Grand Rapids Pride Center director Jazz McKinney to serve as keynote speaker for GRCC Black History Month celebration

Grand Rapids Pride Center director Jazz McKinney smiling.

Jazz McKinney, the executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, will deliver a keynote address as part of the Grand Rapids Community College Black History Month celebration.

GRCC’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion worked with campus partners to create a month of events.

“Black History Month is a time for us as a campus and community to come together and remember, reflect and celebrate,” said David Selmon, GRCC’s dean of Strategic Outreach and interim director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “The team has created a slate of events that are fun and informative, and might challenge people to see things differently.”

McKinney is planned to speak at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 in GRCC’s Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center Auditorium, 151 Fountain Street NE.

McKinney is a Black, Indigenous Two-Spirit individual who has been involved in the mental health field for more than 10 years and with racial justice work as well as advocacy/activism in the 2-SLGBTQ+ community for more than 18 years, committing themselves to highlighting the importance of education, awareness, and involvement to create change.

McKinney is co-owner and lead trainer of Paradigm Shifts Consulting in addition to being executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center.

The Detroit native is passionate about working to decolonize gender roles and identities as well as discussing the impact harmful gender binaries can cause within communities. 

Other events include:

  • Black History Month Trivia, with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The event is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 2 in Student Center, 122 Lyon Street, NE room 234.
  • “A Black Woman’s Survival Kit,” a virtual event hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion set for 4-6 p.m. on Feb. 14.
  • Silent Disco, presented by the Campus Activity Board with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The event is planned for 4-6 p.m. on Feb. 16 in the Raider Grill in the Student Center.
  • “The Black Male Narrative,” a virtual event hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, planned for 4-5:30 on Feb. 21.
  • “Real Talk Student Round Table,” planned for 4-5:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 in room 205 of the Student Center and offered virtually as well.

Recap of January Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) Meeting

GRCC’s Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) met on Friday, January 27th, from 9 a.m.-Noon.  Here is a recap of the meeting.

SLT Operations – Team members heard an update on the following:

  1. The updated SLT Bylaws are now posted on the Strategic Leadership Team website.
  2. SLT Exec is working with Vicki Janowiak, Chair of the SLT Subcommittee to Fund Action Projects, to update the SLT Funding Request Form and Process.  The Subcommittee is also in need of new members.  If you are interested in serving on the subcommittee, including as its Chair, please contact Vicki.
  3. SLT Exec continues to collaborate with our Strategic Goal Co-Leads to support existing Strategic Initiatives (SIs) and College Action Projects (CAPs).  In addition, there is a new form that any GRCC stakeholder can complete to propose a new SI and/or CAP. 

GRCC Admissions and Recruitment Presentation:

In an effort to focus on one of our 2022-25 Strategic Plan Framework’s overarching principles, Enrollment is a focus for all GRCC stakeholders, attendees heard a presentation from Lori Cook, Francisco Ramirez, and Jason Schueller, about current admissions and recruitment efforts.  The presentation included information from the popular “Recruit your Barista!” professional development session.  Please see here for a copy of the presentation slides and here for a brief video featured in the presentation about why our students love GRCC!  Also, stay tuned for additional opportunities to attend a Recruit your Barista! workshop.

The Finish Line Game:

Attendees participated in a facilitated game session, focusing on another of our Strategic Plan Framework’s overarching principles, Equity encompasses all 5 goals.  The game provided a closer look into the everyday experiences of community college students, followed by a discussion.  Members are invited to complete this form to continue the conversation.

Closing Remarks – The following announcements were shared at the close of the meeting: 

  1. The annual department plan and budget, IT, and space request overview training will be held on Wednesday, February 1, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the ATC auditorium (room 168).  A virtual attendance option is also available.  This overview covers the non-academic department plan process and is intended for new Budget Control Officers (BCOs) or anyone who wishes to have a refresher on these processes.
  2. We are organizing a campus read featuring The Great Upheaval: Higher Education’s Past, Present, and Uncertain Future by Arthur Levine and Scott Van Pelt.  Please review and submit this interest form to learn more!

