Emerging Leaders Prepare to Build Our Future
The Hauenstein Center’s Cook Leadership Academy is a leader development program for 40 Grand Valley undergraduate and graduate students. The program is co-curricular and cross-disciplinary — this year representing 32 different areas of study — and it provides numerous opportunities for students to expand their horizons and engage the community.
Cook Leadership Fellows — our students — gain access to Hauenstein Center events and receptions, high-profile community events, and professional training from Varnum Consulting and the Center for Community Leadership.
They have been face-to-face with four U.S. presidents, three first ladies, two vice presidents, four secretaries of state, six state governors, numerous business and nonprofit executives, multiple Pulitzer Prize winning writers, the world’s most decorated academic, a Grammy Award winner, and a national championship basketball coach.
The 2012-13 Cook Leadership Academy will be built around four core programs:
|The Wheelhouse Talks
Build community at the helm
Challenge your perspectives
Consult collective wisdom
Find your spark
|Talks by a distinguished cross-section of leaders, where fellows:- Engage with local leaders and the community- Collect perspectives, models, examples, and values of leadership- Create a shared vision for the community||Intimate gatherings, where fellows:-Explore leader ideals and ethical perspectives with Hauenstein Center Director Gleaves Whitney- Tell stories and test ideas- Engage, advise, and coach one another
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|Mentor program, where fellows:- Access the advice, guidance, and expertise of community mentors- Intersect with mentors at live events and in a dynamic, personalized, online environment- Tap into (and contribute to) the program’s collective wisdom
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|Reflection-based, authentic leadership program, where fellows:- Explore their personal narratives and fundamental values, goals, and motives- Discover their strengths and weaknesses as leaders- Envision their futures and hoped for legacies
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Leadership Fellows in the 2012-13 Cook Leadership Academy
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Hannah Anderson – Mathematics – GVSU, BS ’13
Hannah is a junior at Grand Valley State University majoring in math and am a member of the Meijer Honors College. She is originally from East Grand Rapids, Michigan, and as a senior was a member of her high school’s “We the People” constitutional studies team. This experience instilled in her a love for our Constitution and a desire to uphold our country’s founding ideals. In the two years since then, she has been wrestling with what that actually looks like. She feels blessed to have been able to learn from the Cook Leadership Academy during this time, and she is excited to continue the process.
Mohamed Azuz – Communications engineering, Computer Information Systems – GVSU, BS ’14
Mohamed is an international student from Tripoli, Libya. He studied communications engineering at Tripoli University and is now pursuing a degree in computer information systems at Grand Valley State University. Mohamed serves as president of the Photography Student Organization. His photography can be seen on the GVSU website, and most recently, was displayed at the Red Wall Gallery, in Allendale. He is the Vice President of the International Student Club and also a peer mentor in the GVSU International House. An Eagle Scout in Libya, he volunteers his time with the Cub Scouts in Jenison. He is honored to serve as a US Department of State Alumni, having been a student in the NESA UGRAD Program. His interests also include cancer awareness, and he has served as a team leader in the Libyan Cancer Society. Joining the Cook Leadership academy will help him to develop leadership, communication, and community engagement skills, which will help him attain his future goals of assisting in rebuilding Libya after the revolution.
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Elizabeth Balboa – Journalism, Biomedical Science, Writing, Religous Studies – GVSU, BA ’14, BS ’14
Elizabeth is a junior at Grand Valley State University majoring in journalism and biomedical sciences and minoring in religious studies. Although most recently from Grand Ledge, Mich., her family just moved to Royal Oak. Elizabeth’s proudest accomplishments during her first two years at GVSU include her involvement in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, service as the news editor of the Lanthorn and reception of various scholarships, including the GVSU Presidential Scholarship. Prior to joining the Laker community, Elizabeth attended Lansing Catholic High School, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class and served as an ambassador and member of the National Honors Society. She aspires to become a leader in modern journalism as well as in the Catholic community, and is eager to work with the members of the Cook Leadership Academy to realize these goals.
Lindy Barnes – Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations – GVSU, BA ’13
Lindy is a senior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in advertising and public relations. Born and raised in Clinton Township, Michigan, Lindy attended Regina, an all-girls Catholic High School, where she held leadership roles in student council and graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors. Lindy started off her college career at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, and decided to stay on the west side of the state when she transferred to Grand Valley sophomore year. In search of more leadership opportunities, Lindy pledged into Phi Mu Fraternity in the fall of 2010, and quickly became a chapter leader as the social and risk management chair, and within one year, was voted into the position of President of the Rho Eta Chapter of Phi Mu Fraternity, the office she currently holds. This position has helped Lindy realize the importance of integrity, sisterhood, and responsibility as she works to coordinate and lead a chapter of 90 women on a daily basis. In addition, Lindy serves as the Commencement Assistant to the Dean of Students where she works each semester to help coordinate the commencement ceremonies. She finds this job extremely rewarding, as each semester the culmination of her work results in proper coordination of students and faculty on their big day. She will work in this position until her own graduation in April 2013. She looks forward to the networking and mentor opportunities that the Cook Leadership Academy will provide her this coming year.
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Austin Calloway – Political Science – GVSU, BA ’14
Austin is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University majoring in political science. He is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and graduated from East Kentwood High School. During his time at Grand Valley, he has participated in intramural basketball and football, the First Year Leadership Experience, and Student Senate. He was a member of the Educational Affairs and Appropriations Committees in the 2010-2011 Student Senate. He feels both honored and excited to be part of a group of students that is focused on learning key skills that an evolving global job market demands.
Michelle Clancy – Leadership Academy Vice President – Biology, Nonprofit Management and Leadership – GVSU, BS ’10, MPA ’12 – Dick and Betsy DeVos Leadership Fellow
Michelle received her Master’s in Public Administration from Grand Valley State University in 2012. During her graduate program she worked closely with animal welfare nonprofit organizations, including C-SNIP and Humane Society of West Michigan. While at Grand Valley, she was a graduate assistant for the Student Employment Office, tour guide for the Admissions Office, as well as captain and financial officer for the GVSU Women’s Water Polo team. Michelle currently works as an Administrative Assistant at the Humane Society of West Michigan during the week and at the Animal Emergency Hospital of West Michigan as a veterinary assistant on the end. Her passion for animal has led her to pursue a career addressing the issues of animal cruelty and pet overpopulation through direct care and community involvement. Michelle joined the Cook Leadership Academy in 2011 and enjoys learning about the unique background and ambitions of each fellow and mentor.
Michael Cnossen – International Relations – GVSU, BA ’11 – Ralph W. Hauenstein Leadership Fellow
Michael received his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Grand Valley in 2011. Before Grand Valley, he served six years on active duty in the U.S. Army, where he was enlisted as a human intelligence collector and an Arabic linguist. He deployed to Afghanistan and acted as an intelligence analyst, an intelligence Collection Team team leader, and manager for teams’ operations. While he was stationed in the U.S., at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, he served as an airborne Jumpmaster and unit armorer. He has been fortunate to be able to travel independently to 25 countries, including a ten month trip with a friend to 16 countries on five continents during his time at Grand Valley. He hopes to someday help people and nations solve their conflicts by revealing their shared interests and aims in relation to one another. He is very excited to have the opportunity to hear the thoughts and experiences of so many gifted people in the leadership academy and to share his own.
Max Corning II – Allied Health Sciences, Speech Language Pathology – GVSU, BA ’13
Max is completing his Bachelor’s degree at GVSU for Allied Health Science with a Speech Language Pathology emphasis. He plans to continue his pursuit of a Master’s degree at Grand Valley. He is an Army veteran that completed a tour in Afghanistan in August of 2010. Max was a techinical engineer that was responsible for the design and layouts of large construction projects. He is the active vice president for Grand Valley’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association. Max is a part of the Student Veteran’s Organization and a Member-at-Large representing Students for the Michigan Speech and Hearing Associaton Advisory Assembly. He currently work at a Baxter labratory as a Plasma Center Techinican and continues to serve in the Army Reserve. Max joined the Cook Leadership Academy to develop relationships and to help contribute to proffesional development.
Kristofer Cortez – Music, College Student Affairs Leadership – GVSU, BA ’11, M. Ed. ’13
Kris is completing his Masters of Higher Education in College Student Affairs Leadership where he intends to focus on experiential education and the intersection of learning, leadership, and outdoor adventure. An experienced backcountry leader, Kris has lead backpacking, whitewater, and sea kayaking expeditions facilitating student development and individual growth for high school and college students. As a undergraduate student, Kris actively participated and led collegiate a cappella and outdoor adventure organizations establishing his philosophy for student leadership and initiative. Kris still actively pursues his passion for music through personal projects, and continues to create outdoor adventure trips. Kris joined the Cook Leadership Academy to continue learning about leadership dynamics and continue towards his goals of directing an experiential education program and completing a PhD in the experiential education field.
Evan Crain – Finance, Operations Management, Accounting – GVSU, BBA ’13 – David and Carol Van Andel Leadership Fellow
Evan Crain is from Midland, Michigan and a junior at Grand Valley State University. He is pursuing degrees in Operations Management and Finance, and a minor in Accounting. Evan is passionate about authentic leadership, positive teaching, and increasing productivity in organizations. He is developing these interests through his involvement with the GV drumline, martial arts, and his work at a firm that promotes corporate wellness. He also enjoys working with technology, reading on business practices and culture, and expanding his knowledge on just about any topic. Evan is a recipient of the GVSU Presidential Scholarship Award of Distinction, and a member of the Grand Valley Marching Band, Frederick Meijer Honors College, the Seidman College of Business, and the Student Leadership Executive Development Program. Evan is excited to join the Cook Leadership Academy in order to learn from the experiences of highly accomplished leaders and other Fellows. Evan is looking forward to expanding his leadership skills to actively engage in networking, become more involved in the community, and increase his ability to lead organizations in a positive and effective way.
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Austin Dean – Leadership Academy President – Business Administration, Finance – GVSU, BA ’11, MBA ’13 – Marilyn Titche Leadership Fellow
I graduated from Grand Valley State University in April 2011 with a bachelor’s in finance. Currently, I am in my final year at GVSU, studying in the Masters of Business Administration program. I spend many of my out-of-school hours working for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Grand Valley as a fulltime Graduate Assistant. For the coming year, I was honored to except the role of President for the Graduate Student Association here at Grand Valley. In my undergraduate career, I was associated with the Seidman Undergraduate Advisory Board and spent many happy hours working with our local senior citizens through the GVSU Senior Citizens Club. I spent a semester working for Merrill Lynch as an intern in 2010. In 2012, I worked as an analyst for a local venture capital company, learning the in’s and out’s of investment banking and entrepreneurial funding. I eagerly look forward to working with each of the fellows, and mentors, this coming year.
