For most of her career, Cheryl Schuch used her marketing and networking skills in the private sector. For the last three years, she has put those social talents to work as executive director of Family Promise of Grand Rapids, overseeing programs that assist homeless families to achieve lasting independence and self-sufficiency.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Interfaith Hospitality Network Executive Director Cherly Schuch
: Being a leader means supporting and empowering others to dream big. It’s about creating a culture to help them develop to their full potential so that we can put sustainable changes in place.
What is your dream for kids?
My dream for kids is that our country, our culture, and our state would put our money where our mouth is in regards to early education. We say that “kids are the future” and we want to invest in them, but we don’t. In European countries, children I would love to see our country invest in high quality daycare and early childhood development programs where all children can participate.
thrive because of programs that start from birth; this enables the children there to enter school on a more level playing field. I would love to see our country invest in high quality daycare and early childhood development programs where all
children can participate.
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
So much of funding, both public and private, is very restricted, with lots of regulations, which doesn’t foster an environment of innovation. Too many agencies are self-contained and work in a bubble. With many programs competing for the same funding, we should incentivize agencies to share programs that are successful. There are social benefits to collaboration -- if you’re doing something that’s working, it should be shared with others.
How do you know you’re making progress?
Progress for our program is seeing a family walk out the door strong and independent, with goals and dreams in place, proud, happy and filled with hope. As a leader, progress to me means sustainable and viable change. It’s not just about today, but about making a lasting difference.
What are you most proud of?
My family, for sure! I have a 21-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, and while I’m proud of their academic and social Progress for our program is seeing a family walk out the door strong and independent, with goals and dreams in place, proud, happy and filled with hope.
achievements, I’m most proud that they know what’s important in life. They understand that they are part of a larger community in which they should actively participate.
What originally drew you to your current profession?
I worked for many years in the computer industry, in marketing and sales. Early on, I had a mentor who told me something that stuck with me: “If you have the capacity to do something, you have an obligation to do it.” When my kids were growing up, we lived in a community in transition, with lots of kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and I got to know these families through community involvement. When we moved back to West Michigan from the Chicago area, I knew it was time for me to put my skills to use in the nonprofit sector. It was the perfect combination for me, drawing together my faith, passion for kids, and community.