Economic Development and Human Resources

Women’s nonprofit names COO

December 29, 2015
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Kathy DeVries

A lifelong businesswoman will bring her experience to an executive role with a West Michigan entrepreneurial resource nonprofit for women.

Kathy DeVries was recently named the new chief operating officer for GROW Grand Rapids. The COO position is new to the organization, and will allow for the chief executive officer to focus on additional opportunities outside of the organization.

“We are pleased to announce that we have hired Kathy as our new COO,” GROW CEO Bonnie Nawara said in a statement. “She comes to us with a strong entrepreneurial background, including over 16 years as a business owner. Kathy was instrumental in transforming processes in her own company, which will fit well with what GROW plans to accomplish with this position.”

Her background

DeVries, a lifelong resident of West Michigan, comes to GROW with an extensive background in building a small business.

She began working at her family’s small agribusiness at an early age, and by her teenage years, was managing the company’s mass-packaging of garden flower and vegetable seeds. DeVries continued to manage production for the next 11 years until she and her sister purchased the packaging portion and ran it together as a separate business entity for 16 years.

She has a bachelor’s of the arts in language arts from Calvin College, and following the divestment of her business, worked in commercial and residential real estate and earned her MBA from Northwood University’s Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management. She also worked in entrepreneur development and taught as an adjunct professor at West Shore Community College.

“I am thrilled to be on board here at GROW to support the organization and leadership, and to allow Bonnie to focus more on external opportunities and community collaboration, while I can focus on the overall operations, and continue to provide the best entrepreneurial training programs and funding options for West Michigan businesses,” DeVries said in a statement.

GROW grows

In the COO role, DeVries will align the resources and strategic objectives of the organization to help it expand its impact in Grand Rapids’ entrepreneur community.

In addition to the installment of a COO, GROW also introduced a volunteer manager and grant coordinator, another new position for the organization. Shelly LeMahieu Dunn joined GROW in November.

The additional staffing allows for GROW to expand its microlending programs, develop more entrepreneurial training programs and further enhance programs for business owners in GROW’s growth division.

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