Gretchen Slenk
"We all can dance when we find music that we love." - Giles Andreae

Gretchen Slenk

Director | Leadership Development

Meet Gretchen

What I Do at Southwest Michigan First

I train and coach leaders as they build organizations people love to work for. I accomplish this through designing and facilitating cohort-based leadership development programs, such as Leadership Kalamazoo and First Up. I also provide custom training and one-on-one coaching for teams, always through a strengths-based lens. What drives me is engaging leaders at every level to find deeper meaning in their work and activating them to show up as their best selves to create great teams and cultures.

Why I Love Working Here

I love that our organization gets to be part of the larger mission to create a thriving community—a place where people want to find their passions, build their careers, raise their families and have a little fun while they’re at it.

My Favorite Thing About Living in Southwest Michigan

I believe that loving where you live is all about the people you live with. My favorite part about living in Southwest Michigan is the people I get to “do life” with—people motivated to create positive change, do good work and take care of one another. The beautiful seasons and Lake Michigan are a bonus too, of course!

Top Moment Working Here

A few years ago, the team launched a leadership development program for early-career emerging leaders called First Up. The implementation of this program is especially meaningful for me because of the opportunities it afforded me to work with several groups of incredibly bright and motivated young professionals as they defined their professional goals and became intentional about creating positive leadership habits that would carry them through their career.

When I’m Not at Work, You’ll Find Me…

At home with my husband and three kids, listening to lots of music, reading books and often enjoying a bowl of ice cream.

My Alma Maters and Certifications

  • Calvin University, B.A., Philosophy
  • Western Michigan University, MSW, Master of Social Work
  • Certified Gallup Clifton Strengths Coach
  • Licensed Master of Social Work, Macro Specialty
  • Licensed Master of Social Work, Clinical Specialty
  • Diversity and Social Justice Certified Learner, University of Michigan

A Few Things About Me

  • My Superhero Power Would Be: Speaking Every World Language
  • Best Band Ever: Boyz II Men
  • Favorite TV Binge Watch: Parks and Recreation
  • Favorite Color: White
  • Movie I Can Watch Over and Over: Gladiator or The Sandlot