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Leadership Lesson Breakfast: Back to the 90’s
At the Back to the 90’s Leadership Lesson Breakfast, you’ll hear from three influential community trustees who will share their own leadership lessons. Michelle Behrenwald, Sharon Smith, and Jim Williams have been leading the Leadership Grand Rapids Opening Retreat Jeopardy! game for years as a dynamic squad. Although you won’t get to play their famous GR Jeopardy! game, you’ll see their inspiration and wisdom in action as they share the stage.
What to expect:
👊 Each of the 3 speakers will share their 10-minute leadership lesson with the audience, packing a punch of inspiration.
🤸♀️ You’ll have the opportunity to network with Chamber members and connect with other leadership program alumni.
☕ We’ll help you start your day off right with a delicious breakfast and plenty of caffeine to fuel your leadership superpowers.
Wednesday, March 22
7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Grand Rapids Chamber
Members: $30 / Non-Members: $45
Registration is now closed. Walk-ins are welcome.
Meet the Speakers
Michelle Behrenwald; CPA, CGMA, Co-Chair AIS Construction Equipment Corp. & Michigan Agricultural Commodities
Michelle Behrenwald is a key leader in various family businesses, including AIS Construction Equipment, which has six locations throughout Michigan, services the Midwest region, and imports and exports equipment throughout the world.
Michelle is a member of the Board of Directors of Michigan Agricultural Commodities (MAC), Michigan’s largest grain handler. Her agricultural roots run deep – she grew up on the family farm and she was immersed in various operations focused on agriculture, construction, and farming in the family businesses. She also served two two-year terms on the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Advisory Council for Agriculture, Small Business, and Labor.
Prior to returning to AIS and MAC, Behrenwald was the Vice President of Global Services for Herman Miller, Inc. Her professional career started with Andersen Worldwide, where she became licensed as a CPA and led the Michigan Financial Business Services Operational Consulting Team, which assisted both public and private clients of all sizes in strategy and operational excellence.
She graduated from Hillsdale College and later earned a master’s in communications from GVSU and is a trained auctioneer. She enjoys woodcarving, tap dancing, riding the cattle pastures, coaching community softball, and God’s great outdoors.
She is actively engaged in the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Center for Community Leadership, and various Technical schools. Behrenwald is a member of the Michigan Auctioneers Association, American Management Association, MACPA, and AICPA.
Sharon E. Smith, MSW, LCSW, ACSW, Director, Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services, Aquinas College
Sharon Smith leads students, faculty, and staff at Aquinas College through counseling and wellness support. She also works with for-profit and non-profit organizations and works in systems thinking, diversity issues, group dynamics, and strategic planning.
Sharon has served as president of the Grand Rapids Circle Theatre Board, vice president of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, secretary for the West Michigan Fair Housing Commission, and chair for the Center for Community Leadership. She has also worked with Wyoming Public Schools, Community Partnership, Delta Strategy, and the Grand Rapids Black Women’s Study Club.
A Grand Rapids native, Sharon graduated from Aquinas College and received her master’s degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University in 1992. She is a licensed social worker and has over thirty years of experience in employment and training, human resources, the human services field, higher education, and mental health.
Jim Williams, Chairman of the Board, Williams Distributing
Jim Williams is a Grand Rapids native who spent his early years at Dickinson School and graduated from Creston High School. After receiving a degree in Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University, Jim joined his father in creating Williams Distributing in 1971. After guiding the growth and success of Williams Distributing for almost 50 years, Jim retired in 2020.
Jim has played a key role in community transformation and has served as the President of the Home Builders Foundation, President of the Gerald Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America, President of the GR Rotary Club, and Board Chair of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, among many other board and community roles. Jim still serves as one of three co-chairs of the Public Museum’s capital campaign.
Jim and his wife Sue have three children—Amanda, Lizzie, and John—and 6 grandchildren. Sue and Jim live on a farm in Cascade care for 5 horses together.