About Us

Our Team

Leadership & Management


Randy Thelen

President & CEO

As President and CEO of The Right Place, Randy Thelen leads the economic development strategy for the Greater Grand Rapids Region. To achieve the region’s vision of being one of the leading growth economies in the nation, Randy collaborates with business and community leaders to focus efforts on strengthening three strategic pillars: People, Place, and Prosperity.

Full Bio

Brad Comment

Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

As Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Brad is responsible for The Right Place's strategic projects and initiatives, business intelligence, fundraising and public policy. He engages with various partner organizations to lead projects that closely align with The Right Place's 2020-2022 Strategic Plan.

Full Bio
Ta Rita websize

TaRita D. Johnson

Senior Vice President, Talent & Diversity

TaRita is the Senior Vice President of Talent and Diversity at The Right Place Inc. She works to collaborate with workforce development organizations, employers, and investors to lead strategies to ensure West Michigan attracts, develops, and retains diverse talent.

Full Bio

Tim Mroz

Senior Vice President, Community Development

As Senior Vice President of Community Development for The Right Place, Tim is responsible for leading The Right Place’s place-based strategy and work. His focus areas include community development pillars such as smart growth planning, infrastructure & transportation, community leadership & engagement, placemaking, transformational site redevelopment and more.

Full Bio
Andria 2022

Andria Romkema

Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Andria leads the strategic marketing and communications initiatives for The Right Place to promote West Michigan’s business capabilities across the country and the globe.

Full Bio
Jane 2022

Jane Tierney

Senior Vice President, Finance

Jane provides accurate and timely financial information to The Right Place’s leadership team while ensuring effective internal controls and financial safeguards.

Full Bio
Brent 2022

Brent Case

Vice President, Business Development

Brent works to recruit new business investment and jobs to the region. He also assists West Michigan companies during the decision-making portion of the expansion process to outline the benefits of growing locally as opposed to out-of-state.

Full Bio
Terry Hossink Website Size Square

Terry Hossink

Vice President, Manufacturing Services

Terry is responsible for The Right Place’s Manufacturing Services team. He is also the Regional Director for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center - Grand Rapids office team. This team works with West Michigan’s small and mid-sized manufacturers assisting them with their opportunities for continuous improvement, development, growth, and transition with advanced manufacturing technologies.

Full Bio
Jen wangler 1

Jennifer Wangler

Vice President, Technology | Director, Technology Council of West Michigan

Jennifer provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients in Kent County and site location assistance to national and international IT and tech companies. She also serves as the Director for the Technology Council of West Michigan.

Full Bio
Julie Burrell Website Size Square 2021

Julie Burrell

Senior Economic Development Director - Newaygo County

Julie serves as the Senior Economic Development Director for the Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership. In this role, she provides business support services to companies in Newaygo County.

Full Bio

Rachel Gray

Executive Director, Hello West Michigan

As the Executive Director for Hello West Michigan, Rachel leads the organization’s strategy, operations, and membership. She helps educate employers and prospective candidates about the region.

Full Bio



Travis Alden

Senior Director, Community Development

As Senior Director of Community Development, Travis is focused on transformational place-based development projects and initiatives throughout the West Michigan region.

Full Bio
Jackie Beering 2023 websize

Jackie Beering

Senior Accountant

Jackie provides accounting support as well as oversight of all project tracking, collections and records management. She is responsible for processing accounts payable and accounts receivable transactions. Jackie also manages grant reporting for MMTC-West, and is responsible for investor billing and record maintenance.

Full Bio
Jakob Bigard

Jakob Bigard

Executive Director, Montcalm Economic Alliance

Jakob serves as Executive Director of the Montcalm Economic Alliance. In this role, he provides business support services to prospective and existing companies in Montcalm County. Jakob works to continually improve the overall economic state of the county through the lens of people, place, and prosperity.

