Hello West Michigan appoints executive director


Rachel Bartels. Courtesy Hello West Michigan

A local talent attraction organization looked within to find its next executive director.

Hello West Michigan, a nonprofit that promotes the region “as a place where business thrives and people want to live and work,” said last week it promoted its former program manager, Rachel Bartels, to the role.

Bartels replaces Cindy Brown, who this month started a new position as full-time VP of talent initiatives at The Right Place, West Michigan’s economic development nonprofit.

Ann Harten, chair of Hello West Michigan and VP of global human resources at Haworth, said the board is “thrilled” for Bartels to assume the role.

“Rachel’s expertise and talent made her the obvious choice to lead the organization, and we look forward to Hello West Michigan’s future achievements under her leadership,” Harten said.

Bartels said she is “honored” to become Hello West Michigan’s next leader.

“I believe the work of our organization is vital to West Michigan’s future prosperity, and I am excited for the opportunity to continue serving our region,” Bartels said.

“Hello West Michigan has become a model for what a successful talent attraction organization can be, and we have an amazing team that I’m now privileged to lead, as we educate, attract and connect people to West Michigan.”

Bartels served as program manager for Hello West Michigan for almost six years, leading the organization’s marketing, event planning and communications.

Hello West Michigan highlighted several of Bartels’ accomplishments as program manager: founding the annual Intern Connect event, which has educated more than 2,200 interns representing over 230 companies; leading marketing for the ReThink West Michigan career networking event, including expanding the annual event to Barry, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ottawa and Allegan counties; and leading the organization’s outbound marketing program, which has delivered more than 52-million impressions spreading the message about West Michigan.

Bartels is founding co-chair of the AQ Women’s Connection and serves on the Association for Corporate Growth Cup Competition planning committee.

She was named one of Corp! Magazine’s “Most Valuable Millennials” in 2015 and was a recipient of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award in 2018.

She holds a B.S. in business administration from Aquinas College.

Hello West Michigan

Established in 2007, Hello West Michigan is a nonprofit that promotes the 13-county West Michigan region as a place “where business thrives and people want to live and work.”

It seeks to increase member employers’ success in their efforts to recruit top talent and collaborates with organizations to help new residents and those interested in relocating to “find their fit in West Michigan.”

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