Officials at Kirtland Community College announced the passing of 2012 Outstanding Alumna Carlene Cournyer Allen, following a nearly eight-year battle with breast cancer.
Allen graduated from Kirtland Community College in 1986, after earning an Associate in Accounting degree. She then transferred to Ferris State University and graduated in 1988, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
Following graduation, Allen worked at Glen’s Market in Mio before working in CPA firms in Mio, Grayling and Lansing. In 1995, Allen was hired as a payroll clerk for Boyne City Schools and promoted to Business Manager, a position which she held for four years. While working for Boyne City Schools, Allen pursued a Masters in Educational Leadership from Central Michigan University. Her experience in the educational setting, combined with her dedication to growth and learning, formed Allen’s decision to build her career in education.
In 2002, Allen was hired as the Director of Business and Finance for Gaylord Community Schools, where she served until 2012. In this role, Allen was responsible for overseeing the district’s $26 million annual budget. Allen also provided business office management services to the Atlanta Community Schools for several years through a cooperative agreement between districts.
In 2007, Allen was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and received aggressive treatment including a stem cell transplant at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In the fall of 2011, Allen’s cancer returned and she courageously battled the disease without complaint. Despite the challenge of battling cancer, Allen worked fulltime through the majority of her fight against cancer. She continued to be an active community member and an advocate committed to supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
“Carlee was an inspiration to every person she met,” Sarah Holecheck, Kirtland’s director of public information, said. “She was a wonderful example of how far you can go in life when you work hard and set the bar high.
“The Kirtland family is honored to call her a graduate, an Outstanding Alumna, and most importantly, our friend.”
Allen is survived by her husband, Casey; parents Jack and Pauline Cournyer (Mio, MI); sister Cathy (John) Riggs (Houston, TX); nephews Keith, Kevin and Jack Riggs (Houston, TX); sisters-in-law Toni (Dennis) Anderson (Mio, MI), Lauren (Jim) Allen (Royal Oak, MI), and Teri Allen (Anthony, NM); step daughter Lindsay (Bryan) Kelley (Germany), and an enormous extended family of close friends collected throughout her life, drawn to Carlee by her larger-than-life personality and true joy of living life to its absolute fullest potential. Carlee also leaves behind her two beloved dogs, Zach and Chase.