Abigail DeHart – Philosophy, Classics, Business – GVSU, BA ’14 – Dick and Betsy DeVos Leadership Fellow
Abigail is a junior at Grand Valley, majoring in philosophy and classical languages with a minor in business. Her hometown is Saginaw, Michigan. Before beginning college, she spent a year serving with AmeriCorps NCCC. This involved traveling the country and working with different non-profit organizations while learning how to become a more active citizen. Currently, she enjoys school and spends way too much time in the library. She is involved with Philosophy Club and is always looking to participate in meaningful opportunities on campus. She volunteers with Job Corps in Grand Rapids, offering introductory college level courses to the students. Abigail plays music as much she can in her spare time, but also loves conversation, mentoring, and helping people to learn about themselves. Looking into the future, she is growing increasingly interested in public policy and the potential interrelatedness of the business and non-profit worlds. Grad school is assuredly in the future, but the specific direction is yet to be decided.
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Mohammed Ghannam – Biomedical Science – GVSU, BA ’14
Mohammed Ghannam was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. As the child of two immigrants from the middle-east, Mohammed had the opportunity to experience two cultures which ultimately enhanced his personality and perception. He attended elementary, middle, and high school in the Forest Hills Public School district. Mohammed graduated from Forest Hills Northern High School in May of 2010 and began his university studies at Grand Valley State University in the fall of 2010. Mohammed is pursuing a career in medicine, and is currently a biomedical science major. In addition to volunteering as a mentor to underprivileged children in his local community, Mohammed taught young men and women at his local faith centre to cultivate the necessary foundations required to lead healthy and productive lives. Mohammed also volunteers at Spectrum Health hospital as well as Saint Mary’s Urgent Care facility. In the Grand Valley community, Mohammed holds leadership positions in two prominent registered student organizations, both of which have actively engaged in meaningful activities to encourage and raise awareness about pertinent local and global issues. Though Mohammed aspires to be a physician, he enjoys reading and discussing politics, policy, and world affairs. Among his hobbies are reading, basketball, and weight-lifting.
Justin Gray – Nursing – GVSU, BSN ’12
As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, I am pursuing a career in pediatric nursing. With my roots in the small Michigan town of Frankenmuth, over time I’ve come to call Grand Rapids my home. Being active on campus and involved in the community is a large part of who I am. On campus, I served as president of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a national leadership honor society; president and founder of the Crohn’s and Colitis Student Initiative; board member of the Service and Advocacy funding board; and I was employed as one of Grand Valley’s Admissions Office Ambassadors. I also serve on the Student Engagement Committee in Grand Valey’s Development office to develop a new program to educate students on philanthropy and the cost of higher education. In the community, I serve as the Grand Rapids event chair for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), and in May 2011 and 2012 I organized the Take Steps Grand Rapids Walk, one of CCFA’s signature events. In 2011, I had the honor to receive the Thomas M. Seykora Award for outstanding contribution to Grand Valley. I also had the pleasure to attend ODK’s signature leadership program, “Campus Leaders Today, Community Leaders Tomorrow.” I am looking forward to further developing my leadership skills, and I am eager to network with leaders of the community through the Cook Leadership Fellowship.
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Ann Hartlieb – Psychology, Spanish – GVSU, BA ’12
Ann Hartlieb is a current student graduating in December 2012. She loves being involved in the Grand Valley community and has been an active member of Alternative Breaks, the Future Alumni Association, and as a Resident Assistant for two and a half years. Ann is passionate about empowering others to live the most fulfilling lives possible and experiencing new cultures, especially through travel. Ann is a Student Event Manager with Alumni Relations at Grand Valley and was honored as Homecoming Regent in 2011. Ann’s college experience has been enriched through study abroad programs in Mexico, for six weeks and in Seville, Spain, for a semester. Ann is looking forward to continuing to refine her leadership skills this upcoming year through the Academy; we have a diverse group of students and professionals and Ann hopes to collaborate with mentors and peers alike to better our local community and beyond.
Nicole Horne – Chemistry, Aquatic Biology – UM, BS ’94; GVSU, MS ’12 – David and Carol Van Andel Leadership Fellow
Nicole M. Horne is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward & Theresa Horne and hails from Muskegon, Michigan. Upon graduating from Muskegon High School, she matriculated through and graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry (’94). She was then employed at Pfizer Global Research & Development in Ann Arbor & Holland, MI. as an organic chemist for eight years, performing pharmaceutical synthesis and producing, isolating, and purifying recombinant DNA proteins for disease enquiries. In February 2004, Nicole entered full-time ministry as the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church of Muskegon and has served in this capacity for the past eight years. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Math and Physical Sciences Department at Muskegon Community College, where she teaches Chemistry and Math. Nicole is currently a graduate student at GVSU in the Biology Department under the direction of Dr. Bopi Biddanda. Her thesis research is in the area of aquatic microbial ecology, with respect to aquatic biofilms and their role in the inexpensive and family-scale BioSand Biofilter water filtration system, which is used to provide safe drinking water in developing countries, improving human health and well-being.
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John Iott – Business Economics, Finance – GVSU, BBA ’13
John is a Senior at Grand Valley State University studying Business Economics and Finance. A Graduate of Milford High school in 2008, he was very active in Sports, Student Government and Youth Ministries. Over the past 4 years at GV, one of his biggest passions has been competing as a High Jumper on the Track and Field Team at Grand Valley. John is two-time All-Conference and six-time Academic All-Conference. In the previous Track Seasons, he was named Jumps Team Captain. In addition to learning many lessons at the Track, he has been an active voice for students representing them on GVSU’s Student Senate. After serving the past year as Vice President of Campus Affairs, John was elected to serve at Student Senate President. Serving as Student Body President, John is eager to represent students to the fullest and be able to positively affect Grand Valley. John’s future career goals lie in the Corporate Finance field. He is excited to learn from other fellows while being able to bring his own experience and ideals. He feels that collaboration and learning amongst leaders is the best way to benefit our communities.
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Jepkoech Kottutt – Biomedical Science, Women and Gender Studies – GVSU, BS ’15 – Peter C. Cook Leadership Fellow
I am a sophomore at Grand Valley State University pursuing a bachelor in Biomedical Science, with Chemistry and Women and Gender Studies minors. I am a member of the Fredrick Meijer Honors College and the pre-medicine club. I also participate in the Women’s Center activities and a volunteer of the Martin Luther King Junior Day. I went for study abroad to South Africa through the Women and Gender Studies Program. I got the opportunity to work as an intern in a student lead service-learning program called SHAWCO (Students Health and Welfare Centers Organization), which is based in Cape Town South Africa. I have also participated in various service projects in Kenya, which were aimed at building community and national peace. I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan but I grew up in Eldoret, Kenya where I spent most of my childhood. I aspire to be an obstetrician and gynecologist so that I can make an impact on the health care of women in Africa. I am looking forward to learning a lot from the Cook Leadership Academy and its fellows and I hope to bring a new dimension of social harmony, understanding of leadership, and different aspects of life.
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Joshua James Lunger – Political Science – GVSU, BS ’12 – Gleaves Whitney Leadership Fellow
I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Politcal Science in 2012. I was born and raised on a small farm in Sparta, Michigan, and I joined the U.S. Army in 2005 and served as a paratrooper in a airborne recon squadron in the 82nd Airborne Division. I served in combat operations in Iraq for fifteen months between 2006‑2008, much of it in a leadership role. I returned home in December of 2009 and started school almost immediately. I also served two years in the National Guard. During the summer of 2010, I interned as the volunteer coordinator on the Hardiman for Congress campaign. Starting in January of 2011, I started an internship with the Government Affairs Division of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. I was hired full-time following completion of my degree and now am the Public Policy Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Chamber. In this role I work with both state and local elected officials to support policy that promotes business and community growth in West Michigan. I joined the Cook Leadership Academy because of the exciting opportunities for continued leadership and professional growth.
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Jarrett Martus – Finance, Management – GVSU, BA ’12
I recently graduated from Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business with my bachelor’s degree in finance and management. I am from Brown City, Michigan, a small town on the east side of the state. I have just begun a new adventure as a financial aid counselor in GVSU’s Financial Aid office. This is a new and rewarding challenge for me. This position will give me a perspective on the university that I have not seen before and I look forward to this opportunity. Prior to this year I was active in Student Senate at GVSU, finishing up my last year as President. During my last year of college I worked with a team from across the university to spearhead a new initiative; Laker for a Lifetime. This is an initiative that is put in place to educate and engage students on the importance of philanthropy at GVSU. I am still a member of the steering committee and eager to see it continue to develop. I am excited to begin my second year as a Cook Leadership Fellow and look forward to another great year of learning and growing with my peers in the academy.
Kelly McCurdy – International Relations, Middle East Studies – GVSU, BA ’12
I am a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in international relations with a Middle East studies minor. My hometown is Cadillac, Michigan. During high school I spent a year living in Thailand through Rotary Youth Exchange. I then spent my sophomore year of college in Morocco learning Arabic. My campus involvement includes serving as president of the International Relations Organization and a member of the Arab Culture Club, and participating in Model Arab League. I joined the Cook Leadership Academy with the aim of honing my skills as a leader, that I may learn to be a successful representative of my country both within our borders and overseas.
Heidi McPheeters – Social Work, Third World Development, Nonprofit Leadership – Calvin, BSW ’05; GVSU, MPA ’13 – John D. Wardrop Leadership Fellow
Heidi McPheeters is pursuing her Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management and leadership at Grand Valley State University. Originally from Flint, Michigan, she attended Calvin College where she received her Bachelors of Social Work and also studied international development. Her most influential undergraduate experiences include her time spent abroad in Tanzania and Honduras, as well as her efforts co-leading the college’s Social Justice Coalition. She has worked for the United Way of Greater St. Louis doing community research and fundraising, for the American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services in donor recruitment, and as an admission and financial aid counselor at Calvin College. She currently works as a graduate assistant for the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. She serves on a Community Impact committee with the Heart of West Michigan United Way as well as on the fundraising committee for the Fulton Street Farmers Market expansion project. Her academic and future career interests and passions are in philanthropy, particularly enhancing program evaluation, and in effective grantmaking to strengthen West Michigan services to meet community needs. She looks forward to nurturing her leadership potential through the Cook Leadership Fellows Program and gaining wisdom and inspiration from community leaders.
