Biographies

George Herrera

Entrepreneur, corporate board member, former head of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

George Herrera is the creator of the popular “Hispanics Today” television show, and a Wharton Fellow. He is Founder and President & CEO of the Herrera-Cristina Group, Ltd, a Hispanic-owned, multidisciplinary management firm which has an impressive roster of Fortune 500 clients. Mr. Herrera was named by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of 30 Future Leaders for Economic Empowerment of Minority Communities (2000) and was listed as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Business Magazine (2002).

David Rusk

Consultant, researcher, author, speaker, internationally renowned expert on urban policy.

Mr. Rusk is an internationally renowned expert on urban policy with a specialized focus on the link between racial separation and critical community issues. Mr. Rusk has served as speaker and consultant to numerous corporate groups, governments, and organizations on the various social and community impacts of urban sprawl and concentrated poverty. He has published many articles as well as the books Cities Without Suburbs (1993; 2nd edition, 1995), Baltimore Unbound (1995), and Inside Game/Outside Game (1999). Mr. Rusk has conducted major community studies of York, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and New Orleans, and advised a university-based study of Springfield, Ohio. He is also a former Mayor of the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Community Panelists

Kenyatta Brame – Senior Vice President of Business Services at Cascade Engineering, Inc. Previously he served as Senior Vice President of Operations and Merchandising, Employee Relations, and Legal Services at Sysco Food Services. He also worked as an attorney at Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC. He is involved in the community through the City of Grand Rapids Civil Rights Commission, Green Grand Rapids Committee, and various other organizations.

Dorothy A. Johnson – President Emeritus of the Council of Michigan Foundations (serving for over 25 years). The Council is an association of 467 Michigan foundations and corporations offering grants for charitable purposes. Additionally, Ms. Johnson serves as a Trustee of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, a Trustee of the Grand Valley State University Board, and a Director of the Corporation for National Service in Washington, D.C., a position to which she was nominated by President Clinton in 1998.

Brian Walker – President and CEO of Herman Miller, Inc., overseeing the company’s global efforts to invent solutions that help create great places to work, to learn, and to heal. Additionally, Mr. Walker serves on the Board of Directors for Briggs & Stratton and The Right Place, Inc. of greater Grand Rapids, and as Chairman of The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) and Trustee on the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Best Business Practices

Moderator:
Diane Ybarra
Human Resources Manager for Global Concepts Enterprise, Inc.

George Herrera
(see keynote desc)

Ronald B. Jimmerson, Sr. – Senior Manager at Cascade Engineering, where he also manages Cascade Engineering Department of Community Partnerships & Workforce Diversity. Previously, Mr. Jimmerson was a licensed social worker with Project Rehab of Grand Rapids. He is currently a member of the local Workforce Development Board, Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending Board, Faith Based John 17 Group, President of Employers Advisory Council for The RAPID, an Elder at City Hope (CRC) Ministries, Member of Kent County Family & Children’s Coordinating Council, and a member of the Leadership Council for the Expanded Learning Opportunities Network.

Ana Ramirez-Saenz
– Founder and President of La Fuente Consulting, which specializes in diverse workforce and marketplace solutions. Ms. Ramirez-Saenz received her B.A. in Spanish, as well as her MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan. She is a member of the Grand Rapids and Holland Chambers of Commerce, the Diversity Forum-Society of Human Resource Managers, the Association of Translators of America, as well as the Michigan Interpreters/Translators Network.

David A. Rhem
Partner in the law firm of Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett LLP, Mr. Rhem practices employment law and litigation, and is Co-Chair of Varnum's Diversity Team. He is President of the Rotary Club of Spring Lake, and also serves on the Cultural Competency Action Team for the Chamber of Commerce-Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg. Mr. Rhem is a graduate of Hope College and the American University Washington College of Law.

