Change Ups: Zoo hires director of strategy


Laura Davis. Courtesy John Ball Zoo

Laura Davis is the John Ball Zoo’s new director of strategy and organization development. Her mission will be to lead the strategy and planning for future growth at the zoo and align human capital plans to achieve long-term growth objectives. A key difference moving forward will be to assess organizational needs and the design, implementation and evaluation of programs that facilitate the professional development and continuous learning of team members, particularly executives and emerging leaders. Davis previously worked as VP of global human capital planning and HR consulting at Amway Corp.


Portage-based Cole Gavlas PC hired Chelsea Prosser as a bookkeeper in its accounting department. 


The Grand Rapids Public Museum has to date hosted nearly 10,000 rural students to the museum thanks to a grant and ongoing partnership with Crystal Flash. Rural schools who visit GRPM can get up to $250 reimbursed per bus for transportation costs. Reimbursement amounts will depend on distance traveled to the museum and must be approved in advance of visiting.

The Muskegon Museum of Art partnered with the Fiber Art Network to present Excellence in Fibers V this winter, an annual, international juried fiber arts competition organized by the Fiber Art Network. The exhibition brings works of 39 artists from the United States and Canada. The exhibition runs through March 15 at the MMA.


Fifth Third Bank named Susan Vogel-Vanderson as managing director for the Private Bank in West Michigan. 


Walker-based Tubelite Inc. promoted Mary Avery to vice president of sales and marketing and Tom Mifflin to director of marketing.


Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. promoted Cade Dammen to director of field operations.


Consumers Energy presented a rebate check for $111,068.70 to Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority chairman Steve Heacock for energy savings at ASM Global-managed DeVos Place. New lighting and controls recently installed in the Exhibit Hall have greatly reduced the building’s energy usage. The lighting project reduced the number of fixtures from 788 to 407, decreasing energy use from 434,505 watts to 96,676 watts. The project is one of many at DeVos Place that have saved the building 1,877,306 kilowatt hours of energy since 2014, the equivalent to the carbon emissions of 282 cars, the annual electric use of 232 homes or 463 tons of waste recycled. DeVos Place received $148,969 in rebates from Consumers Energy over that time.


Kalamazoo resident Michael Baer, senior vice president and wealth management adviser for Merrill in Portage, was named to the 2019 Forbes Top 250 Next-Gen Wealth Advisors list.

Merrill wealth management advisers Kimberly Hammond of Muskegon and Brett Howell in Grand Rapids were named to the 2019 Financial Times’ 401 Top Retirement Advisors list. The list recognizes the top financial advisers who specialize in serving defined contribution retirement plans across the U.S.


Battle Creek-based Cask & Kettle made available an easy way to prepare and serve well-crafted hard coffee or cider cocktail. The ready-to-brew line of boozy K-Cup pods is available at a variety of large chains and independent retailers across 10 states. Go to for store locations.

Battle Creek-based Kellogg Co. earlier in December launched Cheez-It sets that included Cheez-It Box Seats for the Cheez-It Bowl with ex-pro football punter Pat McAfee, who kicked an Extra Cheddar Kick benefiting veterans during the first half of the game. Fans enjoyed Cheez-It football toss challenges, giveaways and photo-ops at The Oasis Pregame Party, Cheez-It caps for the proud bleacher section and more. Cheez-It also created Limited Edition boxes featuring the teams facing off in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Kalamazoo-based Kalsec announced Gustavo Puente, the company’s senior vice president of procurement, was named to the EARTH University board of directors.


The Grand Rapids City Commission unanimously appointed Charles “Max” Frantz as city comptroller.


Wedgwood Christian Services was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Perrigo Foundation to fund Wedgwood’s Transforming Services, which includes Wellness and Activity Therapy, Employment Training, Prevention, Manasseh Project Outreach and Chaplaincy, and Young Life. Such services will enable Wedgwood to offer holistic treatment, and help youth and families heal from the trauma of abuse and neglect, exploitation and substance use.


The Center for Physical Rehabilitation announced physical therapists at its downtown clinic location, Betsy Watson and Tom Gustafson, have completed training to become orthopedic certified specialists. Patty Van Ek, physical therapist at the Belmont clinic, recently became Lymphedema certified.


AHC+Hospitality announced the promotion of Nicholas Remes to regional general manager of AHC+Hospitality’s Marriott properties. Remes will oversee operations at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, Courtyard by Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown and the recently opened AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown.


Grand Rapids native and Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Pastrick was presented with a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal certificate by Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, USS Gerald R. Ford's public affairs officer.


Camp Fire West Michigan 4C announced CEO Gayle Orange will retire at the end of the year after 25 years of service to the organization. Chana Edmond-Verley will be appointed to the position effective Jan. 1.

Dégagé Ministries awarded Brian and LuAnn Vanharen the 2019 Marge Palmerlee Outstanding Community Service Award. The annual award recognizes a volunteer who exemplifies compassion, mercy, hope, dignity, encouragement, dedication, honor and unconditional love as they serve the patrons of Dégagé Ministries. The Vanharens are regular volunteers in a variety of areas at Dégagé.


A new Catholic church, St. John Paul II Parish in Cedar Springs, was recently dedicated. The new church is 9,360 square feet on the main floor with an additional 500 square feet on a lower level. Ground was broken on Aug. 19, 2018. AMDG was the architect and designer of the project while Erhardt was responsible for construction. The new church will seat 350 people with the ability to grow in the future.

The clustered parishes of St. Catherine in Ravenna, St. Francis Xavier in Conklin, and St. Joseph in Wright have opened a day care and early childhood center at Divine Providence Academy, a multisite Catholic elementary school.


Holland-based Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals and Tommy Car Wash Systems have opened the car wash facility, Tommy’s Express Car Wash at 2283 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids.

Walker-based Meijer will open Jan. 29 its Woodward Corner Market, a new neighborhood grocery at 13 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak. The 41,000-square-foot store will feature a mix of fresh, convenient food and value to customers in the region, and marks the retailer's first small format store in metro Detroit.


Blue Medora announced general availability and open access of 50-plus log source integrations through its BindPlane log streaming platform for all Google’s Stackdriver customers, following the October beta release from Google Cloud, bringing BindPlane’s log services to market at no additional licensing cost to Stackdriver customers.


Three Oaks-based Journeyman Distiller recently launched Fans of craft-made spirits and cocktails will find dozens of holiday giving ideas listed — from award-winning spirits, to tours, branded merchandise and limited-edition bottles.

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