Marjie Rich is the Project Director of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project, a $1.3 million program aimed at preventing and ending youth homelessness in the Grand Traverse region. Marjie believes this project will propel our area to the national stage and become a model of how to eliminate youth homelessness.

Marjie has worked for over 25 years on issues related to the health and wellbeing of women and children. As director of a teen parent support program, Marjie witnessed first-hand the link between poverty, health, and economic insecurity. It was this experience that sparked her interest in teen homelessness.

In addition to working directly on issues rooted in health and economic justice, Marjie has enjoyed teaching public health courses at Grand Valley State University and conducting research on maternal and child health at Michigan State University. She currently serves on the board of directors for MOASH (Michigan Organization for Adolescent Sexual Health) and served on the TCAPS Board of Education for six years.

Marjie and her husband, Roger Gerstle, and their three daughters have lived and traveled in Central America, Asia, Europe and Africa, where she has observed poverty and its related issues from an international perspective.

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Marjie will share the stage with David Van Horn

David Van Horn- Bio

My name is David Van Horn, and I am the youngest of six adopted siblings by a single dad. I’m originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At age 13, my family’s house had a fire, and my siblings and I were sent to three different foster homes. We reunited after a year, and then moved to Michigan as a family. When our father died a year later, we ended up in foster care again. I’ve since aged out of foster care.

I graduated high school and now work in the retail field, and I also do community work with local child welfare agencies. I’m on my own, but still figuring out life one day at a time!