Grand Rapids mayor to speak at GVSU

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy -

Sarah Hollis

Grand Valley State University has been honoring the memory of Kenneth R. Venderbush since 1999 with an award in his name and a series of annual leadership lectures. This year, instead of bringing in three speakers for the Venderbush Leadership Lecture, GVSU will be hosting Grand Rapids’ first female mayor, Rosalynn Bliss. 

The Venderbush Leadership Lecture will take place Wednesday, April 4, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room of the Kirkhof Center. 

The event will feature Bliss speaking about her leadership experiences and how they brought her to where she is today.

“She has a very good background; she’s done a lot of things,” said Tyler Clark, a graduate assistant in the GVSU Office of Student Life (OSL). “She’s been on a bunch of different improvement boards for around the area; she advocates for a lot of groups out there; and even just in her work, besides being the mayor, she’s a pretty extraordinary woman, and we’re really interested in hearing what she has to let us know. It’s not often we can get somebody as busy as she is to be able to come down for a talk.”

After Bliss’ presentation, students will have the opportunity to submit any questions they have for her.

“Basically, what she’s doing is she’s coming in and talking about her leadership experience throughout her life and how she ended up where she is today and all of the things that she’s involved in,” said Autumn Jager, leadership intern for the OSL. “She’s actually involved in a lot of different things. She does some health-care stuff, and she has been really involved with the GR 101 program.”

OSL officials believe it’s important for students to attend this event to broaden their leadership skills and learn about how to use their leadership skills to achieve their goals. 

“She’s mayor of the second-largest city in the state of Michigan, she just has a lot of really good life lessons for people to hear, and I think that there’s a lot to take away from her being able to talk about the journey that she’s been on to get to where she is,” Clark said.

This event, while of particular interest to political science majors and those heavily involved in politics, is potentially relevant to all students due to its focus on building leadership skills. 

“There’s definitely a little bit for everyone, and she’s talking about how her experiences got her to where she is today,” Jager said, “So, I think that can apply to whatever people are doing, whether that’s politics or not, because she is going to connect it to how her life experiences related into her later professional role.”

Clark believes that those who choose to attend the event will get the chance to see how Bliss’ impact in Grand Rapids has influenced the GVSU community. 

“Mayor Bliss is someone who was just interested in helping out in her community, and she got involved on the city council, and now she’s where she is, but it’s more than just politics,” Clark said. “There’s all sorts of these different avenues in which people such as Mayor Bliss work to make the community a better place, and although we do sit out in Allendale, we’re still largely affected by what happens in Grand Rapids. I know a lot of our students live there, or they go there for leisure activities, so I think that there’s more than just the political aspect for sure.”

This event is also LIB 100- and 201-approved.