Dwelling Place selects its next CEO

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Jeremy DeRoo Courtesy Dwelling Place

Community development corporation and nonprofit housing developer Dwelling Place selected Jeremy DeRoo as its next CEO.

The Dwelling Place board of directors said Tuesday that it chose DeRoo to succeed Dennis Sturtevant, who is retiring at the end of July after almost 33 years leading the organization.

As CEO, DeRoo will continue to lead the nonprofit’s work in affordable housing and support services.

Dennis Sturtevant Courtesy Dwelling Place

He brings a relevant skillset to Dwelling Place after serving as executive director at LINC Up — a southeast Grand Rapids nonprofit that serves as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization with a racial equity framework — for nearly 13 years.

“We are confident in Jeremy’s ability to articulate vision and know he will be an outstanding CEO whose passion for improving the life chances for historically marginalized communities will fit nicely at Dwelling Place,” said Dwelling Place board president Juan Daniel Castro. “The board is excited to work with Jeremy as our new CEO and believe that he is well positioned as a local leader and influencer. His track record in real estate and community development, affordable housing, authentic community engagement, racial equity and all facets of diversity, equity and inclusion is solid. We believe that Dwelling Place will be well positioned under his guidance to thrive in the years to come.”

The organization also thanked Sturtevant for his three-plus decades of service.

“We are who we are as an organization because of the visionary leadership of Denny,” Castro said. “Our growth, development and impact come from his years of dedication and innovation in this complex space of community and housing development. … During his tenure, Dwelling Place has grown to become one of the largest and most successful community development corporations in the state.”

As executive director of LINC Up, DeRoo led the organization in revitalizing neighborhoods through community engagement, stimulating economic development, expanding housing opportunities, creating affordable housing and developing leadership and capacity in residents and grassroots organizations.

During his time there, DeRoo helped secure over $100 million in funding for community improvement efforts, resulting in over 15,000 households participating in community meetings, improving over 750 homes, training over 7,000 resident leaders and creating over 200 full time jobs.

DeRoo positioned LINC Up to create intentional connections at the national, state, local and block level to maximize impact in the communities served, and he helped build a diverse team of employees and addressed issues of systemic racism in Grand Rapids, Dwelling Place said.

“I sincerely appreciate the board’s confidence in me, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead another great organization,” DeRoo said. “My passion and purpose align with my personal commitment to engage in the work of community and systems change here in our community. Dwelling Place is resilient and is a national model in community development. Here in Kent County, we are experiencing a housing shortage of epic proportion. The city of (Grand Rapids) will need more than 5,000 additional rental units and nearly 4,000 more owner-occupied units by 2025 to satisfy demand. I believe with the experienced and talented staff at Dwelling Place, we will continue to move forward and provide the stellar services and programs our neighbors and community deserve, including the addressing of the housing shortage.

“I’m especially grateful to Denny and how he’s modeled leadership and consistency over the years. Dwelling Place is strong today because of his tireless work for over three decades.”

As CEO, DeRoo will work with staff and the Dwelling Place board to ensure the organization can continue to adapt to serve neighbors and the community through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The board of directors has developed a CEO transition plan, and Sturtevant agreed to serve as a resource for DeRoo going forward.

“It has been an absolute honor and privilege to be a part of an organization that has worked to fulfill the hopes and dreams of many people in our community, including my own,” Sturtevant said. “I was able to gain knowledge and understanding by listening to the indigenous wisdom of those we served. (In every) community we’ve worked in, I’ve been blessed to see the impact this organization and our outstanding staff has had on individuals and on families, as well as our work to change systems and structures that have been problematic for historically marginalized populations.

“Hearing the stories of people we’ve served and being part of their life change has kept me going for these nearly 33 years. We’ve created an amazing base for continued growth for the organization, and I believe Jeremy and our remarkable staff will do phenomenal work and keep Dwelling Place headed in the right direction.”

The remaining leadership team at LINC Up — Eric Brown, Lakiya Jenkins and Willie Patterson III — will serve as co-directors until a replacement is named.

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