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Nonprofit Leadership : People

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Cheryl Schuch

For most of her career, Cheryl Schuch used her marketing and networking skills in the private sector. For the last three years, she has put those social talents to work as executive director of Family Promise of Grand Rapids, overseeing programs that assist homeless families to achieve lasting independence and self-sufficiency.

Ronald K. Nelson

Ronald K. Nelson heads the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids with confidence in the positive social changes the organization promotes. He is committed to offer low-income children healthy nutritional information, physical fitness opportunities, and more -- taking programming on the road and into neighborhoods as needed.     

Joseph Trommater

Joseph Trommater is the new leader at S.P.A.R.K.S., Students Participating in Academics and Recreation for Knowledge and Success, a program of the Clare-Gladwin Regional Educational Service District. He's been involved with the program for years and watched it significantly increase graduation rates and connect children and their families to opportunities for learning and personal enrichment.

Susan Heartwell

Economic conditions should never deny a child the chance to succeed – at least that’s what Susan Heartwell of the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation believes. And when she shares the good work of the foundation in getting public school children instruments, calculators or library books, people want to help.

Richard A. Loewenstein

Rick Loewenstein, CEO of JARC, an Oakland County agency that provides residential and support services to people with developmental disabilities and their families, hopes to someday see the social service sector valued as much as other sectors for its provision of jobs, fiscal savvy, and ability to engage the community. 

Brother Jerry Smith

As executive director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen on Detroit’s near-eastside, Brother Jerry Smith sees his role as helping people grow and develop. That belief extends from the youngest children in after-school programs to agency staff, some of whom first came to the soup kitchen for services.

Dick Bulkowski

Dick Bulkowski directs Steepletown Neighborhood Services in Grand Rapids with a great interest in the lives of the young clients served through GED and career programs. But unlike many nonprofit executives, Bulkowski brings real-life experience to the table having gone through a family crisis that he candidly shares with others to illustrate his vigorous resolve.

Amanda Uhle

Amanda Uhle, executive director of 826michigan, an Ann Arbor nonprofit that aims to teach kids the joy of writing, has conquered early start-up pains and later financial struggles, but most recently faces a significant, albeit flattering, challenge: local demand for services exceeds 826michigan’s capacity. 

Richard Clanton

Richard V. Clanton, CEO of United Methodist Community House, wants all children to succeed, regardless of their life circumstances. And, he’s proud of how his agency has improved the lives of at-risk Grand Rapids children through nationally accredited child development and after-school centers, summer day camp, and a literacy initiative.

Michael Earl

Every child, and every family, deserves a chance to achieve. It’s that fundamental belief that drives everyone at Oakland Family Services, up to and including CEO Michael Earl. He’s inspired by seeing children who face difficult circumstances believe in their ability to achieve whatever they set out to do. 

Chris Shea

Cherry Street Health Services has a CEO with a strong desire to educate people who live in poverty. Chris Shea believes in equity – that every child of every economic level should have the same opportunities to learn and that they should be offered improved access to health care as they grow into healthy, successful adults.

Mike Garfield

There’s more than one way to help save a planet, and Mike Garfield, director of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, has had a hand in most of them. In his 20-year career, he has seen once-radical ideas such as recycling become commonplace and has persuaded communities to consider land use in new ways. Today, Garfield and his Ecology Center team continue their work to preserve our ecosystem for future generations.

Deborah Buchholtz

With a passion for business and organizational operations, Deb Buchholtz brings effectiveness, efficiency, and results to Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring. Buchholtz puts her unique approach to work improving the operations of the mentoring organization that serves five counties in southwest Michigan.

Carrie Wilson

Carrie Wilson, Council Director for Girls on the Run of Calhoun County, believes one person with one voice can influence the lives of young girls. Wilson says planting the seeds of confidence in vulnerable children does not always yield instant gratification but requires time and dedication to pay off.

Denise Fase

Denise Fase recognizes that we often instinctively look at the weaknesses in others. As Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders, Fase makes it her job to fight that impulse and view troubled urban teens as prospective leaders with unique gifts and skills to offer their community. 
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Bright Ideas


Can systemic racism impact infant mortality?

Even when controlling for poverty, education level, and tobacco use of a mother, maternal and infant health outcomes are far worse for minority populations than European-American women. What's causing the continued disparities? And what can West Michigan do to ensure all babies born here have the best chance of reaching their potential? Zinta Aistars reports on Strong Beginnings, one local program working to give all families a fair start.

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Parents working more than one job or odd hours, a lack of funds, and no transportation often prevent kids from experiencing one of Michigan’s incredible natural resources. For the majority of west side Grand Rapids elementary school kids, Lake Michigan is sadly out of reach. OST has teamed up with Grand Rapids Public Schools to give fourth-graders at west side schools the opportunity to experience the big lake firsthand.


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For Grand Rapids students who serve as trustees-in-training on the GRCF Youth Grant Committee, giving back to the community goes hand in hand with empowering students to succeed. 
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