DVULI Second National Conference 2021

Posted by: DVULI | October 29, 2021

DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative

by Kimberlee Mitchell, Staff Writer

The Systems Thinking Conference, usually held in Holland, Michigan, took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Embassy Suites Hotel to accommodate social distancing protocols. The week-long training motivated current participants to share their vision, get “out of the box,” climb off the “ladder of inference,” and break through in leadership. Facilitators Ron Carter (Birmingham 1999), Oscar Benavides (Dallas 2009), Myron Bernard (Seattle/Tacoma 2011), Liza Cagua-Koo (Boston 2006), and Peter O’Donnell tag-teamed as they guided attendees toward harmony in their personal lives and youth work. 

Mike Trout (Chicago 2007) delivered a riveting keynote that included an eight-member panel of young men and women from his ministry, YMEN. The youth shared their personal testimonies and offered DVULI participants inspiration imploring them to “never give up,” which was reciprocated with a standing ovation.  

The packed week of thought-provoking breakout sessions and case studies also offered an afternoon of recreation on the lakeshore at Holland’s Camp Geneva. Furthermore, participants were treated to local restaurants of their choice, coffee houses, and walks (or scooter rides) along the Grand River downtown (see photo gallery).  

The Friday night closing celebration featured a time of worship. After the final song, several participants commandeered the mics, and the conference room erupted in a beautiful freestyle rap session. Phone cameras captured the moments of attendees cheering, jumping, and taking the lid off the entire week.