Justin Beene Selected As The 2017 Recipient of the Richard E. Herman Emerging Leader Award

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Itasca, IL – Wheat Ridge Ministries is pleased to announce that Justin Beene has been selected as the 2017 Richard E. Herman Emerging Leader Award winner. The Emerging Leader Award honors the innovative, creative, and committed work of a young nonprofit professional. This year, the award sought to recognize the commitment and service of one leader whose work is changing systems that perpetuate poverty, whether through their professional work or as a volunteer.

A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Beene is the director/founder of the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, a collective of non-profit and for-profit entities with a mutual interest in alleviating poverty. Together these partners work to create opportunities for community transformation. Beene is also a lecturer/faculty member at Acton University, Grand Rapids, and regular guest speaker at many local, state, national, and global conferences.

Beene is the vice president of the board of directors of Mosaic Christian Community Development Association in Benton Harbor, Mich. He also serves on the board of the Grand Rapids Nehemiah Project in Grand Rapids and the International Advisory Board for the Center for Transforming Mission in Guatemala City.

Beene holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and family studies from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., a master’s degree in social work in management of human services from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a master’s in ministry leadership from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in transformational leadership with a focus in entrepreneurial transformation from Bakke Graduate University, Seattle, Wash.

Beene lives with his wife, Karianne, and their two children, Jelani and Cheyenne, in Grand Rapids.

“My heart is truly humbled and I am deeply thankful for the work of Wheat Ridge in honoring and investing in community leaders,” Beene said. “This award is affirming, not necessarily just of me, but also of my supportive family, my amazing team, church, community, and the work that the Holy Spirit is doing in all of us.”

Beene was selected by a panel of ministry practitioners, all with passion for and expertise related to poverty alleviation. The expert panel reviewed finalists from a pool of applicants from communities across the country. Applicants each submitted a video that articulated how their unique work was alleviating systems of poverty.

“I appreciate the scope of Justin’s program; trying to impact his community on multiple levels, from economic to ecological,” said Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Founder, Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork, Los Angeles, Calif. “I also appreciate the depth and breadth of his theology and his commitment to develop leaders that both meet their own goals and serve the community. It is truly impressive to have created an organization with a sufficient funding base in two years.”

“Justin is an impressive young leader of faith whose organization is producing lasting change through a holistic and entrepreneurial approach to the issue of poverty,” said Rev. Mark Junkans, Executive Director, LINC Houston, Houston, Texas.

In recognition for his work in poverty reduction, Beene will receive a cash award of $4,000 and an invitation to gather with other inspired emerging leaders at the Wheat Ridge Emerging Leader Convening, to network, learn and reflect, hosted and paid for by Wheat Ridge Ministries. He is also joining Wheat Ridge staff at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) National Conference, October 4-7, 2017, in Detroit, Mich.

The Emerging Leader Award was established in honor of Dr. Richard Herman, Wheat Ridge Ministries’ fourth president (2006-2015), who has long had a passion for supporting and encouraging Christian young adult leaders.

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