Family Business Alliance appoints new director

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Robin Burns Courtesy Family Business Alliance

The longtime marketing director at Rhoades McKee is taking the reins of the Family Business Alliance.

Grand Rapids-based Family Business Alliance (FBA) said it appointed Robin Burns as its next director, effective Oct. 19, replacing Diana Schad, who announced her intention to retire Aug. 20 and whose last day was last week.

In her new role, Burns will work with the board and staff to develop and implement the strategic plan of the association whose mission is to ensure family businesses throughout West Michigan succeed from generation to generation.

With a background in marketing and leadership, Burns most recently served as marketing director and management team member at Rhoades McKee, a Grand Rapids-based law firm. As director, she led firm events and  digital and traditional marketing communication vehicles, managed the Rhoades McKee brand, created strategic partnerships and organized business development activities.

Founded in 2006 in partnership with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Grand Valley State University and reorganized in 2018 as a 501(c)(6) within the Grand Rapids Chamber, the FBA now serves over 160 members. The association’s key initiatives include providing educational programming and organizing peer groups in which members build leadership skills, design effective boards and discuss the crucial elements of succession planning. In a typical year, the association in conjunction with underwriters and sponsors produces 16 podcasts and 20 events to facilitate educational opportunities and build connections.

“We have experienced incredible growth since our inception because of the support of underwriters, engagement of our membership and commitment of our board,” said Brent VanHaren, FBA chair and president of SecurAlarms. “We are thrilled to have Robin leading the Family Business Alliance to the next level of impact.”

FBA’s 2022 vision is to “Create Connections.” Burns will focus on developing three core areas in support of that vision:

  1. Connecting family-owned businesses with resources, people and partners that will support and guide the organizations in their business lifecycles
  2. Creating more value and accessibility to FBA programming through traditional and digital channels
  3. Diversifying FBA’s membership across multiple criteria, including ownership ethnicity and gender, age of business and size of business, to more closely reflect the diversity of West Michigan

“I am honored to join the board members and staff of the Family Business Alliance,” Burns said. “Their passion, energy and desire to create even more value for the membership and assist family businesses to thrive are truly remarkable. West Michigan enjoys a rich history where family businesses create an impact not only for their family and industry but also in the prosperity and development of our West Michigan community.

“I am excited to lead the association and pledge my full efforts to create more value, opportunities and impact for our current and future members that also contribute so greatly to our community.”

Burns joins FBA as it prepares to host the annual Family Business Forum, “Leading with Community,” on Nov. 17 featuring Fred Keller of Cascade Engineering in a guided discussion on community leadership. The virtual event will be available to current and prospective FBA members.

A graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland with a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications, Burns moved to Michigan in 1993.

Outside of work, Burns has volunteered at Forest Hills Public Schools and Catholic Central Catholic Schools, as well as for the Forest Hills Educational Foundation. She recently became a mentor for Grand Rapids Public Schools through Affinity Mentoring.

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