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Hauenstein Center Staff
Gleaves Whitney has been the director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies since 2003. Receiving a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2012, he established the first sustained and comprehensive common ground initiative in U.S. higher education. Since 2015 he has worked with his colleague Jon Lauck to revive Midwestern history as an academic discipline; together they have hosted six major conferences and edited four books. In addition, Gleaves launched the first presidential Q&A column in the nation, Ask Gleaves, in which he fielded questions from political junkies around the world. Under his direction, the Hauenstein Center's Cook Leadership Academy has become a premiere center for leadership excellence. The fellow candidates have met with four U.S. Presidents, three First Ladies, two Vice Presidents, four Secretaries of State, one U.N. ambassador, more than one dozen state governors, and a host of business and non-profit entrepreneurs. “Gleaves Whitney is a real treasure for those of us who do presidential studies and work in the field of presidential history,” said award-winning biographer H. W. Brands. “He’s also one of the most effective entrepreneurs in the business of higher education. You can tell this by the growth of the Hauenstein Center over the years that he’s been the director.” Noted historian Richard Norton Smith said that "Gleaves Whitney and his energetic team at the Hauenstein Center have become, in a remarkably short time, a force to reckon with — and learn from — in the presidential studies field. The Hauenstein Center is a jewel in the crown of Michigan."
Prior to directing the Hauenstein Center, Gleaves served for eleven and one-half years in Michigan Governor John Engler's administration as (seriatim) senior writer, chief speechwriter, and historian. During that time, he assisted in the creation of Michigan's Department of History, Arts, and Libraries. He earned an MA in history and is ABD in PhD studies at the University of Michigan. For more about his doctoral work at Michigan, click here. He has a BA and MA from Colorado State University. His honorary Doctor of Humane Letters is from the Graduate Theological Union's Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California.
For a summary of Gleaves's publications, awards, and board service, click here.
Gleaves Whitney: Introduction to Jon Meacham
Gleaves Whitney: Common Ground?
Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies director Gleaves Whitney recalls the life and legacy of former First Lady Barbara Bush.
Gleaves on leadership
Brent Holmes joined the Hauenstein Center in March 2018 as the Assistant Director. Prior to joining the Hauenstein Center, he worked as a Student Support Specialist with Gaylord Community Schools.
Brent is a 2007 graduate of Davenport University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. He is a U.S. Army veteran with 20+ years of leadership instruction and training, as well as recruitment experience with young adults. Brent is passionate about all the things that Ralph Hauenstein saw were necessary in the presidential studies center – most of all, the development of the leadership, talent, and capacity for service in the rising generation.
In his free time, Brent enjoys spending time with his family, watching college sports, and traveling with his wife, Julie.
Program Manager, Cook Leadership Academy
Grace Tummel joined the Hauenstein Center in August of 2019 as the Program Manager for the Cook Leadership Academy. She received her Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University and immediately left for Florida to obtain her Master's of Science in Higher Education at Florida State University.
Her experience and studies have been centered around student leadership development and she finds energy working with college students. She is most recently moving from the Detroit Metropolitan Area and is excited to make Grand Rapids her long term home.
When Grace is not at work, you will likely find her on a hike or swimming in Lake Michigan with her husband, Justin, and their two dogs. Once the weather has cooled off she enjoys all things that make her smile, including time with friends and family, board games, skiing, eating good food, and sporting events
Program Manager, Common Ground Initiative
Jakob Bigard joined the Hauenstein Center in June of 2019, after serving one year as a Fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy.
A first generation student, Jakob graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minor in Anthropology. He plans to go on to earn his Masters of Public Administration at Grand Valley, where he will focus on municipal and regional government, as well as urban and regional planning.
During his undergraduate time at Grand Valley, Jakob served two years on Student Senate’s External Relations Committee; his first year as a Senator, his second as the Chairman of the committee. His focus was on civic education and participation by the student population at Grand Valley, with special attention to the millennial voting block.
Jakob has worked on a number of political campaigns for both the left and right, bringing his acquired skills to his role as the Program Manager of the Common Ground Initiative. Furthering the path set forth by his predecessors; Jakob will continue giving platform to finding the common ground of the social and political left and right, to ensure the common good for all.
In his free time, Jakob enjoys film photography, playing harmonica, metalsmithing, and spending time lost in conversation with friends and family.
Office Coordinator for the Hauenstein Center
Allie Goeddeke is the Office Coordinator for the Hauenstein Center, a role which she began in June 2018. She is a graduate of Grand Valley State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science with a minor in Biology. She supports the Hauenstein Center staff by working to ensure the office operates smoothly on a daily basis.
In her spare time, Allie enjoys laughing with her family and friends, floating around Hubbard Lake, walking on local trails, testing new recipes, and cheering on the Laker football team.
Samantha York joined the Hauenstein Center in March 2020 as the Media Specialist. She graduated with honors from Grand Valley State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Environmental Studies.
During her undergraduate years at Grand Valley, Samantha helped found and launch the GVSU Debate Club. She served as the communications chair and eventually as the Vice President during her senior year. The Debate Club strives to encourage students to find common ground in debating for both the affirmative and negative sides.
In Samantha’s free time, she enjoys traveling abroad, reading anything science-fiction, baking new recipes, and solving Sudoku puzzles.