The Grand Rapids Public Museum announced the community leaders who will be honored at the annual Jay & Betty Van Andel Legacy Awards Gala. The awards will be presented at the museum’s annual fundraiser, now in its 15th incarnation, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.
Each year, the Museum honors outstanding leaders with three separate awards granted to people who have positively impacted the community through their sustained efforts to better the quality of life in the region.
“The Casey” Award is named after one of the Museum’s most dynamic volunteers, Casey Wondergem and will be presented to Brian Hauenstein. Brian, a West Michigan native, has a diverse background spanning business, missionary work, and senior care. He holds a business degree from Aquinas College (’92) and served as a Catholic Missionary in Kyoto, Japan. With marketing expertise gained at Meijer and GE Capital, he now serves as a Certified Senior Advisor® through Oasis Senior Advisors of Grand Rapids. Inspired by his grandfather Ralph Hauenstein, Brian helped create an exhibit at the GRPM and actively engages in community boards and organizations, including the Michigan Heroes Museum and the Senior Care Coalition. He enjoys family life with his wife, Yukiko, and three children in West Michigan.
The 2023 Jay & Betty Van Andel Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to The Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation. The Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation embodies the philanthropic spirit of its founders, Peter and Emajean (Pat) Cook. Born in Grand Rapids in 1914, Peter’s journey from a bookkeeper for a local furniture store to the owner of Import Motors, and eventually launching Mazda Great Lakes, showcases his business acumen and resilience. But more than their business endeavors, the Cooks are remembered for their generous hearts and commitment to the Grand Rapids community. Long-time supporters of institutions like Aquinas College, Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids Public Museum, and many others, their legacy of giving was further cemented with the establishment of the Cook Charitable Foundation in 1987. Now known as the Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation, its Board of Directors, including Robert Brower, Tom Claus, and Carrie Boer continue the Cooks’ mission.
The 2023 Dave & Carol Van Andel Leadership Award will be awarded to Ron Yob, a passionate advocate for Indigenous youth and heritage in Grand Rapids, who has dedicated his life to education and preservation. With ties to Chief Maish-Ke-Aw-She, a signatory of the 1855 Treaty of Detroit, Ron recognized challenges faced by Native youth and took action. He taught essential subjects, life skills, and cultural insights from Native American elders and youth, even in retirement. His leadership extends to roles like Chairman of the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and serving on the GRPM Board of Trustees. Ron’s commitment ensures Indigenous history preservation for future generations.
The Legacy Awards Gala continues to sustain the inspiring stories of leadership, as well as contributing to the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and helping to continue the vision Jay & Betty Van Andel had for the Museum: to serve as a vital cornerstone of the Grand Rapids community. The community can help support the GRPM by bidding on luxurious getaways, fun Grand Rapids experiences, spa treatments, gift cards, and more in the 2023 Gala online auction.
Funds raised through the auction will help support the Museum as a vital community resource that offers learners of all ages educational exhibits and programs and also cares for more than 250,000 artifacts and specimens.
The auction will be open from 12 p.m. on November 9 through 5 p.m. on November 12. Bidding will be available at grpm.org/gala.
The 2023 Jay and Betty Van Andel Legacy Awards Gala is co-chaired by Dave & Carol Van Andel, Linsey Gleason, and Jim Williams. For a full list of sponsors and support, please visit grpm.org/gala.