Leadership Team

Todd Gustafson
Chief Executive Officer

Todd serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Kinexus, where he has been driving their repositioning into a nationally recognized community development organization since 2005.  His leadership has transformed Kinexus into a multi-million dollar statewide asset that integrates workforce, economic and community development into one organization.  Their innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems earned them recognition by such organizations as the NonProfit Times, MiBiz Magazine, and Crains Detroit Business.

In an era of economic challenges facing Michigan, Todd has vigorously created an agile and adaptable nonprofit business model that is advancing innovative, sustainable and systemic solutions to some of the most complex workforce challenges.

Todd’s public and extensive nonprofit sector experience includes working for an United States Senator and at such nationally preeminent organizations as the American Trucking Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  While at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Todd worked directly with Tom Donohue, president and chief executive officer, on the revitalization of the U.S. Chamber, the world’s largest business organization representing over three million businesses of every size, sector and region.

Prior to assuming his current role, Todd served as the president of the Dickinson Area Partnership. He created the organization by integrating the chamber of commerce, tourism association and the economic development entity.

In addition to his leadership at Kinexus, Todd has served on various boards and councils, including Youth Solutions, the Michigan Works! Association, the National Association of Workforce Boards- Leadership Council, the United Way of Southwest Michigan and the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors soccer club.

Born in Marquette, Michigan, Gustafson earned his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration/administrative services from Northern Michigan University and has a certificate in Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management from Harvard Business School.  He also served as an intelligence officer in the United States Army Reserve. Gustafson lives in St. Joseph, Michigan, and has two sons.

Connect with Todd

 

"If you have the will, more things are possible than you realize."
-Alger Gustafson
Gwen Wood
Deputy Director

 Gwen Wood serves as the Deputy Director at Kinexus, where she directs and supervises the operations under the Talent division, while overseeing the implementation of strategies related to the mission, vision, and goals of Kinexus. In addition to her leadership with Kinexus, Gwen has been the Chief Operating Officer for Michigan Works! The Job Force Board in the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

She was the mentor to the South Central Virginia Workforce Development Board under the United States Department of Labor’s National Business Learning Partnership.  Gwen has an extensive background in grant writing and project management for a variety of workforce and economic development initiatives under the United States Department of Labor, US Department of Commerce Small Business Administration, Department of Defense and the State of Michigan.  Funded projects included, the United States Department of Labor’s Regional Innovation Grant that resulted in a regional Economic and Workforce Impact study of the Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin, the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Cluster Initiative, a business attraction project for regional and local airports, the Lockheed Martin Fincantieri Marinette Marine, US Navy Littoral Combat ship award and the Upper Peninsula -Lower Northern Michigan Great Up North Regional Entrepreneurial Collaborative.

Prior to coming to Kinexus, Gwen was instrumental in the development of the Upper Peninsula Healthcare Roundtable, the Upper Peninsula Construction Trades Regional Skills Alliance, and the Delta County Tourism Regional Skills Alliance.

A graduate of Northern Michigan University, with a double major in Organizational Behavior and Business Administration.

Gwen has been active in various organizations. She served as President of the Upper Michigan Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, Convener for the Upper Peninsula Construction Regional Skills Alliance, member of the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance, member of the Society for Human Resource Management, member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, and Michigan Economic Developer’s Association where she was the recipient of the 2010 President’s Award.

Gwen is also a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Michigan Economic Development Association’s Economic Development certification courses. She is a certified Green Belt under Whirlpool Corporations CCOpex Six Sigma program, past member Delta County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and past Secretary for the Masonville Township Planning Commision.

Connect with Gwen

 

 

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”
Robert Browning
Orrin Bailey
Chief Financial Officer

Orrin Bailey is the Chief Financial Officer at Kinexus. Orrin Bailey joined the Kinexus team as Chief Financial Officer beginning in 2017. Prior to Kinexus, Orrin served as the CEO of the UPWARD Talent Council – the Michigan Works! for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for two years and CEO of The Job Force Board/Six County Employment Alliance for 22 years.

Under Orrin’s leadership, UPWARD Talent Council was responsible for strategic workforce development activities and delivery of Human Resource services to regional businesses and individuals in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, covering more than 17,000 square miles for approximately 310,000 residents.

Orrin holds various offices and memberships:

Board Member – National Association of Counties

Chair – OSF St Francis Hospital Foundation

NACo Vice Chair, Labor and Employment Steering Committee

Board Member – National Workforce Association

Member – Michigan Works! Association

Member – Michigan Economic Developers Association

Member – Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance

Orrin is an executive in the Workforce Development industry since 1978.  He is a graduate of Central Michigan University, a Charter Life Member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, holds an Economic Developer Certification, and served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

 

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."
Lao Tzu
Kristin Harrington
Executive Director of Youth Solutions

Kristin Harrington is the Executive Director, where she has overall responsibility for Youth Solutions including Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG), the state-based affiliate of the National Jobs for America’s Graduates (“JAG”) organization. She is leading one of the most dynamic and effective youth programs in the state of Michigan aimed at ensuring Michigan’s young people graduate, gain employment, and begin down the pathway towards a meaningful career.

Prior to coming to Kinexus, Kristin served as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana for Teach for America. Her background in education provides Kristin with a profound appreciation of the transformative work team members do on behalf of Michigan’s young people every day.

In addition to teaching, Kristin has held leadership roles across education and workforce development, to include tri-county Michigan Works! service center operations, Adult Education programming, and the Kinexus Bridge Academy for re-engaged high school dropouts.

Kristin has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master’s of Science in Education from Dominican University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Outside of work, Kristin spends as much time as possible with her husband, Nate and dog, Zoey. Nate and Kristin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first baby girl in September. Kristin’s passions include really long walks outside, all things U of M – Go Blue!, great food and drinks (especially cheese), following politics and engaging in dialogue, catching up on the latest TV series, and being with friends and family.

Connect with Kristin

 

"The team, the team, the team."
Bo Shembechler
Dan Peat
Vice President of Business & Community Development

Dan Peat serves as the Vice President of Business and Community Development at Kinexus, where he oversees the Business and Community teams in an effort to strengthen the Southwest Michigan region.