Nathaniel Mehmed – Geography and Planning, Environmental Studies, Public Management – GVSU, BS ’12; GVSU, MPA ’15
Nathan Mehmed grew up and attended high school in the Southeast Michigan town of Hartland. He is a 2012 alumnus of Grand Valley State University where he studied Geography and Urban Planning and minored in Environmental Studies. He is a member of the International Geographic Honor Society, Gamma Theta Upsilon, and a founding member of the soon to be chartering Kappa Sigma Colony at GVSU. Nathan has held several leadership positions with clubs on campus as an undergraduate student including the positions of Treasurer and Vice President of the Association of Student Geographers + Planners and an Officer of the Wesley Fellowship. Nathan started the group GVSU Students for Sidewalks during his junior year to advocate for the addition of sidewalks along 48th Avenue and Pierce Street next to the Allendale campus. During Nathan’s senior year he participated in the Michigan Association of Planning – Student Conference, acting as a student liaison to the steering committee representing GVSU’s Geography and Planning Department. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Grand Valley with a concentration in Public Management. His future career goals include obtaining a position as a planning professional, GIS analyst, or public manager with the ultimate goal of becoming a city manager. As a participant in several internships, Nathan is a strong supporter of experiential learning, and is excited to attend and learn from the many events the Academy has to offer. Nathan joined the Leadership Academy in 2012.
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Juliana Nahas – Public Administration and Nonprofit Leadership, GVSU MPA ’12 – Psychology, French and Music, GVSU BS ’08
Juliana Nahas recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with her Master’s in Public Administration and Nonprofit Leadership. She works at Tiger Studio, a West Michigan design firm specializing in Industrial Design, User Interface, Brand Development and Social Impact. Juliana leads the organization’s Social Impact efforts which combines elements of psychology, research, design and cross-sector collaboration to develop ground breaking solutions to pressing social issues in areas like social justice, poverty, healthcare and education. Juliana is passionate about preserving the arts in our community, serves on the board of the Heartside Business Association, and in her spare time, enjoys practicing yoga, music and speaking french. Juliana is originally from the metro-detroit area, but is delighted to call the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids home. Juliana has been a Leadership Fellow since 2010 and was honored to serve as the 2011-2012 Leadership Academy President.
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Jordan O’Neil – Nonprofit Management and Leadership – GVSU, MPA ’14
Jordan has spent the last 12 years serving nonprofit organizations, his primary roles included, Director of the Center for Community Leadership (Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce), Director of National Service Programs (American Red Cross of Michigan), and State of Alaska Disaster Readiness Manager (American Red Cross of Alaska). Currently he holds the Director of Corporate and Community Relations position at Cornerstone University. He has served as an Interim CEO, on various local Boards, secured over $3 million in grant funding, and received a recommendation from the US Senate for innovative programming. Jordan earned his Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and is currently pursuing his Masters of Public Administration at GVSU. Jordan and his wife, Meg, have been married for 6 years and have one child: Oona (1). In his spare time, Jordan is a partner in the Elemental Project, a digital publishing company that showcases innovative philanthropy.
Jaenell Ott – Spanish, East Asian Studies, Nonprofit Management and Leadership – MSU, BA ’08; GVSU, MPA ’15
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jaenell began developing a passion for languages and cultures from an early age. Upon graduating from Michigan State University in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Spanish and a minor in East Asian Studies , she joined the Peace Corps and served in Turkemsnitan until 2010. While abroad, Jaenell worked with local teachers in a secondary school, helping them to develop their English-language curriculum and engaging the community through a variety of after-school clubs and events. She is now the Director of Adult and Early Learning at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Leadership and Management.
Xinyi Ou – History, Sociology, Archaeology – GVSU, BA ’15, BS ’15
Born and raised in Beijing, China, Xinyi Ou moved to the U.S. in 2002. Since then, she has lived in various parts of Michigan, including Dearborn Heights, Saginaw, and Grand Haven. During High School, she discovered a passion for working with disadvantaged students, and she particularly found a connection with the ESL students at her school, whom she tutored and mentored. At the age of 16, she then found herself in a disadvantaged situation when she was removed from her home and, as a result, became an independent, self-reliant student. She worked three jobs to support herself before receiving a full scholarship from Grand Valley State University. During the past year, she has been heavily involved in campus life, particularly through serving as the Alumni Liaison Chair/Vice President for the Honors Community Council, a Student Senator on the Diversity Committee and as Chair for Public Relations of “Eyes Wide Open” (a sexual assault peer-education group). Next year she will be taking on additional leadership roles as the administrative chair of “That Takes Ovaries!”, a theatre outreach program. Aside from her work on campus, Xinyi sits on the board of the Mid-East Honors Association. She has worked as an orientation leader, a desk assistant at the LGBT center and will be working as a writing consultant in the Frederick Meijer Writing Center. Currently she is completing a Student Summer Scholar’s grant with a faculty mentor. Xinyi aspires to enter graduate school abroad to study Ancient History, and hopes to eventually tackle an administrative role in higher education. As a newly chosen Point Foundation LGBT Scholar, Xinyi hopes to address issues of access to education and housing in the LGBT youth community. She hopes that her experience with the Peter Cook Leadership Academy will allow for personal, academic and civic growth.
Jennifer Oza – Integrated Science, Elementary Education, College Student Affairs – GVSU, BS ’12, M. Ed. ’14 – John R. DeYoung Leadership Fellow
As an undergraduate and new master’s student at Grand Valley State University, Jen strives to better herself as well as support the betterment of those around her. Throughout her undergraduate experience, Jen became interested in student development across all age groups. Her time in the classroom was spent evaluating learning goals and potential assessment outcomes students can achieve when given the proper tools. Fostering positive learning experiences is pivotal when developing true understanding of content, confidence in oneself, and companionship among a group. Jen is looking forward to learning how these concepts are applied to higher education in her master’s program, College Student Affairs and Leadership. While working as a Student Supervisor for Freshman Orientation as well as a Campus Tour Guide in the Office of Admissions, she began to acknowledge her true passion which is working with students’ growth throughout their collegiate years. During her time in the Cook Leadership Academy, Jen is eager to meet a new group of colleagues and diversify her own learning experience.
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Joseph Presutti – Finance, Economics – GVSU, BA ’13
Joseph is a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in finance and economics. Joseph is currently working at Blackford Capital, a Grand Rapids-based private equity firm focused on investments in middle-market manufacturing businesses. He is also a member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, the Seidman Investment Portfolio Organization, ACG West Michigan, and the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Orgranization. As President of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Joseph exercises his passion for exploring start‑up companies, pursing his own ventures, providing resources and support to fellow students. Originally from Milford, Michigan, Joseph enjoys staying active, travelling, watching movies, and spending time with his family.
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Nicholas Ryder – Hospitality and Tourism, Business, Nonprofit Administration – GVSU, BS ’12
Nick is senior at GVSU majoring in hospitality and tourism management. After his sophomore year, Nicholas developed a deeper passion for nonprofit administration so he added a minor in NPA and business. He is originally from Grosse Pointe Michigan and hopes to retire in his hometown one day. Nicholas currently is an intern in the Grand Valley State University President’s Office where he focuses on event planning. His past experience at GVSU has included being the Vice President of both the Campus Affairs Committee and the Public Relations Committee of Student Senate. His sophomore year, Nicholas chaired the Presidents’ Ball Committee one of Grand Valley’s largest social celebrations for more than 4,000 faculty, staff and students. He also worked for the GV admissions office for three years as an orientation leader. Nick is currently the President of his Fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. Here he leads 70 college students in leadership building activities as well as community service projects. As stated earlier Nicholas has a passion for nonprofit work, he also lead a group of 40 students to West Virginia for a week long volunteer effort over spring break. After graduation this winter Nicholas plans to attend graduate school studying higher education and student affairs with the ambition of one day becoming a GVSU administrator.
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Genevieve Sabala – Sociology, Literature, Social Work, Nonprofit Leadership – GVSU, MSW ’11, MPA ’13
Genevieve is a native of Kenya. She was born in Kakamega, a town in Western Province of Kenya, near Lake Victoria where she attended both elementary and high school. She proceeded on to Egerton University where she obtained her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Literature. She is multilingual and knows Luhya, Swahili, English, and French. Genevieve decided to return to graduate school after a decade of raising her three children. She enrolled in the MSW program in 2009, graduated in April 2011 and has a limited license from the National Association of Social Workers-Michigan chapter. Currently pursuing an MPA, her focus is in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She is involved with various organizations on campus including Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society, International Students Organization, Graduate Students Associations, and Masters of Social Work Students Organization. Her extensive community service include participation in WMCAT human-centered design project, Cultural Service Learning Projects in New Orleans and Grand Rapids, AIDS and Hunger walk, and Habitat for humanity. Genevieve has been a recipient of several awards including Outstanding Student Award (2010); Volunteer Recognition Award (2011); Phi Alpha Honor (2011); Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor (2011); I am Grand Valley Award (2012); and International Scholarship Award (2012). She has worked as a Graduate Assistant at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy where she still serves on The 20th Anniversary Planning Committee. Her career interests are working with nonprofit organizations in areas of education, advocacy, policy issues, research, grant writing, program development, monitoring and evaluations.
Darris Sawtelle – Liberal Studies, Legal Studies, Philosophy – GVSU, BA ’13
Darris is a senior at G.V.S.U; he is pursuing a double major with honors (Liberal Studies and Legal Studies) and a minor in Philosophy. While attending Birmingham Brother Rice High School, Darris received numerous awards for school and community involvement. Athletically, he excelled and was recognized as an All-American in both football and shot-put. Darris is continually looking for ways to be involved in the community, and this has led him to participate in local high school football as a coach and in his hometown where he is on the board of directors for a community activist group. In his spare time, Darris enjoys a wide variety of hobbies from trap shooting to earning his private pilot’s license. Darris will enter law school upon graduation in April 2013, and aspires to one day serve his country by becoming a Judge Advocate General.
Andrea Schedlbauer – Political Science – GVSU, BS ’11
I am a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in political science. My hometown is Caledonia, Michigan. I currently work for Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP in the file room. I am very enthusiastic about law, politics, and foreign relations, and I would love to pursue a career upon graduation that allows me to follow those passions. I presently am a small group leader for high school girls as part of Ada Bible Church’s Lifeline Student Ministries, and love sharing my faith in Christ and being a mentor. I am excited and thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Cook Leadership Academy. I wanted to become a leadership fellow to learn how to be a more effective leader in my family, at work, and in the Grand Rapids community, as well as learn and grow from interacting with other students who have different majors and passions than I do.
