LEADER2LEADER: Deborah Jackson

Define leadership.
Teachers, individually or collectively, influencing others to improve teaching and learning for students.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Linda Comer, my child’s elementary principal. Her focus was on building relationships with all the students.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
Being a teacher-leader, you have to first facilitate the increase of student learning and achievement. As an individual teacher, you have to be willing to take some risks.


Define leadership.
The ability to get a group to come together around a goal.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My wife has always had the ability to keep me focused and to be able to separate the things that are really important and non-negotiable from the things that might seem like an attractive option in the spur of the moment—an option that maybe in the short term looked great, but in the long term might not be where you really want to end up. One example I can think of is when we first moved to Michigan. We relocated from Arizona in 2002 to Kalamazoo. As I was looking for different positions, there were a few that seemed like in the short run they would be good positions to have, but in the long term it wouldn’t have led to the kind of success that I think we’ve had since we moved here. (She) pointed those kinds of things out to me.

LEADER2LEADER: Troy Cuvelier

Define leadership.
Inspiring, always learning, educating, optimistic, listening, caring, compassionate, appreciative, team-focused.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My grandmother. She instilled in me, from early on, to always be a good person, treat other people the way you want to be treated, and to work hard; anything worth doing is worth doing right, by giving it 150 percent.


Define leadership.
The ability to bring a group of people together to attain a common goal.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My director when I worked at Blue Care Network-Great Lakes, which is our HMO subsidiary; her name was Sandy O’Connor. She promoted me from a regional leadership position into a corporate one, where I oversaw all Blue Care Network-Great Lakes customer service operations. She took me under her wing to guide me and to develop me in a way that I didn’t feel she was micromanaging me. She had one phrase that really stuck out in my mind, and I share it with my team today: “Mean what you say, and say what you mean in your communications.” It has resonated so, that when I say something, people who know me know that my words are very deliberate. She was a great role model. I attribute probably the greatest leadership growth to her.


Define leadership.
Observation brings understanding. Understanding brings tolerance. Tolerance brings direction. Direction brings followers.

To me, that’s what leadership is. Observation is the ability to observe what’s going on—the ability to observe in any sector of leadership. Observation brings understanding—understanding of perspective. That brings tolerance and that brings direction and that brings people to follow you. Leadership is about following.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
In our family-owned business, it’s my dad. If I was fair, and I am fair, my mom too had a very interesting impact on my leadership.

My dad developed in me this concept of tolerance or understanding and, through understanding, you can get people to better their life. In our world, the key to this is that we’re helping people reach the next station in life. We manage 180 different business owners who are trying to get their businesses to the next level. My dad gave me the ability to get people to that next level of understanding.

My mom brought a different perspective that you don’t typically think about in leadership. She was an art major. She’s a very creative person. Creativity is so critical in leadership. The ability to think creatively is a whole different concept. The ability to have an eye for what you want is super huge in leadership, super huge, because that’s what causes people to follow you. Is what you have the creative approach, that innovative approach? She taught me to think like that.


Define leadership.
Leadership is being a developer, raising up your team, and empowering them to learn new things and develop themselves.
Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
One person is a guy who works here. His name is Andy Short. He’s made an impact on me as a leader because he’s so trustworthy. He’s so transparent and you know, with anything that comes out of his mouth, there’s no smoke and mirrors behind it. He’s totally committed to his team. I’ve never actually worked for him—I’m on the Inclusion and Diversity Council here, and he used to be a leader on it. You want to do well so that you make him proud. He instills that in people.

LEADER2LEADER: Denise Crawford

Define leadership.
The ability to inspire and motivate others towards a common goal.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Dr. Allen Kogan. He’s always with me. He was my first real boss in the professional world out of school. He took me under his wing, mentored me, and was a really, really solid good person. The most profound part was just having the ability to watch him and see how he interacted with others as a leader.

He was the chief of staff. He was, at that particular time, over the psychiatry department. Throughout this mentoring process, he would constantly coach me on various situations. In a difficult situation with the doctor, he would say things like, “You always want to end on a positive note. Remember it’s never personal.” It would just be very quick and to the point. He would regularly summarize any interaction. Whether if it was very intense or even if it was positive, he would say, “Never forget the true focus. Never forget the patient.” He was just very humble and profound.


Define leadership.
Leadership is mobilizing others to make a change, process, or environment.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My boss in college, Dr. Damon Arnolds, was the first adult in a position of power that would sit down and ask my opinion and challenge how I thought about things. He really wanted to have a conversation that would push the envelope. A lot of our conversations were based around racial inequality or socioeconomic inequality. He was the first guy who really got me opening my eyes to something that I didn’t know or see or grow up in because I grew up in Vicksburg. There wasn’t a ton of diversity. There were socioeconomic disparities, but it wasn’t really that obvious, I guess, so I kind of grew up in a charmed environment. He was the first guy that really challenged that and challenged my thoughts on giving back.

LEADER2LEADER: Jeremiah Smith

Define leadership.
Vulnerability, honesty, transparency, planning, strategy … with a bit of focus, and goals. If you merge all those things together, you can really do some great things, because you’ve got to get people to trust you and then see your goal and vision. One thing I forgot is to understand peoples’ strengths, because it helps you actually get to the goal. So if a person’s good at something, you can see that (something) and put it in the right place where you need it to be.

LEADER2LEADER: Stacey Hamlin

Define leadership.
Connecting people, and then being able to inspire them to make your vision come to life.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
There isn’t one person to whom I can attribute impact, honestly. I think it’s been my own internal drive and the people who I’ve surrounded myself with in school, after school, and at my job. I think I have picked up things here and there, but I always wanted to be a leader. It was really something, an internal drive that I had.

LEADER 2 LEADER: Sydney Parfet Attorney/Partner LAKE, PARFET, & SCHAU, PLC

Define leadership.
Learning from others. Guiding others. Mentoring others. Listening to others.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My grandma, Martha Parfet. She is a modest, quiet leader, and she has made a tremendous impact in the community and continues to so every day in a caring way.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
The growth and the development that’s occurring here. I think it’s really becoming a place for young professionals to establish a family and to create a life.

LEADER 2 LEADER: Troy Clay President & Chief Executive Officer MNO-BMADSEN

Define leadership.
Establishing trust among a group of people that you are doing the best you can to carry forward under a given vision.

Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
There’s no doubt at all that it’s Jesus Christ. I’m a person of faith. First and foremost, that’s who I answer to and it’s who leads me. I have been blessed with some mentors and people who have influenced my life and we have great leadership within the tribe that influences what I do, even on our board of directors as well.

What excites you most about the future of Southwest Michigan?
I see a real commitment in terms of planning and action by leadership to inspire more leaders and to do what we can to make the best of this area.


Define leadership in 10 words.
A leader is committed to an organization’s goals and vision.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My grandfather was a civil rights leader in Chicago. When I was growing up, he had a talk show, and I would watch from the background as he interviewed community leaders. They talked about desegregation in Chicago and about other community issues. I didn’t realize my grandfather’s impact on me for many years. From listening to him, I learned the importance of being involved in community work, and I passed this lesson on to my kids.

LEADER2LEADER: Jamie Clark — President of Clark Logic

Define leadership in 10 words.
Thinking, understanding, listening, developing, working.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
My dad, because I got to work with him every day, I got to have lunch with him every day, and dinner with him too, if that worked out. He taught me more than I even understood, and I didn’t look at it ever as leadership but, when I look back, it’s more leadership and wisdom than I could have gained from any book, tape, function, or leadership forum.

(269) LIST

(269) LIST for September/October 2017
Includes Six of the Best Weekend Getaways!

See who else made the (269) List!