Street Talk: Make room for the next generation of women leaders


Save the date: Oct. 1, 2015.

If all goes according to plan, West Michigan will accept a new batch of women leaders hungry to make their contributions to the community, after a year of mentoring led by Doreen Bolhuis, president and CEO of Gymco.

Bolhuis is in the planning stage of launching “Secrets of Dynamic Leadership for Women,” a yearlong mentoring roundtable beginning in September for Inforum.

“This is a unique program designed by me, to empower women with very high aspirations for leadership in corporations and on boards. It is not a canned ‘curriculum’ of leadership; rather, each woman can expect individual mentoring tailored to her personality, industry and individual goals,” she said. “The ideal candidate is a woman with management or higher level experience who is hungry for more and is eager for the challenge to grow.”

Bolhuis said the impetus for the program is obvious: There is a shortage of female role models.

“There are precious few powerful role models for women to follow. In some industries, high level female leaders are almost non-existent. I agree with the quote that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see,’ and I want to help women ‘see’ what great leadership looks like.”

Bolhuis said women are underserved in leadership development, and much more will go into the training than just lectures.

“When men get together after work for a beer, they often talk about work. They ‘organically’ mentor one another without even realizing they are doing it. When women gather — if they even can, due to family obligations — they usually do not talk ‘shop.’ Women thus lose the opportunity for mentoring that men often engage in.”

Bolhuis said women have their own unique strengths but often are unaware of those strengths and how to leverage them.

“They try to copy men, which doesn’t work well because men have their own unique strengths. We need strong men and strong women to optimize business productivity, culture and bottom-line results.”

Bolhuis said she will focus on teaching women how to mentor and “think like a CEO.”

“I see so many women who are bumping up against unseen barriers and can’t move forward. They don’t understand why or what to do about it. The ‘Secrets’ roundtable is designed to empower women by helping them understand the unseen barriers and how to break through them.”

Remember, this comes from a woman who decided to face her fear of heights by training with circus aerialists for several weeks. Don’t bet against her.

Good sports

The West Michigan Sports Commission, Experience Grand Rapids and Meijer State Games of Michigan recently submitted a bid to host the State Games of America in 2017.

A National Congress of State Games event, the State Games of America is an Olympic-style event featuring competition between State Games medal winners (gold, silver, bronze) from across the nation. Under the SGA format, all residents of the host state are eligible to participate, along with State Games participants from other states who’ve earned a medal in the previous two years.

An estimated 8,000 in-state and 5,000 out-of-state athletes would participate if Grand Rapids was chosen as the home of the SGA 2017. Grand Rapids would host more than 50 sports, with all sporting facilities being within a 30-minute drive of downtown.

“The success and growth of the Meijer State Games of Michigan as a signature event of the sports commission has positioned us well in successfully hosting the State Games of America.” said Mike Guswiler, president of the WMSC. “The anticipated additional 5,000 out-of-state athletes to our already popular games with more than 7,000 Michigan residents is expected to generate over $5 million of direct spending in our community, should we receive the nod to host in 2017.”

Guswiler said he expects the NCSG to announce by June 20 which of the bidding cities will receive site visits. Following the site visit, the chosen cities will be presented to the NCSG in October at the NCSG Symposium.

The other SGA contenders are: Lincoln, Neb.; San Diego, Calif.; Hampton Roads, Va.; and Oklahoma City, Okla. The 2015 SGA will take place in Lincoln, Neb.

One-day wonders

The summer corporate and nonprofit party season is officially underway. You’ve already missed Grand Rapids Magazine’s 1964 Party, a smashing success held last Thursday at the beautiful UICA.

But there will be plenty of other opportunities this summer throughout West Michigan. That’s why the Michigan Liquor Control is urging party planners to look before they leap.

MLCC wants organizations to plan ahead when considering use of “special” licenses for the 2014 outdoor hospitality season. Special licenses, also known as the one-day license, allow businesses and not-for-profits to provide alcohol for outdoor service areas, or host fundraising events that include the service of alcoholic beverages.

Each year, the MLCC receives a large number of requests in preparation for summer festivals, patio parties, street events and beer tents. The MLCC needs at least 10 days to process an application.

"As the weather warms up, businesses and organizations in Michigan expand the use of outdoor service areas, special events and festivals," said Andy Deloney, MLCC chair. "We understand how important these opportunities are to not only the businesses but also to the communities and citizens. It is important that everyone understands how vital it is to apply in advance as we process thousands of special license applications during these months."

Establishments that already are licensed to serve alcohol but are not legally permitted to serve guests in outdoor areas also are required to file an application.

To further muddy the waters, the MLCC is moving its Lansing office on June 14 and “strongly encourages” anyone planning an event around that date to apply for the license as soon as possible.

Consider yourself warned.

Hidden help

Oh, those crazy scientists!

Grand Rapids-based Hunt for a Cure, which raises money to fund research projects at Michigan State University to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, recently hosted its biggest — and most unique — annual fundraiser: a camouflage ball.

Pete Odland, board chair of the charity and head honcho at White’s Bridge Tooling in Lowell, said this year’s event raised $75,000. Combined with other donations, Hunt for a Cure was able to present MSU with a check for $115,000 to fund four research projects.

“We have raised well over $1 million since our first event,” he said.

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