Shane Scherer – Public Administration/ Public Management – SDSU, BA ’06; GVSU MPA ’13
Shane Scherer is currently in his second year of the MPA program at GVSU. He served as a Cavalry Scout in the U.S. Army for three years after completing his undergraduate degree. After a life threatening injury in Afghanistan, Shane changed his career track to public management with the hopes of making changes within his very own community. Prior to graduate school, Shane volunteered as the assistant executive director of StandUp for kids Olympia, WA, and a mentor through Big brother Big Sister. Once relocating to Grand Rapids he got involved with C4 young professional group, and is also a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign War.
Alma-Jean Setter – Business, Public Administration, Nonprofit Leadership – Aquinas, BS ’08; GVSU, MPA ’13
Alma-Jean is pursuing her masters in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit management. Born in Port Huron, Michigan, Alma-Jean earned a bachelor’s degree in Community Leadership and Business Administration from Aquinas College. She is currently the Director of Social Concerns Ministry at St. Alphonsus Church where she manages a food and clothing pantry, operates a VITA Tax Site, and is responsible for all community outreach activities the Parish engages in. Alma-Jean currently serves as Treasurer of Nonprofits Innovations and is also on the board of directors for New Development Corporation, an affordable housing non-profit. Her passions include social justice education, affordable housing in West Michigan and homelessness awareness. She hopes her time with the Cook Leadership Academy will allow her to hone her skills as leader and communicator to provide a stronger voice where her passions lie.
Lindsay Stoyka – Biomedical Science, Mathematics, Writing – GVSU, BA ’12
I am a senior at Grand Valley pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science, with mathematics and writing minors. I am a member of the Fredrick Meijer Honors College, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Gamma Sigma Alpha National Greek Academic Honor Society, the women’s rugby team, and Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority. I have worked at the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors for three years, and have been a lead consultant for the past two years. Additionally, I am currently serving as the chapter treasurer for Alpha Omicron Pi, and I am an active member of our Academic Development Committee. I am very active in research, recently working on a project in the Writing Department that will be presented at a national conference this November. I have also worked for the past year as a Biology Department research assistant. This year I am revamping our research to lead the project for my honors senior thesis. This fall, I am honored to serve on the College of Liberal Arts and Science’s Student Advisory Board. Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a career in medical research. I look forward to the opportunities and experiences the Cook Leadership Academy has to offer.
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Patrick Tedham – Management, Real Estate Management – Aquinas, MM ’12
Patrick is currently studying for his Masters of Managementat Aquinas College, Grand Rapids but he is originally a native of Chester, England. After graduating from Oxford Brookes, England, in 2009, he spent two summers working as a camp counselor in California. It was while working at the summer camp in 2009 that Patrick met his wife Rachel and he moved to Grand Rapids in 2010 to be with her. Patrick began an internship with Pondera Advisors in January 2012 after getting to know Joe Day, Founding Partner at Pondera, in one of his classes at Aquinas College.During his internship, Patrick became passionately involved in what Ponderadoes and why they do it. He is motivated by the opportunities to make adifference in the lives of others and in developing leadership skills. In Mayof 2012 Patrick became an Associate and is actively involved in assisting thePartners of the firm on special projects and working with clients. Patrick isexcited to be a part of the Leadership Academy and learn and develop as aleader by helping, interacting and learning from such an outstanding andinspirational group. In his free time, Patrick enjoys cycling, running andexploring Northern Michigan with his wife.
Trevor TenBrink – Political Science, Business – GVSU, BA ’13
Trevor will be graduating from Grand Valley in April of 2013, with a B.S. in Political Science and a minor in Business. He graduated from Jenison High School with gold cord honors as a member of the National Honor Society and currently serves as an assistant football coach. While at Grand Valley State University, he has served as the Student Senate’s Vice President for Political Affairs for the past year and half, as well as being involved in Law society, Pi Sigma Alpha, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and various intramural sports. He will be interning this summer for Congressman Bill Huizenga in Washington D.C. Trevor is passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives. He hopes to use the political platform to continue to impact others and make this country a better place for all. He believes that as leaders we are called to serve and “to whom much is given, much is required.” Trevor hopes to eventually work within a political related field where he can have an impact on legislation and ultimately, people’s lives.
Noah Thelen – Business Finance, Philosophy – GVSU, BS ’15, BA ’15
Noah Thelen is a Sophomore at Grand Valley State University studying Finance and Philosophy. He graduated from Grand Haven High School in 2011, and during his time there he was the Student Senate President and a three-time Class President. In addition to being a student at GVSU, he is involved with University Christian Outreach, St. Luke University Parish and works at Brian’s Books. During the summers Noah works at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds. He is passionate about hearing different world views in philosophy and is excited to learn how to use that interdisciplinary approach in the business world. One aspect of The Cook Leadership Academy that Noah is especially excited about, is being matched up with a mentor. Throughout his life, Noah has been blessed with many great mentors. He understands that he would not be the person he is today without them and so he looks forward to growing even more with this portion of the academy. He aims to improve his community in West Michigan, with the hope that future generations will live in a better world.
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Matthew VanderWindt – Psychology, Social Work, Nonprofit Leadership – Calvin, BA ’12; GVSU, MPA ’13, MSW ’13
Matt VanderWindt is currently pursuing his Masters in Social Work and in Public Administration at GVSU. He is a Graduate Assistant at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, and is interning at St. Mary’s Hauenstein Center for Neurosciences .This year he is looking forward to participating in a Maternal and Child Health Fellowship through the GVSU Social Work department and the National Level Human Resources and Services Administration. At Grand Valley Matt has served as a board member of the MSW Student Organization as well as a student representative on the Graduate Council. He is looking forward to further developing leadership skills and understanding as a fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy. Professionally, Matt has a keen interest in finding the intersection between the micro and macro understandings of society and he maintains a strong interest in interdisciplinary learning and communication. In his free time, he enjoys a good book, a strong cup of coffee, working on his motorcycle, and searching for the perfect key lime pie recipe.
Victoria VanDragt – Liberal Studies, Philosophy – GVSU, BA ’12
I graduated from Grand Valley State University in April 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies. My emphasis, Intra- and Interpersonal Relationship Studies, stemmed from my passion for understanding the importance of building and maintaining a relationship with the self as well as relationships with others. I applied for and accepted an an internship with the Hauenstein Center in March and, shortly after, was also accepted into the Cook Leadership Acedemy as a fellow. At the end of my internship with the Hauenstein Center in August, I was offered a part time position there doing program development for the Cook Leadership Academy. I am taking time off after my undergraduate studies to work, live, and fine tune what I want to study in graduate school. In my free time I love relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea, practicing yoga, crafting, and visiting Lake Michigan as much as possible.
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Brett Wardrop – Nonprofit Leadership, Business Administration – Aquinas, BA ’95; GVSU, MPA ’14
I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management and leadership. I hold an undergraduate degree from Aquinas College, where I double majored in business administration and communication arts. Since graduating in 1995, I have held a variety of sales and fund raising positions with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. I also spend my time volunteering with many organizations, as well as being a trustee with the Northview Education Foundation. Professionally, my passion is to make a positive impact on lives of children and families. My wife Jennifer and I have 2 sons, Connor and Devin, and live in the Northview district. I am honored to be selected to participate in the leadership academy and look forward to growing as a leader, mentoring others, and using the knowledge and skills to better my community.
Kristine Wildeboer – Foreign Service, Management, Communications, Accounting, Instructional Design, Adult & Higher Education, TESOL – Aquinas, MM ’00; GVSU MSC ’08, MSA ’09, WGU M. Ed ’12; GVSU M. Ed ’13
Kristine attended Alma College for her undergraduate degree in Foreign Service receiving recognition for both her academics and extracurricular activities including being a National Student Humanitarian Award Finalist for her work in creating a campus-wide community service organization that has continued and grown into the Center for Responsible Leadership. Kristine has pursued her interest in all things international by living and working in France, Japan, and S. Korea. Receiving recognition from both the Japanese and S. Korean governments for her work with their public school students and teachers. She has also become involved in adult education particularly with learning English as a language teaching overseas language teachers, international students, immigrants, and refugees. Recently, she has turned her focus to graduate student affairs seeking to improve the graduate student experience at the local, state, and national level through her leadership positions in the National Association of Graduate Students. Kristine believes leadership requires taking risks to encourage needed change. Consequently, she also became very involved in graduate education while a full-time student at GVSU working with the Graduate Studies office on communications projects including writing the Graduate Student Guidebook and serving on the Graduate Council Curriculum Committee as the Graduate and Professional Student Association Representative. Her efforts at GVSU were recognized with the awarding of the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Excellence in Leadership and Service to Grand Valley. In August 2012, Kristine will finish a master’s in Instructional Design degree from Western Governors University focusing on online course design as she believes that will be the next growth area for adult education. In 2013, Kristine plans to finish her Masters in Education with a dual major in teaching English and adult education from GVSU that she started in 2005. Having been involved with the Leadership Academy since 2007, Kristine has been involved in many activities including serving as an intern in the 2010-2011 school year working on Leadership University and the Academy mentoring program.
Mentors for the 2012-13 Cook Leadership Academy
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- Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University.
Full: Dr. Fred Antczak is dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University. Prior to coming to Grand Valley, he taught and served in leadership positions at the University of Iowa, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Virginia. Outside of the Academy, Dr. Antczak is a commentator on political rhetoric for a variety of news publications around the country.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? The ﬁrst 90% of success is showing up. Of course if you do bother to show up, bring your whole brain and your whole heart.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Big picture vision, integrity, courage, ability and willingness to communicate, ability and willingness to reach out to difference, ability and willingness to work with those who have disagreed, an inquisitive mind, willingness to learn and change, ability to accept criticism and to roll with the punches in hard times, broad perspective, no acute need for getting attention or credit, a sense of irony, stamina, loyalty, and optimism.
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- Director of residential services at D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s; adjunct professor of social work at Grand Valley State University; and member of the Grand Rapids City Commission, serving the second ward.
Full: Rosalynn Bliss earned a B.A. in psychology and criminal justice from the University of South Alabama and an M.A. in social work from Michigan State University. She is certiﬁed as a Child Trauma and Loss Consultant, and serves as an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University’s School of Social Work.
In 2005, Bliss was elected to the Grand Rapids City Commission and began serving as Second Ward city commissioner in January 2006. She was re-elected for a second term in November 2009. In addition, she works full time as the director of Residential Services at DA Blodgett – St. John’s. St. John’s Home provides emergency shelter and residential services for abused and neglected children. She has been with DA Blodgett-St. John’s for over ﬁve years, and before that worked at DeVos Children’s Hospital with the Child Protection Team. Prior to that she worked in the ﬁeld of domestic violence as a victim advocate.
