Hauenstein Center Staff & Associates

Gleaves Whitney

Gleaves Whitney became the first full-time director of Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies in 2003. During his tenure, he has been the architect of more than 400 public programs, including four national conferences covered by C-SPAN and four internationally webcast debates — one to more than 3,500 viewers in 18 countries, and another watched on YouTube by nearly two million people in some 30 nations on all six inhabited continents. He has overseen the tremendous growth of the Hauenstein Center’s website, which has been visited more than 30 million times; its original programs have been viewed a cumulative 27 years. He’s also premiered a popular web column called Ask Gleaves — the first presidential Q & A column in the nation — and created a leadership academy for students and young professionals committed to public service.

Under his direction, the Hauenstein Center’s Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy has emerged as a preeminent center of leadership excellence in the Midwest. Cook Leadership Fellows 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.

“Gleaves Whitney is a real treasure for those of us who do presidential studies and work in the field of presidential history,” said award-winning biographer H. W. Brands. “He’s also one of the most effective entrepreneurs in the business of higher education. You can tell this by the growth of the Hauenstein Center over the years that he’s been the director.”

Philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum has called the Hauenstein Center’s Common Ground Initiative “an amazing experiment in civic and liberal education.”

“Gleaves Whitney and his energetic team at the Hauenstein Center have become, in a remarkably short time, a force to reckon with — and learn from — in the presidential studies field,” said historian Richard Norton Smith. “The Hauenstein Center is a jewel in the crown of Michigan.”

Prior to his arrival at Grand Valley, Gleaves worked 11 years in Michigan Governor John Engler’s administration, serving as senior writer, chief speechwriter, and historian. In 1993, the Governor assigned him to a task force that helped bring sweeping education and school finance reforms to Michigan that the New York Times called “the most dramatic in the nation.” In 2001 he helped the Governor establish Michigan’s Department of History, Arts, and Libraries.

In addition to his public-sector service and work, Gleaves is a scholar who writes and lectures nationally on a variety of historical topics. He is author or editor of 15 books including most recently To Heal a Nation: The Story of Gerald R. Ford, and (with Mark Rozell) Testing the Limits: George W. Bush and the Imperial Presidency. Other books include Religion and the Presidency (with Mark Rozell), Religion and the Bush Presidency (also with Mark Rozell), American Presidents: Farewell Addresses to the Nation, 1796-2001; John Engler: The Man, the Leader & the Legacy; and 6 volumes of Messages of the Governors of Michigan. He even has a children’s book to his credit, B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet (with Louise Whitney). Moreover, Gleaves has contributed chapters to half-dozen books and written entries in two encyclopedias. In 2011 he partnered with M. W. Grass Strategic Communications and Meijer Inc. President Hendrik Meijer to produce a two-hour documentary on Michigan’s famous senator, broadcast on PBS in December of that year. Several of his talks have appeared on C-SPAN; his commentary has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and journals; and he has been interviewed by, among others, The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, FOX News, NewsweekUS News & World Report, and NPR and its affiliates.

Gleaves has won numerous awards and served on several committees. In 2012-’13, he served as the principal investigator and hosted two programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore the historical roots of bipartisan leadership. In 2008, Gleaves and a Hauenstein Center team were awarded a Russell Mawby fellowship to examine the connection between philanthropy and the American presidency. In 2009, he was appointed by Michigan’s Governor to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee, a two-year effort charged with helping the state celebrate our 16th president’s contributions to Michigan and the nation. In addition, Gleaves is a senior scholar at the Center for the American Idea in Houston, Texas; the first senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in Mecosta, Michigan; and a member of the College of Fellows at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.

While director of the Hauenstein Center, he was recognized by the Michigan Council for the Social Studies as an “outstanding mentor,” and was awarded its prestigious Mel Miller Mentoring Award for 2009. In 2010 he was inducted into the national leadership organization ODK (Omicron Delta Kappa). In 2011 he established the Gleaves Whitney Fellowship at the Hauenstein Center’s Cook Leadership Academy. In 1984 he received Colorado State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Moreover, he has served on the boards of the Michigan Humanities Counsel, Arthur Vandenberg Memorial Committee, Michigan State Historical Records, and Historical Society for the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. He has also cultivated many institutional partnerships — e.g., with the National Park Service, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Gerald R. Ford Foundation and Presidential Library and Museum, Russell Kirk Center — and numerous ongoing professional partnerships — e.g., with H. W. Brands, Richard Norton Smith, George Nash, and other historians of note.

