A roundup of promotions, new hires, advancements and award winners in West Michigan.
- Vista Maria, a Dearborn Heights nonprofit serving abused and neglected girls, has named Hope Network executive Megan Zambiasi as its new CEO, following a six-month search. Zambiasi will succeed Angela Aufdemberge, who is stepping down after leading the organization for more than 12 years. Aufdemberge will serve as CEO adviser for the next several months to assist in the leadership transition. Zambiasi brings more than 30 years of experience in clinical and mental health service, leadership, and administration. Most recently she served as senior executive vice president of operations and strategy at Grand Rapids-based Hope Network. Prior to that, she spent more than 19 years at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. Zambiasi holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University, a master’s counseling psychology from Western Michigan University, and an MBA from Michigan State University.
- The Muskegon YMCA has appointed Gabrielle Gerlach as its new CEO to succeed Bruce Spoelman, who is retiring after 24 years with the YMCA, including 19 years in Muskegon. Gerlach moved into the role after six years at the Muskegon Y, including most recently as chief operating officer, where she helped create an affordable child care center and oversaw community programs. The Muskegon Y offers a variety of community and youth-focused programs, and partners with businesses and other organizations to provide resources at more than 25 locations in the Muskegon area.
- Ludington-based FloraCraft Corp., a manufacturer and marketer of craft and floral foam, has promoted James Morkert to vice president of people, safety and culture. After serving as FloraCraft’s director of human resources and safety since 2020, Morkert will now play a key role in the company’s talent acquisition and retention efforts while also designing and implementing training programs. Morkert holds a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Western Michigan University.
- Decorative window and doorway products manufacturer and distributor ODL Inc. has named Jaclyn Harrison as executive vice president of human resources. Harrison joins the Zeeland-based company from Bissell Homecare Inc., where she served as global vice president of human resources and business transformation. She also previously served in I.T. and human resources roles at tech research and consulting firm Gartner and pharmaceutical manufacturer Perrigo Co. plc. Harrison holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Notre Dame University. She will report to ODL President and Chief Operating Officer David Klein and manage a team in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K. and China.
- Nunica-based Baker Engineering Inc., a precision manufacturer of power, propulsion and advanced technology solutions for the aerospace and defense industries, has named two industry veterans to oversee business operations. Luke Wackerle, who brings more than 17 years of experience in leadership and project management, will serve as president. He comes to Baker Engineering after serving as operations manager at Grand Rapids-based Jedco Inc. Baker Engineering also named Shawn Knop, a military veteran with 15 years of private-sector experience in the field, as manufacturing manager. Baker Engineering is a subsidiary of Waséyabek Development Co. LLC, the non-gaming economic development arm of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians.
- Calvin University has selected La’Leatha Spillers as the school’s first vice president for marketing and communications. Spillers starts in the position on April 10, and currently serves as chief advancement officer for the YWCA West Central Michigan, where she oversees fundraising, development, communications and marketing. She brings 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, fundraising and public relations, previously serving in leadership positions at Bethany Christian Services, Grand Rapids Christian Schools and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Detroit.
- The Kent County Youth Agricultural Association has named Morgan Doyle as its new executive director after she served in an interim capacity over the past year. Born and raised in Kansas, Doyle’s role will focus on helping youth develop leadership traits via agricultural projects. She continues with the KCYAA as the organization builds the Grand Agricultural Center of West Michigan, which is located on 140 acres in Lowell and will serve as the future home for the Kent County Youth Fair. Doyle joined the KCYAA board in November 2020 and served for a year before being named interim executive director. She previously served for three years at agriculture lender GreenStone Farm Credit Services as a customer service representative and commercial credit analyst.
- The steering committee for ArtPrize 2.0 announced Catlin Whitington, a former planner for the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, as the new executive director to lead the annual art contest into its next era. He replaces the organization’s former leader, Craig Searer. Whitington’s first day is March 15. ArtPrize was founded in 2009 by Rick DeVos, who was board chair until Dec. 31. The competition is now run by the city of Grand Rapids, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., along with a nine-member board of directors. The 2023 competition will be held from Sept. 14 to Oct. 1.
- Grand Rapids-based accounting, tax and business advisory firm EHTC has named Corey Alexander as support services director. The role involves overseeing daily operations and several departments, including finance, human resources and recruiting, and internal technology. A recent transplant from Nashville, Alexander holds an MBA and a doctorate of education and serves as a specialist in the U.S. Army National Guard.
— Compiled by Andy Balaskovitz
Red Cedar Investments adds two partners
GRAND RAPIDS — Red Cedar Investment Management LLC, an institutional investment advisory firm in Grand Rapids and Cincinnati, Ohio, has added two new partners.
The addition of Brandon Bajema and Julia Batchenko, both of whom are senior portfolio managers, grows Red Cedar Investment Management’s ownership to eight employee partners who own a 51-percent ownership stake in the firm.
The 4100 Group Inc., a subsidiary of Delta Dental of Michigan, owns a 49-percent equity stake in Red Cedar under an ownership model put in place in 2020.
“We believe this employee ownership structure enables Red Cedar to attract and retain key employees while ensuring that we maintain a laser-like focus on investment management which perfectly aligns the firm’s long-term interests with those of the clients we serve,” said Red Cedar Investment Management CEO John Cassady.
Cassady explained in an email to MiBiz that when large institutions hire a firm to manage their investments, they go through lengthy due diligence that includes looking at investment processes and track records over the long term.
“If the investment professionals who compiled that track record of success do not intend to stay at the firm in the future, that investment performance cannot be consistently repeatable,” Cassady said. “If investment professionals own a firm whose goal is to produce superior investment returns for its clients, those owners tend to make business decisions that drive long term investment results.”
Red Cedar’s employee owners “have thereby committed to stay together for the long term to produce competitive investment results,” he said.
Bajema previously worked as a portfolio manager with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority before joining Red Cedar in 2021. Before that, he was a director at Fitch Credit Ratings in the Financial Institutions Group.
Batchenko was previously part of the Investment Research team at Clear Arc Capital, providing research for the large cap income growth equity strategies. She joined Red Cedar three years ago.
Founded in 2013, Red Cedar Investment Management employs 14 people and has $1.5 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2022.
— Reported by Mark Sanchez