Bliss is currently a board member of the YMCA Corporate Board, the Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation, the Friends of GR Parks, and Dyer-Ives Foundation. She serves as a member Uptown Corridor Improvement District, the Kent County Land Bank Authority, and the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market Redevelopment Committee. At the City, she is chair of the Appointments Committee, serves on the Community Development Committee, and serves on the Legislative Team.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Do what you love and love what you do – the best leaders are those who genuinely care about the work that they are doing
What traits do you value most in leaders? Integrity, honest, persistent, strong work ethic, knowledgeable, communicates well, and follows through on what they say they will do.
- Partner for two decades of three-decade career with Beene Garter LLC. First woman ever in that role.
- Leads team of nonproﬁt specialists.
Full: Peggy Bishop graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.B.A. in 1980 and began her career at Beene Garter LLP upon graduation. Thirty-two years later, she is with the same CPA ﬁrm. She became the ﬁrm’s ﬁrst woman partner more 20 years ago. She leads Beene Garter’s nonproﬁt team and specializes in serving a variety of nonproﬁt clients. Her board volunteer experience includes Quota International, YWCA, Girl Scouts, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Student Advancement Foundation, and others.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Teamwork and the positive support of those around you will make us all grow and prosper. In my 32 years at Beene Garter I’ve had the honor of paving a path for females seeking to achieve their career aspirations, while maintaining a healthy balance with home and personal life. Never expect more from others than you are willing to do yourself. Each person has unique talents that should be nurtured. We can all make a difference.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Passion, vision, effective communication skills, and the ability to build consensus.
Bill Brennan Legal Studies, Law
- Vice President General Counsel for BISSELL Inc., where he has worked for the last thirteen years.
- Enjoys running in the Fifth Third River Bank Run each year and spending time cycling and golﬁng.
Full: Bill Brennan currently serves as Vice President General Counsel for BISSELL Inc., where he has worked for the last thirteen years. Prior to joining BISSELL, Bill was a partner at Dykema Gossett PLLC. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan Law School. Bill is also a member of the Legal Advisory Committee of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Outside of the legal world, he enjoys running in the Fifth Third River Bank Run each year and spending time cycling and golﬁng.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Honesty is easy to talk about but hard to practice, except when it is a habit in everything you do, and it’s the critical piece to any inspiring relationship. A great leader needs to be a great communicator, speaking at a “real” and emotional level, with candor and tact.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Great leaders drive us to do more and better work than we would do if left to our own devices, and the best leaders allow us to enjoy that process, and not only the end result. Great leaders build trust through candor, humor, empathy, and high standards for ethics; they set speciﬁc, difﬁcult goals; and then they hold you and themselves accountable.
- President and CEO of SowHope.org, previous free-lance photographer
- Holds a BA in Photography and Psychology from Southern Illinois University, a Cross-Cultural missions Certificate, A MPA from Grand Valley State University
- Has traveled to over 50 countries; has led over 100 volunteer teams to over 30 countries
Full: Since 2006, Mary has been the President and CEO of SowHope. Org- an international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring impoverished women in the developing world by promoting wellness, education and economic opportunities. Before that she was Director of Missions at Bella Vista Church in Rockford, MI for eight years.
She has a BA double majoring in Photography and Psychology from Southern Illinois University, a two year Bible and Cross Cultural Missions Certificate from International Teams, and a Master’s of Public Administration degree from GVSU. I worked at the White House as a staff photographer in the early 1980’s and later ran a free-lance business for 10 years in the north suburbs of Chicago.
She has been deeply involved with overseas development projects on both a volunteer and professional basis and has traveled to over 50 countries and led over 100 volunteer work teams to over 30 countries.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? If you want to lead, begin by serving others. Then, when people start to follow you, and recognize you as a leader, keep on serving them by helping them to achieve their highest potential. This gives any cause you are trying to promote its best chance of success.
What traits do you value most in leaders? My favorite leaders were all respectful, respected, and possessed natural authority. It wasn’t their leadership titles, but more importantly, their good and decent attitudes that earned them the right to lead. They won the hearts of their followers by being authentic living examples of the standard they required of others. They had a plan and were able to communicate it in a way that made everyone want to work together to accomplish the expected goals. They appreciated and liked the people they worked with. They understood the principal of “the sum is greater than the total of it parts”. That is, everyone working together can accomplish what would be impossible for all the same individuals working separately to achieve.
Dr. Dev Butler Consulting, leadership development, non-profit, health administration
-Managing Partner at THINC Consulting, a local firm specializing in leadership development, executive coaching, and group facilitation
-Ph.D. in psychology from Emory University.
-Adjunct professor of public, nonproﬁt, and health administration at GVSU
-Mediator for the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan.
-Formerly with Spectrum Health and Motorola responsible for learning and development of leadership.
Full: Dev Butler is partner at THINC Consulting, a Michigan-based ﬁrm specializing in executive coaching, group facilitation, and leadership training. He also serves as mediator for the Kentwood small claims court; mediator for disputes at Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan; and adjunct professor of public, nonproﬁt, and health administration at Grand Valley State University.
Dr. Butler’s previous experience includes a stint at Spectrum Health, where he was responsible for all non-clinical training and development. He built the Spectrum Health Learning Institute and ran the enterprise-wide performance management process. At Motorola, Dr. Butler served as instructional design and group facilitator. He designed and delivered training and communications for enterprise-wide process improvement effort.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? In my coaching work I try not to give advice. People support what they create. If we keep in mind that leadership is a relationship between the leader, followers, and the context in which they act, then the leader’s job is to invite others to co-create a future.
What traits do you value most in leaders? I most value the traits of integrity and continuous learning. People with integrity say what they will do and do it. Leaders with the mindset of a continuous learner are open to various options, seek input from others, and don’t believe they have a monopoly on the truth. This in turn energizes and engages their organization. Once the organization adopts the learner mindset, people are free to experiment, innovate, and improve.
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- President/Owner Stellafly Social Media, previously Grand Rapids Social Diary
- Calvin College, Class of 1992 East Grand Rapids High School, Class of 1985
Full: Laura is currently involved in the West Michigan community as a member of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce; a mentor for the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy at the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University; serving on the Advisory Board for the Grand Rapids Area Professionals for Excellence (GRAPE); Director for the Social Media Association of Michigan and with the Humane Society of West Michigan’s K-9 Cabaret Fundraising event.
She enjoys getting involved with organizations that are near and dear to her, while still keeping focus on her biggest achievement, her husband, Tony, and two sons, Anthony and Thomas.
In October 2011, Laura launched Stellafly Social Media. In less than a year it has grown into a successful social media firm with reach throughout West Michigan, the state, and the region. Recently, she added Detroit and New York areas to her demographic.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? There is so much! First, believe in yourself. Follow your heart. Understand that you will never please everyone. Have integrity. Be honest. Be loyal. Be transparent. Try your hardest every day. Great leaders have the innate ability to recognize special talent around them. Because of this, they tend to put together strong teams that make positive things happen. Great leaders are the front line and as there are many obstacles along the way, a great leader always gets up and tries harder each time.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Great leaders have passion for the work that they do. You can hear it in their voice and see it through their actions. They tend not to worry about themselves but focus on those that work for them. They inspire others to work harder and better — encouraging them to take ownership and become part of the outcome.
Saralyn Coupe Economics, Business, Arts
- Vice president of Sherwood & Coupe Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Full: Saralyn Coupe serves as vice president of Sherwood & Coupe Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. She is active in the music community of Grand Rapids, serving on the board of St. Cecilia Music Center and participating in the Grand Rapids Symphony Women’s Committee. Saralyn earned her B.A. in economics from Albion College and her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She’s also earned the industry designations of both the CFP® and CPWA®. In her free time, she enjoys sailing, tennis, golf, skiing, and piano.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Have a passion for what you do. Enjoy the day-to-day as much as the long-term value of your success. Always be fair to others and yourself.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Perseverance. The belief that anything is possible. The ability and the courage to make vision a reality.
Kathy Crosby has worked for the Goodwill Industries organization since 1980. She is currently the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, a $30.1 million organization serving eight counties. Goodwill of Grand Rapids operates sixteen retail stores for donated goods including an ‘outlet” where goods are sold by the pound; an on-line store through ShopGoodwill.com; on-line book sales through Amazon.com; and a recycling center. The organization employs 560 people on a long-term basis and another 200 transitional ‘trainees’ at any point in time. In 2011, Goodwill provided vocational-related service to 3,353 people and placed 978 into community employment.
Kathy’s first alma mater is Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI where she earned a B.A. in Business Administration and her M.A. in Organizational Leadership. She also earned an Executive M.B.A. at the R. H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in November 2006. She attended the Aspen Institute Leadership Seminar in Aspen, Colorado in 2009.
Kathy sits on the Board of Directors for the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, serving as the Chair of the Essay Committee and a member of the Executive Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Michigan-wide non-profit association, MARO. She is active with MARO in developing a Leadership Academy. She is on the Women’s Advisory Board for Huntington Bank, Varnum’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council, Grand Valley State University’s Health Advisory Board, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Business Advisory Board, and the CEO Leadership Council of Talent 2025. She is a member of Inforum of West Michigan and actively supports the Michigan Women’s Foundation. She mentors for-profit executives through the Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring program and students through the Hauenstein Center Mentoring program.
In 2011, Kathy received the Athena Award from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and in March 2012 was named one of the “50 Most Influential Business Women in West Michigan” by the Business Journal.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? If you aspire to lead, you must first know yourself. Invest time and energy in learning as much as you can about yourself through reading, listening, assessment, introspection. Self-knowledge really empowers us to maximize our strengths and decide which parts of ourselves we may want to develop or work to improve. We should know our True North. Bill George is eloquent in his writing about the importance of knowing what is at your personal core and how it drives your actions and decisions. And we should clarify and understand our personal values. The better we know who we are the more effectively we can present ourselves to others and align our thinking with the group or organization we aspire to lead. If it isn’t a good ‘fit’, we cannot lead effectively. We will be perceived as simply talking the talk, not walking the walk. People willing to follow are often very astute in their assessments of potential leaders.
