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.