By Jennifer Blank, MiCAFE Network Coordinator, at Elder Law of Michigan
On August 14, 2019, Elder Law of Michigan will honor Laura Sutter, Director of the Branch/St. Joseph Area Agency on Aging (3C) with the 2019 Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award for her elder abuse prevention work.
The Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Awards honor those that share the mission of Elder Law of Michigan, Inc. to advocate for, educate, and assist those in need, with a continued focus on older adults and persons with disabilities.
Ron Tatro, Vice President of Elder Law of Michigan, said, “As the Director of an Area Agency on Aging, Laura has been the driving force behind creating and supporting local elder abuse prevention in Branch and St. Joseph counties. With Laura’s support, those counties created one of the first community elder abuse prevention protocols in Michigan.”
Laura is a lifelong resident of Michigan, having grown up in Detroit and Saginaw. She attended Grand Valley State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health Science with an emphasis in Public Administration. For a short time after college, she worked as Admissions/Marketing Coordinator in a large for-profit nursing home and discovered soon after that she wanted to serve older adults in a more engaging capacity. She was then recruited by the St. Joseph County Human Services Commission in Centreville, MI as an assistant to collaborate with a number of agencies in the area. These experiences jump-started her career with the Branch-St. Joseph Area Agency on Aging where she’s been for the past 20 years.
Focusing on independence and dignity is something Laura holds near and dear to her heart. As such, she and her “small but mighty” team have prioritized and grown particularly passionate about protecting those who are most vulnerable in their planning and service area. They have worked hard to collaborate with key community leaders to implement Vulnerable Adult Protocol documents, provide training and education, and recently developed a victim assistance program directly serving victims of vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Currently, Laura serves as the Board President of the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan. She is honored to work collectively alongside 16 dynamic area agencies on behalf of Michigan’s older adults to promote healthy aging, dignity, and independence. She also serves on the LifeCare Ambulance Board of Directors and the ADAPT, Inc. Board of Directors.
Despite growing up and attending college in larger cities, Laura has grown particularly fond of smaller towns and the unique qualities each community holds. Laura and her husband, Matt, live in Sturgis with their two daughters. They are focused on family and spend most of their time supporting their daughters with school, volleyball, soccer, piano, and dance lessons. In her spare time, Laura enjoys getting together with friends, spending time in the garden, and traveling.
Elder Law of Michigan is proud to honor Laura with the 2019 Joe D. Sutton Call to Justice Award. Join us in honoring Laura and her years of service in making a difference in the lives of older adults Wednesday, August 14th from 6 pm to 8 pm at Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids. RSVP for the West Michigan event.
Jennifer Blanck is a MiCAFE Network Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan and has been with Elder Law of Michigan since September 2014. As a MiCAFE Network Coordinator, Jennifer helps clients apply for benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services and helps find resources for clients with needs that cannot be met by one of our programs.