Investor Spotlight with Robyn Afrik

Posted in News on October 31, 2022

 Investor Spotlight with Robyn Afrik

 
Robyn Afrik serves as the first Director for the Ottawa County Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, where she assesses implicit bias in current policies and decision-making processes with a goal to operationalize DE&I throughout the organization. Prior to this, Robyn served as D&I Manager for Corporate Meijer, pioneering their early D&I efforts organization-wide. Over the last decade, Robyn has become most notably known as a national speaker, consultant, professor, author, and business owner on issues related to inclusive leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recently, Robyn helped establish the Women of Color (WOC) Give fund, changing the narrative for women of color in traditional philanthropy spaces from recipients to empowerment. She earned her MS in Management, Strategy and Leadership from Michigan State University, her Bachelor of Science Management from Cornerstone University, and continues to serve on boards and committees that support aspects of economic development.  

Robyn makes her home in Holland with her husband and three adult children. Together, they share a passion for philanthropy, travel, and education; all while navigating the nuances of living a global identity in a local context. 
 

Who are the people who have had a profound influence on me and my leadership style? 
The kind of people who have had a profound influence on me and my leadership style are: 
  • Self-aware, highly emotional intelligent and culturally competent leaders that demonstrate a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset
  • Leaders who choose to elevate curiosity with an open mind over competency alone.
  • Leaders who understand the difference between maturity vs trajectory 
  • Individuals that tend to hold a bias toward action
  • Leaders that seek to be held accountable to and submit under inclusive leadership
  • I have also seen the difference between leaders who are unafraid to challenge self and status quo vs those who spend their life protecting and believing they are the status quo. 
What is something energizing you when it comes to the work that you do?  
  • It’s truly energizing to know how the DE&I Office helps actualize the vision of the County by making it A Place Where You Belong . 
  • The state of belonging directly correlates to how (much more) someone will give, spend, volunteer, engage, work, live and invest.  
  • This impacts the vibrancy and health of a community and is strongly tied to economic outcomes. 
 
Giving back to the community in many meaningful ways.  Project or effort that is near to your heart
Very excited about WOC Give, a philanthropy collective for women of diverse cultural backgrounds, leveraging resources to support each other and the causes that matter to them.  
Their mission is to create a shared space where they connect, reimagine and invest. 
While only in it’s third year of giving, the fund will have distributed over $100K back into the community and continues to grow its members annually.
One of the more impressive things I’ve seen, is how this fund attracts new donors associated with other foundations outside of the W. Michigan area.  In addition, women of color who moved away from this community, citing they did not have something like this and/or felt they didn’t belong, are now extending their financial resources to this fund, just from the power of representation seated in this space.  
 
Resource used to help continually grow as a leader
I have formal and informal mentors in my life, who hold me accountable in seeking 1-2 experiences min. that stretch and keep pressing me toward expressing my contributions through multiple disciplines and platforms.
Because of this, I have acquired unique opportunities that increase my capacity to lead beyond traditional job titles and mature from transactional activities to transformational impact.  
 
Why is it a priority to invest in economic development? 
Economic development has the capacity to unlock the full potential of the local economy by increasing entrepreneurship, ownership, wealth, income and vibrancy of a community. 
It is a fundamental necessity for a community to thrive, not just survive.