Western Michigan University Professional Development Partners with Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids to Create the LEAD Experience

Western Michigan University is partnering with Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids to launch the Leadership, Engagement and Development Experience. The program is part of an intentional effort by Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids to provide services to their employees that focus on development, so employees can achieve their unique professional goals within the organization or the greater community.

The LEAD Experience is a nine-month program developed by the Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids and WMU Professional Development. The first class begins their training October 31.

Program content focuses on leadership, professional communications, change management, emotional intelligence, diversity, equity and inclusion, and mental health, with courses taught by both WMU faculty and community partners. Participants will complete their development courses one day a month either at the WMU-Grand Rapids, Beltline regional location or at Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids in Grandville.

“Engaging Western Michigan University’s subject matter experts with Goodwill managers, we have been able to develop a very customized and in-depth training program to enhance and grow the professional skills of the various team members at Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids,” says Carol Bale, program manager for Professional Development at WMU.

In addition to expert faculty from WMU, the initiative includes subject matter experts and partners from the Grand Rapids community including Tim Furlong with My Quarter Turns, Justin Walworth with Peckham Inc., and Mental Health First Aid professionals from Network 180. This opportunity will serve as a way for Goodwill to promote personal leadership among emerging talent, engage employees through personal growth, and professional development through continued education.

“This program is a way for us to invest in our employees giving them the tools to perform at their greatest capacity,” says Laurel Buck, talent development and acquisition manager with Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids. “It will also provide leadership content focused around internal competencies along with broader, transferable skills for participants to utilize along their chosen career pathway.”

Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids and WMU plan to have 90 GGGR employees complete the program, which will begin new sessions several times over the course of the next three years.