Hauenstein Center hosting Wheelhouse Talk on COVID leadership


Courtesy / Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies

Ysabela Golden, Laker Life Editor

Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies is, as its name would imply, an institution promoting research and education on the American presidency.

In addition to its role documenting the leaders of the past, however, the Hauenstein Center is also dedicated to encouraging ethical and effective leaders in the future.

That goal is the drive behind Hauenstein programming like Friday’s Wheelhouse Talk, a panel discussion between alumni of the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy.

“Our Wheelhouse Talks series is an opportunity for leaders in the greater Grand Rapids area to share their personal and professional lessons in life and leadership through an array of experiences,” said Jakob Bigard, Program Manager of Hauenstein’s Common Ground Initiative. “Wheelhouse Talks are centered on the leadership philosophies of the speakers. In regards to this Friday’s CLA Alumni Wheelhouse Talk, panelists will be discussing leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic, and in their chosen professions outside of COVID as well.”

The discussion, moderated by CLA Fellow Candidate Alex Ababigan, will consist of four panelists: Joshua Lunger, Senior Director of Government Affairs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce; Nicole Horne, Senior Pastor at Cornerstone Church and faculty at Muskegon Community College; Jonathan Cook; Google Search Specialist; and Claudia Pohlen, Workforce Development Manager at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.

“Panelists will be calling into a Zoom Webinar from their homes, offices, or wherever they feel most comfortable recording,” Bigard said.

Registration for the event is open until 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, when the Wheelhouse Talk will begin. This remote presentation isn’t unusual for Hauenstein’s fall line-up.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions and procedures in place, the Hauenstein Center has opted to move all our fall programming to virtual formats using Zoom Webinar,” said Bigard. “Over the summer the Hauenstein Center adjusted well to creating virtual programs, so switching our fall programming to virtual was relatively easy.”

One example of Hauenstein’s virtual summer programming is their “Lunch & Learn” series, where Director Gleaves Whitney hosted 30 to 40 minute dialogues with community members and Cook Leadership Academy fellows on subjects they have expertise in, like health care, Shakespeare, Black Lives Matter, or public education. The series was held on Zoom and streamed on Facebook, and after the initial broadcast were posted to the Hauenstein Center’s Youtube channel, where those interested can still watch them.

“What we’ve seen so far has actually been an increase in ‘virtual availability’ of alumni in our Cook Leadership Academy,” said Bigard. “Immediately following the Wheelhouse Talk, we will be providing an opportunity for our current cohort of fellow candidates to network with mentors and alumni of the CLA using Zoom breakout rooms, and our numbers of alumni engagement look promising on that.”

Grand Valley’s Hauenstein Center will return with another Wheelhouse Talk on Oct. 9, when Dr. Eva Feldman will join the Cook Leadership Academy in discussing her career in the medical field and her experience in balancing clinical work and leadership of a research team.