Distinguished Alumnus in Residence

Steve Stepek
Distinguished Alumnus in Residence, 2014
B.S. Geography and Planning 2002
M.P.A. in Public Administration, 2006

Steve is currently the Senior Planner for the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the greater Kalamazoo Area. Steve is responsible for the planning activities for KATS, which includes management of the transportation improvement program which identifies well over $50 million dollars of investment; as well as implementation of the long range Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Steve also manages the MPO's non-motorized and air quality programs. Steve is a certified professional planner (AICP) and participates in statewide and national planning activities through the Michigan Transportation Planning Association, Michigan Association of Planning, and the American Planning Association. Steve was also recognized by the Michigan Transportation Planning Association as the 2013 Senior Planner of the Year. Steve has worked as an adjunct faculty member at Western Michigan University and also serves on the WMU Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities Advisory Committee. He was invited to teach the Winter 2015 sections of Transportation Planning in the Department of Geography and Planning at Grand Valley.

Andrew Moore
Distinguished Alumnus in Residence 2012

B.S. in Geography and Planning, 2004
Emphasis in City and Regional Planning

Andy has worked at Williams and Works consulting firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan since the fall of 2004 and is currently a Project Planner there. He calls himself "Geographer/Planner." To some degree, his job is to be a jack of all trades. He specializes in zoning, long-range planning, and GIS. He works (or has worked) in a wide range of planning areas.

"The most enjoyable assignments are the often most difficult. As consultants, we help a number of communities with a variety of assignments. Every once in a while our clients will get a particularly complicated application, or find themselves in a particular difficult situation, and they ask for our advice on how to handle it. It's very satisfying to help them through a process like that, particularly if we can develop an outcome that pleases everyone.

It's also satisfying to work on a project that you feel will really make a positive change in a community. The towns in which we live are such a large part of our lives, so it can be a great feeling to think that you helped make someone's community better.

And I still love making maps. That will always be fun for me."

Richard Cole
Distinguished Alumnus in Residence 2010

B.S. in Geography and Planning, 2009
Emphasis in City and Regional Planning

More coming soon.

Brian VanDenBrand,
Distinguished Alumnus in Residence, 2008

B.S. in Geography and Planning, 2006
Emphasis in City and Regional Planning

After graduation Brian accepted a position as Associate Planner with the Oshtemo Township Planning Department in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he was employed until taking a position as Planner with Traverse City in December, 2008.

Brian's day-to-day duties as Associate Planner at Oshtemo Township included conducting site plan review for commercial and residential development, variance and rezoning requests, analysis of police and fire department response locations, development and maintenance of the Township geographic information system (GIS), and general developer/resident assistance. He was involved in the implementation of a Form-Based Code overlay district which is intended to steer development towards the "Main Street" ideal and away from the strip-mall geography, and has participated in the Master Planning process for the Township.

Brian has spearheaded a number of specialized projects, including development of a 5-Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan that will qualify the Township for Michigan DNR grant funding, development of an Historical Overlay Zoning District to help protect historic properties from encroaching development, and a Buildout Analysis to investigate the impact of the 2006 announcement of the Kalamazoo Promise on land use trends in Oshtemo. Brian served on the Host Committee for the 2008 Michigan Association of Planning Annual Conference, and is a founding member of the Kalamazoo Trails Movement, an advocacy group for the development and maintenance of sustainable off-road trails in the Kalamazoo area.

Neil Besteman,
Distinguished Alumnus in Residence, 2007

B.S. in Geography and Planning, 2004
Emphasis on Geographic Methods

(Photo 1, 2 of event,12 October, 2007, Alumni House)

A Michigan Technological University alumnus in Forestry (1994) and a military veteran, Neil attended GVSU in pursuit of a new career. Focused study in Geographic Methods combined with a minor in Microcomputer Systems allowed Neil to quickly become proficient in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), programming, and computer networking. His energy and aptitude resulted in his selection by faculty as the Outstanding Geography and Planning Student of the Year 2005.

Today, as a Geographic Information Systems Analyst for Allegan County, Neil works directly with county departments and local units of government to improve business processes through the integration of spatial information. His database design, hardware integration, and applications development skills are an integral part of the daily operation within the Land Information Systems (LIS) Department that uses mapping technology and spatial relationships to increase government efficiency and assist in decision making.

A member of Michigan Counties Association of Mapping Professional (MiCAMP), Neil has presented at the annual MiCAMP conference each of the past three years. He is currently pursuing his GIS Professional (GISP) certification.

Page last modified October 20, 2014