In 2008, Dan first came to Kinexus as an intern. After his internship, he pursued a career in a technology sales environment, servicing customers around the globe. He later returned to Kinexus in 2012. While at Kinexus, Dan has served in various business development, operational, and strategic roles throughout the organization.

A graduate of Michigan State University, Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration.

Dan comes from a family of entrepreneurs and still plays an active role on the family farm in Paw Paw, Michigan. He and his wife Leah live in Saint Joseph, Michigan with their two young children, Violet and Arthur. When not enjoying time with his family, you can catch Dan frequently watching (and occasionally playing) rugby.

Connect with Dan  

 

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
Chinese proverb
Jamie Quigno
Vice President of Human Resources

Jamie Quigno serves as Vice President of Human Resources at Kinexus, with a specialization in talent management, including: recruiting, performance management, and employee engagement. She also has experience managing employee relations, benefits, and compliance issues.

Prior to joining Kinexus, Jamie worked at Whirlpool Corporation in a variety of capacities, primarily focusing on customer service excellence and order management. When she joined the Kinexus team, Jamie was a Business Account Manager, where she was responsible for supporting the retention and expansion initiatives of local businesses. She also provided oversight of the labor exchange process, often acting as an extension of the HR department for many local companies as it related to talent acquisition.

Jamie has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Siena Heights University. She is also a certified Business Solutions Professional and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management.

In her free time, Jamie enjoys traveling, live music, and spending time with her family and friends.

Connect with Jamie

 

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Josh Cosner
Vice President of Operations and Finance

Josh Cosner is the Vice President of Operations and Finance with Kinexus, where he strives to integrate operations, finance, quality, procurement, and performance. He has been a member of the Kinexus team since 2010 when he joined the IT department.

Prior to working with Kinexus, Josh spent several years working in technology, focusing on systems support, design, and implementation. Most recently, his career focus has been around quality, organizational strategy development, and staff capacity building.

Currently, Josh serves on the Board of Directors for Emergency Shelter Services as well as the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Health Investment Team. He is certified with Whirlpool Corporation’s Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt.

A native of Ohio, Josh holds bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ohio University. He is Business Solutions Professional Certified, CompTIA A+ Certified, and Lean Office Certified. He holds a Global Competitiveness Program Certificate from the Burgundy School of Business (Dijon, France) and an Executive Education Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Harvard Business School.

He lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan with his wife Tiffany and their golden retriever, Molly. Josh enjoys Michigan beer, wine, and spirits.

Connect with Josh

 

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”
Elbert Hubbard
Mary Morphey
Manager of Corporate Communications

Mary Morphey is the Manager of Corporate Communications for Kinexus where she has established brand identity and effectively communicated the mission of Kinexus within the community. She has over three years of experience in Marketing and Public Relations with a background in photography.

Prior to her role at Kinexus, Mary worked in Marketing at Monte Package Company.

As a graduate from Western Michigan University, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus in Public Relations with a minor in Psychology. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Mary currently resides in her hometown of Saint Joseph, Michigan where she enjoys riding her bike, photography, and spending time with her friends and family.

Connect with Mary

 

“The great use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”
James Truslow Adams
Tom Smith
Chief Information Officer

Tom Smith is the Chief Information Officer at Kinexus, where he currently is responsible for the facilities and technology. He has been a member of the team for 15 years and has worked in several different roles throughout the organization. He has roles as a Career Developer, WIA Youth Manager, IT Technician, IT Director, and his current role of Chief Information Officer

Prior to his experience with Kinexus, Tom was in sales for Spring, US West, WorldCom, and Coachmen. He ended his sales career as the National Sales Manager for Xplorer Motorhomes, before returning to school for additional education.

Tom has an Associates in Allied Science from Holy Cross College, Associates in PC Support and Administration, and an Associates in Networking from Ivy Tech College, Bachelors in Organizational Management from Bethel College and Executive Certificate in Transformational Nonprofit Leadership from Notre Dame.

He is a volunteer within his community as a board member for Ivy Tech College and at an American Legion servicing local needs. Tom enjoys golfing, bike riding, boating, going to the park with my dog Radar, and spending time with family.

Connect with Tom

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost
Lily Brewer
Vice President of Operations

Lily Brewer is the Vice President of Operations at Kinexus. She has been with Kinexus for over 20 years.

Lily joined the Kinexus team as a receptionist in 1998, moved to case manager in 2000, and management in 2004. She is passionate about improving the lives of the individuals in Southwest Michigan through enhanced service delivery and by driving positive organizational outcomes.

A graduate of Bethel College, she holds a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Management. In her free time, Lily enjoys physical fitness and watching her fifteen year old son play sports.

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back in to the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
The Boy and the Starfish Story
Jan Ennis
Director Operations, Youth Solutions

Jan Ennis is the Director of Operations, where his responsibility in Youth Solutions extends to overseeing the operations of the Job’s for Michigan’s Graduates, the state-based affiliate of the National Jobs for America’s Graduates organization, across more than 55 sites throughout Michigan.

Before joining the Kinexus team in 2013, he served as Manager of Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Jan left his 6th grade teaching job to join the army. To ensure every JMG team members’ needs are met, his life is predicated on service.

Jan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University-California State University and is currently completing the Executive MBA program at Michigan State University with an expected completion of June 2018.

Jan and his wife Courtney live in Saint Joseph, Michigan with their two young boys, Grant and Hale. Jan used to surf in Southern California and is still trying to adapt to Michigan’s cold waters and climate.

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“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
General Colin Powell
Paula Polaskey
Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer

Paula Polaskey is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer, where she serves as a liaison and maintains open lines of communication among CEO, Kinexus Board of Directors, senior leadership, and administrative staff. In addition, she maintains board certifications and memberships. She has been a part of the Kinexus Team for 19 years.

Paula has over 25 years of administrative experience supporting senior executives. Previous executive supporting roles included Whirlpool Financial Corporation and Zenith Data Systems.