Meeting link:

If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to watch the recording, please click here.  You can also view the SLT January 27th presentation slides here.

Next Steps

Friday’s SLT events also included another meeting with the new Strategic Goal leads.  If you are interested in volunteering to serve on any of the potential Strategic Initiatives (SIs) and/or College Action Projects (CAPs) aligned with the five Strategic Goals, please let the SLT Executive Team know by sending an email to

Please contact Sheila Jones,, if you have any questions about SLT meetings or how you can get involved with SLT initiatives.

About the Strategic Leadership Team: The purpose of the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) is to provide a forum that enables a wide variety of college constituency groups the opportunity to provide input into the present and future direction of the College.  This team will guide the development and on-going implementation of our strategic plan, review benchmarking data, study budget realities and offer recommendations for budget priorities.  SLT’s membership includes over 90 representatives of the college community.  Please visit this page to learn more about SLT.

Retirement bio of Linda Witte

Linda Witte smiling.

For the entire fourteen years Linda has served GRCC, she worked as the Program Developer/Manager for Health in the Workforce Training Department.

One of Linda’s most memorable stories about the GRCC Students she serves was Bobbi.

“We were able to capture Bobbi’s story on video and it is posted on the Medical Assistant webpage. I encourage folks to watch what she had to say. Bobbi was a single mother and homeless when in our MA Program. She is successful today as a medical assistant working in a local health system. Here’s the You Tube link: Bobbi’s perseverance through the many obstacles she experienced is inspirational to me… and Bobbi is just one of many, many students who I’ve worked with that are overcoming obstacles to work for their success.”

Linda also enjoys when she is on practicum site visits and she sees previous program graduates now serving as preceptors to current students. She has also been able to hire a few program graduates to train the future workforce.

Linda was honored to have a significant role in the first Registered Apprenticeship of an accredited Medical Assistant Program in the nation, now healthcare apprenticeship program which continues to expand and thrive around the country.

Linda will greatly miss working with her trainers who inspire her. “They always step up to do what they can to support and care for each other”.

When Linda was featured in the GRCC Today series “Here to Help” she felt honored and valued by the College.

Linda will kick off her retirement by spending a month in Florida. After that, she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband Mark, her mom, her amazing children and her super-cute twin grandgirls.

Linda reflects on her GRCC career saying:

“It has been a privilege to represent GRCC to our health employer community and to prospective students. I’ve been proud to share GRCC’s mission to meet employer workforce needs and to help students on a career path in healthcare. I’m thankful for all the ways working at GRCC grew me as a professional and as a person. I will miss my colleagues, and I wish GRCC all the best in the future.”

Congratulations and enjoy the extra grandma time Linda!

Workforce Wednesday: Cory Stout uses Michigan Reconnect to gain in-demand welding skills and a new career

Cory Stout standing next to a toolbox, holding a welding helmet , and smiling

Cory Stout worked in the tool and die Industry for several years, but moved into a construction job when he hear rumors of layoffs.

Then, during the COVID shutdown, Stout was able to reflect and decide what comes next. He remembers being interested in the welding activities during his time in tool and die. He heard GRCC has a reputable welding program and checked into it.

“Once I looked at the program and the hands-on welding lab, I was excited to get started.”

Stout was connected to career coach Michael Wemmer, who turned him on to the Michigan Reconnect program.

“If you are willing to fill out the forms, there is support available. Michigan Reconnect has been a godsend.”

Michigan Reconnect is a state program that covers the cost of in-district tuition for Michiganders 25 or older without a college degree. This program provides eligible students with access to pursue an associate degree or occupational certificate at their local community college.

The Job Training Welding program meets for 18-weeks, Monday through Thursday, for 34 hours per week and offers job placement assistance.

“The schedule of the program is great,” Stout said. “It’s set up just like a job.”

