ANNUAL GRYP GALA
Please continue to sporadically check here for more info on the 2023 Gala
RAISING THE BAR AWARD - DEVIN LEEMAN
Devin Leeman has used his own experience as a person struggling with chronic health conditions, to provide needed health services to some of the people struggling hardest in our community-establishing a new mobile health unit site at Heartside Park on Monday afternoons that serves over 100 people with access to food and other necessities, and over 40 people with access to safer substance use supplies, weekly- has used his voice to help co-facilitate weekly meetings of the GR and Muskegon chapters of the Michigan Users Union- offering people who use drugs a space to be accepted for who they are, where they are in their lives, offering mutual support and advocating for change- has helped mentor new staff members to The Grand Rapids Red Project, and now provides access to life saving naloxone rescue kits through mail order across the state of Michigan."
ENTREPRENEUR AWARD - TAYLOR WALBURG
Our Entrepreneur award recognizes those who aren't afraid of a challenge. Taking risks, being bold, and paving their own way are just a few characteristics of this individual. Whether it's starting their own company or creating a new niche, this individual is one of a kind.
Taylor Walburg works as Ventura Manufacturing’s Division Lead. However, in his spare time, Taylor has started the Connect Up Podcast and is the Founder of Big Red Brew Coffee Company. His podcast, founded with his father, focuses on developing the next generation of leaders in our community. He has a passion for integrity and authenticity and believes that these are characteristics that should be developed in business professionals. In addition, Taylor understands the importance of sustainability. He combined that with his love for coffee and his commitment to support small businesses with a purpose.
Big Red Brew partners with companies all over the world that are looking to make a difference in their communities to provide quality coffee blends. In this way, Taylor is supporting small coffee farms in Columbia, Cost Rica, Ethiopia, and more. Taylor’s idea for a small and sustainable coffee company has grown and now includes a subscription service throughout West Michigan. Taylor has truly earned the Grand Rapids Young Professionals Entrepreneurship Award because of his desire to develop business leaders and make a global impact through his businesses. Congratulations, Taylor - thank you for supporting small business near and afar, and investing your time in developing leaders in Grand Rapids!
COMMUNITY ADVOCATE AWARD - NIKEIDRA DEBARGE
Our Community Advocate award recognizes someone who continues to educate others about our community and promote active engagement in local living. They are dedicated to the development of the community and a supporter in giving back.
Nikeidra received this award because of her tireless effort to end modern day slavery. Nikeidra has helped oversee and run Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project Outreach, which is one of the first programs in West Michigan that helped address the issue of sex-trafficking in our area. Nikeidra travels all over West Michigan to educate over 2,000 community members, parents, and youth on the issue of human trafficking and help them gain skills to prevent individuals from being pulled into a life of exploitation. Through Nikeidra’s leadership, Wedgwood’s Manasseh Project is able to collaborate with organizations to offer professional education and treatment to young men and women who have experienced sexual and commercial manipulation. Nikeidra is an amazing advocate for youth and young adults in our community who are suffering, giving them a voice and hope for a brighter future. Not only that, but Nikeidra helped found New Destiny Pathways after seeing a need in our community for young women transitioning out of Foster Care and Residential Services. Through New Destiny Pathways, Nikeidra works to offer clean, safe, supportive, and affordable housing to women 17-21 with the goal of helping them develop practical life skills so that they can become successful and independent. Nikeidra has dedicated her life and her heart to serve the underserved within our community. During a time when so many youth and families are being impacted by the effects of COVID-19, Nikeidra continues to be an advocate for those who may have otherwise been forgotten. Nikeidra has also been recognized for her incredible work as a 2015 Athena Top 10 Finalist, a Diversity Award Recipient, and 2015 United Way ArtPrize Award Winner. Congratulations, Nikeidra!
MENTOR ORGANIZATION - KENNARI CONSULTING & KIMBERLY KVORKA
Our Mentor Organization award recognizes organizations that firmly believe in the growth and development of its young professionals. They strive to support and provide opportunities in leadership development. Kennari Consulting, especially Kim Kvorka, has done incredible work with each of their interns. Her goal for interns through their experience at Kennari is to guide the next generation of fundraising professionals. Interns are taken onto Kennari's team as true team members, and are given a chance to meet a variety of people in the nonprofit, business, and donor communities. They're also trusted to make mistakes (and learn from them!), and the opportunity to take on independent projects that expand their experience -- all wonderful things to address in future job interviews. After they complete their internship with Kennari, they stay connected! As an example from her nominator, Kim asked a team member to forward any job opportunities to a former intern (from 3 years prior) who'd stayed in touch and was using Kennari Consulting as her network. Kennari's internship program provides the opportunity to meet various college students and help them grow under the guidance of their team, most specifically, Kim Kvorka (internship supervisor). Congratulations, Kim & Kennari Consulting!
YOUNG PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR - CHRIS SAIN
Our Young Professional of the Year recognizes true all-star of the Grand Rapids community. This recipient has made a substantial, visible impact within their organization and within the community as a whole. This person is viewed as a dedicated team member by professional colleagues, has a consistent effort of creative thinking and problem solving, and has numerous community involvement and volunteering efforts. This person has contributed to the mission and vision of GRYP and will continue to inspire new leaders within the Grand Rapids community.
Chris is a native of Grand Rapids, nominated for his heart for the community, working tirelessly in his commitment to help others. Chris is the founder of Grand C.I.T.Y Sports, a non-profit which targets at-risk youth between the ages of 6-24 and focuses on the importance of teamwork/education through sports related activities and motivational messaging. In addition, Chris has created his own marketing firm, Chris Inc., that helps local businesses grow through their social media and online communication. Not only that, but Chris has created his own YouTube channel that helps individuals understand how to invest, grow their wealth, and even teaches financial literacy classes throughout the city. Chris has partnered with ChoiceOne bank on several occasions to help individuals, especially those in low-income areas, achieve financial freedom. He is a motivational speaker, and author of two books. He is also involved in various boards throughout the community including Wedgwood Christian Services NextGen Board. He also volunteers his time to advocate on behalf of prison reform and helps build the bridge between people of color and police. In addition, Chris is the Vice-President for NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) which was awarded the Black Bottom Community Builder Award by Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses. He has also been recognized as one of Grand Rapids 40 under 40 and as a finalist for the MPWRD Influential Awards. Congratulations, Chris, and thank you for your unique contributions to the Grand Rapids community!