She attended Lake Michigan College with a focus in business administration. Paula resides in Benton Harbor, Michigan with her husband Frank. They have four children. Paula keeps busy with her family, church, gardening, cooking and baking.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Michael Jordan
Alex Grumbine
Director of Business and Industry

Alex Grumbine serves as thefor Kinexus, where he primarily focuses on the economic and business development efforts within the Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties with an overall goal to retain and drive development and growth to area businesses. He has over five years of experience in workforce and economic development with a background in lean and six sigma operations.

Prior to working for Kinexus, Alex worked in logistics at Whirlpool Corporation.

Alex is a graduate from Michigan State University where he obtained a Bachelors in Supply Chain Management, specializing in logistics and operations.

A resident of Saint Joseph, Michigan, he enjoys spending time with friends and family while golfing as much as possible.

Connect with Alex

 

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Warren Bennis
Sonya Blanzy
Director of Talent

Sonya Blanzy is the Director of Talent at Kinexus, where she oversees the entire Talent Development team. Together, she and her team work towards strategies to develop the local workforce and build a talent pipeline to meet current and future needs of employers in the area and create sustainable employment for our community members. She has been a member of the Kinexus team for five years.

Prior to beginning her career with Kinexus, she worked in the school system. Sonya started with Kinexus as a Talent Development Specialist and managed the Paw Paw Service Center for three years before moving to the Benton Harbor location in 2015.

Sonya has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University.

Sonya has lived in the Southwest Michigan region most of her life, and enjoys canoeing and spending time outside with her family and friends.

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“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Lou Holtz
Zachary Vaughn
Community Development Manager

Zachary Vaughn is the Community Development Manager for Kinexus, where he provides guidance and administrative support to the Kinexus Community Team. He has been a member of the Kinexus team for three years. He looks to continue to provide Kinexus with attractive and innovative ways of improving the quality of life for the city of Benton Harbor and the greater Southwest Michigan region.

Prior to joining the Kinexus team, Zach worked for the police department in Ann Arbor in administration.

A native of Benton Harbor, Zach has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science/Natural Sources with a focus in Urban and Environment Planning from the University of Michigan.

Aside from his work with Kinexus, Zach enjoys taking full advantage of his summers by spending time at the beach and remaining active through a variety of sports. During his down time, he loves to travel, especially to warmer climates!

“Life is like a camera….Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives….and if things don’t work out, take another shot!”
Ziad Abdelnour
Deke Knuth
Director of Offender Services

Deke Knuth is the Director of Offender Services for Kinexus, where he oversees the Offender Success Program that increases public safety by reducing the regional offender return-to-prison rate through an employment-focused plan of services and supervision.

Prior to being a member of the Kinexus Team, Derek worked at Timothy’s Fine Dine Restaurant in the summers while attending college. He has a background in corrections and early experience in Kinexus has given him over four years of direct service for reentry populations.

While playing four years of collegiate baseball, he received his Associates of Arts Degree at Lake Michigan College and then attended Concordia University Ann Arbor, where he obtained a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.

Passionate about his hometown community, Derek returned to Saint Joseph, Michigan where he enjoys being around over 100 family members.

Connect with Deke

 

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
John Wooden
Zachary Morris
Economic Development Consultant for Van Buren County

Zachary Morris is the Kinexus Economic Development Consultant for Van Buren County. He leads the economic development effort in the county which includes attraction, expansion and retention of businesses. He is also responsible for the strategic vision for how the county will grow through economic development initiatives, creating prosperity and growth county-wide.

Prior to his role in Van Buren County, Zach worked for Kinexus as a Business Services Manager, where he worked with businesses of every size and sector throughout Southwest Michigan on workforce and economic development challenges. After this role, he went to work in the private sector for the utility and the medical device industries where he successfully led projects that solved critical workforce issues and transformed how they attracted and retained talent. He rejoined Kinexus in 2016 to be a part of creating impactful change in the community he grew up in and currently resides.

Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Davenport University and is a Certified Business Solutions Professional. He is an active member of his community and is a member of the Antwerp Township Planning Commission

Zach currently resides in Paw Paw, MI with his three children and wife.  He enjoys volunteering with his church and coaching his son’s little league baseball team.

Connect with Zach

 

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
Zig Ziglar
Todd Gustafson
Chief Executive Officer

Todd serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Kinexus, where he has been driving their repositioning into a nationally recognized community development organization since 2005.  His leadership has transformed Kinexus into a multi-million dollar statewide asset that integrates workforce, economic and community development into one organization.  Their innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems earned them recognition by such organizations as the NonProfit Times, MiBiz Magazine, and Crains Detroit Business.

In an era of economic challenges facing Michigan, Todd has vigorously created an agile and adaptable nonprofit business model that is advancing innovative, sustainable and systemic solutions to some of the most complex workforce challenges.

Todd’s public and extensive nonprofit sector experience includes working for an United States Senator and at such nationally preeminent organizations as the American Trucking Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  While at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Todd worked directly with Tom Donohue, president and chief executive officer, on the revitalization of the U.S. Chamber, the world’s largest business organization representing over three million businesses of every size, sector and region.

Prior to assuming his current role, Todd served as the president of the Dickinson Area Partnership. He created the organization by integrating the chamber of commerce, tourism association and the economic development entity.

In addition to his leadership at Kinexus, Todd has served on various boards and councils, including Youth Solutions, the Michigan Works! Association, the National Association of Workforce Boards- Leadership Council, the United Way of Southwest Michigan and the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors soccer club.

Born in Marquette, Michigan, Gustafson earned his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration/administrative services from Northern Michigan University and has a certificate in Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management from Harvard Business School.  He also served as an intelligence officer in the United States Army Reserve. Gustafson lives in St. Joseph, Michigan, and has two sons.

