March 08, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

A woman in glasses and a suit coat and scarf smiling.
La'Leatha Spillers is Calvin's first vice president for communications and marketing. Photo credit: Julie Balgavy

A Calvin University search committee has selected La’Leatha Spillers as the institution’s first vice president for marketing and communications. Spillers serves as chief advancement officer for the YWCA West Central Michigan, where she oversees the organization’s fundraising, development, communications, and marketing efforts. Spillers will begin her tenure at Calvin University on April 10, 2023.

“When I saw Calvin make the shift from college to university a few years back [as part of Vision 2030], that’s when my senses perked up a bit and I took further notice. What resonated with me from the university’s vision is the desire to equip people to have an expanded global influence,” said Spillers. “Calvin is a well-respected Christian liberal arts institution, and it’s an honor and humbling opportunity to be part of Calvin for such a time as this.”

Depth and breadth of experience

Spillers is well equipped to do this work, bringing with her 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, fundraising, and public relations. She’s held leadership positions at Bethany Christian Services, Grand Rapids Christian Schools, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Detroit. In each case, she has led cross-functional teams in the successful development and implementation of strategic initiatives.

“The depth and breadth of experience that La’Leatha brings to Calvin will elevate the great work happening here,” said Wiebe Boer, president of Calvin University. “What she has shown in her previous experience is the ability to help organizations, both global and local nonprofits, advance their reputation and tell their story better. I have no doubt she will help us do the same here.”

In her role as vice president of marketing of Bethany Christian Services from 2014-2019 she led an integrated marketing communications team to develop and deliver innovative strategic communications products, services, and programs to support an international brand located in 36 states and in 17 countries. She said the key to her team’s success was unifying all its branches through building relationships and partnerships, something she sees as crucial to her work at Calvin as well.

Telling Calvin's story together

I am committed to listening and learning and finding those common themes that thread us all together,” said Spillers. “Each department or entity may deliver it differently, but we are all part of that one body of Calvin, and we should be able to see the unifying themes. Our role then is to tell our story and equip our constituencies to do the same.

"The opportunity to use my God-given gifts and talents as part of a leadership team who wants to live into what Christ wants us to be—a light and influence across industry and culture—really resonates with me," said Spillers. "Calvin is doing great things to prepare students, and this is an amazing mission to be a part of. If we keep God first and at the core of all we do, everything else will fall into place."

President Boer co-chaired the search committee with Andy George, associate vice president for human resources. The eight-member committee consisted of members of the university’s faculty, administration, and staff, while also including interviews with student focus groups. The international search, which commenced in October 2022, resulted in a diverse and qualified pool of applicants representing 12 U.S. states and three countries.

About Calvin University

Since 1876, Calvin University has lived into Christ’s promise to make all things new. A world-class Christian university in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Calvin exists to empower students as they discover a bold, transformative education rooted in Christian conviction. Calvin welcomes all who are compelled by God’s work of renewal to join in the formative pursuits of lifelong learning, teaching, scholarship, worship, and service.

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