Chamber Blog

Alumni of the 2018 Emerging Leaders Series Break Down Why the Program is Great for Everyone

Alumni of the 2018 Emerging Leaders Series Break Down Why the Program is Great for Everyone 3

The Emerging Leaders Series, one of four leadership programs at the Grand Rapids Chamber, is designed to help individuals grow their career and become actively engaged in the Grand Rapids community. This five-session program is built to engage participants in a variety of ways, from a bus tour of GR, to in-depth discussions about individual leadership styles.

The program works to bring together a diverse set of 40 individuals who are passionate about taking the first steps to becoming stronger leaders and community trustees. Participants will leave the program feeling empowered about their personal career journeys, and excited to actively engage with the community.

Don’t believe us? Dormica Oppenhuizen, Jacob Bradshaw, and Lindsay Jarvis are all graduates of the 2018 cohort of the Emerging Leaders Series (a.k.a. ELS) and stopped by the Chamber to tell us about their experience with the program.

Q&A with Emerging Leaders Alumni

Dormica Oppenhuizen
Dormica Oppenhuizen

Tell us a little about yourselves. 

Dormica Oppenhuizen: I am currently the Director of International Logistics at Meijer, where I manage the movement and customs entries for all of Meijer’s imported goods. I got my degree in International Fashion Merchandising in 2002 from Bradley University, and have worked mostly in the retail space since.

Jacob Bradshaw: My current role with Farmers Insurance is that of Service Operations Supervisor, which I have been in since November of 2016. I have been with the company for just over 7 years, having started in the call center on the phones and have worked my way up. I’ve lived in Grand Rapids since August of 2005 and will hopefully never live anywhere else!

Lindsay Jarvis: I was born and raised in the Grand Rapids area and graduated from The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University in 2008. Shortly thereafter I began my career as a Front Desk agent at the Amway Grand Plaza where I grew over the course of 10 years in various positions and am now the opening General Manager for the Hyatt Place Grand Rapids/Downtown.

What made you decide to participate in the emerging leaders series?

Jacob Bradshaw
Jacob Bradshaw

Jacob: I had been looking for something as a new leader that would allow for me to broaden my horizons and engage topics outside of my comfort zone. Networking was a challenging area of my career, and Emerging Leaders seemed to present a fantastic opportunity to both engage others from different professions as well as learn about the community that I so thoroughly enjoy.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about applying for Emerging Leaders?

Dormica: Go in with an open mind. One of the best aspects of the program is the ability to share and to listen to other people’s perspectives. You can be both a teacher and a student in the program, which allows for an interactive learning experience.

Lindsay Jarvis
Lindsay Jarvis

What was the biggest lesson you took away from participating in the program? 

Lindsay: Grand Rapids is doing amazing things! Looking at things happening in our city from a bird’s-eye view was really valuable. So often we can get impatient and wonder why something isn’t moving quicker, but seeing how much thought and research must go in to each idea first was very eye-opening. GR is in good hands!

Have you seen the lessons from your time in ELS translate into your professional life?

Dormica: I have utilized some of the trainings in my everyday work life. The discussion on generational workplace divides has made me think more analytically and creatively about how to better understand the people on my team.

What’s your favorite thing you did in the class?

Lindsay: Taking the DiSC Leadership Dimensions test, reading the book, and then completing all of the activities associated with how my leadership style interacts with the others in class was so interesting! I loved relating to the others in the class who have the same traits as me to learn “yay there are others with these quirks just like me” and to also learn how to lead, understand, and empathize with the way other leaders do things. It taught me how to tailor my leadership and teamwork approach to each style.

Who inspires you as a leader?

Jacob: There are many who inspire me. More often than not, they are the quiet influencers. They hold sway without demanding it, lead boldly without shouting. The VP that I report to, Denisse Grubb, has an air of authority brought out by her respect and care for others, as well as her unique ability to help those beneath her grow their careers.

Favorite leadership quote?        

Dormica: The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Jacob: “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” – Jim Rohn

Lindsay: “It is better to lead from behind & to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger.” –Nelson Mandela


Applications are now open for the 2019 cohort of the Emerging Leaders Series. You can click here to apply online. Questions? Contact Mel Trombley, Director of Leadership Programs, at trombleym@grandrapids.org.

Anna Young Administrator
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