Connect with Todd

 

"If you have the will, more things are possible than you realize."
-Alger Gustafson
Gwen Wood
Deputy Director

 Gwen Wood serves as the Deputy Director at Kinexus, where she directs and supervises the operations under the Talent division, while overseeing the implementation of strategies related to the mission, vision, and goals of Kinexus. In addition to her leadership with Kinexus, Gwen has been the Chief Operating Officer for Michigan Works! The Job Force Board in the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

She was the mentor to the South Central Virginia Workforce Development Board under the United States Department of Labor’s National Business Learning Partnership.  Gwen has an extensive background in grant writing and project management for a variety of workforce and economic development initiatives under the United States Department of Labor, US Department of Commerce Small Business Administration, Department of Defense and the State of Michigan.  Funded projects included, the United States Department of Labor’s Regional Innovation Grant that resulted in a regional Economic and Workforce Impact study of the Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin, the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Cluster Initiative, a business attraction project for regional and local airports, the Lockheed Martin Fincantieri Marinette Marine, US Navy Littoral Combat ship award and the Upper Peninsula -Lower Northern Michigan Great Up North Regional Entrepreneurial Collaborative.

Prior to coming to Kinexus, Gwen was instrumental in the development of the Upper Peninsula Healthcare Roundtable, the Upper Peninsula Construction Trades Regional Skills Alliance, and the Delta County Tourism Regional Skills Alliance.

A graduate of Northern Michigan University, with a double major in Organizational Behavior and Business Administration.

Gwen has been active in various organizations. She served as President of the Upper Michigan Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, Convener for the Upper Peninsula Construction Regional Skills Alliance, member of the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance, member of the Society for Human Resource Management, member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, and Michigan Economic Developer’s Association where she was the recipient of the 2010 President’s Award.

Gwen is also a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Michigan Economic Development Association’s Economic Development certification courses. She is a certified Green Belt under Whirlpool Corporations CCOpex Six Sigma program, past member Delta County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and past Secretary for the Masonville Township Planning Commision.

Connect with Gwen

 

 

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”
Robert Browning
Orrin Bailey
Chief Financial Officer

Orrin Bailey is the Chief Financial Officer at Kinexus. Orrin Bailey joined the Kinexus team as Chief Financial Officer beginning in 2017. Prior to Kinexus, Orrin served as the CEO of the UPWARD Talent Council – the Michigan Works! for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for two years and CEO of The Job Force Board/Six County Employment Alliance for 22 years.

Under Orrin’s leadership, UPWARD Talent Council was responsible for strategic workforce development activities and delivery of Human Resource services to regional businesses and individuals in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, covering more than 17,000 square miles for approximately 310,000 residents.

Orrin holds various offices and memberships:

Board Member – National Association of Counties

Chair – OSF St Francis Hospital Foundation

NACo Vice Chair, Labor and Employment Steering Committee

Board Member – National Workforce Association

Member – Michigan Works! Association

Member – Michigan Economic Developers Association

Member – Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance

Orrin is an executive in the Workforce Development industry since 1978.  He is a graduate of Central Michigan University, a Charter Life Member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, holds an Economic Developer Certification, and served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

 

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."
Lao Tzu
Kristin Harrington
Executive Director of Youth Solutions

Kristin Harrington is the Executive Director, where she has overall responsibility for Youth Solutions including Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG), the state-based affiliate of the National Jobs for America’s Graduates (“JAG”) organization. She is leading one of the most dynamic and effective youth programs in the state of Michigan aimed at ensuring Michigan’s young people graduate, gain employment, and begin down the pathway towards a meaningful career.

Prior to coming to Kinexus, Kristin served as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana for Teach for America. Her background in education provides Kristin with a profound appreciation of the transformative work team members do on behalf of Michigan’s young people every day.

In addition to teaching, Kristin has held leadership roles across education and workforce development, to include tri-county Michigan Works! service center operations, Adult Education programming, and the Kinexus Bridge Academy for re-engaged high school dropouts.

Kristin has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master’s of Science in Education from Dominican University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Outside of work, Kristin spends as much time as possible with her husband, Nate and dog, Zoey. Nate and Kristin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first baby girl in September. Kristin’s passions include really long walks outside, all things U of M – Go Blue!, great food and drinks (especially cheese), following politics and engaging in dialogue, catching up on the latest TV series, and being with friends and family.

Connect with Kristin

 

"The team, the team, the team."
Bo Shembechler
Dan Peat
Vice President of Business & Community Development

Dan Peat serves as the Vice President of Business and Community Development at Kinexus, where he oversees the Business and Community teams in an effort to strengthen the Southwest Michigan region.

In 2008, Dan first came to Kinexus as an intern. After his internship, he pursued a career in a technology sales environment, servicing customers around the globe. He later returned to Kinexus in 2012. While at Kinexus, Dan has served in various business development, operational, and strategic roles throughout the organization.

A graduate of Michigan State University, Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration.

Dan comes from a family of entrepreneurs and still plays an active role on the family farm in Paw Paw, Michigan. He and his wife Leah live in Saint Joseph, Michigan with their two young children, Violet and Arthur. When not enjoying time with his family, you can catch Dan frequently watching (and occasionally playing) rugby.

Connect with Dan  

 

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
Chinese proverb
Jamie Quigno
Vice President of Human Resources

Jamie Quigno serves as Vice President of Human Resources at Kinexus, with a specialization in talent management, including: recruiting, performance management, and employee engagement. She also has experience managing employee relations, benefits, and compliance issues.

Prior to joining Kinexus, Jamie worked at Whirlpool Corporation in a variety of capacities, primarily focusing on customer service excellence and order management. When she joined the Kinexus team, Jamie was a Business Account Manager, where she was responsible for supporting the retention and expansion initiatives of local businesses. She also provided oversight of the labor exchange process, often acting as an extension of the HR department for many local companies as it related to talent acquisition.

Jamie has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Siena Heights University. She is also a certified Business Solutions Professional and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management.

In her free time, Jamie enjoys traveling, live music, and spending time with her family and friends.

Connect with Jamie

 

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Josh Cosner
Vice President of Operations and Finance

Josh Cosner is the Vice President of Operations and Finance with Kinexus, where he strives to integrate operations, finance, quality, procurement, and performance. He has been a member of the Kinexus team since 2010 when he joined the IT department.

Prior to working with Kinexus, Josh spent several years working in technology, focusing on systems support, design, and implementation. Most recently, his career focus has been around quality, organizational strategy development, and staff capacity building.

Currently, Josh serves on the Board of Directors for Emergency Shelter Services as well as the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Health Investment Team. He is certified with Whirlpool Corporation’s Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt.

