Cathy Freeman – President
Back around 2010, Gigi asked me if I was interested in joining the Board of the Ann Arbor Women’s Group. It was a great compliment to be asked, but I told her I wasn’t interested in joining a group that didn’t get things done. (We now laugh about this often.) So I went to a Board meeting and found a group of committed and skillful women, having fun while they worked together to connect women in recovery. My desire to get things done quickly turned into my election as the President of the Board, a role I have held for more years than I remember.
I had two significant working lives – as an IT professional and as a minister – but I like retirement much better. The ministry was a direct result of recovery; after about five years of sobriety with the Twelve Steps, God asked me to take on a new role. I “listened” (kicking and screaming all the way) and was blessed to have this second career.
It is my honor and my joy to be in a role that allows me to connect with so many wonderful women in recovery.
Janice Weber – Vice President
Back in 2000, I was a miserable unhappy person that did not want to admit I was an alcoholic. Today I am leading a life that I could never have imagined. Giving up alcohol was only the beginning of my recovery. Learning that I did not have to “do it myself” and being able to change were key lessons for me. The Ann Arbor Women’s Group has helped me along this path of change which is an ongoing process.
The need to develop and sustain a healthy sober lifestyle applies to me just as much as to the many other women A2WG has touched. To be a part of this wonderful organization is a gift.
Who would have thought a woman aged 74 could still land a great job? Or find herself in a new meaningful relationship? All this is one year! Now I am a few years older and look forward to retirement which will mean more time for visits with family, friends, and the ski slopes!
Di Kimball – Secretary
For most of my 30 years of sobriety I lived in California, so when I moved to Ann Arbor six years ago, I didn’t have any sober friends. I found meetings at the local Alano Club and was welcomed by Amy, Cathy and Janice along with other sober women. Amy told me about a weekend retreat at Lake Huron sponsored by A2WG, so I signed up and I’m glad I did!
I had a terrific time and was impressed by the A2WG Board Members that worked so hard to make the weekend a success. Besides the annual retreat, they sponsor a variety of recovery speakers on interesting topics, horseback riding, going to movies, a night of painting, canoeing, and more. A2WG even provides child-care and sponsorships. (I wish I’d had that kind of support earlier in sobriety when I had young children!)
The Board members are clearly dedicated to putting fun and support into so many recovering women’s lives. (“We are not a glum lot!”) I was flattered when Amy asked me to consider joining the Board, and I continue to be impressed by the dedicated friends of A2WG who make such a difference in the lives of so many sober women.
Amy Gibson Thomas, MBA, PhD – Treasurer
I love the Ann Arbor Women’s Group! I wish it had been around when I was getting sober. I have served as Treasurer since 2011, and it’s an enormous privilege to work with these smart, creative, loving, sober women.
By the grace of God, I have not had a drink since 2005. (My first sponsor would never have predicted this!) I have more education than I need, but I learned I could not study my way to sobriety. Thanks to Twelve-Step recovery and the company of sober women, I get to be serene, happy, and contented much of the time. I also know I can learn something from a woman who has been sober for even one day.
Eileen Grady – Member of the Board
I got involved with A2WG through their annual retreat. The women on the retreat planning committee were wonderful and we had so much fun “working” on the retreat. I was hooked! I joined the board in 2009 and the fellowship and fun have continued.
Since baking is my superpower, bake sale fundraisers and organizing food for the retreat and other events were right up my alley. I’ve learned a lot about friendship since getting sober in 1996, and I remember how much I needed safe activities and friends who “got it,” especially in early sobriety.
In my working life, I was a professional caregiver. Working with A2WG has given me the opportunity to join other caring women to provide the fun and educational activities that support the recovery community in a meaningful way. I’m proud to be a part of this inspiring organization.
Recovery has given me so much. I’m grateful to be able to give back to the community that has believed in me over the years.
Andrea Forbing – Member of the Board
I’ve been sober since July 2012; it hasn’t been an easy journey. Twice I relapsed at the 2-year sobriety mark. My sponsor helped me figure out the fatal flaw causing my relapse. We beefed up my “recovery tool kit” over time and I continued to access it to resist the temptation to drink and relapse again.
Our annual retreat on Lake Huron was crucial to my sobriety; the women of AAWG welcomed me back with open arms just a month after my 2nd relapse. There was no judgement, just love and acceptance. I joined the Board in the Fall of 2018 as a way to give back to the organization that was instrumental in my sobriety.
I’m a mobile phlebotomist for the Red Cross and have 2 wonderful children who tell me that they’re so proud of the changes they see in me. Recovery keeps me grounded and I’m able to set a good example for them.
Attending my home group, “Celebrate Recovery”, grounds me as well and gives me a way to fellowship with people seeking to connect with their Higher Power.
Recently, I’ve had to deal with breast cancer and the support from fellow Board members has been integral in helping me cope. I’m getting through this one day at-a-time and I like to encourage other women going through challenges to keep fighting and lean on their Higher Power.
I am blessed!
Amanda Stanger-Read – Member of the Board
I have been witnessing the great work of the Ann Arbor Women’s Group first hand since early 2019 and was honored when I was invited to join the Board.
In March of 2021 I thought I would retire, but in January of 2022 was called back into the fray and am currently the Executive Director of a non-profit Booking and Management agency, Great Lakes Performing Artist Associates. In my free time, I enjoy kayaking and singing and catching up with my 3 young adult children.
Deb Shipman – Member of the Board
My name is Deb Shipman, a recent addition to the Board of the Ann Arbor Women’s Group. I have both enjoyed and struggled in sobriety, having grown in ways great and small since first getting sober in 1989. In that time, I have had incredible joys and lessons. I’ve lived on the west coast, deep south and, finally, returned to my roots in MI. Some might say my B.S. degree is appropriate, given my love for communication and sincere desire to reach a diverse group of people who’ve struggled with the challenges many of us face in life, including life after addiction. Growth has been borne of challenge; we all need a hand up to face and overcome our circumstances. The honor is mine to stand with and support to those making positive changes in their lives.
Mary Seibert – Member of the Board
Brady Goode – Staff
When I first got sober in November of 2010 I was lost. After not drinking for a while, I was missing connecting with friends, especially women. People at meetings always told me to hang out with women, but I just didn’t know how to do that! My sponsor encouraged me to go to a meditation event offered by A2WG, and I had a great time. I even made a new friend that day!!
As the years passed, I found their events truly enhanced my recovery and helped me branch out to meet new sober women in the area. After having twins four years ago, I quickly took advantage of A2WG’s free childcare at Twelve Step meetings! Having an hour to sit in a meeting, while knowing my children are being looked after by CPR-certified and background-checked childcare workers is a wonderful thing. And my kids love it!
When I was asked to join the Board about two years ago, I excitedly said yes. I love being able to offer new resources and fun events for the sober women in our community. The best part is being able to foster new friendships for women in sobriety. Being on the Board has definitely done that for me. I have become friends with all of the wonderful, caring women on the board and it has enhanced my recovery, my life, and the happiness of my children.
In addition to focusing on my recovery, I am the mother of amazing seven-year-old twins, Maggie and Ethan. They continually amaze and inspire me on a daily basis. There is never a dull moment in our house!!