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Consumers Energy, Grand Valley State University Celebrate Opening of Leadership Center in Grand Rapids

Michigan Business Network
April 28, 2017 5:00 PM


Russell Leadership Center Named for Company’s Former CEO

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 28, 2017 – Officials from Consumers Energy and Grand Valley State University today celebrated the opening of the John G. Russell Leadership Center on the school’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, which will train the next generation of leaders for the energy provider.

“Consumers Energy has a 130-year history of serving Michigan. The new Russell Leadership Center is a vital example of the way we are preparing to continue that service for generations to come,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s president and chief executive officer. “This new center helps us take the next step as we work to leave our company, the city of Grand Rapids and our home state of Michigan better than we found them.”

“I’m honored this leadership center will bear my name, as we prepare our employees to be the best leaders in the energy industry and in Michigan,” said John Russell, Consumers Energy’s former president and CEO, who now chairs the boards of the energy provider and parent company CMS Energy. Russell also serves on the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees.

The new three-story, 31,000-square-foot leadership center sits on Grand Valley’s Robert C. Pew Campus, immediately south of the L. William Seidman Center. It is a training hub for professional development for up to 300 Consumers Energy employees at a time. The $11 million center was built by Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction.

Consumers Energy constructed the building to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The center features a glass exterior with energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting; natural light; reclaimed wood; and fixtures to reduce water use.

The building sits on land leased to the company by Grand Valley and is on the tax rolls, benefitting the city of Grand Rapids. When Consumers Energy is not using the leadership center, space will be available for use by the university. In addition, the company will have reciprocity with Grand Valley facilities.

“We are pleased to partner with Consumers Energy on our Grand Rapids campus,” Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas said. “It is fitting that the center’s intent is to educate leaders to serve our community and state, and the sharing and efficient use of space is ideal for both institutions. It’s the classic win-win.”

In recent years, Consumers Energy has constructed state-of-the-art training facilities for its operating, maintenance and construction employees in Marshall and at the J.H. Campbell Generating Complex in West Olive. It also worked with its labor union, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), to develop a training center in Potterville, where UWUA instructors teach skills to union employees.

The Grand Rapids building will provide a single location for leadership training sessions, as well as new employee orientation, technical and safety training and project management training and certification.


Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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