A native of Ohio, Josh holds bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ohio University. He is Business Solutions Professional Certified, CompTIA A+ Certified, and Lean Office Certified. He holds a Global Competitiveness Program Certificate from the Burgundy School of Business (Dijon, France) and an Executive Education Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Harvard Business School.

He lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan with his wife Tiffany and their golden retriever, Molly. Josh enjoys Michigan beer, wine, and spirits.

Connect with Josh

 

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”
Elbert Hubbard
Mary Morphey
Manager of Corporate Communications

Mary Morphey is the Manager of Corporate Communications for Kinexus where she has established brand identity and effectively communicated the mission of Kinexus within the community. She has over three years of experience in Marketing and Public Relations with a background in photography.

Prior to her role at Kinexus, Mary worked in Marketing at Monte Package Company.

As a graduate from Western Michigan University, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus in Public Relations with a minor in Psychology. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Mary currently resides in her hometown of Saint Joseph, Michigan where she enjoys riding her bike, photography, and spending time with her friends and family.

Connect with Mary

 

“The great use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”
James Truslow Adams
Tom Smith
Chief Information Officer

Tom Smith is the Chief Information Officer at Kinexus, where he currently is responsible for the facilities and technology. He has been a member of the team for 15 years and has worked in several different roles throughout the organization. He has roles as a Career Developer, WIA Youth Manager, IT Technician, IT Director, and his current role of Chief Information Officer

Prior to his experience with Kinexus, Tom was in sales for Spring, US West, WorldCom, and Coachmen. He ended his sales career as the National Sales Manager for Xplorer Motorhomes, before returning to school for additional education.

Tom has an Associates in Allied Science from Holy Cross College, Associates in PC Support and Administration, and an Associates in Networking from Ivy Tech College, Bachelors in Organizational Management from Bethel College and Executive Certificate in Transformational Nonprofit Leadership from Notre Dame.

He is a volunteer within his community as a board member for Ivy Tech College and at an American Legion servicing local needs. Tom enjoys golfing, bike riding, boating, going to the park with my dog Radar, and spending time with family.

Connect with Tom

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost
Lily Brewer
Vice President of Operations

Lily Brewer is the Vice President of Operations at Kinexus. She has been with Kinexus for over 20 years.

Lily joined the Kinexus team as a receptionist in 1998, moved to case manager in 2000, and management in 2004. She is passionate about improving the lives of the individuals in Southwest Michigan through enhanced service delivery and by driving positive organizational outcomes.

A graduate of Bethel College, she holds a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Management. In her free time, Lily enjoys physical fitness and watching her fifteen year old son play sports.

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back in to the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
The Boy and the Starfish Story
Jan Ennis
Director Operations, Youth Solutions

Jan Ennis is the Director of Operations, where his responsibility in Youth Solutions extends to overseeing the operations of the Job’s for Michigan’s Graduates, the state-based affiliate of the National Jobs for America’s Graduates organization, across more than 55 sites throughout Michigan.

Before joining the Kinexus team in 2013, he served as Manager of Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Jan left his 6th grade teaching job to join the army. To ensure every JMG team members’ needs are met, his life is predicated on service.

Jan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University-California State University and is currently completing the Executive MBA program at Michigan State University with an expected completion of June 2018.

Jan and his wife Courtney live in Saint Joseph, Michigan with their two young boys, Grant and Hale. Jan used to surf in Southern California and is still trying to adapt to Michigan’s cold waters and climate.

Connect with Jan

 

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
General Colin Powell
Paula Polaskey
Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer

Paula Polaskey is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer, where she serves as a liaison and maintains open lines of communication among CEO, Kinexus Board of Directors, senior leadership, and administrative staff. In addition, she maintains board certifications and memberships. She has been a part of the Kinexus Team for 19 years.

Paula has over 25 years of administrative experience supporting senior executives. Previous executive supporting roles included Whirlpool Financial Corporation and Zenith Data Systems.

She attended Lake Michigan College with a focus in business administration. Paula resides in Benton Harbor, Michigan with her husband Frank. They have four children. Paula keeps busy with her family, church, gardening, cooking and baking.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Michael Jordan
Alex Grumbine
Director of Business and Industry

Alex Grumbine serves as thefor Kinexus, where he primarily focuses on the economic and business development efforts within the Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties with an overall goal to retain and drive development and growth to area businesses. He has over five years of experience in workforce and economic development with a background in lean and six sigma operations.

Prior to working for Kinexus, Alex worked in logistics at Whirlpool Corporation.

Alex is a graduate from Michigan State University where he obtained a Bachelors in Supply Chain Management, specializing in logistics and operations.

A resident of Saint Joseph, Michigan, he enjoys spending time with friends and family while golfing as much as possible.

Connect with Alex

 

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Warren Bennis
Sonya Blanzy
Director of Talent

Sonya Blanzy is the Director of Talent at Kinexus, where she oversees the entire Talent Development team. Together, she and her team work towards strategies to develop the local workforce and build a talent pipeline to meet current and future needs of employers in the area and create sustainable employment for our community members. She has been a member of the Kinexus team for five years.

Prior to beginning her career with Kinexus, she worked in the school system. Sonya started with Kinexus as a Talent Development Specialist and managed the Paw Paw Service Center for three years before moving to the Benton Harbor location in 2015.

Sonya has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University.

Sonya has lived in the Southwest Michigan region most of her life, and enjoys canoeing and spending time outside with her family and friends.

Connect with Sonya

 

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Lou Holtz
Zachary Vaughn
Community Development Manager

Zachary Vaughn is the Community Development Manager for Kinexus, where he provides guidance and administrative support to the Kinexus Community Team. He has been a member of the Kinexus team for three years. He looks to continue to provide Kinexus with attractive and innovative ways of improving the quality of life for the city of Benton Harbor and the greater Southwest Michigan region.

Prior to joining the Kinexus team, Zach worked for the police department in Ann Arbor in administration.

A native of Benton Harbor, Zach has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science/Natural Sources with a focus in Urban and Environment Planning from the University of Michigan.

Aside from his work with Kinexus, Zach enjoys taking full advantage of his summers by spending time at the beach and remaining active through a variety of sports. During his down time, he loves to travel, especially to warmer climates!

