Board Members


  • joel ruiter

    Joel Ruiter currently serves as the Executive Director of Home Repair Services, a nonprofit housing support agency. In addition to serving on the Bates Place Board since its inception, Joel has been actively involved with several other boards of nonprofits doing significant work in the Grand Rapids area. “The Bates neighborhood has experienced significant transition during my lifetime giving it a unique story. But it’s been a story too often told solely through the lens of poverty, deficits, needs, and

    isolation. Through Bates Place Neighbors, it will be exciting to see a narrative start that places neighbors (and their capacity for change and flourishing) at the center.”

  • lisa derr

    Lisa is committed to having a direct impact and making a difference in people’s lives. As Director of the Center for Employment & Workforce Development at The Urban League, she seeks to enhance people’s lives by preparing them to take advantage of meaningful job and career opportunities. Lisa views her role on the Bates Place Neighbors board as another exciting opportunity to help people believe in themselves and develop a community of support.

  • james zwier

    James joined the board in 2016 to support the transition to asset based community development, drawing on his background of eight years working for World Renew in Southeast Asia. He studies ministry at Calvin Seminary and is preparing for ordination in the Christian Reformed Church. His passions include urban gardening, ministry in place, and cycling.

  • Dave jacobs

    Dave is a retired social worker who spent 34 years developing programs at Home Repair Services. All his work there was designed to help strengthen the individual.  Dave is delighted with the shift in focus at Bates Place Neighbors from serving the individual to developing the community, and he is eager to give this new approach a try. It’s his hope that this community can find its own voice and be heard in a rapidly changing city.

  • scott vander kooy

    Scott is the President of Comprenew a non-profit certified electronic recycler, and Tent Schools International, a non-profit education development organization dedicated to the needs of displaced people throughout the world. He values the fact that Bates Place Neighbors first strives to recognize and encourage the gifts that are already present in the neighborhood. Scott is happily married to Janice, and they have three children, Jake, Tatiana, and Luke.