Seeing a greater need for preservation of all structures within Glen Haven Michigan, Maggie and Jeff Kato formed Balancing Environment And Rehabilitation (BEAR) Non-Profit in November 2018 in response to a Request for Expression of Interest regarding adaptive re-use of Sleeping Bear Inn issued by the National Park Service and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. BEAR seeks to renovate the Inn and use profits generated from its operation to continue to restore Glen Haven and ensure its sustainability. BEAR’S mission is to ensure the history and heritage of Glen Haven Michigan is made sustainable through the rehabilitation of its historic structures and that preserving the history and legacy of previous generations is essential for future generations.
Meet The BEAR Team!
Maggie Kato, President BEAR
Retired from Genesee County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) in February 2020, Margaret Kato served as its Executive Director for the past 15 years. Under her leadership, the organization became known for its fiscally sound projects and propensity toward relationship building and innovation. During her tenure, 100 of the organization's 130 home builds and over 300 home-owner occupied repair projects were completed. Neighborhood revitalization was the focal point of her work. Margaret served on the leadership council of Habitat for Humanity International and was a member of several organizations in Genesee County, Michigan. Maggie and her husband have 5 married children, 11 grandsons, and 1 granddaughter.
Jeff Kato, Secretary/Treasurer BEAR
Jeff Kato retired in February 2020 from Genesee County Habitat for Humanity where he served as the agency's Director of Operations. In his 14 years with the organization, Jeff helped grow the staff from 3 to over 20 employees and oversaw all operations of the agency including its retail entity, ReStore. Prior to Habitat for Humanity, Jeff worked in the restaurant industry for over 20 years where he earned the title of General Manager with direct supervision of 50 employees in a casual fine dining setting with a capacity for 200 guests and had annual gross sales of over $3 Million. Jeff and his wife enjoy biking, kayaking, spending time outdoors in Michigan, especially with family and friends. As Secretary/Treasurer of BEAR, Jeff brings his knowledge of scheduling, hiring, guest satisfaction and hospitality operational excellence.
Leslie Voiles, Vice President BEAR
A lifelong Northern Michigan girl, Leslie has a degree in public relations and a career background in systems management and volunteer coordination. Leslie found her passion for non-profit work during her time as the volunteer coordinator at Genesee County Habitat for Humanity. She currently works as the systems coordinator for Floor Covering Brokers Carpet One. In her free time, you can find her hiking, biking, or playing with her husband and son.
George MacEachern, Construction General BEAR
George MacEachern is a Michigan native and a licensed builder since 1994. The majority of his working life was spent at Genesee Metropolitan Planning Commission. For 23 years, George coordinated the rehabilitation of low to moderate income single family homes. This work led him to Genesee County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) and as construction supervisor, building 20 new construction homes, 10 detailed rehabilitation projects, 3 major gut rehabs of units built in the early 1900’s and one new construction live/work quad with budgets ranging between 150k to 500k. Since George was young, he was building things and enlisted neighborhood boys and girls to scour and secure materials to build projects, especially forts, creating what he called “Wagon Wheel Estates” with 6 different fort models his fellow friends could choose from for their own. George brings to BEAR a sense of frugal yet responsible expertise and prides himself on zero waste construction. He is committed to the environment and has expert knowledge of wildlife, especially birds.
Kerry Kelly, Director
Kerry was born and raised on a dairy farm in Dodgeville, WI, which the family still runs. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1974. He worked for the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, MI until retiring in 2004.
Kerry has been on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes since 2005. He is now in the non-voting role of the Past Chairman of the board. He has been involved in a wide variety of volunteer projects at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and is the manager of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Kerry works one day a week at the Blacksmith Shop in Glen Haven from May to October. He teaches three Life Academy courses at NMC:
- Sleeping Bear Dunes – Shoreline Habitats
- Into the Wilderness
- Ghost Towns of Sleeping Bear Dunes
Kerry was presented the Environmental Volunteer of the Year Award from Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council in 2016.