Carroll Velie makes mark on Varnum culture
Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.
Carroll Velie is a seasoned human resources professional with a generalist background encompassing employee relations, benefits, compensation and training.
She has worked for the law firm Varnum the last 24 years, which has enabled her to make an important imprint on its corporate culture.
She affirms that Varnum’s commitment to its people, clients and communities has afforded her the opportunity to serve as a catalyst for change, keeper of the culture and champion for people.
Velie was instrumental in developing a diversity and inclusion advisory council comprised of a dozen community leaders, primarily people of color. She currently is working with a second leadership team that is opening eyes and doors for both the council and the law firm.
Velie earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at the University of Michigan.
Armed with a degree in teaching, she left her familiar white suburban Detroit neighborhood to teach in a recently integrated Atlanta public school where 80 percent of her students were African-American.
Southern culture was an admitted shock to her progressive, feminist mores, but in two years, Velie became well acquainted with the area’s history, food, literature, music and people, all the while developing friendships and a healthy respect for the cultural differences and similarities.
Velie’s current and previous service to local boards includes Quaeris/Hello West Michigan, LaughFest 2012, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Grace Church Vestry, United Way and the Association of Legal Administrators.