What traits do you value most in leaders? First and foremost, authenticity. It engenders trust, engages people, and fosters transparency. Second, optimism. The importance of a leader who believes in tomorrow and its opportunities cannot be measured. Fear can paralyze people. Optimism and positivity can give people hope and inspire them to move forward through the most challenging times. Third, generosity. You can never be too generous. It isn’t about financial giving. That is a single aspect of generosity that not all can afford. All leaders can afford to be generous with time, with talent, with their willingness to hear another point of view, in assuring they and their employees give only their best to customers, community, and corporation. Generosity is a state of being that shares the best of oneself with the people touched each day.
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- Executive Director for the Kent County GOP, with experience running multiple state house campaigns.
- Formerly a vice president and contract designer in the textile and furniture industries.
Full: Kristen Derridinger’s college education began at Michigan State University in pursuit of a degree in chemical engineering. After realizing she needed to be in a field that would allow for creative thinking, she transferred to the School of Business for a degree in marketing. Two and a half years into her degree at MSU, she transferred to Davenport University where she earned a B.A. in marketing and sales.
The first twelve years of Derridinger’s career were spent the in the contract design field, with positions ranging from account representative for a contract textile design firm to VP of Marketing and Strategic Accounts for a furniture dealership selling product throughout the United States. After nearly three years of nationally-recognized sales performance, the furniture dealership (of which she was part owner) had to close its doors. It was a small business that fell due to the economic woes of the state mixed with the side effects of organized labor.
Derridinger has always had a passion for politics, and for many years treated it as a hobby. With experience running every aspect of three state house campaigns and consulting on a number of local and state-wide races, her long-time hobby has recently turned into a full-time career. She consulted with the Kent GOP as their Finance Director through August 2011 when she was promoted to Executive Director.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Always be quick to listen and slow to speak. Many of life’s greatest and most profound lessons will be learned in unlikely places.
What traits do you value most in leaders? True leaders do not wait for an opportunity to be presented, they make them. They have a willingness to take calculated risks.
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- Executive Director of Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring (JEM).
- Part of Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO)
- Holds a B.B.A. in Finance and General Business at Grand Valley State University.
Full: Brandon graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2007 with a B.B.A. degree, double majoring in finance and general business. Currently, he serves as Executive Director of the Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring program (JEM) in Grand Rapids, MI. JEM is a young non-profit organization started in 2009, that works with established CEO’s and presidents of companies with revenues of $1 million or more, looking to grow as leaders and their businesses.
Previously, Brandon worked for Universal Forest Products (UFP) as an Account Manager building new customers and maintaining existing ones. While based out of Wisconsin and then Minnesota, his work included conducted training sessions, representing products at trade shows and traveled to various distribution clients within the Texas, Colorado, Utah, North Carolina and New England areas.
Brandon enjoys business, sports, politics and being involved with various organizations in the Grand Rapids community.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Decide on the goal and empower others on getting there.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Hard work, good communicators, able to lead by example, building relationships, and are passionate about a goal.
- Entrepreneur, technologist, and recovering consultant
- Studied Business and Information Systems at Grand Valley State University
- Speaks three languages
Full: Daniel is an entrepreneur, technologist, and recovering consultant. For the last 15 years, his career has taken him from being a hands-on software developer to working on business strategy and operations, leading dynamic teams, and growing companies. He loves building things, and thrives on working with smart people in challenging environments with a common purpose: to solve problems that matter. Most recently, he was the CTO and Product Manager at Scavado, a SaaS company in the corporate recruiting market based in Denver, Colorado. Scavado was the fourth company he has been involved in starting. He studied Business and Information Systems at Grand Valley, has lived in several countries, and speaks 3 languages.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Be wary of other people’s advice. Everyone means well when they give you advice, but you know more about your circumstances than anyone else. Trust your instincts and try things, even if others advise you otherwise. Take risks, even if you might fail. People who change the world don’t do it by taking the same path others took. You’ll learn more and increase your chances of doing something that matters if you follow your own path.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Knowing yourself is imperative to knowing others. You can’t communicate effectively, make good decisions, or lead other people until you know who you are. Take time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, but don’t wallow. There are some things you can change, but most things you can’t. By respecting yourself and being conscientious in everything you do, you set an example for others to do the same.
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Kyle Irwin Nonprofit sector, philanthropy
- Active member of the philanthropic community in West Michigan.
- On the board of directors of the John Ball Zoo Society, Dwelling Place Inc, the VanAndel Institute Foundation, the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, the Friends of the Opera, the Children’s Assessment Center, and the GVSU Foundation.
Full: Kyle Irwin is an active member of the philanthropic community in West Michigan. In addition to her service on the Hauenstein Center’s advisory cabinet, she is a board member of the Dwelling Place, John Ball Park Zoo, Van Andel Institute Foundation, and various other institutions. Ms. Irwin holds degrees from Michigan State University and Western Michigan University.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? They won’t make you the boss in the ﬁrst year, so use the time to listen and learn.
What traits do you value most in leaders? The ability to lead by example not title. Those who use the word we when referring to accomplishments. The art of looking at a situation from multiple view points not just your niche. The confidence to just do what it takes to get a project done.
– K -
- Director of Development & Membership at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
- Holds a B.A. from Aquinas and a M.A. from Fordham University in New York, NY
- Enjoys walking, yoga, reading, and gardening
Full: Katharine Kane received her Bachelor of Arts from Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and holds a Master of Arts from Fordham University, New York, New York. Her career with non-profit organizations spans more than twenty years as a communications and fundraising professional. During her tenure as a Development Director for cultural arts organizations in the greater Grand Rapids area she has managed several large successful capital campaigns.
She is a member of and actively participates in the Association of Fundraising Professionals organization. She also volunteers with the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) as a panelist evaluating grant requests for funding by statewide arts organizations.
She is an avid walker, loves yoga, enjoys reading different types of books, and finds “getting her hands dirty” while gardening very satisfying.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? It is important to know yourself, be yourself. Do the work that feeds your passion. The energy that comes from a person who is confident and feels passion for their life’s work is unbeatable. The strength and integrity in your work will follow.
What traits do you value most in leaders? The ability to stop and deeply listen to your staff and to those you serve is of vital importance because it is human nature to want to be heard and to be recognized. Leaders who listen can better evaluate the needs of a business or organization; they can more often respond appropriately to various concerns; and, they find their staff works as an effective team. Success comes from team effort. I value the leader who acts as a facilitator pulling together the talent and resources for the best result. And, of course, a good sense of humor helps smooth the rough patches.
Allison Lugo Knapp Philanthropy and nonprofits, foundations, grantmaking, next generation issues related to philanthropy and giving, professional development
- Program Director of Philanthropic Services at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at GVSU; adjunct faculty member in the School of Public, Health and Nonprofit Administration at GVSU.
- Board member with the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA); co-chair, Next Generation Task Force at the Council on Foundations; member, Ethics and Practices Committee at the Council on Foundations.
- Holds a B.A. in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University and an M.P.A in Urban and Regional Planning from Grand Valley State University.
Full: Allison Lugo Knapp is program director of Philanthropic Services at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy. In this role, she provides leadership with the planning and development for The Grantmaking School’s programming, as well as professional services to philanthropic organizations. In addition, she assists with coordination of the AIM (Arizona-Indiana-Michigan) Alliance and provides support to special projects for the Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy. She has experience working nationally with a broad spectrum of foundations and philanthropic organizations in the areas of training strategies and design, organizational and process development, and best practices for grantmaking models and operations. She is the co-author of “What is a Family Foundation”, published in The Foundation Review. (2011).
Ms. Lugo Knapp is also an adjunct faculty member of the School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University, and a member of the Latin American Studies Advisory Committee in Area Studies within Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. She is a former member of the national board of advisors of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and is a founding member of the EPIP Michigan chapter. She currently serves as co-chair of Next Generation Task Force of the Council on Foundations, and on the Ethics and Practices committee. She is a member of the board of directors of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, and serves on the organizing committee of the Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival.
Allison has been the recipient of a Ford Fellowship through the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and is a graduate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Emerging Leaders program. Prior to her role at the Johnson Center, she was a program officer at the Battle Creek Community Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., where her work focused on arts and culture, youth, and neighborhood grantmaking. She holds a bachelor of arts in international relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University and masters of public administration in urban and regional planning from Grand Valley State University.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders?
Take on new challenges outside of your professional and academic boundaries. There’s no better way than to develop a new skill set and perspective by engaging with others that are different than you.
What traits do you value most in leaders?
Accountability, integrity, humility.
– L -
K. V. Lacks Business, management, human rescources
Full: K. V. Lacks is currently a Program Manager at Lacks Enterprises, a local, privately owned automotive manufacturing firm, where he previously served as a buyer and Human Resource Manager. He is responsible for the Nissan and Toyota accounts. He is also active in the Grand Rapids community, sitting on the boards of St. Mary’s Doran Foundation, Goodwill Industries, and the Conductive Learning Center. He received his B.S. from Indiana University, Bloomington.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Don’t be timid – don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid to take a risk & don’t be afraid of failure. With risk, comes reward. Set goals that you can believe in. Life is short – enjoy yourself & have fun while striving to achieve your goals.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Perseverance, honesty, risk-takers, humorous, humility, dedication, conﬁdence, HARD, HARD WORKER!!
– M -
- Serves as a board member for the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA and chair of the Strong Kids Campaign, Leadership West Michigan executive committee and a member of the Van Andel Institute’s J-Board. Holds a B.S. in interpersonal communication from Grand Valley State University.
Full: Jennifer currently serves as the Practice Group Leader for Varnum Consulting. Jennifer joined Nancy Skinner & Associates in 1996, which was acquired by Varnum Consulting in 2003. She provides consulting services to clients in Michigan and throughout the United States to help develop their leaders. As a coach, Jennifer has been designing and delivering customized individual coaching, executive coaching and group training for clients. Jennifer is the lead coach for Executive Level presentations and Sales Training.
Jennifer is a board member and chair of the Strong Kids Campaign for the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA. Her recent honors include: Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s ATHENA® Young Professional Nominee, September 2011 and September 2010, Forty Under 40 Business Leaders, Grand Rapids Business Journal, November 2010.
Her background prior to Varnum Consulting was in public relations and marketing in the public sector. Jennifer is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Seek an internal mentor (a well respected individual) that can help you understand the culture of the organization. “Seek ﬁrst to understand before being understood” – Steven Covey.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Honesty, integrity, inspiration, and forward-looking.
- Founder and owner of The Image Shoppe in Grand Rapids
- Degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Grand Valley State University and a degree in Business/Marketing from Aquinas
- Involved in many Grand Rapids organizations: Local First, Green Drinks GR, and West Michigan Environmental Coalition
Full: Rob McCarty is the “Jack of All” at the Image Shoppe, an innovative, full-service marketing company in Grand Rapids. Rob has two Bachelor’s degrees from Grand Valley State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice. He also has a degree from Aquinas in Business/Marketing. Before starting The Image Shoppe, Rob worked with West Grand Neighborhood Organization doing Community Development and Business Marketing.