Gleaves graduated with honors from Colorado State University (1980), was elected into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society (1980), and was a Fulbright scholar to then-West Germany (1984-85). His master’s degree and doctoral candidacy were at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he was a Richard M. Weaver fellow (1987-88) and an H. B. Earhart Fellow (1988-91). He has taught at the University of Michigan, Colorado State University, Droste-Hülshof Gymnasium, Aquinas College, and Grand Valley State University. In 2006, he received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Graduate Theological Union’s Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.

Gleaves was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and now makes his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife, Mary Eilleen.


Q&A with Gleaves Whitney

Follow the Leaders

Presidents’ Answer Man

The Hauenstein Center Gets a New Leader

Writings by Gleaves Whitney

Ask Gleaves Q & A, and Seminars

History Gadfly blog


Ann O’Keefe
Assistant Director

Ann O’Keefe is the Assistant Director of the Hauenstein Center. She brings an interest in the humanities to the Center, formed during her undergrad liberal arts studies at Saint Mary’s College, South Bend, Indiana, and from a lifelong love of reading and libraries. She has a Master’s in Library Science, and in her first career she was a teacher in two public school systems, an experience that made her a passionate supporter of causes tied to the complex issues surrounding education and leadership.

Grand Rapids is Ann’s hometown, and she lives here with her husband Dan.

Contact: okeefean@gvsu.edu



Chadd Dowding
Senior Program Manager, Cook Leadership Academy

Chadd Dowding joined the Hauenstein Center in August 2013 as the Program Manager for the Cook Leadership Academy (CLA). Prior to joining the Hauenstein Center, he worked as a Legal Contracts Associate and as a GE leadership program participant with GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, and Boston.

Chadd is a 2011 graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Comparative Cultures and Politics, and specializations in Asian Studies and Political Economy. His area of study stems from an interest in understanding the international community and the unique challenges and opportunities of interacting in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. He has been to India, Thailand, Laos, and Haiti and enjoys the opportunity for a new adventure. Chadd is focused on developing strong relationships among the CLA fellows, and to encourage them to achieve their goals and chart their own leadership path with the support of the Academy and its mentors to benefit our local, national, and international communities.

In his free time, Chadd enjoys following current events and world affairs, serving on the GVSU LGBT Faculty/Staff Association Board, participating in the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP), visiting Lake Michigan, spending time with friends, traveling, and building new relationships.

Contact: dowdinch@gvsu.edu




Scott St. Louis
Program Manager, Common Ground Initiative

Scott St. Louis joined the Hauenstein Center as Program Manager of the Common Ground Initiative in August 2016, after two years of involvement in the Cook Leadership Academy.

Scott graduated from Grand Valley State University summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and minors in political science and French. He completed the Honors program with distinction and served as Vice President for Educational Affairs on Student Senate. He has given dozens of individual and group presentations at the meetings of many academic associations, including the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Midwestern History Association. He is also is an alumnus of OpenCon 2014 and OpenCon 2015, two highly selective international conferences placing early-career professionals in the offices of the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament, and other governmental organizations to raise awareness of Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. Scott also contributed to the logistics of OpenCon 2016. His writings and translations have been published by such prestigious organizations as the National Museum of American History, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, the Society of American Archivists, the American Numismatic Association, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Pennsylvania State University.

Scott was named a recipient of the Glenn A. Niemeyer Award, Grand Valley’s highest academic honor, in April 2016.

As Program Manager of the Common Ground Initiative, Scott is helping to cultivate an open, respectful, and intellectually rigorous forum for thought leaders from the left and right to explore the possible common ground between their respective camps. The aim of the initiative: to promote common ground for the common good.

Contact: stlouis1@gvsu.edu


Morgan Eaton
Event Planner

In the summer of 2016 Morgan started as the Event Planner at the Hauenstein Center. Since she enjoys organization, leadership, and detail-work, a position handling event logistics is a good fit. She also assists the Assistant Director and the Senior Program Manager of the Cook Leadership Academy in daily tasks that pertain to the center’s mission.

