Last week’s discussion of wage gap advancement for women (or lack thereof) in Grand Rapids spurred some discussion among readers, many of whom could not believe some River City employers are still operating in the “Dark Ages.”
But while talk on the subject is necessary, actions speak louder than words.
Springthrough, a 15-year-old digital consulting firm in Grand Rapids, recently announced changes to its leadership team as the company works to fulfill its three-year strategic plan. The fact that those changes deliberately involved moving women to leadership roles is refreshing.
“Great businesses require a balance of people strong in vision and process,” said CEO Mike Williams. “As we openly share our vision for Springthrough’s future, we know that balance needs to be around the table.”
The company’s new leadership team includes Williams at the helm, Jeff Williams as president, Joy Ducey as COO, Eric Spencer as vice president of architecture, Jill Dooley as vice president of business development and Ben Ipema as controller.
Both Jeff Williams and Ducey were elevated to new levels of leadership from their roles as COO and director of project management, respectively. The other leadership roles are responsible for new functions of the business that support Springthrough’s growing specialties in strategy and support, according to Mike Williams.
“At Springthrough, we are focused on consistently providing great experiences. My role is to ensure those experiences are sustainable and scalable,” said Ducey.
Mike Williams said the addition of Dooley to the team in early June and Ducey now as COO mark the company’s commitment to actively identify, recruit and develop not only female staff but leadership in the industry.
Dooley brings a background in development for community organizations to devote a new perspective to the technology firm. Ducey has been with Springthrough for the last two years, developing the IT Project Management Office and contributing her years of experience in IT, project management and consumer products.
Springthrough now has more than 50 employees, and grooming women for leadership roles just makes good business sense, Williams said.
Women in leadership roles sometimes head the other way, too.
The Wege Foundation last week announced the retirement of Ellen Satterlee as president and CEO, effective Oct. 30.
While Satterlee will continue to serve as a member of the foundation’s board of trustees, her daily leadership skills will be sorely missed.
“Ellen has provided stellar service to the Wege Foundation since 1988, including as CEO in leading the generational succession from our founder, Peter M. Wege,” said Peter Wege II, board chair. “We wish her well in her retirement and are grateful we will continue to benefit from her knowledge and wisdom as a foundation trustee.”
Satterlee also served 10 years on the board at her alma mater, Aquinas College.
“Ellen’s dedication to service embodies all that Aquinas College stands for,” said Aquinas President Juan Olivarez, Ph.D. “Aquinas was proud to recognize Ellen’s leadership with an Honorary Doctor of Public Policy degree in 2013.”
“Ellen is a close colleague and has been a key partner in many important philanthropic projects,” said Diana Sieger, president of Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
Her absence will be felt throughout the larger community, as well.
“Ellen’s work with Peter M. Wege over so many years has helped make Grand Rapids a global leader in sustainability — or in ‘economicology,’ to use a word coined by Peter Wege,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell.
“Working for Peter Wege, The Wege Foundation and the Wege family has been an amazing journey,” said Satterlee. “To watch the foundation evolve to fulfill Peter’s vision for a better world has been a blessing and an honor.”
The Wege Foundation was launched in 1967 and for nearly 50 years has supported organizations working in five thematic areas: education, environment, arts and culture, health care and human services.
Satterlee said much of the foundation’s work centered on organizations in the Metro GR area and every day tried to embody Wege’s lifelong philosophy: “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can, for as long as you can.”
Eye on the Prize
Local marketing and design agency Innereactive Media recently collaborated with international eyeglass frame manufacturer Marchon Eyewear Inc. to facilitate an art show featuring seven current and former ArtPrize artists.
The artists used recycled and discarded eyeglass materials to create pieces celebrating vision, art and sustainability for Re-Visions of Art, on exhibit in New York City.
Samantha Toth and Kristina Bird of Innereactive Media collaborated with Marchon to bring the show to life. ArtPrize 2014 inspired the idea for the collection, Toth said. All of the artists included in the show were chosen to create pieces because of the interesting art they entered in ArtPrize 2014 and because they specialize in recycled materials and other unique media.
“ArtPrize brings so many amazing artists together,” said Toth, president and founder of Innereactive Media. “We were so inspired by what we saw at ArtPrize 2014 and we wanted to bring that to the optical industry. Eyes are such an intimate subject matter, and the materials used to market eyewear are sleek and colorful. Really, everything came together for Re-Visions of Art, and we couldn’t be happier with the final show. We were so proud to make connections with these artists, supporting ArtPrize and highlighting West Michigan as an artistic hub.”
The artists’ works in Re-Visions of Art varied widely:
Eric Broekhuis created his artwork, “Lost in the Crowd,” from a single piece of cut and folded paper with reused glasses to portray a crowd of featureless faces.
Kim Ensch’s “Perception” used hand-stained and painted paper and reused eyewear parts to represent traveling a path on an inward journey.
Timothy Gabriel’s entry, “How Do You See the World?” uses recycled eyeglass materials to question the viewer and ask them to consider their perspective.
The artist team Hark + Hark, comprised of Catherine Richards and Anh Tran, created “Refract,” a display piece with garments and a clear vanity top to showcase the recycled eyeglass materials and represent deconstruction and viewing the world.
Derek Stephens created his piece called “Tree of Spectacle” with artfully arranged recycled optical materials creating a colorful tree symbolic of growing deep roots and reaching for the sky.
Gianluca Traina arranged mirrored lenses on a 2D surface at a 45-degree angle to create the image of an eye entirely from reflected colors for his piece “Private Eye.”
Steven Tozer Wipfli contributed “Re-Fraction,” which uses cut pieces of paper and repurposed lenses to explore the idea of bending light and images.
ArtPrize 2015 runs Sept. 23-Oct. 11 and features 1,554 artist entries from 48 countries and 42 states.