Full Bio

René Booker

Program Manager, MMTC-West

René Booker is program manager for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West, providing support for events, marketing, and internal continuous improvement efforts. She also supports The Right Place/MMTC-West Manufacturers and Supply Chain Management Councils.

Full Bio
Curtis Burdette websize square

Curtis Burdette

Executive Director, Oceana County Economic Alliance

Curtis serves as the Economic Development Director for the Oceana County Economic Alliance. In this role, he provides business support services to companies in Oceana County.

Shawna Tate websize

Shawna Covell

Accounting and Operations Assistant

Shawna performs a wide variety of duties to help with the accounting department and running of the daily administrative operations of the company.


Jillian Elliott

Manager of Conferences and Events

Jillian is the Manager of Conferences and Events. In her role, she leads the planning and management of events for The Right Place and MMTC-West.

Full Bio
Donna Ford

Donna Ford

Assistant to the President and CEO

Donna provides executive assistance to the President & CEO of The Right Place and provides administrative support to The Right Place Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.

Full Bio
Brandon Hamilton web size

Brandon Hamilton

Executive Assistant

Brandon provides executive assistance to the Sr. Vice Presidents of Business Development and Talent and Diversity. Brandon implements a variety of administrative duties, balance multiple priorities, and contributes to key projects within our talent, diversity, and business development initiatives.

Full Bio

Eric Heys

Marketing Coordinator

Eric provides graphic and layout support for all printed communication needs of The Right Place, and he works with local printers to see production through to the final printed materials.

Full Bio

Chloe Hoekstra

Marketing and Communications Intern, Hello West Michigan

Chloe is studying Marketing Management and English at Calvin University and is graduating Spring 2025. She is the Marketing Communications Intern for Hello West Michigan and assists the team with social media, crafting newsletters, and writing blogposts.


Eric Icard

Senior Director of Business Development

Eric provides retention and expansion assistance to Right Place clients. He provides site location assistance to national and international life sciences firms. He also serves as the facilitator for the MiDevice group.

Full Bio
Victor websize

Victor Joaquin, SHRM-CP

Talent Program Manager

As Talent Program Manager for The Right Place, Victor works on establishing collaborative relationships between businesses, colleges, universities, and organizations dedicated to the flourishing of communities in West Michigan.

Full Bio

Abena Korang

Talent and Diversity Intern

Abena is pursuing a degree in Economics from Calvin University and will be graduating in December 2024.She is the Talent and Diversity Intern at The Right Place and assists the team with extensive research on colleges, universities, and community organizations with a focus on talent and diversity.

Jessica 2022

Jessica Kuster

Program Manager, Hello West Michigan

Jessica serves as the Program Manager for Hello West Michigan, where she oversees the internship and candidate connection programs, marketing and communication needs, and facilitates member orientation and training programs.

Full Bio

Mia LaMontagne

Marketing & Communications Intern

Mia is an Advertising & Public Relations student at Grand Valley State University and is graduating in Spring 2025. As the Marketing and Communications intern at The Right Place, Mia assists the marketing team with social media, web content management, email marketing, and public relations.


Peter Lee

Business Development Intern

Peter is a Calvin University student from South Korea and he majors in Marketing management and minors in supply chain management and information systems. As the Business Development intern at the Right Place, he will be assisting in research and analysis for the business development team and also assist in various administrative activities.

Steven Lopez websize

Steven Lopez

Business Development Specialist, MMTC-West

Steven Lopez is an experienced Business Development Specialist with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – West, affiliated with The Right Place. Specializing in plant and production management, Steven has a deep passion for operational excellence and lean processes. He is notably recognized for his expertise in driving operational excellence and innovation within Industry 4.0. As West Michigan's lead Industry 4.0 assessor, Steven conducts comprehensive Industry 4.0 assessments across West Michigan's 13 counties, focusing on identifying technologies that enhance operational performance. Serving small and mid-size manufacturers in Barry County and parts of Kent, his work is instrumental in advancing technological innovation and fostering growth in Michigan's dynamic manufacturing sector. Through these efforts, Steven plays a crucial role in ensuring the regional manufacturing industry remains competitive and innovative in the evolving global landscape.

