The Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation are dedicated to developing best practices in entrepreneurship education and community engagement that enhance and impact the creation of new ventures and opportunities.


STAFF

Shorouq Almallah

Director

Shorouq is the Director for the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI) at Grand Valley State University. She joined Grand Valley State University in 2001, and has been working with CEI for the past 15 years in different roles and capacities. In her current role, she is responsible for providing leadership, vision, strategic direction, tactical execution and operational oversight of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation with a focus on talent development, expanding and growing entrepreneurship education, and innovative curriculum for the university and the community at large. She provides the necessary leadership and strategic direction for the center’s management, talent development, program development, curriculum development, fundraising, grant solicitation, public relations and community outreach. 

Shorouq has over 15 years of experience in launching, designing and coordinating unique and transformational entrepreneurial education programs in West Michigan such as the Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TESA), the MWest Challenge, JumpStart, SproutLab, MVE-Lab, the 77IdeaLab, and LendGr. These programs have been instrumental in creating an entrepreneurial pipeline as well as fostering new venture creation in the region.  Under her leadership, CEI was awarded the Entrepreneurial Spotlight Challenge in 2017 by the (AACSB) Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business for creating and incubating cutting-edge business innovations and fostering entrepreneurship in the next generation of entrepreneurs. In 2015, she was recognized with the Women’s Community Impact Award by the Grand Valley State University Women’s Commission. She was also recognized with the Practitioner of the Year Award for Women and Minority Entrepreneurship by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in recognition for her efforts in promoting women entrepreneurs and serving underserved communities through entrepreneurial training and education. Most recently, Almallah was recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan in 2020 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Shorouq is very active in the entrepreneurial and business community both on a local and national levels. She serves on a number of advisory boards and steering committees including the West Michigan Colleges and Universities Group (WMCUG), Michigan Women Forward, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE)-Minority & Women Entrepreneurship Special Interest Group, and the West Michigan Association for Women In Science (AWIS). Shorouq is fluent in both Arabic and English. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University in English and Linguistics, with a minor in Middle East Studies, and a Masters of Information Science from Indiana University. She completed her Master of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University in June of 2020.

Valerie Palmer

Office Coordinator

Valerie is the Office Coordinator for the Seidman College of Business Outreach Centers. While supporting the directors for the Richard M. Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Family-Owned Business Institute, and the Koeze Ethics Business Initiative, she provides support to the daily operations of CEI, including working closely with student employees, scheduling, event planning, and handling financial and budget-related matters.

She has been employed with GVSU for 10+ years. Formerly, Valerie was the Student Life Assistant in the Office of Student Life where she assisted the director, provided support to the daily operations of the OSL, which included working closely with student organizations on their events, supervising student employees, supporting large student events, and handling financial and budget transactions. Prior to the OSL, she served as the Officer Coordinator in the Seidman College of Business Dean’s Office where her work included event planning, graphic design, social media management, website development, and a variety of other tasks.

Valerie received her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations with a business minor in 2008 followed by a master’s degree in communications in 2015 from GVSU. In her spare time, Valerie loves reading, writing reviews, and managing social media outlets for her book-related blog and podcast. She also enjoys gardening, crafting, baking, cooking, and spending time with her husband and three sons.

Thomas Coke

Entrepreneur in Residence

Thomas Coke is an entrepreneur, lawyer, branding geek, and alternative finance/fintech guru. Currently, he helps businesses launch, fundraise and go to market as the Entrepreneur in Residence at GVSU, serves as COO of Dalorum and is helping his son found an NCAA Name, Image, and Likeness business while founding NFT app VarsityGems. Formerly with startups VerifyValid and CrowdFund Connect, CampusStarter/Hubbub, SafeWhistle, and BitLyft (4 exits, 1 solid success, 1 failure) and an advisor to over ten startups, he loves helping launch ventures.  He has also been a part of, as a speaker, lecturer, and judge, a number of college entrepreneurship competitions and programs. He holds a  BA in Econ from Kalamazoo and a JD from MSU College of Law and will be pursuing an MBA in the near future.

Jowei Yek

Graduate Assistant 

Jowei Yek is an international student from Malaysia. He is currently pursuing a Professional Master of Business Administration and a Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation at Grand Valley State University. At CEI, he is the resident process developer, pitch coach, and business storytelling machine. He also has 3 years of consulting and coaching experience as a Senior LendGR Consultant, where he provides West Michigan businesses with approachable and sustainable branding solutions. 

Striving to bring together the nonprofit and for-profit worlds, he served as the Market Innovation Intern at Fulton Street Market. There, he facilitated design thinking discussions and identified customer segments and revenue stream, to ultimately craft the new Vision, Mission, and Values statements for FSM for the next strategic period. He is also the inaugural intern at Public Agency at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology. 

Jowei earned a Bachelor of Arts from GVSU in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Psychology in 2020. As an undergraduate, Jowei was an active leader of the international student community through Padnos International Center and the Bringing Together the World student organization. His other notable experiences include establishing a brand-new social media presence for the Fall Arts Celebration hosted by the GVSU Office of the President and managing the transactional email production for Amway North America. Jowei is fluent in English and four different Chinese languages including Mandarin.