Space & Race: Contemporary Issues

Moderator:
Fred L. Johnson III, PhD. – Associate Professor of History, Hope College. A former Communications-Electronics Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and corporate trainer for Aircraft Braking Systems in Akron, Ohio, Dr. Johnson earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Kent State University. He is currently completing research for his forthcoming work America’s Blind Spot: U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa, 1945 to Present. Dr. Johnson is currently a candidate for the federal Congressional seat in Michigan’s 2nd District.

Annie Dandavati, Ph.D. – Full Professor and Director of Women’s Studies in the Hope College Political Science Department. Dr. Dandavati obtained her doctoral degree from University of Denver.

Nancy Haynes
– Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan since 1999, Ms. Haynes was a practicing attorney from 1993 – 1999. Ms. Haynes earned her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law and her BA from Hanover College. Ms. Haynes was a member of the Fair Housing Center of Grand Rapids Board of Directors before becoming the Executive Director and is currently serving the National Fair Housing Alliance as Treasurer of the Board of Directors.

Aaron Hilliard
– Human Resources Manager for Muskegon Community College and a founding and current member of the Board of Directors with the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance. Mr. Hilliard has been a lead facilitator for the Institutes for Healing Racism for fifteen years.

Veta Tucker, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of American and African American Literature, African American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies at Grand Valley State University. Dr. Tucker’s research focuses on the antebellum Underground Railroad and abolitionist movements, as well as historical and self-representations of African American women in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Rillistine Wilkins – Former Mayor of the City of Muskegon Heights, Ms. Wilkins served as a member of the City Council for 33 years. She is a retired analyst from Verizon.

Immigration in West MI

Moderator:
Roberto Jara, Jr. Executive Director of Latin Americans United for Progress.

Steven J. Gold, Ph.D. – Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. His areas of expertise include racial and ethnic relations, as well as migration and social change. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Martha Gonzalez-Cortez – CEO of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has also served as the State Director of the Office of Migrant Affairs at the Michigan Department of Human Services. Ms. Gonzalez-Cortez holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr and a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from Stanford’s Cultural Anthropology Department.

Richard Kessler – Attorney at Law. Mr. Kessler has specialized for 27 years in immigration, civil rights and discrimination cases. His many activities on behalf of immigrants include serving as past chair of the Michigan Migrant Legal Assistant Project and participating in the Lawyers Human Rights Delegation to El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He received his B.A. from Ohio University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Diversity in Education

Moderator and Presenter:
Rosemary Ervine – has a B.S. Degree in Special Education, a Masters Degree in Reading and a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership. She has taught at the elementary, secondary and college level. She has been a building level administrator, a Director of Reading, an Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction and a Superintendent of West Ottawa Public Schools. She has retired after thirty five years in the K-12 public education system. She is currently working with CDS.

Models for Ministry

Moderator:
Robyn Afrik AmeriCorps Program Director for Good Samaritan Ministries, she has studied Social work and Business as her undergraduate degree at Valparaiso University and Cornerstone University. Robyn is a national certified Global Career Development facilitator endorsed by the National Career Development Association, the National Employment Counseling Association, and the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals.

Moderator:
Chuck Green is a social psychologist who has been on the faculty at Hope College since 1983. Currently, he serves as the director of the Phelps Scholars Program, a residential/academic program for first-year students interested in learning about issues of race and culture.

Rev. David P. Baak – A member of the Leadership Team of the Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism (GRACE) after serving as its Executive Director (1983-2002); he also assists in the programming of the Racial Justice Institute. Rev. Baak worked for ten years in pre-trial alternative programs in the criminal justice system in Flint, MI and Salt Lake City, UT, after serving congregations in Flint and New York City. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary.

Rev. Andres S. Fierro
– Pastor of Crossroad Chapel, a bilingual, English / Spanish congregation of the Reformed Church in Holland, MI for 23 years. Rev. Fierro is a graduate Hope College and Western Seminary. He worked in the fields of West Michigan with his family at an early age, and also worked with Native Americans in Oklahoma prior to entering Hope College.

