People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.
New MGA leader focuses on Industry 4.0, talent development
Manufacturing Growth Alliance has named Elizabeth Bernhard as its new executive director. The Alliance is a subsidiary of Benton Harbor-based Kinexus Group, a business development nonprofit, and works with manufacturers across Michigan to encourage growth and keep the industry competitive.
Bernhard brings more than a decade of management experience to the role. As a child watching her dad teach shop classes, Bernhard said she never imagined herself ending up in manufacturing, but she has worked in the space for years.
As director of career and continuing education, she spearheaded Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s in-demand workforce training programs and partnerships with Urban Alliance and the Momentum Urban Employment Initiative. She also created and oversaw KVCC’s community Life Enrichment program.
In her time as director of engagement and academies with Urban Alliance, Bernhard built relationships with businesses in the manufacturing industry as part of the implementation of the Momentum technical training programming. Most recently, she oversaw statewide partnership initiatives for talent development at Youth Solutions Inc. as partnership engagement manager.
“I never would have imagined myself in this role, but it feels like all of my past roles have led me to this point,” Bernhard said.
The Growth Alliance’s mission to serve small manufacturers through education, resources and advocacy attracted Bernhard to the role. As executive director, she hopes to focus on preparation for Industry 4.0 and talent development. Many small manufacturers lack the resources to engage in long-term strategic planning, and the Alliance aims to equip them with the knowledge, funding and resources to embrace Industry 4.0.
Having worked with key talent groups like veterans, youth and returning citizens in previous roles, Bernhard said she feels prepared to help small manufacturers “come up with creative and sustainable solutions to creating a diverse talent pipeline.”
She also hopes to increase MGA’s advocacy efforts by strengthening lines of communication with state leadership.
— Reported by Abigail Ham.
- Eric Frederick has been named the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office’s first chief connectivity officer. Frederick earned his bachelor’s degree at Northern Michigan University and his masters of urban and regional planning from Michigan State University. He has spent the last decade at Connected Nation Michigan, most recently as president of broadband planning and executive director. Frederick will now work to meet goals in the state’s 2021 Broadband Road Map and develop Michigan’s first five-year state broadband strategy and digital equity plan. “As the state’s first ever Chief Connectivity Officer, Eric will lead our new High-Speed Internet Office as it develops the necessary infrastructure to invest our resources effectively and efficiently to achieve our goals,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a statement.
- 6PM Hospitality Partners LLC has hired Rachel Platt as project manager. Platt brings 14 years of experience in the hospitality industry, most recently serving as regional project administrator for The Christman Co. 6PM Hospitality is a development and property management company based in Zeeland. The company currently operates a hotel in Holland and has similar roles at three more hotels planned in Manistee and Battle Creek. Former Suburban Inns CEO Peter Beukema formed 6PM Hospitality late last year, previously telling MiBiz that he identified a “huge opportunity for third-party (hotel) management done well.”
- LKF Marketing has hired Shelby Carter as an account manager and statistical analysis reporting specialist as well as Lucy Wilde as an account coordinator. Carter is a 2018 graduate of Grand Valley State University who has previously worked as an account manager at Imperial Beverage. Wilde is a 2020 graduate of Calvin University who previously worked as a marketing coordinator at nonprofit Eagle Village near Reed City. “The addition of two new account staff almost simultaneously gives our team the opportunity to share our proven methods and procedures with new team members while giving us access to fresh perspectives from a new generation of marketing professionals,” said LKF President and CEO Heather Isch.
- Kids’ Food Basket is searching for a director of development to lead community engagement, strategic planning and donor relations efforts. The nonprofit organization is focused on ending childhood hunger in West Michigan communities, serving more than 9,000 schoolchildren in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan counties. The organization looks to hire someone with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of relevant experience, including four years of experience in a supervisory role. Applicants should have strong written and verbal communication skills, budget management skills and proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and CRM.
- Nick Colvin has been appointed to the board of trustees for Greater Grand Rapids NAACP. Senior counsel with Warner Norcross + Judd LLP, Colvin specializes in economic development, impact investing and government relations. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School and a member of the State Bar of Michigan. He is also a board member of Ele’s Place West Michigan. Colvin will serve a two-year term on the NAACP board.
- D.A. Blodgett - St. Johns has appointed Joel Bell as chief program officer. Bell holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Calvin University and a master’s of social work from Western Michigan University, where he is now adjunct faculty in the School of Social Work. He brings more than 20 years of experience in the fields of child welfare and mental health, most recently serving as branch director for Bethany Christian Services’ operations in Southwest Michigan. At D.A. Blodgett, he will oversee 15 programs aimed at helping children and empowering families.
- The Literacy Center of West Michigan appointed Marcus Little as director of the nonprofit’s Customized Workplace English program, where he will develop English language education service partnerships with businesses throughout West Michigan. The program provides customized English language education within a workplace context, helping employers attract talent from broader backgrounds. Originally from southern California, Little and his family moved to Grand Rapids in 2014 and served an eight-year tenure as pastor of Berean Baptist Church.
- Linda Witte, program director and manager for Grand Rapids Community College’s Workforce Training health programs, has received a Pride of the Profession award from the American Medical Technologists association. The award honors members who have demonstrated commitment both to the profession and to service in their community. Witte manages GRCC’s medical assistant, certified nursing assistant, pharmacy technician and phlebotomy skills programs and is currently helping to develop the direct support professional program.
- Hope College has named Heidi Kraus associate provost for academic affairs. Kraus has been a professor of art and art history at Hope since 2012 and has previously served as department chair, director of the De Pree Gallery, and director of global learning. She is also an active scholar focusing on neoclassicism, and a student research adviser through the Mellon Scholars Program. Kraus succeeds psychology professor Daryl Van Tongeren, who served as interim associate provost beginning in 2021. As associate provost, Kraus will work closely with the college’s deans and faculty governance to support faculty teaching, scholarship and development, and enhance the academic program.
- Ada-based accounting firm Dan Carter Advisors CPA PLC recently named Mike Volk as principal. Volk comes to the firm after 21 years as executive vice president of finance, chief financial officer and treasurer of Davenport University. With prior experience in the nonprofit, health care and education industries, Volk will focus on forensic accounting, business valuation and consulting services while also participating in the firm’s accounting and tax practices. Volk said he wants to use his experience at Davenport to help businesses lacking in-house expertise “accomplish their goals, and reach better outcomes.”
- Old National Bank has named George Bailey as Michigan market president. Bailey has more than 35 years of experience in banking and commercial relationship management and is also invested in community service as a volunteer for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Michigan. As Michigan market president, Bailey will work with leadership in Southwest, Central and West Michigan to continue growing in those regions. He will also guide expansion of the brand into Southeast Michigan.
- A new CEO took over last month at Kalamazoo-based Consumers Credit Union as Scott Sylvester succeeded longtime President and CEO Kit Snyder on July 2. Snyder retired after 38 years with Consumers Credit Union, including serving as president and CEO since 1983. Sylvester has been with the credit union for 28 years — starting as a teller in 1994 — and has worked as an accounting clerk, senior accountant, manager of information systems and vice president of technology, and later chief financial and chief technology officer.
— Compiled by Abigail Ham.