Eric Smith 

Acting Executive Director

Building flourishing communities in which ALL people can thrive and attain their highest potential has not just been a career choice, but the fulfillment of my life's purpose. From the villages of Uganda, Africa to the urban neighborhoods of Ohio and the rural communities of Central Appalachia, I have been applying community development principles and practices for two decades, honing my ability to tackle tough social and economic issues in the process. I'm deeply honored and excited to be a part of Great Lakes Urban's growing impact in West Michigan and across the U.S.!

I get excited when I see low income neighbors working together for the common good, when a culture of “together we can” replaces isolation, and when resiliency is the direct result of deepening relationships and gift-giving in community, when congregations are in the thick of neighborhood changes.

Jay Van Groningen
Director of 

Training Initiatives

Wayne Squires
Trainer, Coach

I find great joy in seeing people using and developing their gifts and working together to meet shared challenges. I am also delighted when individuals and organizations become adventurous and begin to discover new, grass roots possibilities for participating in needed social-cultural change(s).