Alyson was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, graduating from Watervliet High School before earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work. Her long and inspiring career included jobs she adored at Catholic Social Services and at the Department of Health and Human Services at the State of Michigan.
Many behavioral health professionals came to know Alyson through her work implementing and managing the ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) program across the State of Michigan. In 2011, Alyson became the driving force in developing the Improving MI Practices website, overseeing the operation as it grew from fewer than 100 users to over 35,000 users in under a decade.
Building a state-wide educational website wasn’t easy, and required commitments and buy-in from countless leaders and specialists across multiple agencies, counties, and workgroups. Alyson never backed down, and never shied away from contributing everything she could to the effort, from organizing information and writing content, to narrating courses and acting in filmed roleplay scenarios.
Most importantly, she used her reputation and connections to convince the best content experts in the state to contribute their knowledge to developing new courses. Alyson oversaw the development of nearly every course, from concept to design to testing to launch, assuring all things put out by IMP met the site’s overall vision: the highest-quality training available, at no cost to Michigan professionals.
When Alyson wasn’t working, you could find her traveling the world with her husband. They enjoyed visiting places like New Zealand and Africa, or escaping winters in Florida and Alabama. An adventurous spirit, you could find her horseback riding, snorkeling, whale watching, exploring shops, or trying the local cuisine. Other activities she enjoyed were cooking, painting, sewing and various crafts. Alyson made christening gowns for nieces, nephews and friend’s children. For many years, she sewed clothes to be sent overseas through Helping Hands Community Outreach at her church.
Alyson died Wednesday, July 28, 2021, at home with her loving husband of 12 years, Todd Tarrant, at her side. Alyson leaves behind a loving family to cherish her memory including two sons Daniel Burwell and Alan (Robyn) Burwell; four grandchildren Mason, Charlotte, Virginia, and Anna; a foster daughter Trisha (Doug) Viener and their daughter Skylar Viener; her mom Irma (Janke) Krieger, a sister Coleen Halamka; a brother Paul (Leisha) Krieger; and several nieces and nephews.
“Alyson was such a compassionate and positive light. She was a thoughtful thinker and advocate for not only the public behavioral health system, but the individuals we are here to serve. She will be sorely missed. One of my favorite quotes is ‘Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone.’ I am keeping this in mind in relation to Alyson as we move forward.”
– Brenda Stoneburner
“Alyson was a true champion of supporting those of us who had unique or unusual strengths, needs, and challenges. She was profoundly dedicated to promoting expertise and skill among all of us in the mental health field. The impact of her efforts to provide education in many forms both virtual and in person is profound. Her passing is a profound loss to all of us.”
– Shelly Weaverdyck, PhD
“Before there were evidence-based practices in Michigan, there was Alyson. Before the State of Michigan Performance Improving Steering Committee, there was Alyson. Simply put, it is directly due to Alyson's unyielding commitment to ensuring that only the highest quality services are made available that we can point to evidence-based clinical practices as the gold standard for mental health services provision in the state of Michigan. Clinical services practitioners and service recipients alike reap immense benefit from Alyson's enduring legacy. We have been changed and will not forget.”
– Phillip Cave
"Alyson was a true advocate not only for people in the field serving individuals with mental illness, but for raising the voices of people with mental illness themselves. She believed that recovery is possible on our own terms and in our own time, and made sure that Michigan was a leader in that approach. With Alyson's leadership, recovery was made more possible for many Michiganders. That is quite a powerful contribution to us all."
– Jennifer Harrison