Our Administrative Team
President and Owner
President and Owner Gretchen Preston graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in education. She provided child care in her home for five years when her own children were preschoolers. In 1982, she opened the first Gretchen’s House in the Eberwhite neighborhood. Since then, Gretchen’s House has grown to eight centers in Ann Arbor and one in Houghton, Michigan on the campus of Michigan Technological University and one in Ypsilanti, Michigan in partnership with HighScope. Throughout her career Gretchen has been active in the early childhood community, both locally and at the national level. She has been a validator for NAEYC’s accreditation program for several years and has served on local professional groups, as well as boards for Child Care Information Exchange and the current Washtenaw Citizens Advisory Council for Family Court. She is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector and has participated in the GSRP program since its creation. Gretchen says, “I enjoy working with early childhood professionals within Gretchen’s House and the greater community. Improving the quality of our programs is at the core of everything we do at Gretchen’s House. Seeing this happen gives me great satisfaction.”
Educational background: Masters in Early Childhood Education; B.S. in Education
Executive Director Heidi McFadden has been with Gretchen’s House since 1992. She was a center Director at GH-Stadium and at GH-Oak Valley and has been in her current position since 2002. Heidi has a master degree in early childhood education from Walden University, a bachelor degree in education from DePauw University and is a HighScope certified trainer. She’s worked in the early childhood field since 1984 as a teacher, program director, and director of NAEYC accredited programs.
As Executive Director, Heidi enjoys the perspective of working “behind the scenes” with the administrative team at Gretchen’s House and providing feedback and support for center Directors and their staff. Heidi says being at the centers regularly allows her to see the direct impact that our programs have on children and families. She gets satisfaction from knowing we provide an important service in our community.
Director of Curriculum
Educational background: Masters in Early Childhood Education; B.S in Education
Teacher Support Coordinator
Educational background: Masters in Early Childhood Education
Teacher Support Coordinator Laura Griswold has been with Gretchen’s House since 1992 and during her professional journey has been a teacher and director before taking on this role. Laura has a master degree in early childhood education from Walden University. She is responsible for the Great Start Readiness Program classrooms that are housed at Gretchen’s House as well as supporting teachers when challenges arise in the classroom. Laura and her husband, Giovanni are the proud parents of two boys; Grant and Aidan who grew up as GH kids. With adolescent boys, life is busy with sporting events, band/jazz concerts and grocery shopping!
Educational background: B.S in Speech Pathology and Audiology
Human Resources Director Michele Davis recruits, interviews, and hires staff for all Ann Arbor locations. Michele has a bachelor degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology with a minor in psychology from Western Michigan University. She began working at Gretchen’s House in early 1990. For several years, Michele worked as a classroom teacher, before moving into the role of Center Director in 1995. Since 2001 she has held her current administrative position. Michele has three children, and enjoys skiing, kayaking and golfing.
Payroll and Benefits Manager
Educational background: Bachelors in Individual and Family Studies
Payroll and Benefits Manager Lorraine Hergenreder began working for Gretchen’s House in 1988 as the center director for GH-Stadium, back when there were only three centers! Lorraine moved into an administrative position in 1993 after the birth of her daughter, Emma. Lorraine has a bachelors degree in Individual and Family Studies with an Emphasis in Infant Development from Pennsylvania State University, with a minor in business administration. Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Lorraine enjoys vacationing, camping, skiing, and snowmobiling. She lives in Chelsea with her husband, daughter, two very large dogs, two cats and one tiny hamster. Lorraine celebrated her 25th year with Gretchen’s House in 2013!
Operations and Marketing Manager
Educational background: CDA (Child Development Associate) & Associates in Business with a concentration in marketing
Operations & Marketing Manager Harmony Smargon joined Gretchen’s House in 2000. She started her Early Childhood Career at GH-WISD, where she developed a strong passion for working with children and their parents. Harmony has a CDA (Child Development Associate) and is a HighScope certified teacher. Harmony also has an associate’s degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing. After 5 1/2 years at GH-WISD, Harmony transferred to GH-Dhu Varren where she spent the last part of her time in the classroom as a Lead Preschool Teacher and was awarded the Gretchen’s House 19th Annual Louise Kersey Award for Outstanding Teaching. Harmony took on an Administrative role in 2013 and enjoys seeing the big picture workings of Gretchen’s House. In her spare time Harmony enjoys decorating, organizing, playing with her two children, and supporting her husband in his stand-up comedy career.
Human Resources and Administrative Office Manager
Educational background: Bachelors in Music Therapy
Human Resources and Administrative Office Manager Tracey Elliott joined Gretchen’s House in 2022. She has a degree in Music Therapy from Cleveland State University. Tracey spent several years working directly with children diagnosed with autism and is passionate about providing support to professionals working in the classroom. She lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and cat and enjoys gardening, cooking, crocheting, styling, and hiking.