Amplify GR celebrates Two New Hires with Neighborhood Roots

Amplify GR hires education director and communications manager with strong local ties to further strengthen service, support for community

Welcome, Erek and Jenny!

Erek Kooyman and Jenny Griffin have joined the team to serve as the organization’s education director and communications manager, respectively. Kooyman and Griffin join Amplify GR in an extended period of growth, as the organization has hired five new team members since launching several years ago to expand and sustain its commitment to the neighborhoods it serves.

“A growing team allows us to further connect, create and amplify opportunities for neighbors,” said Jon Ippel, executive director for Amplify GR. “Erek and Jenny both grew up in the Boston Square neighborhood and have a passion for the community, but they also bring with them unique skillsets and experiences that will be an asset to our organization as we continue to work closely with our partners to widen pathways for stronger neighborhoods.”

Erek (left) with Amplify GR colleagues Jon Ippel (middle) and Jermale Eddie (right)

As the education director, Kooyman will lead and coordinate education efforts for Amplify GR, including developing a long-term strategy for ensuring all children in the community have access to high-quality PK-12 education, which prepares them to enter college or the career of their choice. In addition, Kooyman will act as a liaison to neighborhood schools and collaborate with nonprofit organizations, colleagues in philanthropy, and government officials to develop, fund, and leverage new educational initiatives in support of students.

Kooyman brings more than 16 years of experience in the field of education, including his most recent role as an educational consultant for Amplify GR. With a well-rounded background in student instruction and faculty development, Kooyman is skilled in identifying educational growth opportunities within the community. Additionally, his expertise in the societal structures surrounding education gives him a nuanced understanding of the resources needed to support the academic, social and emotional growth of local children in schools across the Grand Rapids community.

“Being an educator myself, I have seen first-hand the importance of equitable opportunity and investment in order for students, teachers and schools to thrive,” Kooyman said. “Investing in the education of children is an important aspect to strengthening community. I look forward to working with our great partners in education to improve outcomes in the neighborhood schools.”

With Griffin as the incoming communications manager, she will work closely with the executive director to set the strategic communications plan and vision. Griffin will also lead promotion and oversee the education of external audiences regarding the shared vision, goals and strategies of holistic community development. She will work closely with the Amplify GR team, partners and community stakeholders to highlight stories in the neighborhoods served.

Having spent nearly 17 years working in public relations and strategic communications in agency, corporate and nonprofit settings, Griffin will play a significant role in executing the partner and neighbor communications for Amplify GR. Griffin most recently served as communications manager for the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT). With vast nonprofit and industry experience, Griffin is uniquely positioned to take on this key role with the organization that is embedded within her own neighborhood.

Jenny (left) with Amplify GR board member and neighbor, Andrea Owens

“As a third-generation resident of Boston Square, I feel incredibly privileged to take on a position that allows me to raise the voices of neighbors,” said Griffin. “Southeast Grand Rapids is full of passionate individuals that care about their community, and after intentionally moving back into the neighborhood, I’m looking forward to supporting the community that has supported my family for nearly 50 years.”


About Amplify GR
Amplify GR seeks to widen pathways so that more residents can participate and benefit from neighborhood growth in Boston Square, Cottage Grove and surrounding areas. Through partnerships with residents, businesses, community organizations and funders, Amplify GR works in four areas of impact: jobs and entrepreneurship, housing, education and community wellbeing.