KConnect Welcomes Two New Board Members

KConnect is excited to announce that we have added two new board members to our Board of Trustees – Vanessa Greene, CEO of Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, and Randy Thelen, President and CEO of The Right Place.

Vanessa Greene is a leader and strategist specializing in racial and health equity. Vanessa has a 30+ year track record of getting things done, while maintaining her commitment to social justice and equity. In her current role as CEO of Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Vanessa approaches health equity from a data driven, systems-level lens and leads with quality, purpose, impact and integrity. She works with physicians, health care systems, insurance providers, educators and businesses to advocate for resources and opportunities to support the needs, well-being and quality of life for others.

Vanessa began her career advocating for adults with disabilities and went on to spend more than 25 years in higher education at Grand Valley State University and Hope College, where she worked as Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Dean of Students. Of all her roles, serving as mentor to young adult leaders has been the most rewarding. Vanessa completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Grand Valley State University. She also earned certifications in diversity consulting and grant writing from University of Michigan and Academic Networks.


As President & CEO of The Right Place, Randy leads economic development strategy through collaboration with local, State, and national organizations and stakeholders. His role is central to the organization’s core work of business retention, expansion, and attraction within the community, while aligning with The Right Place’s mission of driving sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity for all in the Greater Grand Rapids Region. 

Randy joined The Right Place team in 2021 after serving as Senior Vice President of economic development at the Downtown Denver Partnership. There he led efforts to attract investment, recruit and retain business, and advocate for housing, retail, and public policy initiatives. He supported downtown projects totaling more than $1 billion in investments. 

Prior to his role at the Downtown Denver Partnership, he led the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, a two-state, eight-county regional economic development effort. Randy executed a $24 million Prosper Omaha strategy which brought $3.9 billion in new capital investment and 13,000 new jobs to the area. 

Randy’s career began at economic development organizations in Evart and Monroe, Michigan before he moved to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). From there, he was hired as the first President of Lakeshore Advantage, where he led attraction of $1.2 billion in investments and 8,000 jobs during his 10-year tenure. 

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