Morgan first started at the Hauenstein Center in 2013 as a student worker assisting the Event Planner. She graduated from GVSU in 2015 and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design. In her free time, she makes jewelry and other art, and she is gradually building up her own personal studio.
Born and raised on the west side of Michigan, Morgan loves to travel her home state and see the sites. As a Michigander and introvert, she loves the serenity of the quiet beaches and nature trails that surround us.

Contact: knappmor@gvsu.edu 


Khader Jabbar
Marketing and Communications Specialist

Khader Jabbar, the Hauenstein Center’s Marketing and Communications Specialist, is a Grand Valley graduate with a degree in international relations. Khader plans on getting an MA degree, in the field of political communication.

In keeping with the position of Marketing and Communications Specialist, Khader works to ensure that the events and messages of the Hauenstein Center are visible, documented, and engaging.

Khader enjoys digital trends, photography, reading and film.

Contact: @jabbarkh@gvsu.edu


Liz Stinson
Office Coordinator

In her role as Office Coordinator, Liz Stinson provides support in day-to-day operations and with ongoing programs and events of the Hauenstein Center. Prior to joining the Center in July 2015, Liz worked with the State of Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, Hope Network Rehabilitation Services, and Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids.

Liz is originally from the Lansing area. A Grand Valley graduate, she is committed to our community and has a passion for nonprofit service. During her time as a student, Liz helped to organize the Student Reading Series, a program of the GVSU Writing Department, and following graduation she served as Interim Director of the former Humanics Nonprofit Management Program.

Outside of office hours, Liz loves to visit Michigan’s beautiful natural areas, especially those along the shores of the Great Lakes.

Contact: stinsonL@gvsu.edu


Hauenstein Center Associates

Laura Bulkely Goldsmith
Laura Bulkeley Goldsmith is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a BA in English. She has her Master’s Degree from Northwestern University in radio-TV-film. From 1991 to 1996, she was an associate editor of two separate media newsletters, Between the Lines and Dispatches, writing articles on popular culture. She is currently a film historian and freelance writer.

Marc Jordan
Marc Jordan is a recent graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Prior to studying at Harvard, he earned a J.D. from Michigan State University/ DCL.  An alumnus of Michigan State University, Jordan has focused on presidential studies from both a historical and leadership perspective.  Professionally, he served the State of Michigan for more than a decade in various policy positions.  He currently works as a regional director with GSP Consulting Corp.

Jim Kratsas
James Kratsas was deputy director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum where he worked from 1989 to 2016. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned his BA and MA in history at West Virginia University, and his MA in museum studies at Duquesne University. Before joining the staff at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, Mr. Kratsas worked as curator of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, and as curator of the Kansas Museum of History.

Hank Meijer
Hendrik “Hank” Meijer is co-chairman and co-CEO of Meijer, Inc., which currently operates 176 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in English and significant graduate work in history, Meijer is the vice chair of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation board of trustees, vice president of the Grand Rapids Area Council for the Humanities, and a board member for Fifth Third Bank, the Kettering Foundation, and the Food Marketing Institute.  He is author of Thrifty Years: The Life of Hendrik Meijer, and a forthcoming book about Arthur Vandenberg, the influential U.S. Senator from Grand Rapids who became a chief architect of U.S. foreign policy after World War II.  He has made three academic presentations at Hauenstein Center events.

George Nash
George H. Nash earned his doctorate at Harvard University and was a research fellow at Harvard’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American history.  Dr. Nash has lectured and written extensively on 20th-century American political and intellectual history, and his publications include The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945.  Dr. Nash is also an authority on the life of President Herbert Hoover.  He is the author of the first three volumes of The Life of Herbert Hoover, a definitive, scholarly biography commissioned by the Hoover Presidential Library Association.  His articles and reviews have appeared in National Review, Policy Review, Modern Age,New York Times Book Review, University Bookman, and other publications.

Michael Toth
Mike Toth is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received a joint J.D./M.A. (History), and Stanford University (B.A. History).  He is a former staffer for the White House Budget Director, Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.  A former Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow and Intercollegiate Studies Institute Honors Fellow, Mike’s work has been featured by the Claremont Review and the Acton Institute.  He is currently working on a biography of the Connecticut Founding Father, Oliver Ellsworth, to be published by ISI Books

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