Ruth Stegeman

July 2017 KSSN Spotlight

For the month of July, we are shining a bright spotlight on a wonderful community partner, Ruth Stegeman, Director for Community Engagement at Grand Valley State University. Ruth has helped to introduce and facilitate partnerships between GVSU and several KSSN community schools, including Sibley Elementary, Stocking Elementary, Harrison Park, Westwood Middle, and Coit Creative Arts Academy.

As the Director for Community Engagement, Ruth connects people and organizations to GVSU faculty and staff who are seeking community-based learning opportunities for their students. In addition, she works to align the university with community initiatives to help increase their collective impact. Ruth says, “Thinking together with a diverse group around some strategic direction, and coming to agreement about how we will move a project forward, energizes me and brings deep satisfaction.”

Ruth knows her hard work is having an impact because she is able to set the stage for success by bringing the right people together who will commit to, and sustain, a fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership. A great example is the collaboration between GVSU and Stocking Elementary. Ruth describes how Caroline Geist, KSSN community school coordinator, and Joann Riemersma, Stocking principal, have opened the door for multiple collaborations with GVSU, including the development of a math lab classroom, common efforts around literacy, health initiatives, and a potential collaboration with the Anthropology Department and Stocking refugee families. Ruth says, “I consider KSSN the front door to the schools, without which, my role would be very difficult!”

And when asked what she likes to do when she’s not busy making connections in the community, Ruth says she likes staying physically active and enjoys hiking, kayaking, doing yoga—anything that keeps her moving and motivated.

Ruth, we thank you for your friendship and support to KSSN, and for all the hard work that you have put into bringing Grand Valley and the community together. According to KSSN supervisor, Jose Orozco, “Ruth is one of those people who just gets it. She values civic engagement and can think strategically about how to bring people together to help the greater good.” 

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