Growing Business. Building Community.

YP Connections Bio’s


Jason Jones

Jason Jones is the Director of Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation, an organization that oversees approximately 1,700 acres of very diverse parkland. These parks include, the Civic Center, Power Island, and Maple Bay Park and Natural Area. In addition to administering and managing these greenspaces, his position allows him to build relationships with other organizations to fulfill their mission to “enhance community and quality of life through people, parks, and programs.” These partners include the Grand Traverse Conservation District, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and TART Trails. On a statewide scale, Jones has been heavily involved in the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, serving on their Board of Directors since 2009. Currently Jones is leading the
MRPA in developing a Young Professionals Network, and building resources for parks and recreation organizations in the northern 46 counties.

A Bachelor of Science. in Geography, Earth Science and Social Science in 2001, and an M.A. in Parks and Recreation Administration from Central Michigan University provided a great basis for his position within the County. Prior to his moving to Traverse City, he was a Village Manager in Decatur, Michigan, and a Recreation Developer in Oxford Township (Oakland County). Jones has lived in Traverse City since 2007, and now enjoys his family life between the bays with his wife, Liz, his young daughter Scarlett, and their dog, Oberon. His interests include hockey, golf, cycling,
and enjoying our local food and drinks with friends.

Steve Haskin

Steve is a Detroit native who has lived in the Grand Traverse area and has been a Portfolio Manager at Fifth Third Bank since 2002. He manages investment portfolios for personal trust and retirement plan assets for many families in Northern Michigan. He received his B.S.B.A degree from Central Michigan University with a Corporate Finance major. He is a member of the Traverse City Economic Club, Traverse City Young Professionals, board member of the Traverse Bay Twilight Rotary and is a volunteer instructor for Junior Achievement. Steve resides in Kingsley with his wife and three children. He is part of the Fifth Third Bank Investment Management Group.

Jenn Strange

Jenn was born and raised in Northern Lower Michigan and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, emphasizing Social and Criminal Justice, along with a minor in Public Administration through Central Michigan University. She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work through Grand Valley State University and have obtained full state licensure with a clinical designation, with a plan to attain a macro designation in the future. Jenn will be graduating in May 2013 with a Master’s degree in Administration through Central Michigan University. In addition to her educational degrees, she has a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) certification through MCBAP and also carries certification in Moral Reconation Therapy.

Jenn currently works at Pugsley Correctional Facility (Michigan Department of Corrections) as a Clinical Social Worker. In her role, she works regularly with those prisoners who have severe mental health disorders and complete both sex offender risk assessments and psychological evaluations to the Parole Board as well as facilitating sex offender group therapy. Jenn has been an instructor for GVSU’s MSW program in Traverse City and is currently an instructor through Baker College’s Human Service program in Cadillac. She has also worked at human service agencies and addictions treatment agencies in Traverse City. Additionally, Jenn worked for five years as a patrol officer for the Traverse City Police Department.

Her volunteer efforts have mainly been serving two years in Board and leadership positions in Traverse City Roller Derby and currently she is volunteering in an administrative/programming role at Reining Liberty Ranch.

Jenn is single mother to a soon-to-be 9-year-old boy. They love traveling, spending time at the beach and attending sporting events.

Valarie Handy

Valarie Handy is a Traverse City native who considers herself very fortunate to live and work in the community she was born and raised in. An avid traveler, Valarie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Davenport University and works as an Area Loan Specialist for USDA Rural Development. She currently specializes in underwriting federal loans and grants for equipment purchases and construction projects benefitting rural non-profits and public bodies. Her base of responsibility has included most of the 40+ different programs available throughout all three of Rural Development’s main funding categories (Housing, Community Programs and Business & Industry).

Valarie has been a member of the Traverse City Young Professionals since July of 2008. Most of that time has been spent in leadership roles offered through the coordination of over 80 volunteer events in which the YP’s have volunteered over 2,500 hours and helped over 30 unique non-profit organizations. In October 2011 she was appointed to the Parks & Recreation Commission for the Charter Township of Garfield where she currently holds the position of Vice Chair. She has been appointed to two working groups tasked with planning the Buffalo Ridge Trail and building a sustainable future for Hickory Hills.

She has been very excited to see the first project she was involved with as a commission member, a dog
park at the Silver Lake Recreation Area, open for bids in the summer of 2013 and come to fruition later that year.

In her spare time Valarie enjoys taking care of her home, gardening, running and traveling to different locations in the US and abroad. Her favorite pastimes are meeting new people and learning about different cultures.

 Nick Jacqmain

Nick is the Director of Operations at Springfield Inc., a commercial service company that specializes in commercial roofing, fall protection systems, mechanical insulation, and day lighting systems. Nick works closely with the management team and oversees daily operations. Nick graduated from Central Michigan University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Sports Management.

He is originally from Freeland, MI and was drawn to northern Michigan in 2007 by its natural beauty and the amount of opportunity for professional growth. Nick’s career began in sales and enjoys getting the opportunity to pay it forward and help other young professionals get connected with others in the area. Prior to joining the Springfield team, Nick was an intern for the Traverse City Beach Bums before being promoted to Director of Ticketing.

Nick and his wife, Audrey, welcomed their son, William, into the world on July 28, 2013. They enjoy family trips to the Sands Lake Quiet Area with their yellow lab, Stella. Nick also likes to spend time on the lake and hunting in the U.P. with his family.

Chelsea Newcomb

Chelsea grew up in Charlevoix. An MSU graduate, she has held positions in Chicago, Detroit and internationally. She has a strong Hospitality (hotel/resort/f&b)/ Travel background. After spending the past five years in Detroit, Chelsea knew it was time to get back to her Northern Michigan roots and return to the place she loves most. As a graduate of Michigan State University’s Hospitality Program, her passion for travel has contributed to jobs and experiences both domestically and abroad prior to landing in Traverse City in 2013.

Her title of National Sales Manager for Grand Traverse Resort and Spa gives her ample opportunity to boast about Traverse City and the uniqueness of the area, as well as familiarizing new guests with the Pure Michigan experience.
Friends and family consider Chelsea their personal concierge wherever they go, and she finds herself being an unofficial ambassador for Northern Michigan at all times. When she’s not off exploring other areas of the globe, you can find her discovering new hidden gems in the area and taking advantage of the markets, f&b, and events.