“Life is like a camera….Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives….and if things don’t work out, take another shot!”
Ziad Abdelnour
Deke Knuth
Director of Offender Services

Deke Knuth is the Director of Offender Services for Kinexus, where he oversees the Offender Success Program that increases public safety by reducing the regional offender return-to-prison rate through an employment-focused plan of services and supervision.

Prior to being a member of the Kinexus Team, Derek worked at Timothy’s Fine Dine Restaurant in the summers while attending college. He has a background in corrections and early experience in Kinexus has given him over four years of direct service for reentry populations.

While playing four years of collegiate baseball, he received his Associates of Arts Degree at Lake Michigan College and then attended Concordia University Ann Arbor, where he obtained a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.

Passionate about his hometown community, Derek returned to Saint Joseph, Michigan where he enjoys being around over 100 family members.

Connect with Deke

 

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
John Wooden
Zachary Morris
Economic Development Consultant for Van Buren County

Zachary Morris is the Kinexus Economic Development Consultant for Van Buren County. He leads the economic development effort in the county which includes attraction, expansion and retention of businesses. He is also responsible for the strategic vision for how the county will grow through economic development initiatives, creating prosperity and growth county-wide.

Prior to his role in Van Buren County, Zach worked for Kinexus as a Business Services Manager, where he worked with businesses of every size and sector throughout Southwest Michigan on workforce and economic development challenges. After this role, he went to work in the private sector for the utility and the medical device industries where he successfully led projects that solved critical workforce issues and transformed how they attracted and retained talent. He rejoined Kinexus in 2016 to be a part of creating impactful change in the community he grew up in and currently resides.

Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Davenport University and is a Certified Business Solutions Professional. He is an active member of his community and is a member of the Antwerp Township Planning Commission

Zach currently resides in Paw Paw, MI with his three children and wife.  He enjoys volunteering with his church and coaching his son’s little league baseball team.

Connect with Zach

 

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
Zig Ziglar
Todd Gustafson
Chief Executive Officer

Todd serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Kinexus, where he has been driving their repositioning into a nationally recognized community development organization since 2005.  His leadership has transformed Kinexus into a multi-million dollar statewide asset that integrates workforce, economic and community development into one organization.  Their innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems earned them recognition by such organizations as the NonProfit Times, MiBiz Magazine, and Crains Detroit Business.

In an era of economic challenges facing Michigan, Todd has vigorously created an agile and adaptable nonprofit business model that is advancing innovative, sustainable and systemic solutions to some of the most complex workforce challenges.

Todd’s public and extensive nonprofit sector experience includes working for an United States Senator and at such nationally preeminent organizations as the American Trucking Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  While at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Todd worked directly with Tom Donohue, president and chief executive officer, on the revitalization of the U.S. Chamber, the world’s largest business organization representing over three million businesses of every size, sector and region.

Prior to assuming his current role, Todd served as the president of the Dickinson Area Partnership. He created the organization by integrating the chamber of commerce, tourism association and the economic development entity.

In addition to his leadership at Kinexus, Todd has served on various boards and councils, including Youth Solutions, the Michigan Works! Association, the National Association of Workforce Boards- Leadership Council, the United Way of Southwest Michigan and the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors soccer club.

Born in Marquette, Michigan, Gustafson earned his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration/administrative services from Northern Michigan University and has a certificate in Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management from Harvard Business School.  He also served as an intelligence officer in the United States Army Reserve. Gustafson lives in St. Joseph, Michigan, and has two sons.

Connect with Todd

 

"If you have the will, more things are possible than you realize."
-Alger Gustafson
Gwen Wood
Deputy Director

 Gwen Wood serves as the Deputy Director at Kinexus, where she directs and supervises the operations under the Talent division, while overseeing the implementation of strategies related to the mission, vision, and goals of Kinexus. In addition to her leadership with Kinexus, Gwen has been the Chief Operating Officer for Michigan Works! The Job Force Board in the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

She was the mentor to the South Central Virginia Workforce Development Board under the United States Department of Labor’s National Business Learning Partnership.  Gwen has an extensive background in grant writing and project management for a variety of workforce and economic development initiatives under the United States Department of Labor, US Department of Commerce Small Business Administration, Department of Defense and the State of Michigan.  Funded projects included, the United States Department of Labor’s Regional Innovation Grant that resulted in a regional Economic and Workforce Impact study of the Upper Peninsula and Northeast Wisconsin, the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Cluster Initiative, a business attraction project for regional and local airports, the Lockheed Martin Fincantieri Marinette Marine, US Navy Littoral Combat ship award and the Upper Peninsula -Lower Northern Michigan Great Up North Regional Entrepreneurial Collaborative.

Prior to coming to Kinexus, Gwen was instrumental in the development of the Upper Peninsula Healthcare Roundtable, the Upper Peninsula Construction Trades Regional Skills Alliance, and the Delta County Tourism Regional Skills Alliance.

A graduate of Northern Michigan University, with a double major in Organizational Behavior and Business Administration.

Gwen has been active in various organizations. She served as President of the Upper Michigan Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, Convener for the Upper Peninsula Construction Regional Skills Alliance, member of the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance, member of the Society for Human Resource Management, member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, and Michigan Economic Developer’s Association where she was the recipient of the 2010 President’s Award.

Gwen is also a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Michigan Economic Development Association’s Economic Development certification courses. She is a certified Green Belt under Whirlpool Corporations CCOpex Six Sigma program, past member Delta County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, and past Secretary for the Masonville Township Planning Commision.

Connect with Gwen

 

 

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”
Robert Browning
Orrin Bailey
Chief Financial Officer

Orrin Bailey is the Chief Financial Officer at Kinexus. Orrin Bailey joined the Kinexus team as Chief Financial Officer beginning in 2017. Prior to Kinexus, Orrin served as the CEO of the UPWARD Talent Council – the Michigan Works! for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for two years and CEO of The Job Force Board/Six County Employment Alliance for 22 years.

Under Orrin’s leadership, UPWARD Talent Council was responsible for strategic workforce development activities and delivery of Human Resource services to regional businesses and individuals in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, covering more than 17,000 square miles for approximately 310,000 residents.