Rob is very active in the Grand Rapids Community. He is the Co-Founder of Local First and Green Drinks GR, volunteers and is on the Marketing Committee for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, and is Project Manager of Gateways Group.
What is your favorite advice to give to aspiring leaders? We need you to consider a bigger picture then many of your predecessors have. You need to do your own research, and do your best to find unbiased resources for that research. You need to know that this isn’t easy, and all indications lead one to believe to do it right, NOTHING will be easy. You need to be bold, but you can only truly be bold when you are in command of your subject and topic.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Transparency in motives. Honest and straightforward thinking. Thoughtful in big decisions, the ability to delegate, and not attacking people for every mistake that is made. Leaders who serve their teams as their teams serve them. Leaders that share the same values as their teams. Leaders who care about more then huge profits.
Tom McGovern Construction, Business Administration, Management
Tom began with Rockford in 2003 as a Project Manager and then was promoted to Project Executive of the retail division. In 2010, Tom was named President due to his vision for the future of the company and strong leadership skills.
Prior to joining Rockford, Tom was Manager of New Store Construction for Meijer, Inc., a large discount retailed named by Forbes as one of the Top 100 of America’s Largest Privately Held Companies. Tom provided oversight of new projects averaging $20 million with Meijer. Tom was Director of Distribution for Gantos Corporation for 10 years prior to Meijer, in charge of a $30 million transportation and routing budget for 114 store retail chain.
Tom earned his B.S. Degree from Grand Valley State University in Business Administration &Facilities Management, is a LEED accredited professional, and a member of Lean Construction Institute.
A few of Tom’s professional Associations are:
- Shareholder & Board Member – Rockford Construction Company, Inc.
- Member of Economic Club of Grand Rapids
- Advisory Council Member of Grand Rapids Public Schools Academy of Design & Construction
- Member of the Principal’s Advisory Council – Catholic Central, Grand Rapids
- Member of the International Council of Shopping Centers
- Finance Council Member of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Grand Rapids
- Board Member & Facilities Chair – Grand Rapids Catholic Secondary Schools
- Board Member of Gilda’s Club, Grand Rapids
- Team Member for American Heart Association Heart Gala
Tom enjoys the outdoors, golf, riding dirt bike and his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and spending time with his wife and three children.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? If you can create clarity as to the corporate goals and the desired means and methods of obtainment, the only thing left is to ensure that the staff believes and trusts in you as a leader. True buy-in allows leadership to move forward with a minimized auditing of employee performance. The most inspiring leaders that I have experienced were genuinely approachable and interested in employee feedback and questions. This creates a trusting relationship founded in dignity and respect. The ultimate situation is when the entire team is working with personal commitment to the corporate plan. The best leader is the one who is setting the pace by example and rarely has any need to “act” as a leader. The role is simply understood and respected by the team.
What traits do you value most in leaders? I feel it is critical that leadership has the respect of their subordinates. This requires consistency. It is important to be sincere and be clear in a commitment to ethical behavior, honesty and integrity. High performing employees are desirous to be on a winning team. It is important to win while treating employees and clients with dignity and respect. It is also critical to have a staff that trusts you. This will lead to more transparent communication. Innovation and success require an atmosphere where ideas flow freely.
-Immediate past chair of GVSU Board of Trustees and attorney in private practice, specializing in employment and civil rights litigation.
- Founding member of the Progressive Women’s Alliance Board of Directors, and active in political campaigns since the mid-70s.
- Holds a B.A. in political science from Grand Valley State University, a J.D. from Cooley Law School, and completed graduate work in political philosophy at Loyola University and Georgetown University.
Full: Noreen Myers is a 1972 graduate of Grand Valley State University with a B.A. in political science. She completed graduate studies in political philosophy at Loyola University and Georgetown University before earning her J.D. from the Thomas Cooley Law School in 1983. She is now an Attorney in private practice, specializing in employment and civil rights litigation. She has been active in political campaigns since the mid-70s, and active in various political organizations — including the Women’s Progressive Alliance — as a board member and volunteer.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Learn who you are and be comfortable with your self-awareness. Authenticity provokes confidence.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Integrity which is singularly the most critical component inspiring trust and confidence in your leadership. The ability to take complex situations and simplify them to become understandable and the advocacy skills to persuade others to do what they would otherwise reject.
– N -
Glenn Niemeyer Higher Education, Academic Affairs, History
- Worked for more than 30 years at Grand Valley State University as professor of history, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, vice president of Academic Affairs, and finally, to provost.
Full: Dr. Glenn Niemeyer has served in many roles at Grand Valley State University, from a history professor, to dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, vice president of Academic Affairs, and then finally to provost, where he retired in 2001. In the Grand Rapids educational community he has served on boards of trustees of GVSU, Calvin College, and LOVE, Inc. Dr. Niemeyer received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? “Your best is never too good.”
What traits do you value most in leaders? Honesty, integrity, humility, enthusiasm.
– R -
Kristin Revere Consulting: business, nonprofit; women’s empowerment
- Owner- Revere Consulting LLC since January of 2011. Prior to that she worked for both the Michigan House and Senate as well as on a variety of campaigns. She also has 12 years of experience in advertising sales.
- Graduate of Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a minor in political science. She also received a Master of Management in marketing from Aquinas College.
- Enjoys spending time outdoors and is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts.
Full: Kristin heads Revere Consulting, which serves nonprofits, political candidates and small business owners. She sits on the YNPN board and the regional board for the Michigan Political Leadership Program. Kristin is Entertainment Chairwoman for the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck. She also is active in the following organizations: Girls on the Run, Healthy Kent Breastfeeding Coalition, Progressive Women’s Alliance of West Michigan, and Women & Girls Lead. Kristin is on the Midwest Finance Team for Obama for America and is involved in campaigns at all levels of government.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Do what you are most passionate about and follow your instincts. It is important to be personally accountable for your actions.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Courage, honesty, patience, and composure.
– S -
Hilary Snell Law, Political Science
- Attorney specializing in estate planning for Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP since 1959.
Full: Hilary Snell has been an attorney at the Varnum law firm since 1959, serving as its elected Managing Partner twice, for a total period of 6 years. He specialized in Estate Planning. Active in Republican politics, he served as Republican County-District Chair and as Chair of Gerald R. Ford’s last Congressional Reelection committee in 1972. Served as Chairman of Michigan Department of Natural Resource Commission and Chairman of the Boards of Spectrum Health, Priority Health, and Blodgett Hospital. He has been a Trustee of multiple charitable foundations.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Set goals. Surround yourself with people who are more intelligent and better people than you.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Personal and intellectual integrity, coupled with vision.
- Business Development Manager at The Right Place, Inc.
- Board member with Hello West Michigan, Greater Wyoming Community Resource Alliance, Goei International Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, and committee member with the Women’s Resource Center
- Holds a B.A. in International Relations and an M.P.A. from Grand Valley State University
Full: Megan Sall currently serves as the Business Development Manager at The Right Place, the local economic development organization representing Kent County and the greater west Michigan region. Prior to joining the Right Place, Megan spent some time with ICMA in Washington, DC, where she worked on a USAID project that focused on local government capacity building in Afghanistan. Megan has worked on several state and congressional campaigns, and she got her start in local government at the City of Wyoming where she served in administrative and economic development positions.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Don’t be afraid to jump in and get involved! West Michigan is home to extraordinarily generous people who freely give of their time, resources and ideas. Don’t hesitate to get involved with the initiatives that interest you and access the amazing leaders who are at the helm. In this community, leadership and service go hand in hand.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Humility, honesty, integrity, passion, generosity.
– T -
- Consultant and Executive coach for Pondera Advisers
- Past Vice President of Davenport University
- Recognized as one of the most influential women in West Michigan in 2004, 2006, and 2008
Dr. Jacqueline Taylor served as a college and university senior administrator for over 30 years, most recently as Vice President of Davenport University. She served colleges in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Michigan. She currently serves as a Consultant and Executive Coach for Pondera Advisors, a Leadership Consulting Practice. An active community and state volunteer, she serves on the boards of directors of Michigan Women’s Foundation (Chair-Elect & Executive Committee); Michigan Nonprofit Association; and also chairs the International Committee as a member of the YMCA Corporate Board in Grand Rapids. She is Past President of the Rotary Club of Grand Rapids and the World Affairs Council of West Michigan. Dr. Taylor is Chair of Rotary District 6290 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship Committee.
During her years in college leadership, Dr. Taylor established international educational partnerships with colleges in Canada, China, Taiwan, The United Kingdom, Russia, The Netherlands, and Poland. She also worked with Pittsburgh area superintendents to establish the first middle college in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Taylor holds an Associate’s Degree from Lansing Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree from Aquinas College, as well as M.A. and Ph.D. Degrees from Michigan State University. She has been recognized as one of the most influential women in West Michigan in 2004, 2006, and 2008 and as an Inner Circle Member of INFORUM. She received the YWCA Community Service Award in 2011, the 2002 ATHENA Award from the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and Distinguished Alumni Awards from Lansing Community College, the MSU College of Education, and Michigan State University. She has also received the Whitney Young Award from the Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? To know yourself and your strengths is vitally important and a major talent that helps one become an authentic leader, a leader who can inspire others. Understanding how to build teams and support each of the members in helping to take the organization to its vision is another vital aspect of leadership.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Integrity, openness, willingness to listen and learn from others, while keeping their eyes on the mission, vision and goals of the organization. Trust is the foundation of leadership.
- Contract Administrator and Regional Coordinator for the City of Grand Rapids’ BetterBuildings for Michigan program.
- Two time alum of Grand Valley State University and first president of the Cook Leadership Academy.
- An avid urbanist that adores the character of cities and an explorer of the interplay between nature and human needs. Foodie, old house lover, political junky, novice snowboarder, singer and big time nerd.
Full: Selma Tucker is the contract administrator and regional coordinator for the City of Grand Rapids. Selma directs the City’s BetterBuildings for Michigan Program which is a $30 million statewide initiative charged with making residential and commercial buildings energy efficient and writing best practices for the country in this field. Remodeling urban service delivery is Selma’s passion and has been his focus at the City of Grand Rapids since finishing his undergraduate degree in ’09. Selma serves on several board and committees including Michigan Saves and the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Understand your vision and motivations early. Be honest about what you want to accomplish and what pushes you to get there. Memorialize those two things and never settle for mediocrity in the pursuit of either.
