Crosby Offers Respect, Insight

GRAND RAPIDS — Kathy S. Crosby has always had a respect for those needing accommodations for disabilities or special needs.

As the daughter of a Pontiac State Hospital employee, Crosby said she and her siblings were taught by their mother to understand that those who have different needs are to be respected.

“As children, we were all raised to accept and respect my mother’s patients,” said Crosby, whose sister went on to become a special education teacher. “Working with special needs people was almost part of growing up.”

As the CEO and president of Goodwill Industries of Grand Rapids, Crosby has the chance to put those lessons of acceptance and respect to use, helping those in the community who have obstacles to employment to obtain needed training and steady work.

“Our goal should be to empower people to take care of their lives on their own,” she said.

Because of the rapidly changing business community, Crosby said Goodwill constantly has to improve and re-invent itself around employable skills.

Crosby, who started her tenure as CEO and president in December, said she would like to connect with area businesses to see what their needs are and to find ways to meet those needs as well as the needs of the workers.

“I would like to be able to develop a strategic plan to deliver those workers to the businesses,” she said. “We’ve done a good job but we can always do better.”

A native of Holly, Crosby has worked with Goodwill since 1980, mostly with the Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. After serving multiple roles in the organization, including in accounting, work-force development and human resources, she was promoted to vice president of work-force development. In that role, Crosby developed and coordinated services in Detroit and across Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties; served on a Workforce Development Board; led union negotiations for Goodwill; and developed a wage and salary program for all employees that included an incentive plan.

“At Goodwill, I built my career on the people side of the business,” she said.

After working in the Detroit area, Crosby accepted a position as a grant administrator at the Member Services Center for Goodwill Industries International in Maryland. From 2000 to 2003, she administered a $20 million U.S. Department of Labor grant that helped 83 Goodwill locations fulfill the grant’s performance expectations, providing oversight and training.

Crosby was promoted to senior director of consultative services in 2003, when she recruited and developed a team of staff and field consultants to serve Goodwill locations in strategic planning, development of business and service capability, improving administrative infrastructure and performing due-diligence during merger and/or acquisition opportunities. During this time she also developed a balanced scorecard for consultative services.

After coming to Grand Rapids as vice president for organizational development, Crosby was chosen by the board of trustees as CEO and president, following the resignation of former president Phil Weaver. Crosby said she brings to the position a strong understanding of programs and systems that help to serve, as well as business skills. One of her goals is to make the best use of the resources available to accomplish the organization’s mission.

“It’s important to make the best use of the money entrusted to us,” she said. “Grand Rapids Goodwill is committed to serving this community.”

Crosby said in her time with the company, she has heard about the good reputation of Goodwill Industries of Grand Rapids.

“This Goodwill always had an amazing tie to its community,” she said. “The Grand Rapids Goodwill was a very positive opportunity for me.”

Beyond the reputation of the Grand Rapids Goodwill, Crosby said she is also happy to be closer to Oakland County, where her son, daughter and grandchildren live. Crosby said she is working to familiarize herself with the Grand Rapids area.

“My goal is to get out in the community, to get to know Grand Rapids,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Michigan through different eyes.”

Vern Saper, a member of the Goodwill Industries of Grand Rapids board of directors and a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd law firm, said the board was pleased to find someone with Crosby’s level of experience.

“She has many years of experience and service to Goodwill, which was very important to us because she really understands the mission to Goodwill. That in and of itself is a big plus as far as the board is concerned,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have Kathy and the experience she has and the devotion she has to the mission of Goodwill itself.”

Saper said many people know about Goodwill as a store that sells second-hand merchandise, but they need to know more about the mission of helping people overcome obstacles to finding and retaining employment. Crosby will be a good fit to accomplish that goal, he said.

“She certainly is a very personable individual; we think that she would be a very great representative of Goodwill Industries to the community as a whole,” he said. “We think that Kathy is going to be a tremendous asset in being able to educate the community on what Goodwill is doing and why we need community support.”

Crosby has shown dedication to self-improvement as well as to the organization’s mission, Saper said, as exhibited by her two master’s degrees, one in organizational leadership from Siena Heights University and an executive MBA from the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Crosby also earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Siena Heights.

“She is certainly CEO material and we are happy that she has come to Grand Rapids, and we are able to have her as our leader,” he said. “I think we, as an agency, are going to be well served by Kathy, and I think the community as a whole will be well served by Kathy.”

When not at work, Crosby can be found in her kitchen, using old recipes to make unique dishes, such as her great-grandmother’s chili sauce. She also enjoys reading and crocheting.

Crosby said she is excited to continue her career with Goodwill in her new position.

“To be part of Goodwill is to be part of something that you know has made a difference for over 100 years.”    

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