3 candidates vying for 2 seats on Kalamazoo Valley Community College board


KALAMAZOO, MI — Three candidates are hoping to be elected to two seats on the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Board of Trustees.

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Incumbents Mary Gustas and Lucinda Stinson are challenged by Scott Zondervan for the two, six-year terms on the board.

Here’s a look at the candidates:

Gustas, 67, is the executive director of the Comstock Community Center. She has served on the KVCC board since 1989 as board chair, vice chair and on the finance committee.

Stinson, 62, is the executive director of Lending Hands of Michigan and a part-time professor at Western Michigan University. She was elected to the KVCC board in 2014. She’s worked for more than 40 years as a healthcare professional and administrator and more than 20 years in nonprofit leadership. She is currently vice chair of the board and a member of the KVCC audit committee.

Zondervan is an adjunct professor at KVCC and Controller/CFO at Kalamazoo Christian Schools. He has 20 years of experience teaching business and economics at KVCC and more than 30 years as CFO at Kalamazoo Christian Schools, The United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, Park Village Pines Long-Term Care Facilities and the Kalamazoo Credit Bureau. Zondervan ran unsuccessfully for the KVCC board in 2018.

MLive Media Group partnered with the League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information for readers. Each candidate was asked about their candidacy and policy issues. See how they responded below.

Information on all state and federal races and many of Michigan’s county and local races is available at Vote411.org, an online voter guide created by the League of Women Voters.

Why are you running for a board seat? What strengths or talents especially qualify you for that role?

Gustas:

I have served on the board of KVCC for 32 years. During that period I have served as board chair, vice chair and on the Finance Committee and the presidents evaluation committee.I believe that my historical knowledge and previous experience in Higher Education Administration at Kalamazoo College and Grand Valley State University are a benefit in understanding many of the issues presented to the board of trustees at KVCC. In addition to working in an administrative capacity, I have also taught at Western Michigan University

Stinson:

I have served on the Board of Trustees for the past six years and currently I am the Vice Chair and member of the Audit Committee.. I have served with distinction and commitment to ensure the college is providing a quality educational opportunity to all members of our vast County community. I am a successful graduate of Kalamazoo Valley Community College Respiratory Therapy program and I had a successful career in the field that also allowed me with amazing opportunities to assume leadership roles within the hospital organization and outside leading several healthcare non-profit organizations.

Zondervan:

I’m running for KVCC Board of Trustees because education, especially at the Community College level is a vital key to improving peoples lives and standard of living. Education is of paramount importance in helping people develop to their fullest potential. KVCC gives people the unique opportunity to further their education at an affordable price. My 20 years of teaching at KVCC has encouraged me that people of all ages in our community have a desire to learn, to understand, and improve not only their future, but their family legacy. My goal is to ensure that this excellent opportunity stays affordable to all people.

What specific steps should the board take to ensure that students have a safe and successful academic year in view of Covid-19?

Gustas:

The college has already undertaken the necessary safety protocols to insure the safety of students, faculty and staff/. In the event of a potential outbreak, the college is prepared to pivot back to a completely virtual status. I am confident that all necessary protocols that have been recommended by the State of Michigan and the CDC are in place and are available for inspection.

Stinson:

The Board of Trustees has a capable leader in Dr. Marshal Washington, he and the Leadership team in conjunction with the Board of Trustees have implemented several initiatives that will ensure the health ans safety of our students and faculty. More classes being offered online, workstations have been dispersed throughout the 9th Street an Arcadia campuses that have hand sanitizers, gloves and masks. Cafeteria services on the main campus have implemented a “Subway” model ensuring that students are receiving fresh food with safety precautions to ensure cleanliness. Classrooms have desks spaced 6 feet apart and each class has cleaning supplies.

Zondervan:

First and foremost we need to follow the law as directed by our governor. Within these guidelines we need to ensure that students remain safe, comfortable, and valued, taking care to give adequate breaks and ensuring them that their frustrations on either side of the issue are heard and valid. While online classes solve a lot of the issues with Covid-19, they are not the full answer for students who struggle with online learning and don’t have computer or internet connections to access the classes. Every effort should be made to accommodate these students by using the proper CDC and state guidelines for face to face classes.

Are you satisfied with how well KVCC is supporting local economic vitality and stability through development of a skilled workforce? Explain why or what more should be done.

Gustas:

KVCC has consistently provided programming to support the local economy. This is evident in both their academic programs, (Wind Turbine, Police Academy) and their continuing education programs . Local companies are able to secure re-certification in various safety requirements and receive assistance in developing new programs for their employees. The introduction of the Healthy living campus has major connections with Bronson Health Services, WMU Medical School and Integrated Community Services ( previously know as Community Mental Health) has introduced new and innovative programs to the community.

Stinson:

KVCC has been s leader in workforce development and community sustainability. We have partnered with Bronson with the Healthy Living campus, where we train, Nurses, EMT and Respiratory Therapists in a state of the art facility that mimics a hospital setting. KVCC has a sustainable community garden that provides farm to table food to Bronson Hospital and the community. Partnered with ISK to ensure a clinical support site for Mental Health professionals. A culinary program in the Schlack facility that trains medical professionals in the area of medical nutrition. KVCC is positioned to create employment opportunities that are sustainable.

Zondervan:

A skilled and educated workforce is of paramount importance, as it is one of the primary ingredients for improving peoples lives, by giving them the skills needed for today’s demanding workforce. This leads to a stable and growing community that benefits everyone. KVCC needs to be a leader in this area by creating better partnerships with local schools, businesses and industries. This means being at the forefront of our changing workforce by offering the classes and training needed to improve our community’s economic vitality and stability. My experience in both business and the classroom will be an asset for KVCC to assist in these goals.

Click here for more of MLive’s Election Day coverage from across the state, or here for full coverage of Kalamazoo-area elections.

Also on MLive:

Two compete for long-held Kalamazoo County Clerk and Register of Deeds position

16 candidates square off for 8 seats on Kalamazoo County board

See who is endorsing candidates for Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education

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