Our Board and Volunteers

Gabby’s Ladder, Inc.

Board of Directors

P.O. Box 2107

Monroe, MI 48161

(734) 242-8773


Board meets bi-monthly, on the 4th Thursday of the following months:

January, March, May, July, September & November at 5:30 pm Gabby’s Ladder 431 E. Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162

Bill Bacarella, President

Mr. Bacarella is the owner of Bacarella Funeral Home in Monroe, Michigan.   He currently serves on the Mercy Memorial Hospital Patient Ethics Committee and The Mercy Memorial Hospice of Monroe Advisory Board. He is a lifelong resident of Monroe. He and his wife, Amy, have 3 children.


Gary Banning, Treasurer

Mr. Banning is a local businessman and owner of The Banning Company, an accounting and business services firm. Mr. Banning has been involved with Gabby’s Ladder since its beginning and is one of the original board members.


Kira Kline, Secretary

Mrs. Kline is a residential designer who lives in Temperance, Michigan.  She extends herself to supporting any volunteer activities, and is excited to help expand Gabby’s Ladder to the southern part of Monroe County.


Dr. John Brooks, Board Member

Dr. Brooks received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology; Master of Arts degree in    Counseling from Siena Heights University; a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology, and a Specialist degree in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology from the Michigan School of Professional Psychology. He has been a lifelong resident of Monroe, Michigan and has been in private practice as a psychotherapist, working with a variety of populations since 2006.


Maureen Castiglione, Board Member

Mrs. Castiglione is a graduate of St. Mary Academy and Western Michigan University holding a Bachelor in Elementary Education with a Masters from Marygrove College.  She is married to John Castiglione, has two children and is a lifelong resident of Monroe where her family runs a small drywall company.  She is an elementary school teacher in Livonia Public Schools and her passion is her students.  She has been teaching for 18 years and has loved every minute of it.


Renee Darrow, Board Member

Mrs. Darrow is a Registered Nurse who actively supports programs for children and adults. She currently serves as the School Board Chair for St. Mary Catholic Central High School. She is also involved in the University of Michigan Transplant Department.


Molly Moore, Board Member

Mrs. Moore is the Director of Philanthropy for Mercy Memorial Hospital System and a Certified Fundraising Executive.  She received a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. She is a current Board Member for Children With Hair Loss and the Toledo Area Partnership for Philanthropic Planning and a past Board Member of the Southern Michigan Timberwolves, the Monroe Family YMCA, and the Monroe County Child Advocacy Center.


Kim White, Board Member

Mrs. White is a life-long resident of Monroe.  Through the White Family Foundation, she is a supporter of many charities which are focused on helping others in the Monroe community. She is a wife and the mother of 2 children.


Amy Zarend, Board Member

Mrs. Zarend is the Director of the Monroe County Great Start Collaborative group, which is an early childhood advocacy and networking initiative in the state of Michigan. The group is comprised of schools, businesses, parents and local agencies working together to ensure all children enter school ready for success. I have been with the program for almost 7 years. I have been married to my husband, David, for 15 years and we have 2 children.



Kaye Lani Rafko-Wilson, Director

Mrs. Wilson is the Executive Director for Gabby’s Ladder. She is a professional nurse and was crowned Miss America 1988.  Her platform as Miss Michigan and Miss America was Hospice and Family Grief Support.  She is a public speaker and continues to promote the need for these services on national speaking tours.




Honorary Board Members ~


Jan Baden, Co-Founder/Past Executive Director

Mrs. Baden is Co-Founder of Gabby’s Ladder.  She was a licensed professional counselor and professional nurse and certified in trauma and loss with over 20 years of experience in bereavement counseling. She touched many throughout the Monroe County area and continued providing grief support until her death in June 2010. We treasure her gifts and miss her dearly.


The Honorable Joseph A. Costello, Jr. 

Judge Joseph Costello is a judge of the 38th Circuit Court in Michigan. He is a strong advocate for children and families throughout Monroe County.


The Reverend Dr. Ellen McGormley

Reverend Dr. McGormley served as co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Monroe before retiring with her husband.  She was a committed pastoral supporter of Gabby’s Ladder.


Ellie Mruzek, Co-Founder

Mrs. Mruzek is a professional nurse and author. She is the Co-Founder of Gabby’s Ladder and creator of the image of Gabby. She is certified as a trauma and loss facilitator.


Jeff Rupp

Mr. Rupp is the owner of Rupp Funeral Home.  He has been a dedicated volunteer since the beginning of Gabby’s Ladder and provides assistance with the funeral session in our Family Grief Recovery Workshops.


David Taylor

Mr. Taylor was the Superintendent of Monroe Public Schools for 19 years before his retirement in 2010.  He was a dedicated educational leader who valued the grief support services of Gabby’s Ladder for students and their families until his death in October 2011. He was one of our first board members and we continue to appreciate his past contributions.