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WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our CCL Leadership Programs!

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs! 6

The Center for Community Leadership (CCL) has been a valued resource of the Chamber since 1985. Its goal is to educate, engage, and challenge current and emerging leaders in the community through various leadership and skill-building programs, such as Leadership Grand Rapids, Emerging Leaders, and Leadership Advantage. Participants in these programs are given a more comprehensive understanding of the community’s opportunities and challenges, allowing them to be better prepared to serve as leaders when they graduate.

In anticipation of the CCL Annual Fundraiser on June 20, let’s catch up with some of these graduates to see what they’re up to now!


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our CCL Leadership Programs! 1

BriAnne McKee
Class of 2011
Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs! 4
Most likely to encourage someone with an inspirational quote

Where were you in your career before you joined Leadership Grand Rapids?

I was relatively new to the Grand Rapids area at the time. Right before I joined Leadership Grand Rapids in 2010-11, I was working as an analyst with the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness with an incredible team and a terrifically brilliant boss, Janay Brower, who encouraged me to pursue LGR.  To this day, I am still grateful for her recommendation to do so.

Where are you in your career and life right now?

I was employed by Habitat for Humanity of Kent County not long after I finished Leadership Grand Rapids. It’s hard to believe it now, but for the past (almost) 6 years, I’ve had the privilege of fulfilling three different roles at the organization and am now executive director.  Throughout the changes in my professional positions, one thing has remained steady: my deep and abiding love for people and my unwavering belief in the power of what a stable home and healthy neighborhood can do to transform a family and community.

How do you apply what you learned from LGR to your life today?

Systems thinking was a theme that resonated with me during the LGR experience and continues to do so today. An issue as complex as housing requires a “systems thinking” perspective – that is, to understand the interconnected nature of the many problems that contribute to and are affected by housing and housing security.

Anything you want to share about your personal life?

My husband Kyle and I set an intention a few years ago to learn a new activity every year.  It started with skiing and has led to longboarding, paddle boarding, mountain biking.  I’m in search of the next activity—but I find that process of starting something unfamiliar extremely gratifying. Learning never ends!

Jamon Alexander
Class of 2014
Adult Program Director, WMCAT (West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs! 5
Most likely to make Grand Rapids a better place for under-resourced people.

Where were you in your career before attending Leadership Grand Rapids?

I was working for a local and well-respected nonprofit in Grand Rapids as the Annual Fund Director. While I could connect with the mission of the organization, I wasn’t energized by the science of development. The next steps for me in my personal and professional growth had not been identified at that point.

Where are you in your career and life right now?

Currently, I serve as Adult Program Director at West Michigan Center for Arts &Technology (WMCAT). At WMCAT, adults learn new career skills (medical billing, medical coding, or pharmacy technician) that provide economic progress and stability for their families. These careers are in demand and offer full-time positions (with benefits) as well as career laddering.

How do you apply what you learned from LGR to your life today?

My experience with LGR made it clear that the work I do with WMCAT aligns more with my values, worldview, and the kind of trustee I desire to be within our community. As a kid from the southeast side of Grand Rapids, it struck me that leadership development programs are often not afforded to people living with low income. Because of that, we’ve reimagined professional development at WMCAT (with our adult students), and now bring a similar level of access (to facilitators, to mental models, to unspoken professional norms) to people who otherwise would not have it. It has been life-changing for our adult students.

Anything else you want to share about your personal life?

Personally, LGR unleashed a desire for me to be intentional about where and how I live. We’ve since sold our home and moved into the Garfield Park/Alger Heights neighborhood for the diversity, community feel, and walkability. Our kids are Grand Rapids Public Schools kids. We want to be part of the solution.


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our CCL Leadership Programs! 2

Norina Cadili
Class of 2017
Director of Rooms, JW Marriott

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs! 2
Most likely to walk a mile in someone else shoes (except they must be heels!)

Where were you in your career when you first joined Emerging Leaders?

Before starting the Emerging Leaders Series (ELS), I was the Director of Rooms at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids. I oversaw the front office, valet, and housekeeping, ensuring our guests had a memorable experience from a service and cleanliness standpoint. Additionally, I had just become the Secretary of Kent County Hospitality Association, and also was a member of Women in Lodging, an organization that partners with Check-In Michigan.

Where are you in your career right now?

Since ELS I have experienced amazing progression both personally and professionally! I still hold the position of Director of Rooms at the JW Marriott, but I also joined the Leadership Team, which was a goal of mine since I began there ten years ago as a Front Desk Agent. Additionally, I have since become the President for Women in Lodging, an organization that I am immensely passionate about. What started out as coffee connections each month and limited members, has since grown to nearly 100 members representing women in the lodging industry throughout West Michigan.

