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New council of leaders Joins for The Learning Network

A council of 10 community leaders, who have joined the work of The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, met for the first time today to discuss their important work ahead.

The new leadership council — with members from organizations across the county and representing education, business, healthcare, law enforcement, and the nonprofit community — lead a newly formed advisory board that will both deepen and widen the Learning Network’s potential for sustained, long-term community impact. Since it was first formed in 2011, The Learning Network has helped bring more than 80 organizations and hundreds of individuals together in a collective effort to support successful education outcomes for county residents.

“Among the universal challenges faced by communities who take on this kind of transformative change is the challenge of leadership,” says Amy Slancik, community investment officer for The Learning Network at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. “But the Learning Network has a legacy of leaders who have generously committed their time and talents. Beginning with our Alignment Partners —those who first dared to conceive of our work as possible — and including our new council members, we are grateful to everyone who has stepped forward.”

With a goal of creating a countywide culture of learning, much of the work of The Learning Network is carried out through a collaborative of individuals and organizations that drive ground level change. “It is amazing how quickly change happens when people who share a common vision work together,” says Slancik. “By adding an advisory level of community leaders to our efforts, we’re confident that our vision for reframing our community’s culture around education will happen even faster.”

The new council includes leaders from diverse disciplines and perspectives across Kalamazoo County. Collectively, the council will strive to mobilize the community to drive systems change. Its structure was designed to increase the alignment of shared goals. Members will bring increased awareness of The Learning Network's cradle-to-career efforts through advocacy within their organizations and through their community leadership.

“The Learning Network’s goal of a community focused on and committed to the support of education from cradle to career is certainly ambitious, but nothing is impossible when we work together,” says Tim Terrentine, president of the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce, vice president of Southwest Michigan First and a member of the new council. “Education is transformative, not just to the individual but also to the family and the community where he or she lives. And it is widely recognized that a region’s economic vitality hinges on having an educated workforce.”

Council members

  • Dave Campbell, superintendent for the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency, with 27 years of expertise as an educator. He joined Kalamazoo RESA following roles including as a teacher and administrator in Wisconsin and Illinois, and as a high school principal, and then superintendent in Olivet. He also was superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency in Howell. Campbell is the immediate past president of the Michigan Association of School Administrators and remains on the executive board and chairs the systemic reform committee for that organization.
  • Richard “Rick” C. Fuller III, Kalamazoo County Sheriff. Fuller was elected to the position of Kalamazoo County Sheriff in 2008 as a 20-year veteran of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office. His work in law enforcement is steeped in continuing education through a variety of specialized instruction from state and national programs, including the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, The National Sheriffs’ Institute, and the National Institute of Corrections. His community work includes service on a number of boards of directors, including the Kalamazoo Probationary Enhancement Program, Prevention Works, The United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and the Downtown Kalamazoo Lions Club.
  • Grace Lubwama, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Kalamazoo, who brings 20 years of public health and community development expertise. A Uganda native, she has a broad global perspective and previously worked as national director of Community Advocacy for World Vision US in Seattle and executive director of Antelope Valley Partners for Health in California.
  • Bill Mayer, MD, MPH and vice president of Managed Care & Community Health for Bronson Healthcare, has more than 25 years of leadership experience in health care and business. His past roles have included program director at the National Institutes of Health and corporate medical director, division president and executive vice president at Kellogg Company. He is currently on the national board of directors for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
  • Carrie Pickett-Erway, president/CEO of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, brings to the council 15 years of community investment expertise. She serves on numerous committees and boards throughout the region, including the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine, the Council of Michigan Foundations, Kalamazoo County Ready 4’s, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
  • William “Billy” Reynolds, dean of liberal arts, Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Reynolds has served as Assistant Professor of English, Writing Center Coordinator, Instructor for eCore, Associate Professor of English, and Chair of the Department of Literature and Language at Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton, Georgia. He received his master’s degree in English from Mississippi State University, and a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. 
  • Chris Sargent, executive vice president and COO, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, brings more than 15 years of leadership experience in nonprofit management, resource development and fundraising, budgeting of multi-million dollar organizations, and professional development of staff. He also has more than 13 years of business ownership experience, successfully selling real estate in excess of $15 million.
  • Wayne “Rusty” Stitt, superintendent of Schools at Schoolcraft Community Schools since 2011.  He has been a school administrator for 16 years and has a total of 19 years in education. Rusty serves on the executive board for the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. Stitt is currently the regional vice-president of the Michigan Association of School Administrators and serves on the state executive board. He received his Ph.D. from Western Michigan University and is an adjunct professor for both WMU and Concordia University – Ann Arbor.
  • Tim Terrentine, vice president of Southwest Michigan First and president of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Terrentine is a trustee for the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine, and a board member of of the Governor’s Office of Metropolitan and Urban Initiatives, Michigan’s Children. He also serves on the board of Kalamazoo Ready 4’s — for which he was a founding member — and is a former executive director of the Douglass Community Association.
  • Von Washington Jr., executive director of Community Relations for The Kalamazoo Promise, who extensive experience in business and education. Before joining The Kalamazoo Promise, he was associate vice president at Southwest Michigan First and, prior to that, held multiple roles within Kalamazoo public schools, including as principal of Kalamazoo Central High School.