Orrin holds various offices and memberships:

Board Member – National Association of Counties

Chair – OSF St Francis Hospital Foundation

NACo Vice Chair, Labor and Employment Steering Committee

Board Member – National Workforce Association

Member – Michigan Works! Association

Member – Michigan Economic Developers Association

Member – Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance

Orrin is an executive in the Workforce Development industry since 1978.  He is a graduate of Central Michigan University, a Charter Life Member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, holds an Economic Developer Certification, and served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

 

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."
Lao Tzu
Kristin Harrington
Executive Director of Youth Solutions

Kristin Harrington is the Executive Director, where she has overall responsibility for Youth Solutions including Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG), the state-based affiliate of the National Jobs for America’s Graduates (“JAG”) organization. She is leading one of the most dynamic and effective youth programs in the state of Michigan aimed at ensuring Michigan’s young people graduate, gain employment, and begin down the pathway towards a meaningful career.

Prior to coming to Kinexus, Kristin served as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana for Teach for America. Her background in education provides Kristin with a profound appreciation of the transformative work team members do on behalf of Michigan’s young people every day.

In addition to teaching, Kristin has held leadership roles across education and workforce development, to include tri-county Michigan Works! service center operations, Adult Education programming, and the Kinexus Bridge Academy for re-engaged high school dropouts.

Kristin has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master’s of Science in Education from Dominican University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Outside of work, Kristin spends as much time as possible with her husband, Nate and dog, Zoey. Nate and Kristin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first baby girl in September. Kristin’s passions include really long walks outside, all things U of M – Go Blue!, great food and drinks (especially cheese), following politics and engaging in dialogue, catching up on the latest TV series, and being with friends and family.

Connect with Kristin

 

"The team, the team, the team."
Bo Shembechler
Dan Peat
Vice President of Business & Community Development

Dan Peat serves as the Vice President of Business and Community Development at Kinexus, where he oversees the Business and Community teams in an effort to strengthen the Southwest Michigan region.

In 2008, Dan first came to Kinexus as an intern. After his internship, he pursued a career in a technology sales environment, servicing customers around the globe. He later returned to Kinexus in 2012. While at Kinexus, Dan has served in various business development, operational, and strategic roles throughout the organization.

A graduate of Michigan State University, Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration.

Dan comes from a family of entrepreneurs and still plays an active role on the family farm in Paw Paw, Michigan. He and his wife Leah live in Saint Joseph, Michigan with their two young children, Violet and Arthur. When not enjoying time with his family, you can catch Dan frequently watching (and occasionally playing) rugby.

Connect with Dan  

 

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
Chinese proverb
Jamie Quigno
Vice President of Human Resources

Jamie Quigno serves as Vice President of Human Resources at Kinexus, with a specialization in talent management, including: recruiting, performance management, and employee engagement. She also has experience managing employee relations, benefits, and compliance issues.

Prior to joining Kinexus, Jamie worked at Whirlpool Corporation in a variety of capacities, primarily focusing on customer service excellence and order management. When she joined the Kinexus team, Jamie was a Business Account Manager, where she was responsible for supporting the retention and expansion initiatives of local businesses. She also provided oversight of the labor exchange process, often acting as an extension of the HR department for many local companies as it related to talent acquisition.

Jamie has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Siena Heights University. She is also a certified Business Solutions Professional and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management.

In her free time, Jamie enjoys traveling, live music, and spending time with her family and friends.

Connect with Jamie

 

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Josh Cosner
Vice President of Operations and Finance

Josh Cosner is the Vice President of Operations and Finance with Kinexus, where he strives to integrate operations, finance, quality, procurement, and performance. He has been a member of the Kinexus team since 2010 when he joined the IT department.

Prior to working with Kinexus, Josh spent several years working in technology, focusing on systems support, design, and implementation. Most recently, his career focus has been around quality, organizational strategy development, and staff capacity building.

Currently, Josh serves on the Board of Directors for Emergency Shelter Services as well as the United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Health Investment Team. He is certified with Whirlpool Corporation’s Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt.

A native of Ohio, Josh holds bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ohio University. He is Business Solutions Professional Certified, CompTIA A+ Certified, and Lean Office Certified. He holds a Global Competitiveness Program Certificate from the Burgundy School of Business (Dijon, France) and an Executive Education Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Harvard Business School.

He lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan with his wife Tiffany and their golden retriever, Molly. Josh enjoys Michigan beer, wine, and spirits.

Connect with Josh

 

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”
Elbert Hubbard
Mary Morphey
Manager of Corporate Communications

Mary Morphey is the Manager of Corporate Communications for Kinexus where she has established brand identity and effectively communicated the mission of Kinexus within the community. She has over three years of experience in Marketing and Public Relations with a background in photography.

Prior to her role at Kinexus, Mary worked in Marketing at Monte Package Company.

As a graduate from Western Michigan University, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus in Public Relations with a minor in Psychology. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Mary currently resides in her hometown of Saint Joseph, Michigan where she enjoys riding her bike, photography, and spending time with her friends and family.

Connect with Mary

 

“The great use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.”
James Truslow Adams
Tom Smith
Chief Information Officer

Tom Smith is the Chief Information Officer at Kinexus, where he currently is responsible for the facilities and technology. He has been a member of the team for 15 years and has worked in several different roles throughout the organization. He has roles as a Career Developer, WIA Youth Manager, IT Technician, IT Director, and his current role of Chief Information Officer

Prior to his experience with Kinexus, Tom was in sales for Spring, US West, WorldCom, and Coachmen. He ended his sales career as the National Sales Manager for Xplorer Motorhomes, before returning to school for additional education.

Tom has an Associates in Allied Science from Holy Cross College, Associates in PC Support and Administration, and an Associates in Networking from Ivy Tech College, Bachelors in Organizational Management from Bethel College and Executive Certificate in Transformational Nonprofit Leadership from Notre Dame.

He is a volunteer within his community as a board member for Ivy Tech College and at an American Legion servicing local needs. Tom enjoys golfing, bike riding, boating, going to the park with my dog Radar, and spending time with family.

