You ask – who is this guy? Well, I am….
- A bald, white man in his mid 40s with a Dutch last name living in West Michigan. I have been married for almost 25 years, and have two teen age children.
- The oldest of three siblings, who grew up in a traditional, two-parent family. My father was a pastor in primarily Dutch, reformed churches. My mother stayed home when my siblings and I were young, and then worked in a non-profit, educational organization. Imagine this, we attended church twice on Sunday as well as Wednesday nights for educational programs. Faith has influenced me significantly.
I bet you have a pretty good picture of me in your head now….and it probably matches a stereotype about white people in leadership positions throughout West Michigan. However, there is a bit more to my story since I…
- Attended urban, public schools while growing up in Holland, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids where I was sometimes a minority in the schools I attended. My friends came from different races, cultures and religions (Latinx. African American. Asian. Immigrants & refugees. Jewish & agnostic).
- Was a sociology major in college (BA from Central College [Pella, Iowa]), and lived in Hangzhou, China for a semester as part of my education. I also earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Grand Valley State University.
- Worked with individuals and families who were homeless, and for a Community Action Agency where I did weatherization assessments for families with lower incomes.
- Recently retired early due to chronic health issues after a 15-year career working for the Kent County Administrator’s Office; first as an Analyst, then an Interim Department Director, and finally Assistant Administrator. During this 15 years, my portfolio included different types of projects including: economic development, education reform, child welfare policy, early childhood funding; mental health funding, organizational development, parks, community development, river restoration and community resiliency, agricultural preservation, facility planning, and homelessness/affordable housing.
Having a broad variety of education and work experiences as well as having a significant chronic illness has taught me life lessons beyond the traditional family I described earlier.
What do you do for fun?
- I am an Everton football supporter, and enjoy following the English Premier League, Champions League, and US Men’s and Women’s National Soccer teams. (I used to enjoy playing and refereeing soccer too when I was younger…those were the days).
- My family likes to travel together. We hang antique maps in our house of the states we have visited. So far, we have over 15 maps on the wall.