GRAND RAPIDS — Fifth Third Bank, western Michigan, has assembled a Community Advisory Forum comprised of nonprofit, small business and community representatives who will work to identify community development issues and concerns, as well as ways in which Fifth Third might help address them.
According to Fifth Third, the Community Advisory Forum is the first of its kind in Grand Rapids. The bank was looking for a very diverse group who could provide insight and guidance on a multitude of community issues, said Peggy Janei, corporate spokesperson.
Forum representatives were selected by the bank based, in part, on their familiarity with the needs of low- and moderate-income residents and “their ability to provide broad-based perspective on community matters.”
Many members of the new forum had worked with the bank on other issues, some were recommended by other members and all have been recognized as leaders in the community, Janei said.
Forum representatives are:
- Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, executive director of the Hispanic Center of Grand Rapids
- Michael Hawkins, owner, Hawkins & Co. CPAs
- Nancy Haynes, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Grand Rapids
- Bihn Khuu, owner, the Golden Bridge Mall
- Brad Mathis, Browning Claytor Clinic, Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center
- Paul Mayhue, Kent County commissioner for the 17th District
- Rev. Derrick-Lewis Noble, pastor, New Hope Baptist Church
- Armand Robinson, member, City of Grand Rapids Race Relations Committee
- Sarah Smith, board member, South East Community Association
- James Vaughan, Kent County commissioner for the 16th District
“There are a lot of things that are going to be coming out that Fifth Third will do that we haven’t done in the past and this is one of them,” Janei remarked. “It’s an interesting group when you look at who makes it up and what they’re going to be able to have input on.”
As a pilot program, the forum will represent residents of the greater Grand Rapids area. The pilot forum could become the bank’s model for creation of similar committees in other West Michigan communities.