Sister Cheryl Liske – organizing faith communities for over 15 years, Liske is the director for Gamaliel of Michigan. Gamaliel of Michigan is the organization through which ISAAC, MOSES, Ezekiel and JONAH join together to tackle state wide issues. Cheryl began her work in Detroit, Michigan--her hometown. As the work expanded to other parts of the state, there was a need for deliberate and continual collaboration, support, and communication. Cheryl now uses her expertise and shares her skills with other organizers and leaders across the state.

Rev. David G. May, ACSW
– Pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Worship Center Church. He is a graduate of the Chicago Baptist Institute, and has recently completed class requirements at Andersonville Theological Seminary for his Doctorate in Biblical Studies. He holds a B.A. in Social Work from Grand Valley State University and an MSW from Western Michigan University. Rev. May is on the Leadership Team of the Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism (GRACE), having served as its Racial Justice Institute coordinator since 1997. Rev. May worked as a therapist for twenty years, as a school social worker, and in private practice.

Rev. Angela Taylor Perry – Pastor of Reconciliation Ministries, Faith CRC; Holland, MI and previously served as Resident Pastor at Church of the Servant CRC, Grand Rapids, MI. Angela is a CRCNA National Race Relations Trainer. She holds a BA in Management & Organizational Development from Spring Arbor University and an M.A. in Missions/New Church Development/Divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary. Angela is the first African American Woman to graduate from Calvin Theological Seminary.

Rachael Tanner - a community organizer working for ISAAC in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Tanner has been organizing for less than a year, but really enjoys her work. Organizing through congregations provides an opportunity to bring her faith to the work of justice on a daily basis. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, she felt called to come home to begin the work of building a powerful community able to move its values into action.

Rev. Michael VandenBerg – Executive Director of Good Samaritan Ministries. Rev. VandenBerg holds a degree in Sociology and Psychology from Hope College and a M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary. He developed the very first Love INC network in Genesee County, MI in 1980. Rev. VandenBerg serves on the board of the Public Housing Commission for Ottawa County, the Coordinating Council for Human Services for Ottawa County, the Health Department Planning Committee for Pandemic Preparedness and numerous other community committees.

Government: Elected Officials Reflect on David Rusk's Presentation

Moderator:
Steve Bulthuis - Assistant Director, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Moderator:
Sue Higgins – Executive Director, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Nancy Crandall – Vice President of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance and former Mayor of the City of Norton Shores (serving from 1993-2005). Located in southern Muskegon County along the shores of Lake Michigan, the City of Norton Shores has an estimated 2006 population of 23,429 and has a significant industrial/commercial/retail sector. Ms. Crandall has been on the board of the Strategic Alliance since its creation.

Terry Nienhuis –
Supervisor of Holland Township. Located in southern Ottawa County, Holland Township is one of the largest lakeshore communities with an estimated 2006 population of 34,049, and a large industrial/commercial/retail sector. Mr. Nienhuis has been the supervisor for 12 years.

Darrell Paige (invited) – Mayor of the City of Muskegon Heights. Located in southern Muskegon County, the City of Muskegon Heights has an estimated 2006 population of 11,741 and is a community with varied land uses. Mayor Paige was elected to that office in 2007 and had served on the City Council for 12 years prior to becoming mayor.

Amanda Price
– Park Township Trustee. Located in southern Ottawa County along the shores of Lake Michigan, Park Township has an estimated 2006 population of 18,351. The township is more than 90% residential. Ms. Price has been a trustee for 10 years.

Jane Ruiter – Ottawa County Commissioner, serving District 4. Her district includes the northern Ottawa communities of Crockery Township, Spring Lake Township, City of Ferrysburg and a portion of the City of Grand Haven. These communities represent a 2006 population of more than 21,000 and are primarily residential/agricultural.
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