Grand Rapids Chamber hires inclusion manager

Emily Smith Courtesy Grand Rapids Chamber

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce created and filled the new role of inclusion manager on its talent development team.

The Grand Rapids Chamber said last week that it hired Emily Smith for the new position. She is responsible for supporting diversity, equity and inclusion events and programming, including the Institute for Healing Racism, OutPro and the Diversity & Talent Series and Summit.

Smith’s hiring will help expand the chamber’s capacity to deliver diversity, equity and inclusion training to the business community, the organization said.

Born in California, raised in New Mexico and college-educated in Colorado and France, Smith has been a West Michigan resident for 19 years. She said she has always been inspired to further cross-cultural understanding through cultural intelligence training; diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and local educational engagement.

“Having always been interested in cross-cultural communication, language, culture and a global perspective, I naturally embrace the work of diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said. “This past year’s events, along with being part of the Leadership Grand Rapids cohort of 2020, (have) only served to inspire me to engage more locally to help make Grand Rapids an even more inclusive community. I’m grateful, humbled and thrilled to be a part of this important work with such an incredible organization.”

Ken James, director of inclusion at the chamber, said the organization is “delighted to add Emily’s expertise” to the team.

“Her background as a strategic systems thinker and certifications in both cultural intelligence and unconscious bias facilitation will be an asset to our organization and the greater community,” James said.

The Grand Rapids Chamber is now accepting applications for the Institute for Healing Racism and clients for diversity, equity and inclusion training. Those with questions can contact Smith at

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