Troy Evans (known as PE) was born and raised in inner city Grand Rapids, Michigan.
By age 13, he had dropped out of school and begun his downward spiral. At age 16 he became a father, got involved in local gang activity and drugs. After being caught in a drug sting, Troy was sent to jail. Upon his release, he moved to Detroit and found the refuge he was searching for — he gave his life to the Lord. Troy and his wife LaDawn are now proud parents of five children and have 5 grandchildren. PE currently serves as Lead Pastor of The EDGE Urban Fellowship. He’s also an author, gang specialist and nationally
Michael Hyacinthe is a United States Navy Veteran who grew up in the Bronx, New York. His calling to become an entrepreneur started during his active duty on deployment. After the Navy he returned home to New York and found himself driving a New York City Yellow Cab. He is the CEO and founder of several startup ventures, including Fashion Has Heart, a Grand Rapids organization that provides wounded veterans creative opportunities to become entrepreneurs. Michael has been recognized for his ventures with articles in INC., a small business magazine, and the New York Daily News. Michael currently lives in Grand Rapids and enjoys spoken word poetry, watching movies with his wife and listening to Hip Hop legend NAS.
Shelley Irwin is a host / producer with WGVU, the local NPR/PBS West Michigan affiliate. She hosts The WGVU Morning Show from 9-11 daily, plus several PBS Community Affairs programs including Family Health Matters and Ask the Expert. She has received five consecutive AWRT Gracie Allen Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement as Program Host and was recently named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan and the Face of GR by Gemini Publications. Shelley serves on many community boards, with spare time for triathlon training and chasing after her three Jack Russell terriers.
Harry Knopke, Ph.D., is President of Aqua Clara International, a non-profit corporation based in Holland, Michigan, with offices in Kenya and Nicaragua. Aqua Clara develops and brings clean water with related technologies to more than 30 countries, focusing on individuals and families living on less than $2 a day. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Spectrum Health Hospital Group and President Emeritus of Aquinas College. Harry was President of Aquinas for nine years. When he retired in 2006, he capped 35 years as a faculty member and administrator in higher education. He has published four books, two monographs, many book chapters, journal articles and papers principally dealing with primary health care, medical education, and medical behavioral sciences. Harry and his wife, Sheila, live in Grand Rapids. They are parents of two adult children, Kevin and Anne.
Bruce Los has been a leader in the West Michigan community for over 35 years, serving at Prince / Johnson Controls, Co-Founder of Twisthink and Gentex Corporation. In Bruce’s current role as Senior Vice President for Gentex, he focuses on people, information technology, and facilities for this global electronics manufacturer. He also has served on many community and non-profit boards, and his passion is economic development for West Michigan, which drives great employment opportunities. Bruce and his wife Deb have extended family in the Holland area, including two grandchildren.
Jahaun McKinley is currently a Supervisor at Cascade Engineering’s Industrial Solution Plant. He is also a returning citizen, spending nearly 19 years of his life behind bars. During his stay, Jahaun dedicated his time toward reinventing himself through reading. Since his release, Jahaun not only has maintained that commitment to his own development but he also has been committed to serving his community by volunteering for non-profit organizations such as Grand C.I.T.Y. with the objective of changing lives through healthy choices and decisions. Through Hope Network and the Cascade Engineering inspired business unit 30-2-2, he speaks to area employers about including ex-felons in their hiring strategies. In addition to various awards and community involvement, Jahaun will earn his Associates’ Degree from Grand Rapids Community College in the fall of 2013.
Diego Morales is a father of four, poet, published author, actor, and working musician/entertainer performing in the West Michigan area and beyond for over 12 years. Diego works tirelessly at community outreach – pioneering programs in our area such as Circle of Parents, Just for Dads, (Holland and Grand Haven) and Inside Out Dad at the Ottawa County Jail. Diego also developed something new for At-Risk Teens called Real Talk – a peer-based mentoring program that pushes critical thinking and focuses on education. Diego continues his work in the community as General Manager for Partners in Outreach – a non-profit, human /social services agency in Holland, Michigan.
David Rosen is the president of Kendall College of Art & Design. He holds a B.A. from Haverford College and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. David has served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Interim President at the University of Maine at Machias and Senior Vice President at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. Dr. Rosen is a member of ArtServe Michigan, chaired the board of the Maine Humanities Council, founded both the Maine and the Burbank Youth Summer Theater Institutes, and was a John Carter Brown Library fellow at Brown University. His publications include The Changing Fictions of Masculinity and short stories in Fiction and Portland Magazine. His one published song “Valerie” can be found on
Rock Kihn Roll.
Georgia Taylor was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, into a family of artists. Georgia spent much of her young life involved in art programs and summer camps, including those offered by the Kalamazoo Institute of Art. In 1999, she moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend Kendall College of Art and Design where she earned her BFA and made a name for herself with her lifelike sketches, soulful paintings and uncanny ability to capture the essence of a moment in a photo. Soon after her graduation from Kendall, Georgia’s ability and passion captured the attention of world-renowned artist Paul Collins, and she interned with him for over a year. In 2012 Taylor was invited to participate in the Hope Equals Art Residency in Israel and the West Bank where the inspiration to create an international mural arts program was ignited. Georgia spends her time in her home studio and teaches graphic design at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology and Kendall College of Art and Design.
David Tebo is the passionate superintendent of Hamilton Community Schools. He is a father, husband and avid reader who relentlessly seeks ways to meet the needs of ALL students. David has been an elementary teacher, building principal, and is now serving students as the superintendent. A lifelong learner, David constantly looks for ways to connect traditional education to the world around us. He is one of eight recipients of the 2013 eSchool News Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award.
Mike Werner is a chemist, engineer, and sustainability strategist with Haworth, a global office furniture manufacturer. Having decided to give up the life of a pharmaceutical chemist, he has been dedicated to eliminating toxic chemicals from consumer products instead of creating them. Mike also advocates for design thinking as a platform for addressing corporate sustainability and driving business solutions. He has served as a sustainability advisor to the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Building Sciences. When asked about the future of business growth, Mike responded: “Because we expect to see significant global changes in consumption, resource availability, and volatility over the next 15 years, our businesses must find ways to decouple growth from constrained resources. Innovation must start today if we are to have sustainable, profitable business.”
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Gerry Barnaby is a cat that should be just about out of lives. Spending a chunk of his years chasing gangs and tornadoes for TV networks cost him a few. Guest appearances as a fire diver for a touring adventure show subtracted some. Thankful that he has a few left to burn, Barnaby gets his kicks these days raising his eight year old son and trying to convince his wife that it’s not really too dangerous for him to climb up on the roof to install a chimney cap.