GVMC Tabs Stypula As New Director

July 11, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Don Stypula is the new executive director of the Grand Valley Metro Council, the region’s planning and transportation agency.

Metro Council members unanimously agreed last week to make Stypula the council’s third director in its 13-year history. Stypula comes to the organization from the Michigan Municipal League where he managed transportation and environmental issues for the state association that represents cities and villages from Lansing.

“We’re ready for great things to happen,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young, who chaired the council’s search committee.

Stypula will move into the director’s office on July 28.

Young said the Metro Council received 67 applications for the position and then trimmed those potential candidates down to seven finalists. All seven were interviewed and three were invited back for a second interview. Stypula came out of the talks as the most qualified.

“The two things that I think impressed everybody was his passion for the region. He started his career here in West Michigan. He has dealt with all of the issues throughout the state of Michigan during his time at the League and he spoke very highly of the things that West Michigan has been doing right,” said Young.

Besides his passion for the area, Young said the knowledge that Stypula has about the inner workings of state government was the other key factor that lifted him above the other applicants. Council members have been looking to gain more clout with state lawmakers and they feel Stypula can help them achieve that, having spent 29 years working in Lansing.

“We think that his involvement with the Metro Council will greatly enhance our voice in the capital,” said Young. “He is the ideal candidate for that.”

Stypula was educated at Schoolcraft College and Michigan State University. He has been involved with dozens of boards and advisory panels at the state and national levels, and remains active with a number of those groups. Stypula co-founded and directs the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals, based in Washington, D.C.

Joining Young on the search committee were Grandville Mayor and GVMC Chairman Jim Buck, Alpine Township Supervisor and GVMC Vice-Chairperson Cindy Heinbeck, GVMC Treasurer Cy Moore, and Grand Rapids City Manager Kurt Kimball.

Stypula replaces Jerry Felix as executive director. Felix, who held the post for 11 years, resigned in May to take a position with Clinton Realty in Grandville. Jean Laug-Carroll was the agency’s first director when the group first met in 1990 with 10 members. The Metro Council now has 32 units of government in its fold.

Young told the Business Journal that council members were finalizing the two-year agreement to bring Stypula on board.           

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