Haynes Stays On The Move

    GRAND RAPIDS — Offering her a seat on the Parking Commission was pretty much a natural thing for the city to do.

    After all, Lisa Haynes already manages parking and transportation for one of the state’s fastest-growing centers of higher education in her position as director of operations for the Pew Campus and Regional Centers at Grand Valley State University.

    She also has seen what has happened downtown, where the bulk of the city’s system is located, for more than a decade. Haynes was assistant director of operations at GVSU for three years before moving up a notch to the director’s spot, and prior to arriving at GVSU, she spent nine years in the hospitality industry with the Amway Hotel Corp. — the region’s highest-rated operator.

    She worked at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for seven of those nine years, and for two at Plaza Towers. Both are in the heart of downtown.

    “It made a lot of sense,” said Haynes about becoming a parking commissioner.

    “I do know the downtown area because I’ve worked there for 13 years, so I’m very familiar with the demands there.”

    In her post, Haynes is responsible for the day-to-day business of the Pew Campus, the Meijer Regional Center in Holland, the Water Resources Institute in Muskegon, and a pair of campuses in Petoskey and Traverse City.

    Her duties include managing all the maintenance and custodial work in the buildings and on the grounds, all the parking around the buildings and on the grounds, all the transit to and from the buildings and the grounds, and all the leasing arrangements for the properties the university doesn’t own She has a full-time staff of a dozen and a long list of contractors.

    “Most of our services are contracted out at the Pew Campus and Regional Centers,” said Haynes, a Detroit native.

    What she likes best about her job are the people she works with, closely followed by the fact that no two days are ever the same.

    “It’s exciting, it’s ever-changing, and I’m very fortunate,” she said.

    “I have a phenomenal team in our office and we take that team approach to managing our campuses. We really work well together. I’m truly blessed to have the great talent that I have.”

    There is only one thing that Haynes said she would change about her job, if she could, and it’s likely that most business people would nod enthusiastically in agreement after they heard her voice those two little magical words: fewer meetings.

    “We do a lot of things by consensus in our academic environment, and sometimes you spend so much time in meetings you don’t have the luxury of the time you’d like to be able to spend taking care of the things you want to take care of,” she said.

    She felt being selected as the assistant director at GVSU in 1999 was her biggest career break. She said that gave her a bird’s-eye view of the school’s second downtown expansion and a ground-floor chance to be involved with the construction work.

    “I had an initial feel for it when I was part of Plaza Towers when the Amway Hotel Corp. purchased that property and started the reconstruction of the hotel, condos and apartments. I saw a little bit of that, but I had a much deeper experience here at Grand Valley,” she said.

    Her workday doesn’t stop when she leaves GVSU. Haynes also serves on the board of the Westminster Child Development Center and is secretary for the West Fulton Business Association, a group the university gave new life to when the Pew Campus opened and students filled the dorms on West Fulton Street.

    “We have become more of partners in the community,” she said of GVSU and WFBA. “I think it’s exciting to see the West Fulton Business Association want to change and evolve. They’re currently looking at possibly adopting the Urban Business District (zoning) model that East Fulton did.”

    Jim Haynes, Lisa’s husband, works in sales for the small-engine division of the Kawasaki Motors Corp. Some might not know this, but the company’s location on 36th Street is the national headquarters for the entire division.

    “They are busier than you would ever guess. A lot of it is for lawn equipment and those type of things, and they can barely keep up with demand,” she said.

    Lisa and Jim have two children. Mitchell is the oldest at 8, while their daughter, Madison, is five years old. Both attend the Westminster center and both are teaching their parents a thing or two.

    “I just love seeing the world through their eyes. Everything in life is a little bit brighter when you’re looking through their eyes,” said Haynes. “It’s wonderful.”

    When she isn’t working, Haynes spends as much time as possible with Jim and the kids. She gardens and really likes to cook, especially Italian and Polish dishes.

    “It’s probably my passion in life,” she said with a laugh. “I love everything about cooking. I love to create it. I love to smell it. I love to eat it.”

    As for the immediate future, it certainly looks like it will keep Haynes on her toes and on the go. In addition to the Pew Campus and the regional centers, she and her staff will soon be handling operations for the new Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, the new student-housing units that are being added to the Pew Campus, and the Michigan Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon.

    The Health Sciences building opens for classes in the fall and the Lakeshore’s energy center is one of the university’s two SmartZone sites. The other is on the fifth floor of the health professions building.

    “Within the next year, we’re going to be busy making sure that the operations are set up and fine-tuned,” said Haynes, a GVSU grad. “Like I said, it’s not boring. It is exciting and it’s fun to be part of the continual growth of the university.”           

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