Connect with Tom

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost
Lily Brewer
Vice President of Operations

Lily Brewer is the Vice President of Operations at Kinexus. She has been with Kinexus for over 20 years.

Lily joined the Kinexus team as a receptionist in 1998, moved to case manager in 2000, and management in 2004. She is passionate about improving the lives of the individuals in Southwest Michigan through enhanced service delivery and by driving positive organizational outcomes.

A graduate of Bethel College, she holds a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Management. In her free time, Lily enjoys physical fitness and watching her fifteen year old son play sports.

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back in to the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
The Boy and the Starfish Story
Jan Ennis
Director Operations, Youth Solutions

Jan Ennis is the Director of Operations, where his responsibility in Youth Solutions extends to overseeing the operations of the Job’s for Michigan’s Graduates, the state-based affiliate of the National Jobs for America’s Graduates organization, across more than 55 sites throughout Michigan.

Before joining the Kinexus team in 2013, he served as Manager of Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army. After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Jan left his 6th grade teaching job to join the army. To ensure every JMG team members’ needs are met, his life is predicated on service.

Jan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University-California State University and is currently completing the Executive MBA program at Michigan State University with an expected completion of June 2018.

Jan and his wife Courtney live in Saint Joseph, Michigan with their two young boys, Grant and Hale. Jan used to surf in Southern California and is still trying to adapt to Michigan’s cold waters and climate.

Connect with Jan

 

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
General Colin Powell
Paula Polaskey
Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer

Paula Polaskey is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer, where she serves as a liaison and maintains open lines of communication among CEO, Kinexus Board of Directors, senior leadership, and administrative staff. In addition, she maintains board certifications and memberships. She has been a part of the Kinexus Team for 19 years.

Paula has over 25 years of administrative experience supporting senior executives. Previous executive supporting roles included Whirlpool Financial Corporation and Zenith Data Systems.

She attended Lake Michigan College with a focus in business administration. Paula resides in Benton Harbor, Michigan with her husband Frank. They have four children. Paula keeps busy with her family, church, gardening, cooking and baking.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Michael Jordan
Alex Grumbine
Director of Business and Industry

Alex Grumbine serves as thefor Kinexus, where he primarily focuses on the economic and business development efforts within the Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties with an overall goal to retain and drive development and growth to area businesses. He has over five years of experience in workforce and economic development with a background in lean and six sigma operations.

Prior to working for Kinexus, Alex worked in logistics at Whirlpool Corporation.

Alex is a graduate from Michigan State University where he obtained a Bachelors in Supply Chain Management, specializing in logistics and operations.

A resident of Saint Joseph, Michigan, he enjoys spending time with friends and family while golfing as much as possible.

Connect with Alex

 

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Warren Bennis
Sonya Blanzy
Director of Talent

Sonya Blanzy is the Director of Talent at Kinexus, where she oversees the entire Talent Development team. Together, she and her team work towards strategies to develop the local workforce and build a talent pipeline to meet current and future needs of employers in the area and create sustainable employment for our community members. She has been a member of the Kinexus team for five years.

Prior to beginning her career with Kinexus, she worked in the school system. Sonya started with Kinexus as a Talent Development Specialist and managed the Paw Paw Service Center for three years before moving to the Benton Harbor location in 2015.

Sonya has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University.

Sonya has lived in the Southwest Michigan region most of her life, and enjoys canoeing and spending time outside with her family and friends.

Connect with Sonya

 

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Lou Holtz
Zachary Vaughn
Community Development Manager

Zachary Vaughn is the Community Development Manager for Kinexus, where he provides guidance and administrative support to the Kinexus Community Team. He has been a member of the Kinexus team for three years. He looks to continue to provide Kinexus with attractive and innovative ways of improving the quality of life for the city of Benton Harbor and the greater Southwest Michigan region.

Prior to joining the Kinexus team, Zach worked for the police department in Ann Arbor in administration.

A native of Benton Harbor, Zach has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science/Natural Sources with a focus in Urban and Environment Planning from the University of Michigan.

Aside from his work with Kinexus, Zach enjoys taking full advantage of his summers by spending time at the beach and remaining active through a variety of sports. During his down time, he loves to travel, especially to warmer climates!

“Life is like a camera….Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives….and if things don’t work out, take another shot!”
Ziad Abdelnour
Deke Knuth
Director of Offender Services

Deke Knuth is the Director of Offender Services for Kinexus, where he oversees the Offender Success Program that increases public safety by reducing the regional offender return-to-prison rate through an employment-focused plan of services and supervision.

Prior to being a member of the Kinexus Team, Derek worked at Timothy’s Fine Dine Restaurant in the summers while attending college. He has a background in corrections and early experience in Kinexus has given him over four years of direct service for reentry populations.

While playing four years of collegiate baseball, he received his Associates of Arts Degree at Lake Michigan College and then attended Concordia University Ann Arbor, where he obtained a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice.

Passionate about his hometown community, Derek returned to Saint Joseph, Michigan where he enjoys being around over 100 family members.

Connect with Deke

 

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
John Wooden
Zachary Morris
Economic Development Consultant for Van Buren County

Zachary Morris is the Kinexus Economic Development Consultant for Van Buren County. He leads the economic development effort in the county which includes attraction, expansion and retention of businesses. He is also responsible for the strategic vision for how the county will grow through economic development initiatives, creating prosperity and growth county-wide.

Prior to his role in Van Buren County, Zach worked for Kinexus as a Business Services Manager, where he worked with businesses of every size and sector throughout Southwest Michigan on workforce and economic development challenges. After this role, he went to work in the private sector for the utility and the medical device industries where he successfully led projects that solved critical workforce issues and transformed how they attracted and retained talent. He rejoined Kinexus in 2016 to be a part of creating impactful change in the community he grew up in and currently resides.

Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Davenport University and is a Certified Business Solutions Professional. He is an active member of his community and is a member of the Antwerp Township Planning Commission

Zach currently resides in Paw Paw, MI with his three children and wife.  He enjoys volunteering with his church and coaching his son’s little league baseball team.

Connect with Zach

 

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
Zig Ziglar