Jermale Eddie

77 IdeaLab Facilitator

Jermale Eddie is a husband, father and engaged community member. He currently serves as the Director of Business Growth for SpringGR, a business accelerator program, where he assists entrepreneurs in creating, growing and scaling their business. With over 10 years of business experience in the food and beverage industry, both on the retailer and wholesaler, Jermale most recently served as the Founder of the multi-award winning Malamiah Juice Bar and the Malamazing Juice Company. This makes him a highly sought after business advisor, business coach and speaker. He also advocated and walked alongside businesses as the Business Partnership Manager for Amplify GR in Grand Rapids, MI. Jermale He has been the recipient of many community and state awards, including the GIANTS Award, the Dr. MaLinda P. Sapp Legacy Award and the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism’s Stories of Inspiration Award. Jermale has been featured on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside and PBS’ Under The Radar. He has also been featured in the Grand Rapids Magazine, Travel Noire, Crain’s Detroit and Grand Rapids, and Forbes Magazine. Jermale has a Masters from Spring Arbor University and a Bachelors from Grand Valley State University. He has also served on the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority Board (DDA), as well as several community-based committees. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. His vocational “sweet spot” is the intersection of faith, business and community development. He believes that people and their experiences are the community’s strongest assets. Jermale resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife, Anissa, 3 boys (Malachi, Nehemiah and Josiah) and their dog, Toffee-Rose.

Michael Hyacinthe

MVE‐Lab Lead Instructor and Ambassador

Michael Hyacinthe is an 8-year United States Navy Veteran who served as a U.S. Navy Seabee combat warfare specialist. His military service took him around the world to Iceland, Guam, Europe and the Middle East. Michael is a serial entrepreneur focusing on social enterprises. He is the co-founder of Has Heart an organization that provides creative outlets for veterans and. He is also the CEO and founder of Wimage, a children’s media company that produces educational and entertainment content to help kids learn  

Michael is the Executive producer of a children’s television show called Wimee’s Words. Wimee’s Words is currently seen on PBS stations in Michigan and soon to be launching in New York City and LA PBS stations. 

Michael truly believes that creativity is a very powerful tool that can help Veterans heal and children learn. His entrepreneurial Journey has gained him national recognition as a top 30 under 30 entrepreneur by INC magazine and most recently he was recognized as a Lakeshore innovator of the year honoree. He is originally from the Bronx New York but now resides in Grand Rapids with his family. Michael is also a proud GVSU graduate.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano

LendGR Program Manager

Ken Miguel-Cipriano is an immigrant from Peru and a long time Southside resident. They attended the University of Michigan where they got their first taste of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Ken serves as the Director of Public Agency at the West Michigan Center for Art and Technology (WMCAT). Previously, Ken has worked for the government, startups, and design agencies. They enjoy big data sets, process improvement, and all things art & design. 

In their free time, you can catch Ken on the road with their bike chasing after Strava KOM’s, taking loops on the Rapid busses, or catching a film at Studio Park. Ken’s greatest claim to fame is when, in the early 2010's, they pitched an idea to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian while in an Ann Arbor bar.

Dondreá Brown

Financial Education Program Coordinator

Dondreá has been committed to providing financial education since 2013. He first began educating himself, then his family and friends on the basic principles of money management. He quickly recognized that educating and supporting others to create and achieve financial goals as social justice work. That reality gave him the drive and motivation to create safe, motivational, educational, and fun environments to learn about money management.

Dondreá is an NFEC Certified Financial Education Instructor and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University. He is the Founder and Executive Director of 1428 Financial Wellness and Young Money Finance (YMF), both organizations were created to empower families to cultivate healthy relationships with money. They provide high-impact financial educational workshops, tools, and resources. The financial topics he covers include basic money management, credit/debt management, investing, and much more.

His work has led to individuals paying off debt, increasing their income, purchasing homes, investing, increasing their credit scores, creating and accomplishing realistic financial goals, and parents teaching their kids about money management.

Dondreá enjoys spending time with his kids and playing Fortnite in his free time.

FACULTY

Dr. Tim Syfert

Clinical Faculty

Tim Syfert teaches entrepreneurship and small business management, international business, and organizational strategy at Grand Valley State University to both undergraduate and graduate students. Tim has over 25 years business experience in key strategic roles at Timex Watch Company, Haworth, Royal Consumer Business Products, Sherwin Williams, Roadway Express Trucking Company, and Johnson Controls. His work at these companies resulted in several domestic and international patents for many products that are currently in production around the world. As a designer and business consultant, Tim has helped inventors and start-up companies develop new products, expand product portfolios, and launch new business ventures. He is currently developing his own new venture blending alcohols for use in sangria. Tim has a bachelors degree in business from Oklahoma State University, a masters in business administration in strategic planning from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutes Lally School of Management and Technology, and a doctorate in organization development from Capella University.

Matt Larson

Affiliate Faculty of Instruction

Matt Larson has an extensive background in banking, business consulting, project management, and higher education. Previously, Matt owned bookkeeping/payroll, vending, technology consulting, and crowdfunding businesses.  As a consultant, he has worked with multiple start-ups and businesses while coordinating a local inventor’s network and volunteers his time with Start-Up Weekends. Matt's entrepreneurship journey continues with his development of an open source mobile platform. In addition, Matt is Co-founder and COO of CampusStarter, a crowdfunding platform for college entrepreneurs. CampusStarter received outside investment and support from eMerge Xcelerate, a start-up accelerator in Grand Rapids, MI and was acquired by Hubbub a London based crowdfunding company in June of 2016. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with degrees in Finance, Master of Arts in Career & Technical Education and a Master of Business Administration. 


STUDENT TEAM

Alina Ladewig

CEO Club President

Allison Albery

Allison Albery

Social Media and Content Creator

Madelyn Strayer

Madelyn Strayer

Video & Media Coordinator



Page last modified February 6, 2024