About Us

Our Team

Leadership & Management

Randy-Thelen-Headshot

Randy Thelen

President & CEO

As President & CEO of The Right Place, Randy leads economic development strategy through collaboration with local, State, and national organizations and stakeholders. His role is central to the organization’s core work of business retention, expansion, and attraction within the community, while aligning with The Right Place’s mission of driving sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity for all in the Greater Grand Rapids Region.

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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.

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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.

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Rob Llanes

Rob Llanes

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rob leads The Right Place’s Prosperity team, which focuses on business retention, expansion, and attraction in the Greater Grand Rapids region. In this role he will lead the business development and Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West teams.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Brent Case

Vice President, Business Attraction

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Staff

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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.

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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 The Center-West, and is responsible for investor billing and record maintenance.


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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.

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René Booker

Program Manager, The Center-West

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


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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.

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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.

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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 The Center-West.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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Victor Joaquin

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.

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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.

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Steven Lopez

Business Development Specialist, The Center-West

As a Business Development Specialist for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – West (The Center-West), Steven covers Barry County and parts of Kent County. Steven assists manufacturers with lean process improvement evaluations/implementations as well as a variety of leadership development programs, particularly for line supervisors. Steven is West Michigan’s lead industry 4.0 assessor where he identifies technologies that help improve operational performance.

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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.

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Emily Mace

Emily Mace

Investor Relations Specialist

As Investor Relations Specialist, Emily works to build and implement a comprehensive fundraising strategy for The Right Place. This includes managing the necessary administrative infrastructure and building relationships with current and future investors.

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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.


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Sadie McKinstry

Business Development Specialist, The Center-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.

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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 Center-West team.

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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 companies. She works to improve the overall economic state of Lake County through business retention, expansion, and attraction.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Amy Winkler

Client Coordinator, The Center-West

Amy Winkler is the Client Coordinator for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West Regional Office at The Right Place, Inc. Amy coordinates customer consulting and training projects, user groups and workshops, and monitors these activities’ compliance with contractual reporting requirements.

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Ben Wood

Business Development Specialist, The Center-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.

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Upcoming Events

All Events
Supply Chain Management Conference 2024

Supply Chain Management Conference 2024

Registration now open!

March 13, 2024
8:30AM–3:30PMJW Marriott