Former head of The Right Place recognizes Davenport’s role in talent development

Birgit M. Klohs led The Right Place in Grand Rapids for more than 30 years, and she joined radio morning show host Andy Rent May 15 to talk about Davenport University, its Excellence in Business Gala and the Peter C. Cook Award. Klohs won the Cook Award in 2016.

Rent and Klohs discussed her role at The Right Place, and she talked about how economic development is really about workforce development. She said Davenport University has a history dedicated to developing students into professionals and community leaders.

“Talent is one of the key drivers of economic development, and Davenport and workforce development are in the same bucket,” Klohs said. “I’m positive about the future because we’ve attracted talent, and we’re retaining talent that we didn’t see many years ago, which ties back into Davenport. I think the future of West Michigan in general is very positive.”

Klohs said Davenport President Richard J. Pappas, who is a member of The Right Place board, has taken the university to a whole new level by really embracing the needs of students. Klohs, who recently started a venture capital fund for entrepreneurs of color, was the Commencement speaker in 2019 and talked about how she can relate to Davenport’s students.

“When I looked at the students who were graduating, they reminded me of me, because they were all working,” Klohs said. “Many of them were the first in their families to go to college. So was I. Nobody in my family in Germany had ever gone to college. They were going to Davenport to make their lives better.

“After the ceremony, a young woman with four children came up to me to thank me, because she was a mom, trying to get through college, raising four kids to make a better life for them. And to me, that’s Davenport.”Klohs won the Cook Award the first year that CNN’s Anderson Cooper was the guest. He will be speaking with Pappas again at this year’s gala, which will be held at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids May 17. This is the 25th year of the gala, which supports scholarships for Davenport students. Read more about this year’s gala here.


No Responses