support Aide at Grand Rapids Christian Middle School. Marilyn has received numerous honors and awards, including graduating top of her class with a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Western Michigan University. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Cornerstone University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and received Cornerstone’s Distinguished Achievement Award. Marilyn has a State of Michigan School Counselor License. She has professional endorsements as a Certified Workforce Development Professional and the state mandated certification as a Court Recorder. Marilyn has volunteered at Junior Achievement, as the Sigsbee School PTA Liaison and taught girls Missionettes Curriculum Program. Marilyn previous Board experience includes Board Member for Creston Christian Elementary, and on the Special Board Committee for Grand Rapids Christian Schools.


Chaste Heggenstaller – Board Trustee
Chaste is a Behavior Health Therapist for children at Easter Seals of Michigan. She provides therapy and support children and their families on the Kent county area. Previously, she worked providing services to adults with developmental disabilities with Thresholds. She is a limited licensed Master Social Worker and a GVSU alumni. Chaste has a passion for working with children and supporting them to achieve educational excellence.