50 MIW honoree: Vanessa Greene

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Vanessa Greene. Courtesy 616 Media

Vanessa Greene

CEO

Grand Rapids African American Health Institute

 

During the height of the pandemic when COVID-19 was taking a toll on health care systems and especially underserved communities, Vanessa Greene decided to take the lead.

Greene in 2020 became the CEO of Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI), an organization that is devoted to achieving health care parity for African Americans.

She is responsible for providing strategy and direction for the organization, planning and executing community outreach, researching initiatives and advocacy efforts, developing and managing the budget, and operational, financial and administrative functions.

Prior to joining GRAAHI, Greene spent 17 years at Hope College, where she served as the school’s associate dean of students and directed its diversity and inclusion efforts.

“I learned quickly to focus on student mentoring, executive leadership opportunities, retention, sense of identity and success,” she said. “As a result, I fostered a legacy of successful students, many of whom are now my role models and mentors, as they are leaders in medicine — neurologists, neurosurgeons, dentists, dermatologists, gynecologists, etc. — superintendents, lawyers, business executives, accountants, social workers, and the list can go on and on of student accomplishments.”

More importantly, she created a process by which all students can share in those successes.

“I developed an alumni advisory council that allowed students to stay connected and support each other’s success — the older ones mentoring the younger ones. I am proud of this legacy.” 

Greene currently serves on the boards of Urban Core Collective and Spectrum Health.

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