How do you apply what you learned from Emerging Leaders to your life today?

Through ELS, I discovered passions that I didn’t know existed. I realized how much more you will put into something and how much more time you will make for it if you have a passion for it. Understanding this has allowed me to reevaluate how I’m balancing my work, my community, my personal life, etc. Instead of saying “YES” to everything, I’m selecting based on knowing the results will reflect my giving 110%.

Anything else you want to share about your personal life?

On March 19, 2017, I welcomed a little surprise; a baby boy! His name is Francesco Cadili.

Nicole Rodammer
Class of 2014
Managing Director, Ele’s Place

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs! 1
Most likely to end up on reality TV

Where were you in your career right before joining Emerging Leaders?

I had just started working at Boys & Girls Clubs as their Director of Development and was also President of Grand Rapids Young Professionals.

Where are you in your career and life right now?

Currently, I am working at Ele’s Place as their Managing Director.  Our goal is to make sure that no child grieves alone after the death of someone significant in their lives.  This mission is incredibly close to my heart.

How do you apply what you learned from Emerging Leaders to your life today?

I loved learning from other leaders in the community and gaining more insight into our leadership styles, authentic selves, and leaving the experience with new goals in mind.  I think it is a great way to not only learn more about our community and how we can be more involved but also to understand our personal work and leadership styles. Those are life lessons that you not only take with you but grow from throughout the class and afterward.

Anything else you want to share?

I have three kids now!


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our CCL Leadership Programs!

Thomas Blower
Class of 2016
Senior Wealth Planner / Wealth Advisor, Legacy Trust

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs! 3
Most likely to become a Leadership Development Coach

Where were you in your career before joining Leadership Advantage?

I was relatively new to Grand Rapids and my job at Legacy Trust. I could feel that I was looking for a new challenge, but I did not know what kind.

Where are you in your career and life right now?

Shortly after completing Leadership Advantage, I was given the opportunity to step into a much larger role at my company.  I kept my previous specialized position but added this long-term generalist role that I was hesitant to take on before.

How do you apply what you learned from LA to your job/life today?

Leadership Advantage helped me realize that the real change I was looking for was inside of me.  It gave me the tools and perspective to work through the many frustrations and hang-ups I had been struggling with.  It also gave me the space to think critically and realize that I needed to move beyond a few fixed mindsets I had adopted over the years.  Finally, I learned to embrace vulnerability, and it has changed so many relationships that I have. Honestly, I use the different frameworks I learned from LA on a daily basis in every facet of my life.  My life is forever altered in the most positive way!

Mike Lomonaco
Class of 2013
Director of Marketing & Communications, Open System Technologies (OST)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Meet Graduates of our Center for Community Leadership's Programs!
Most school spirit / Most likely to cry from a hallmark card

Where were you in your career before joining Leadership Advantage?

Before Leadership Advantage, I had been at OST (Open System Technologies) for two years as the Marketing Manager. It was a time in my life where I was going through a lot of transitions.  While I was taking on new roles at OST, I was also preparing to join our leadership team the following year. I was also going through a period in my personal life as well where I was struggling with challenging family situations.

Where are you in your career right now?

Today, my career is in a very different place.  My role at OST now is Director of Marketing and Communications. I currently serve on the leadership team at OST and work on our organizational strategies. Our team has grown from two people to six, with focus areas being OST’s go-to-market, brand, insights, experience, events, marketing, and communication strategies. One of the most recent highlights for me was to lead a cross-functional internal team, along with a group of strategic partners, on a 12-month re-brand for OST.

How do you apply what you learned from Leadership Advantage to your life today?

It’s a constant work in progress, but I would say that by far I most apply what I learned about being my authentic self. I can now acknowledge and appreciate the fact that, as a leader, I do not have all the answers… and I am not a leader because I have all the answers. This has been a struggle for me both professionally and personally throughout my life for many reasons, some self-inflicted and others through life experiences. I have continued to work on unlearning some of these things while learning a lot of new things, and embracing a growth mindset in all areas of my life – both professionally and personally.


Support the current and future leaders of our community by attending the CCL Annual Fundraiser!

Register Now!

For more information about our different Talent Development programs, click here.

Samantha Suarez Administrator
Samantha is the Communications Specialist for the Grand Rapids Chamber. Her responsibilities include managing and writing the blog and digital magazine, producing the Chamber podcast, and other content.
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