Chamber names diversity award winners


Ronald Jimmerson Sr. Courtesy GRACC

A local university and a nonprofit executive will be honored this month by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for their commitments to diversity.

The chamber said yesterday that Davenport University has been selected for its 2016 Diversity Visionary Award and Seeds of Promise co-founder and executive director Ronald Jimmerson Sr. has been selected for its 2016 Change Agent Award.

Both Davenport and Jimmerson will receive their honors at the chamber’s annual Diversity Visionary Awards Celebration on March 30 in Grand Rapids at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

More than 200 community and business leaders are expected to attend the event, which will also include a keynote address on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“It is a privilege for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber to recognize the strategic, intentional and visionary work of these two outstanding award recipients who are leading Grand Rapids forward with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Both Davenport University and Ronald Jimmerson are changing the cultural dynamics of their respective communities and helping make West Michigan a top-of-mind region that not only welcomes diverse talent, but also nurtures rich opportunities and supports local neighborhoods.”

Tickets to the event cost $60 for chamber members, $75 for non-members and $800 for a corporate table of 10.

Diversity Visionary winner

Davenport will receive the Diversity Visionary Award, created by the chamber in 2003, in recognition of the university’s "commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels."

The chamber said Davenport’s diligent work toward cultivating a community where "similarities and differences" are recognized and valued helped it garner the award.

The chamber also praised Davenport’s integration of these values throughout the framework of the university, creating excellence in inclusion as a “way of being and leading the world.”

Change Agent winner

Jimmerson will receive the Change Agent Award in recognition of his long-lasting imprint on the community, “as evidenced by increased access, equity and diverse participation.”

As the executive director and co-founder of Seeds of Promise in Grand Rapids, he has worked to transform the city's southeast neighborhoods through community collaboration.

The chamber said Jimmerson had the vision to have a community directed and “bottom-up” organization and has directly transplanted his previous work of creating welfare-to-career programs and school-to-career programs at Cascade Engineering Consulting Group to his work at Seeds of Promise.

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