Leading Lakers

This year has proven to be an uncertain time for all. As we adapt to the changes around us, we are beyond grateful for the efforts of the GVSU community and Leading Lakers who keep us moving forward. 

Faculty and staff throughout the community have demonstrated their dedication to staying well, staying strong, and staying together during this time. If you know of any GVSU faculty, staff, groups of faculty/staff, or entire departments who you believe are serving as role models – or as we like to call them, Leading Lakers – please recognize them by completing a short online form or by contacting your HR Generalist

GVSU Human Resources will share these stories or recognition on this page, in our monthly e-newsletters, and/or on our social media accounts. Connect with us and recognize a Leading Laker below:

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Recognize a Leading Laker

May 2021: Kristin Winfrey

Kristin Winfrey

While it’s easy to fall into a mundane and complacent routine, Kristin Winfrey–who is the academic department coordinator in the Classics Department and will soon be transitioning into the CLAS Dean’s Office—said that finding new ways to keep her brain active and engaged has helped to keep her going over the past year. She has immersed herself in a variety of activities both on and off campus in order to support her personal well-being. Read more about Kristin.

April 2021: Mike Stoll

During a year of constant change, the importance of routine and positivity is essential in maintaining good overall health and wellness. For Mike Stoll, an academic advisor in the Kirkhof College of Nursing, his health and wellness journey this past year has been successful through maintaining focus on his health goals with the help of a Priority Health wellness coach. Read more about Mike.

March 2021: Robin Burris

Leading Laker Robin Burris

Robin Burris, Academic Coordinator in the School of Engineering, says her recipe for success in staying healthy and well during this time is her investment in her own holistic well-being and her encouragement for others to take the time to do the same. She believes in having a plan and being consistent with physical activity, emotional wellness efforts, and spending quality family time. Learn more about Robin's journey here.

February 2021: Heather Tafel

For the fall semester of 2020, Heather Tafel, associate professor of political science, knew it would be important to stay positive and keep her own health and wellness a priority. Tafel has been working in her role since 2003 and the hardest challenge for her recently, like many, was learning how to navigate virtual learning in such a short timeframe. “It can feel like online work has invaded your entire life, because there was and continues to be a steep learning curve when it comes to teaching virtually,” she said. Thankfully, she was able to learn more about remote teaching while also taking the time to maintain and improve her healthy habits. Learn more about Heather's story here.

January 2021: Hannah Pankratz

Hannah Pankratz

Visiting professor of Geology Pankratz had a busy year in 2020. Teaching non-major geology courses virtually while preparing to defend her dissertation, she found herself struggling at times. Because of this, Pankratz decided to schedule a meeting with a Priority Health wellness coach. Working with a coach, Hannah learned how to set more manageable goals for herself, which eventually helped her successfully defend her dissertation. Learn more about Hannah's story.

December 2020: Monica Johnstone

When Monica Johnstone, CLAS director of communications and advancement, realized she was starting to get back pain while attending residential art quilting retreats, she knew she had to do something more to take care of her body. When daily dog walking didn’t cut it, a colleague suggested she try out a Campus Recreation and Wellness personal trainer to help her feel better. Eager to try something new, Johnstone signed up and was paired with a graduate student trainer who immediately put her to work. After working with her trainer for a few months, Johnstone felt stronger and has since been able to feel more positive because of her exercises. Learn more about Monica's experiences.

November 2020: Marcia Frobish

As classes and work continue to incorporate more virtual methods of connecting, many faculty and staff continue to learn how to remain effective in this new environment while maintaining good health and well-being. While this semester is unlike any other, Marcia Frobish, affiliate faculty member in the Mathematics Department at GVSU, is dedicated to keeping a positive outlook and focus on her health and fitness. Learn more about Marcia's journey.

October 2020: Christina Quick

Despite many changes in the past few months, Christina Quick has been able to stay resilient with a daily mindfulness routine. With this practice, Quick has been able to feel happier, think clearer, and improve her overall mental health. Coming from a 10-year career in trauma and emergency response, and later from her role as a nurse practitioner and Assistant Professor in the Kirkhof College of Nursing, Quick is familiar with caring for patients. Still, caring for her own wellness and mental health has not always been easy. Read more about Christina's journey here.

September 2020: Ed Spier

Ed Spier of Grand Valley's WGVU behind the mic

Before Ed Spier started in his current position, his career at GVSU began as a student back in 1985, combining his passions for music and public broadcasting by hosting a radio show, "Basically Big Bands," which still airs today under a different host. From there, his career led him through various broadcasting positions until he became the TV program manager for WGVU Public Media, where he schedules the programming on their four broadcast channels. Read more about Ed.

August 2020: Rence Meredith

Campus is looking a little different lately. Social distancing signs, mask requirements, and increased cleaning staff are among some of the changes popping up all over campus. While these may be pretty clear reminders of our current times, they’re also a reminder of Grand Valley’s commitment to safety and care for faculty, staff and students. No one personifies this commitment better than this month’s Leading Laker, Rence Meredith. Read more about Rence Meredith.

July 2020: Salvatore Alaimo

Salvatore Alaimo

It can be difficult to stay motivated and make healthy choices in our current times, possibly feeling as though we are alone in our wellness journeys as we social distance. Salvatore Alaimo, Associate Professor in the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration, has been keeping connected to his wellness goals by continuing to work with his Priority Health wellness coach as part of the Thrive @ GVSU coaching program. Read more about Salvatore Alaimo.

June 2020: Institutional Marketing

Institutional Marketing team

While we may not be together on campus, there is still a lot we can do as a GVSU community to stay connected and active. We reached out to Dave Poortvliet, associate director of web application development in Institutional Marketing, about the steps Institutional Marketing have been taking to keep in touch while staying active at home. Read more about the Institutional Marketing team.

April 2020: Jennifer Cathey

Jennifer Cathey (left) and friend at Boston Marathon 2019

Feeling like going for a run? Jennifer Cathey, office coordinator for the General Education Program, is always read to say yes. Jennifer has run 16 marathons so far since picking up running in 2002. Today, she’s well on her way to running her 17th marathon as she trains for this year's Boston Marathon. Read more about Jennifer.

March 2020: Kevin Kotlewski

Kevin Kotlewski, March 2020 Wellness Feature

If you’re out and about at lunchtime, you may have already seen Kevin Kotlewski on his daily walk around campus. Kevin is a senior accountant for Business and Finance, and since he started working at GVSU in April 2019, he has taken it upon himself to be as healthy as he can – one step at a time. Read more about Kevin.

February 2020: Kayla Cupples

Kayla Cupples

After completing her master’s degree in December 2019, Kayla Cupples—assistant director of marketing for Recreation & Wellness—has begun to re-focus on her personal well-being. With the pressure of school, her normal exercise routine began feeling like a chore, leaving her in rut. Kayla has since started to implement new ways to improve her physical, emotional, and mental wellness. Read more about Kayla.

January 2020: Megan Bravo

Megan Bravo

Megan Bravo, employment specialist in GVSU’s Human Resources department, started working with a Priority Health wellness coach to help with her workout routine, but ended up finding so much more. Now, Megan can talk to her coach about anything, from workout motivation, to stress management and what’s going on in her everyday life. Read more about Megan.


To view other success stories, click on one of the links below:

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Page last modified January 26, 2022