FORUM Vol. 39, No. 14, November 24, 2014


President of local bank to address graduates at commencement

Students participating in the winter commencement ceremony December 6 will hear an address from Grand Valley alumna Laurie Finney Beard, president of Founders Bank and Trust in Grand Rapids.

The commencement ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at Van Andel Arena; it will be available live at

Finney began as an investment broker in 1991 when she and other business leaders formed a partnership to create the bank. Her first role was senior vice president and she has served as president and CEO since 2001. Founders’ assets have tripled under her leadership.

Laurie Finney Beard

Laurie Finney Beard

Beard is an active community member, serving as trustee of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and board member of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids. At Grand Valley, she is a member of the Grand Valley University Foundation board, Seidman College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and Vice Provost for Health Advisory Board. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Millikin University and a master’s of business administration degree from Grand Valley in 1981. 

During the ceremony, the Alumni Association will present the Young Alumni Award to Ryan Slusarzyk, ’08, global project manager for the Amway Corporation. He is a member of many organizations in the community and at Grand Valley, including the Seidman College of Business Alumni Association Board and Spectrum Health Foundation Council. He has been named one the “40 under Forty” by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Three individuals will receive an honorary degree during the ceremony: Laurie Finney Beard, James Kofi Annan and Thomas A. Wisner.

Annan is founder of Challenging Heights, an organization that promotes youth and family empowerment and children’s rights to education and freedom from forced labor in Ghana. Students and faculty members have worked and learned from him over the past five years. Wisner is president of L.E.T., Inc., a land acquisition and development company. He and his wife, Joyce Wisner, created scholarships for first-generation and non-traditional engineering students and physical therapy doctoral students.