What traits do you value most in leaders? The best leaders exhibit sincerity, vulnerability and a willingness to take risks for their partners. Leaders are committed to an ethic that promotes excellence and stewardship.
– V -
- Served in the Finance and Administration division at Grand Valley State University for 35 years, retiring as Vice President of Finance and Administration and Treasurer of the University.
- Grand Valley awarded him the degree Doctor of Humane Letters in 2001 and dedicated the VanSteeland Living Center on the Allendale Campus in 2009.
- Community activities included service on the board of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and several City of Grand Rapids and Kent County boards and advisory committees.
Full: For 35 years Ron VanSteeland served in the Finance and Administration division at Grand Valley State University. When he retired in 2001, he was Vice President for Finance and Administration with responsibility for the budget, business operations, facilities services and operations, campus planning, new construction, human resources, intercollegiate athletics, Grand Rapids Campus & Holland Campus operations, Meadows Golf Club and legal services. He was also Treasurer of the Board of Trustees.
Grand Valley awarded him the degree Doctor of Humane Letters in 2001 and dedicated the VanSteeland Living Center on the Allendale Campus in 2009.
His community activities included service on the board of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and several City of Grand Rapids and Kent County boards and advisory committees.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Don’t spend so much time thinking about your next career move that you fail to concentrate on and excel in your present job.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Being a good listener – to your boss, to your colleagues, to those who report to you, to those who depend on you and who will be affected by your decisions. Having a good sense of humor. Doing the requisite homework before making important decisions. Willingness to innovate. Ability to develop and articulate plans.
– W -
John Wardrop Education, Nonprofit sector, business
- Serves on the board of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids Foundation and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies Advisory Cabinet. He is the Chair of TEC, a “CEO roundtable group for local business owners/CEOs.
- Holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College.
Full: John Wardrop is a former president of Dake, and Sparks Belting Co., and a retired secondary school teacher and coach at Forest Hills H.S.. At the Hauenstein Center, he serves on the Advisory Cabinet. He is active with helping to shape Cook Leadership Academy events and programs. In the Grand Rapids community, he currently sits on the board of Goodwill Industries Foundation. In his free time he enjoys reading, golf and being a grandfather
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? (1) “Treat the ‘business’ like you own it!” Business owners and leaders are always looking for employees who exemplify a high level of personal “ownership” in their job & the company they work for. Doing this conscientiously and sincerely can really help a newer employee differentiate themselves.
(2) Don’t ever turn down an opportunity to take on more responsibility . . . to “lead,” even if you are unsure of how qualified you are.
(3) Always do more than you’re expected to do.
(4) “Know thyself!” Understand your strengths and areas for improvement. Use your strengths for the maximum benefit of those you serve. Proactively work to reduce/eliminate your “weaknesses.”
What traits do you value most in leaders? (a) honesty; (b) conducting their professional and personal lives with the highest ethics; (c) decisiveness (making effective decisions under the most difficult of circumstances/conditions); (d) compassion, (e) maintaining an open mind.
- Former Vice president for Development at Grand Valley State University, serving on the University’s Senior Management Team, Budget Committee, and Investment Advisory Committee.
- Previous experience as director of Alumni Giving and Relations, director of Annual Funds, and vice president for Advancement at Aquinas College.
- Holds a B.A. from Aquinas College, completed graduate work in management, and active in several professional and community organizations.
Full: Maribeth Wardrop earned her B.A. and began her M.A. in management at Aquinas College. At the same time, she began a 13-year career in development at Aquinas, holding the positions of coordinator for cooperative education, director of alumni giving and relations, director of annual funds, and vice president for Development. In January, 2000, she became vice president for Development at Grand Valley State University. In the past 12 years, her Development team has raised over $200,000,000. In her role as VP/Development, she has also served the University as a member of the Senior Management Team, Budget Committee, and Investment Advisory Committee.
Her professional and community involvements include the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Association for Fund Raising Professionals, Experience Grand Rapids, and the Forest Hills Public School’s Foundation. Before going into development, together with her two sisters and mother, Wardrop started a very successful, small retail business in Ada (The Paper Bag), from which she learned a great deal about being an entrepreneur and a business owner.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? Be passionate . . . persistent . . . and positive. Have passion for everything, especially your career choices and volunteer opportunities. If you don’t feel you can make a passionate commitment, don’t accept the offers. Be persistent! Look for alternative decisions, courses of actions, etc. that allow you to achieve your goals. Experience has taught me that success quite often comes by persevering through difficult times. Remain positive! Approach everything you invest yourself in with a positive attitude . . . which breeds positive results.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Honesty and integrity.
H. James Williams Business, accounting, finance
- Professor of accounting and dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.
- Holds a B.S., M.B.A., and Ph.D. in accounting from North Carolina Central University, University of Wisconsin (Madison), and University of Georgia, respectively.
- Also holds a J.D. and LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center, and is a Certiﬁed Public Accountant and Certiﬁed Management Accountant.
- H. James Williams, Ph.D., CPA, CMA, JD, LLM, serves as the Dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. He is also a Professor of Accounting.
Full: Dean Williams earned his B.S. in accounting at North Carolina Central University, M.B.A. in accounting at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), Ph.D. in accounting at the University of Georgia (Athens), and J.D. and LL.M. (Taxation) at Georgetown University Law Center. Dean Williams is also a Certiﬁed Public Accountant and a Certiﬁed Management Accountant, with a wealth of practical experiences, having worked in the public accounting profession and in the legal profession (as a corporate and tax attorney).
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders? To be an effective leader you must have a passion for serving others.
What traits do you value most in leaders? Character, courage, compassion, and couth.
– Y -
Michael Youngblood Construction, Operations, Management, Sales
- Market Manager at WellHome, a Masco Corporation Company
- Holds a B.S., in Construction Management from Michigan State University.
Full: Michael Youngblood earned a B.S. in construction management in 2002 from Michigan State University. During his studies there, he interned at General Motors with the Project Management team in charge of building the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant. After graduating, he accepted a position with Centex Rodgers, one of the country’s premier healthcare building companies of that time. While with Centex, Michael worked as a project engineer on the building and renovations of various medical research buildings on the Vanderbilt Campus in Nashville, TN. In 2004, he accepted a position with Toll Brothers as a project manager where he worked for the following five years building luxury homes in SE Michigan. In 2009, Michael moved into the “green” building industry taking a position with WellHome in SE Michigan. In 2010, Michael relocated to the Grand Rapids area to start up and manage their West Michigan office. WellHome is a Masco Corporation company that focuses on helping their customers achieve more energy efficient and comfortable environments within their homes.
What is your favorite advice to give aspiring leaders?
Do your best to maintain a healthy balance to your work and personal lives. Being out of balance in either of these areas has the tendency to compromise both.
What traits do you value most in leaders?
Integrity, Honesty, Perseverance, and the ability to find comfort outside of your comfort zone.
In this innovative series of leadership seminars, Hauenstein Center Director, Gleaves Whitney explores the history, theories, and tools of leadership, along with their practical application. These theories will then be applied in the guest presentations of three other Cook Leadership Academy fellows. These presentations give these six fellows the opportunity to gain valuable public speaking experience while also giving other fellows an understanding of how their peers are applying their leadership skills in their own lives.
Leader Lens #1
Watch the first Leader Lens of 2012
Leader Lens #2
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Time: 9-11 am
Location: 230-235 BIK
“There are four paths we walk if we seek to grow as leaders:
1. The path of observation — carefully watching what other leaders do and say “on the ground”;
2. The path of experience — when we ourselves have the opportunity to lead;
3. The path of correction — when we accept the constructive criticism, teaching, and mentoring of others who are in a position to evaluate how ethical and effective our leadership is;
4. The path of reading — taking in what observers of leaders, and leaders themselves, say in the books and articles they write.”
Consulting Collective Wisdom
Guru is a mentor program where fellows can tap into–and contribute to–collective intelligence. With Guru, fellows can access the advice, guidance, and expertise of community mentors in several different settings: at Hauenstein Center and Cook Leadership Academy events, by phone or email, or in a more personal setting like meeting for lunch or coffee. These mentors have selected to participate in the program and are expecting your phone call or email, so that you feel comfortable reaching out.
Mixer with Mentors
There are two events, one per semester, where fellows and mentors can mix! Mixer with Mentors is a great way to connect with community leaders as sources of wisdom. They have a lifetime of learning and are eager to guide you, connect you, and help you find your path.
Date: Monday, January 14
Time: 5:30-7:30 pm
Location: Varnum Consulting
Read through the profiles of our mentors in the tab above to find those who will align with your values, goals, and interests. They will make themselves available for you to start a conversation with them at the Mixer with Mentor events as well as Hauenstein Center and Cook Leadership Academy events.
If you want any additional background information, or would like to receive suggestions on which specific mentors to reach out to, please contact the Hauenstein Center staff.
Find your spark
What stirs your passion? What are your goals, values, and motives? What are your strengths and weaknesses? These questions will be addressed in Muse, a self-reflection-based, authentic leadership program where fellows practice looking within. The unique character of each person means that there also exists a unique leadership style for everyone. In two events and two assignments, Muse will bring leadership and personality together to help fellows explore their personal narratives and discover where their leadership styles fit into their futures.
Muse #2: Assignment Discussion and Reflection
Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Time: 8-11 AM
Location: 340 Bike Factory, GVSU Downtown Campus
Assignment #1: Cemetery Walk
Cemetery Walk is an opportunity to learn about and reflect upon the life, accomplishments, and legacy of someone who has come and gone in the community and to relate it to our own hopes and dreams. This assignment is more somber than others, since it requires us to think about our lives coming to an end. However, since we do not often carve out time for self-reflection, the Cemetery Walk assignment is a time to practice it.
An in-depth description is provided in the next pages of this guide. Please refer to that document for additional details and assignment due dates.
Assignment #2: Reflected Best Self Exercise
The Reflected Best Self exercise focuses on building strengths as opposed to changing weaknesses by answering the question: Who are we at our best? You will be reaching out to a variety of connections: friends, family, co-workers, professors, and asking for brief stories about situations when you are at your best. From the compiled stories, you can look for commonalities and themes in the ways you add value and make contributions. Using this information you will then create a “Reflected Best Self Portrait” of who you are at your best. The elements of this exercise are to:
Find your best, not the best
Gather stories from multiple groups of people in one’s life
Become aware of one’s strengths instead of weaknesses
A description of this assignment, including due dates and project details will be provided at the Leader Lens event on Wednesday, October 31.