Faye Richardson-Green takes new career path with Honors College role

September 19, 2023 (Volume 47, Number 2)
Article by Brian Vernellis

Faye Richardson-Green addresses a group of students, she is wearing a yellow dress with black mask hanging from her neck

Faye Richardson-Green, former Steelcase executive, is the Meijer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Meijer Honors College.

Photo Credit: Amanda Pitts

The prospect of teaching a university course had never occurred to Faye Richardson-Green. With nearly 40 years of business, leadership and nonprofit experience, she admitted she was “technically retired,” when she connected with Melba Vélez Ortiz, a faculty member in the Frederik Meijer Honors College.

And yet, after she spoke with one of Ortiz’s classes, Roger Gilles, director of the honors college and professor of writing, gauged Richardson-Green's interest in teaching a class. 

“It was an interesting proposition,” Richardson-Green said. “This became an interesting sort of new pathway for me, and so I got really excited about the opportunity to engage in learning activities with students.”

The fall semester marks Richardson-Green’s first as the Meijer Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the honors college, succeeding Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss in the position. 

She held various leadership roles at Steelcase Inc. for more than 30 years, including director of Global Talent Management. Now owner of a consulting firm, Richardson-Green is also a founding board member of Partners for a Racism-Free Community.

Once a week, Richardson-Green teaches an honors seminar class — “Leading others in an othering world,” she said — and getting acclimated to her new environment. At one point, she said, she had to ask a student where the closest place on campus was to get lunch.

“Academia is a new arena for me,” she said. “So, learning as much as I can about Grand Valley, and these students in particular, will help me ensure that I am bringing real value to the school and to these students.”

As she grows more accustomed to campus, Richardson-Green said she sees her role as an opportunity to nurture and guide her students, instilling lessons from her experiences and introducing them to fellow community leaders.

“Because I don’t come from academia, I probably have a different perspective on learning than others who have held this role may have had,” she said. 

“My initial vision is marrying my world of business and service in such a way that the students benefit through the mentoring I can provide. I want to engage students by providing real-world examples of work, leadership and service in a way that truly deepens their own educational experience at Grand Valley.”

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This article was last edited on September 18, 2023 at 11:1 a.m.

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