Aerial view of the Dowagiac campus

Three new members join foundation board

05/22/2014 - 11am

The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees appointed three members to three–year terms on the SMC Foundation Board at its May 19 meeting on the Dowagiac campus.

The new foundation members are Tom Carlson of Dowagiac, Maria Jones of Cassopolis and Todd Obren of Edwardsburg.

Carlson, vice president of Hannapel Home Centers, attended SMC and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Carlson’s community service includes Dowagiac Union Schools Foundation, Borgess-Lee Memorial Foundation, Dowagiac Athletic Boosters and Sacred Heart of Mary Church.

He wants to serve to “support the students at SMC and help them achieve their goals.”

Jones has been a student support specialist with Cassopolis Public Schools for 19 years at Sam Adams Elementary School.

She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in counseling from Capella University. Jones is the district’s crisis/critical incident consultant to the superintendent.

Jones has been very active in the community, including holiday food drives, Toys for Tots, Shop with a Cop with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Underground Railroad Society, K&M’s Great Start Target student shopping trip and St. Ann Catholic Church funeral dinners.

Jones said, “SMC, in my opinion, is a treasure for students here in this region,” so she wants to assist in maintaining funding and “forging into the future financially so that all students who have the desire to attend will always be able to access the opportunity for continuing their education.”

Obren has been vice president of commercial lending for 13 years at Chemical Bank in Niles.

Obren graduated from Albion College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and management.

In 2007, he was a finalist for “Michiana’s Best and Brightest Under 30.”

The father of four’s community service has included the Junior Achievement of Michiana board, president of Niles-Buchanan Rotary Club, raising $45,000 for United Way and other fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity.

“Growing up in Cass County and taking classes and earning college credit at SMC while attending Edwardsburg High School, I’m familiar with SMC and the value it brings to our community,” Obren said. “For the past 10 years I’ve interviewed hundreds of high school students for college scholarships
through Rotary Club. I understand the importance of higher education and having worked and partially paying my way through college, I understand the financial demand a college education can have on students and their families. Chemical Bank is a community-based bank that believes strongly in its employees getting involved and giving back — both with their time and financial resources — in the communities we serve.”

The SMC Foundation bridges the gap between college needs and resources.

A non-profit, tax-exempt corporation established in 1971, the foundation assists SMC students who desire to enhance their lives through education and training.

The foundation supports the college in areas not funded through taxes, tuition and grants.