2021 40 Under 40 award recipient: Ingrid Miller

Ingrid Miller. Courtesy 616 Media

Ingrid Miller, 38

Executive director

Uptown Grand Rapids

Ingrid Miller is described by her nominators as a strategic systems thinker who leads by example.

Miller’s big break came when she landed the job of executive director of Wayland Main Street/Downtown Development Authority in 2015, a role she held for four years. During her tenure, she won a $200,000 Facade Restoration Initiative grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and leaned on her intuition to build programs to better serve the community.

In 2019, Miller became the first executive director of the newly formed Uptown Grand Rapids Inc., which is the umbrella organization for the East Fulton, East Hills, Eastown and Wealthy Street business districts that together serve over 300 businesses.

Miller said she is most proud of her accomplishments during the pandemic, including creating small business virtual mixers; helping businesses navigate relief programs and trainings; organizing the first social zones in the Uptown district; hosting a safe, socially distanced shopping event; and more.

She also spearheaded a new diversity, equity and inclusion task force for Uptown GR, including a DEI audit, monthly board trainings and small business training. 

“These efforts were in addition to keeping my organization’s primary mission and vision consistent so that when, not if, things returned to normal, we could move forward without skipping a beat. And we have,” she said.

Miller also is a member of the Urban Land Institute Michigan Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Goal 4 Alliance, in addition to the boards she serves on related to Uptown GR.

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