The Rapidian

Jim Dunlap and First Steps to be Honored with Awards from Center for Community Leadership

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Jim Dunlap, President of Huntington Bank - DCT Award Winner

Jim Dunlap, President of Huntington Bank - DCT Award Winner

Doug DeVos, Co-chair of First Steps - Uncommon Greatness Award Winner

Doug DeVos, Co-chair of First Steps - Uncommon Greatness Award Winner

Kate Pew Wolters, Co-chair of First Steps - Uncommon Greatness Award Winner

Kate Pew Wolters, Co-chair of First Steps - Uncommon Greatness Award Winner

The Center for Community Leadership (CCL), a program of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, is proud to announce that Huntington Bank President Jim Dunlap is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Community Trustee Award, and the inaugural Uncommon Greatness Award will go to the First Steps initiative of Kent County.


“We are thrilled to be able to recognize such exceptional award winners at this event,” explains Jeanne Englehart, President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.  “Jim Dunlap has been an enthusiastic supporter of diversity initiatives and encouraging women in business, and First Steps is a great example of a community-wide effort to improve the lives of Kent County’s children.”


Distinguished Community Trustee Award Recipient: Jim Dunlap

Jim Dunlap has been with Huntington Bank for more than 31 years.  He was named President of Huntington’s West Michigan Region in 2001 and now also serves as Director of Regional & Commercial Banking for all of Huntington. During his tenure in West Michigan, Dunlap has transformed the company’s presence, significantly improving business performance, the culture and Huntington’s impact in the local communities.


“I am very honored to be selected by the CCL Committee for this award,” says Dunlap.  “In my years here in West Michigan, I have been so impressed with the many leaders in this community who step forward to make meaningful change and improvement a reality.  Time and again, leaders in this community demonstrate how important it is to take a strong position for what we believe in, and then build the coalitions necessary to enable those dreams.”


Mr. Dunlap has become an active and engaged advocate for the Grand Rapids community and West Michigan region as a whole. He is currently the board chair of The Right Place, Inc., with current and past service on the boards of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, Junior Achievement, Grand Rapids Convention & Visitors Bureau, Grand Rapids Symphony and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Regional Issues Committee. Additionally, he served as past chair of the Greater Grand Rapids YMCA, and past board and campaign chair for Heart of West Michigan United Way. Dunlap is also leading important community initiatives around diversity, literacy, economic development and regionalization.


The Distinguished Community Trustee Award embodies CCL’s mission to develop and engage a diverse network of community trustees, and is one of the most recognized awards in our community.  Dunlap’s nomination highlighted his success as an effective change agent in critical situations.  


Uncommon Greatness Award Recipient: First Steps

CCL is also proud to recognize the work of First Steps of Kent County for helping to make Grand Rapids a community of uncommon greatness. First Steps whole-heartedly demonstrates the essence of this award’s purpose -- to recognize an initiative that is mobilizing a network of leaders to work collaboratively with other organizations to provide access to solve persistent community needs.


“There is a substantial and growing body of evidence that helping families prepare their young children to be successful in school is one of the best investments our community can make,” says Doug DeVos, Co-chair of First Steps. The First Steps Commission came together in 2005 to help the community realize a lofty vision:  Every young child in Kent County entering kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. According to First Steps Co-chair Kate Pew Wolters, “Statistics and headlines tell us that too many of our children aren’t able to read, that our infant mortality rate is unacceptably high, and that we’re losing far too many boys and girls to crime and violence.  What it seemed like we needed was a collaborative, community-based effort that would create long-term systemic change that could help to reverse those trends.  That's what First Steps is.”


First Steps is leading the community’s efforts to develop and sustain an early childhood system and is funded primarily by private foundations and the Heart of West Michigan United Way. “All children have the potential to be successful.  By supporting them in the earliest years of their life, we can help make sure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” says DeVos. First Steps works closely with the Great Start Collaborative, Early Childhood Investment Corporation, county government, schools, health systems and human services agencies to create a results-driven effort to improve the lives of children 0-3 years of age.


“Jim Dunlap and First Steps have demonstrated unparalleled commitments to making Grand Rapids a great community,” explains Kevin Stotts, Executive Director of CCL and Vice President of Community Leadership at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.  “The Center for Community Leadership is delighted to highlight these award recipients as examples of outstanding leadership and stewardship.”


Dunlap and First Steps will be honored at CCL’s Annual Fundraiser on April 20, 5:30PM-8:30PM at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.  Event tickets may be purchased for $55/person by calling 616.771.0354 or online at        


About the Center for Community Leadership

The Center for Community Leadership is a program of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce committed to enhancing and connecting leaders from business, non-profits and government. For 25 years, CCL’s diverse portfolio of programming has empowered participants with a comprehensive understanding of our community’s challenges and opportunities, preparing them for their roles as Community Trustees. 


About the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

With more than 120 years of experience creating opportunities for business success, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is the premier business membership organization in West Michigan. Though the area’s largest employers are among its 2,700 member businesses, more than 80% of members are small companies with 50 or fewer employees. By helping members connect, grow and succeed, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is a community partner that provides value for members, enhances the business climate in the area, and advocates for public policy that supports economic growth and vitality.


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Is there anything more disingenuous than cutting and pasting a press release and failing to eliminate the triple-hashtag at the bottom?

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