Chris Slater

Chris Slater is the Chief Financial Officer at Choice Schools Associates. Chris previously served as the CEO of Catholic Charities, a West Michigan based nonprofit. Prior to his role as CEO, Chris was the CFO. There, he implemented and facilitated major projects and impactful financial gains in his five years. By strategically leading his team he was able to move the non-profit forward significantly in just five years. This included new program development and capital building projects.

Chris is a Certified Public Accountant and has more than 10 years of experience in the accounting industry; holding key roles in leadership, finance, strategic planning, corporate development and operations. Chris also spent time in public accounting serving clients in multiple industries. Chris’ accounting acumen paired with his people-oriented values complements our culture, making him a great fit for Choice Schools Associates.

Jennifer Shiels

Department: Finance
Jennifer Shiels joined the finance team at Choice Schools Associates in June 2019. In this role she
supports the budget process, assists with grant management & compliance, handles the financial
reporting function and facilitates external audits for the charter schools.

Jennifer graduated from Central Michigan University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and
minors in finance and legal studies. From there she pursued a career as a public accounting professional
with Deloitte, obtaining her Certified Public Accountant license in 2010 and gaining experience
performing single audits on charter schools across the Midwest. Since leaving public accounting in 2012
Jennifer has ventured into several industries bringing budgeting and financial reporting experience from
wealth management, not-for-profits, hospitality and wholesale food distribution companies.

In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids camping, hiking and
biking. She also values maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeks to incorporate healthy eating along with
being active. Jennifer resides with her family in West Michigan.

Ben Mercer

Department: Finance
Ben earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Accounting from Grand Valley State University. As a previous tax intern at Spartan Stores and finance intern here at Choice Schools, Ben was able to gain much experience in finance. Ben is now the Finance Account Manager and is responsible for any important financial obligations for Choice.

Ben enjoys spending his leisure time golfing outdoors, hanging out with his friends and family, and being with his wife, Maria, and their son who they welcomed in 2015.

Jacob Allen

Joining the Choice Finance team in 2013, Jacob lends his expertise as a Finance Analyst. He works closely with the finance department, implements the SDS software, and assists our new Choice employees with any payroll needs. Jacob also assists finance and payroll with special projects, and is committed to perfecting audits for Choice Schools and its Academies.

Jacob graduated from Central Michigan University, receiving his B.S. in Business Administration and Economic Theory. A former U.S. Marine, he enjoys spending his time outdoors kayaking, hunting, and gardening. He also spends time on the weekends working on his family’s tree farm in Lake Isabella.

Kristen Baranski

Department: Finance
Kristen joined Choice Schools Associates in May of 2017 as an accounting intern. She was then promoted to associate accountant in January of 2018 where she now provides financial support to our schools as well as for Choice. Kristen received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Grand Valley State University and is excited to continue her journey with Choice and to learn and grow in the education industry.

In her free time, Kristen enjoys camping in the summer and spending time with her friends, family, and two cats. Originally from the east side of the state, Kristen enjoys exploring all that West Michigan has to offer.