As a student, you learn: shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding oxy-fuel welding, cutting, brazing, blueprint reading, mathematics, metallurgy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

The program is led by GRCC Instructor Nate Haney. Haney holds a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University and is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator.

“Nate is far and away the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Stout said. “Truly exceptional. He never says a negative thing. He will tell you the positive aspects of the weld and how to improve it, but he never uses the word ‘bad’. Every time you walk away from Nate, you feel confident that you can improve on what you are doing. That is something you don’t find anywhere. Anyone can pass on learned knowledge but to do it in a way that you want to learn is truly special.”

Stout believes the hands-on aspect is invaluable.

“There is no comparison between learning from a book and learning by doing. We started welding the second day of class!”

He also enjoyed the staggering of the class start dates.

“The class that started before me was really helpful and now I am helping the classes that started after me. We are all learning from each other. It’s been fun and very satisfying,” he said.

“There is so much new technology developing in the welding field. It’s not just old school welding- it’s lasers, micro welds, pulse welds, spray welding-avenues I never even knew existed! If I were to get a job and get training from my employer, I would never learn all the other types of welding that are out there.”

This program is highly regarded by employers as a top trainer in welding and fabrication. Job Developers are ready to help you with the job search process. Graduates will be ready to begin a career as a welder, cutter or brazer – with the skills to meet the needs of not only local companies but national companies as well.

Stout is looking at several different employment opportunities.

 “I have been working with Diego Roman, a job developer at the MTEC, but pretty much everyone has helped me somewhere along the way. Everyone seems to have connections in the industry and they are working really hard to help find the best fit.

“My family is super supportive and proud of me. I have had to make some sacrifices financially but it is totally worth it. This may be short-term training but there are definitely long-term benefits. The program gets you into the workforce in just over four months and, for me, without any debt.”

Stout has already finished the required work for the program and will graduate on Feb. 16.  

One Workforce grant has provided the careering coach and job develop support for Cory. The next section of Job Training programs begins, April 17, 2023. For more information: or 616-234-3800.

Go Beyond – January 2023

Student Employment Services sponsors the “Go Beyond” recognition program for Student Employees. This program recognizes Student Employees who go beyond their normal job responsibilities to provide extraordinary service while working at GRCC. Nominated student employees receive a special GRCC T-shirt and a gift card.

Congratulations to our “Go Beyond” recipients for January 2023!

Jack McKellar – Admissions & Enrollment
Alison Long – Academic Outreach
Olivia Christie – Orientation
Nathanel Holt – Financial Aid & Enrollment

February employee learning opportunities

Register via the Professional Development tile in your Online Center account.

Thursday, February 2
Supervisor Technology Course

Wednesday, February 8
Building Healthy Team Culture

Thursday, February 9
Where Do I Go For What I Want To Know?

Monday, February 13
Navigating Challenging Situations

Wednesday, February 15
How To Get It Wrong

Thursday, February 16
Intro To Peoplesoft

Tuesday, February 21
Formula for Success – Google Sheets

Thursday, February 23
25Live Pro Training

Friday, February 24
Mindfulness Made Simple

Tuesday, February 28
Student Records & Privacy

HR is conducting a poll for interest in Weight Watchers at GRCC

HR is exploring the possibility of GRCC being a community WW site — providing space for a weigh in location and in person WW staff led workshops.

We’re curious how many GRCC employees would take advantage of this. This would be somewhat different than WW at work has been in the past. 

Please respond to this short poll to indicate your interest.

Thank you! We’ll keep you posted.

Virtual Police Academy information meetings

Criminal Justice Department will be offering Police Academy virtual information sessions in February for those who are interested in learning more about GRCC’s Police Academy. 

Informational Meeting Dates and Times (meetings last one hour):

  • Wednesday, February 1 at 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, February 2 at 10 a.m.

If you are interested in attending, click on the link below and fill out the form. We will then send you a Zoom link..

GRCC Police Academy Information Session – February 2023 

The link is also available on the GRCC Police Academy website on the Application and Boot Camp Information webpage

If you have any questions, please contact the Criminal Justice Department at