Our Team

OUR PEOPLE

At the heart of any good company is good people. Choice is no exception. Our people come from all over the state and have a wide array of educational, professional, personal, and cultural backgrounds. We are all brought together by the shared passion of helping children.

We also focus on developing one another through meaningful relationships, challenging work, constructive feedback, sound professional training, and a true commitment to nurturing the career path of each team member.

School Finance Manager Kristen Baranski
X
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.
Director of School Finance Brian Beaudrie
X
Brian Beaudrie is the Director of School Finance at Choice Schools Associates. He has been a member of the Choice family since 2014. Prior to joining Choice Schools, Brian worked with charter schools as an auditor and finance director. Brian graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in accounting. He became a CPA in 2003. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children, volunteering in his community, playing golf and watching sports, especially football.
IT Helpdesk Technician Michael Gorham
X
Michael joined our Central Office team in 2021 as the IT Helpdesk Technician. He has nearly 18 years of experience in an educational setting, his most recent role being the Network Specialist at ​​Saint Johns Public Schools where he managed the technology support for everyone in the district. Michael has a strong talent of tailoring his way of communication with users which not only helps them with their respective issues, but develops a rapport with staff that will easily streamline technology support and communication. Outside of work, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, consisting of his wife and five sons, as well as pursuing his passion for music. He sings and plays the guitar and loves the joy creating music brings to other people.
Corporate Controller Ben Mercer
X
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.
Chief Operations Officer Tony Schmid
X
Tony Schmid is the Director of Operations at Choice School Associates. Tony partners with each school to support their operations needs, including health and safety, school nutrition, maintenance, capital and building projects, risk management, transportation, and so much more! Tony comes to us from SpringHill Camps, where he served for more than 13 years starting as the Director of Overnight and Partnership Acquisition and Regional Director-Ohio Valley Region from 2008 to 2012, and then the Operations and Talent Acquisition Director from 2012 to 2015, and most recently as the Chief Operating Officer since 2015. Tony graduated from Purdue University with a Master's in Education and Saint Joseph's College with a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Marketing. Tony loves being outside, playing and watching baseball, and spending time with his wife and family.
Assistant Director of Finance Jennifer Shiels
X
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.