“Compelled is a perfect word,” says Micki Benz, outgoing president of the Literacy Center’s Board of Directors. “I have not been compelled to join any board as much as I have been with the Literacy Center. It sucked me right in.”
Micki’s career has been long and varied. A teacher by training, she taught English to college students at both Loyola University and Davenport University. She worked at Michigan National Bank, where she oversaw all bank branches and branch managers. And then she transitioned to health care to work in public relations and political advocacy at Mercy Heath Saint Mary’s. In her role, she had the opportunity to travel to Lansing and Washington D.C. often, collaborating with individuals from other hospitals on the Affordable Care Act. Micki retired from her position at Mercy Health last October after 25 years at the hospital.
It was working in all these different capacities that gaveMicki an understanding of the value of the Literacy Center’s mission and a connection to it.
“The Literacy Center is very dear to my heart,” Micki explains.“People cannot engage in community at all until they can read and write.” She goes on to reference the impact of low literacy. “I’ve heard stories about some of our learners who are afraid to leave their apartment because they didn’t know how to read a bus schedule. I just thought, ‘you just can’t have that.’”
While Micki has served on many localboards, including the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Historical Commission, she admits that one of her favorites has been the Literacy Center’s board. In describing her last nine years on the board—including the last four as president—she says“It is very fulfilling because it’s so worthwhile. I feel honored and grateful that I can do this. I really do. It’s a privilege to be on this board for this organization. It’s a real privilege.”
The Literacy Center is grateful to Micki for her leadership in making the Literacy Center a stronger organization that is even better suited to serving the literacy needs of our learners in this community. We are particularly pleased that she has agreed to stay on the board for one more year as past president! Thank you, Micki.