Women Who Move West Michigan – 2023 – Special Section
Owner & Founder
Executive Director of Academics & Assessment
Executive Director of Operations & Development
Executive Director of Brand & Communication
Milestones Child Development Center, Central Office
4527 Cascade Rd. SE, Ste. B | Cascade, MI 49546 | (616) 551-3200 | milestonescdc.com
Run by a team of five exceptional women, Milestones Child Development Center has been serving greater Grand Rapids families since 2005. Kelly Russell, Kelly Mertes, Nicole Pratt, Jenny Abid, and Jessica Cunningham lead the family and locally owned institution, lending their comprehensive expertise in childhood elementary education to create a nurturing environment where children ages 0-5 can thrive.
With extensive growth occurring over the past two years, Milestones now fulfills the developmental needs of 1,500-plus students. About 300 staff are employed at six West Michigan locations. Amid their expansion, Milestones has continued to stay focused on safety and security first, as well as maintaining a well-trained teaching staff and state-of-the-art facilities.
They’ve also been thoughtful about the space where their students learn, ensuring each center is set amid nature, as a counterbalance to an increasingly technology-driven world. As part of their learning fundamentals, children in Milestones’ care are taught to have respect for nature and the planet, and the centers are curated to include natural playgrounds as well as outdoor classrooms that are led by an outdoor specialist teacher to ensure authenticity and intentionality.
All moms themselves, Russell, Mertes, Pratt, Abid, and Cunningham have seen firsthand the impact of their efforts, as their own children have been brought up through Milestones’ award-winning educational programming. As leaders, they also strive to make the classrooms an extension of home, without any sense of feeling cold or corporate. Simply put: At Milestones, families are treated like family.