Full Bio
Kristi Lucas Zimmerman

Kristi Lucas-Zimmerman

Economic Development Director, Chamber Alliance of Mason County

Kristi serves as the Economic Development Director of the Chamber Alliance of Mason County. In this role, she provides business support services to prospective and existing companies. She works to improve the overall economic state of Mason County through business retention, expansion, and attraction. Additionally, Kristi facilitates community development and is currently working on housing and trails initiatives for Mason County.

Full Bio
Emily Mace

Emily Mace

Investor Relations Specialist

As Investor Relations Specialist, Emily focuses on creating and implementing a comprehensive fundraising strategy for The Right Place. This includes managing the necessary administrative infrastructure and building relationships with current and future investors.

Full Bio

Rafael Martinez

Business Intelligence & Research Manager

Rafael works as a Business Intelligence & Research Manager for The Right Place. In this role, he provides business intelligence and economic research for the organization, and to investors and other stakeholders.

Full Bio
Sadie Mc Kinstry websize square

Sadie McKinstry

Business Development Specialist, MMTC-West

Sadie McKinstry is a Business Development Specialist for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West, primarily serving small and mid-sized manufacturers located in Ottawa and Allegan counties.

Full Bio
Allyssa 2022

Allyssa Murphy

Marketing and Communications Manager

As the Marketing and Communications Manager, Allyssa manages the website, social media channels, blog, email and digital marketing campaigns for The Right Place and the MMTC-West team.

Full Bio

Jodi Nichols

Executive Director, Lake County Economic Development Alliance

Jodi serves as the Executive Director of the Lake County Economic Development Alliance. In this role, she provides business support services to prospective and existing employers and leads critical community development initiatives to improve the overall state of the county and community’s quality of life.

Full Bio
Tristan headshot

Tristan Reuben

Business Development Coordinator

Tristan is a Business Development Coordinator at The Right Place. He works with companies in Kent County on expansion and retention projects, while additionally providing site selection services to companies looking to come to West Michigan.

Full Bio

Matthew Streeter

Business Intelligence Intern

Matthew is studying Economics and Statistics at Grand Valley State University and will graduate in the spring of 2025. As the Business Intelligence (BI) intern, Matthew assists the BI team in research, data collection, analysis, and communication.

001 1 L7 A0422

Angela Violet

Human Resources Manager

As Human Resources Manager, Angela handles the day-to-day Human Resources functions for the organization. She is a resource for team members and the organization as she works to improve the employee experience. Angela handles team member onboarding and orientation, benefits administration, management of organizational policies, and compliance matters.

Full Bio
Kelly Wawsczyk websize

Kelly Wawsczyk

Executive Director, Mecosta County Development Corporation

Kelly serves as the Executive Director for the Mecosta County Development Corporation. In this role, she leads the promotion of economic development in Mecosta County through the attraction, retention and expansion of business and industry.

Full Bio
John Wiegand

John Wiegand

Business Intelligence & Research Manager

As Business Research & Intelligence Manager for The Right Place, John provides business intelligence and economic research for the organization, investors and other stakeholders.

Full Bio
Ryan Square

Ryan Wilson

Executive Director, Ionia County Economic Alliance

Ryan provides leadership in the development and implementation of economic development initiatives focused on People, Place, and Prosperity and in alignment with both local needs and regional strategies.

Full Bio
Ben 2022

Ben Wood

Business Development Specialist, MMTC-West

Ben is responsible for working with small to medium sized manufacturers in West Michigan, focusing on Mason, Lake, Osceola, Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Muskegon, Montcalm, Ionia, and Northern Kent Counties. He helps them assess their opportunities for continuous improvement and growth.

Full Bio