Human Resources and Nonprofits

Q&A: Marge Palmerlee

January 23, 2018
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Marge Palmerlee
Marge Palmerlee. Courtesy Dégagé Ministries

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.

Having completed 20 years as executive director of Dégagé Ministries, Marge Palmerlee is passionate about helping those in need in our community.

During Palmerlee’s tenure, the ministry has grown from a simple coffee house to an organization that is open 24/7 and serves 400 to 500 individuals every day.

Together with a dedicated staff at the nonprofit in downtown Grand Rapids, Palmerlee has created a culture of caring and compassion, ensuring people on all ends of the social and economic spectrums enjoy the benefits of our vibrant and thriving city. 

Biggest career break? 

Being hired by Mr. Berk at Rogers Department Store when I was 21. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Proudest moment? 

Every time one of the women in our Open Door Women’s Center overcomes unbelievable obstacles and moves from homelessness into her own apartment. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

“Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” -Mr. Berk at Rogers Department Store

How did you make your first dollar (excluding babysitting)?   

Picking blueberries

Most-treasured possession? 

My dad’s Bible

Dream job? 

I have it! I work with an amazing team doing extremely meaningful work. 

If you were president for a day, you would … ?

Ban chewing gum. ... In the afternoon, I would work on social justice issues, ensuring everyone is treated with dignity and respect. 

Last book you read?

Welcome Homeless,” by Alan Graham

Last search term you googled?

Flights to Austin TX

Your worst habit?

Being too independent, exercising too little, not getting enough sleep … the list is too long for just one.      

To unwind, you like to … ?

Fall asleep in movie theaters, and hope I catch the last half of the movie. 

Dream vacation?

A trip to Israel

Favorite food? 

Anything spicy, jalapenos 

Person you most admire? 

Mother Teresa

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