Q&A: Heather Van Dyke-Titus
Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.
Van Dyke-Titus is also a partner in her family’s real estate development company, Bear Manor Properties.
She was the chair of the Wealthy Street Business Alliance for 10 years, and she helped to implement the Uptown Corridor Improvement District and the Uptown Business Improvement District.
She’s currently a deacon at Park Church, a member of the 20 Liters board and a member of the committee for the West Michigan Loving Day Celebration.
Biggest career break?
Deciding to take a crazy leap and open Harmony Brewing with my brothers.
My proudest moments are the births of my three children. My middle child was a 10-pound home-birthed baby. So I’m particularly proud of that!
Best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ll share a quote that I come back to often: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” -Anais Nin
How did you make your first dollar?
I was a server at an ice cream shop in Chicago called the Purple Cow.
I don’t get very attached to things, but I have a trunk full of my kid’s baby clothes that I treasure.
I’m very lucky to have it right now.
If you were president for a day, you would … ?
The first thing I would do is read all of the top-secret information, especially the stuff about aliens. Then I would do whatever I could do in a day to work for equity and to make sure all of us can be safe, have our needs met and have hope. If I had a day, I guess I would start at the beginning with funding maternal health care and support systems and aligning us more with the a European model of maternity leave and post-partum care for all moms. I’d work to fund access to good, clean food for all families. I would fund head-start programs, preschool and access to safe, quality day care for all families. I wouldn’t leave my one-day presidency without ensuring clean water for Flint.
Last book you read?
“Hillbilly Elegy,” by J.D. Vance
Last search term you googled?
How do I share a Google calendar
Your worst habit?
Binge watching “30 Rock”
To unwind, you like to … ?
Binge watch “30 Rock”
A year traveling around the world with my husband, exploring culture through eating and cooking
Person you most admire?
Locally, someone who I truly admire is Edye Evans Hyde. She is a musician and activist. She founded Grand Rapids’ only African-American theater group, the Ebony Road Players. She has also created West Michigan’s Loving Day Celebration, which works to fight racial prejudice through education and build a multi-cultural community. This year, I’m on the committee to help put the celebration together, and it’s been wonderful to work with her.
In the wider culture, someone who I admire is Ari Weinzweig, a co-founder of Zingerman's in Ann Arbor. He and Paul Saginaw have created a unique business model with Zingerman's, where growth is intentional, extremely well organized and utterly in line with their values. I often reference his book, “A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business.”