Skip to content

A project as big as restoring the Grand River takes the coordinated work and effort of multiple people and organizations. While Grand Rapids WhiteWater is focused specifically on dam removal and river restoration, our partners are also working to develop the waterfront, protect the river ecosystem, improve water quality and ensure access for all our citizens.

Outdoor Enthusiasts, Civic Ldaders, Environmentalists, Interested Citizens, YOU

GRWW/City of Grand Rapids Visit Glenwood Springs, CO

From Left to Right: Mike Staal; Project Manager for the City of Grand Rapids, Jason Carey; Principal Engineer for River Restoration Org, and Matt Chapman: Project Manager for Grand Rapids WhiteWater stand on along the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs after a two day design workshop at River Restoration Org Headquarters in Carbondale, CO.

Meet our Project Partners

City of Grand Rapids logo
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Logo
Grand Rapids Public Museum logo
EcoAnalysts logo
Encompass logo
ERM logo
River Restoration logo

Project Leadership

Grand Rapids WhiteWater is led by Steve Heacock and Matt Chapman, with support from an Active Board of Directors and capital campaign cabinet.

Board Members

Campaign Cabinet

Fred Keller
Honorary Committee Co-Chairs

Teresa Weatherall Neal
Honorary Committee Co-Chairs

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss
Endorsement Council Co-Chairs

Jim Saalfeld
Endorsement Council Co-Chairs

John Green
Campaign Co-Chairs

Megan Sall
Campaign Co-Chairs

Mike VanGessel
Campaign Co-Chairs

River restoration Partners

Project Partners & Affiliates

The City of Grand Rapids has been a key partner in the restoration of our Grand River since the founding of Grand Rapids Whitewater. The City of Grand Rapids has not only made a financial commitment to the river restoration, but they have also committed extensive staff time and expertise. The City is assisting with overall project planning & management, engineering, professional real estate services, marketing, permitting, construction management & contracting, implementing the Equitable Grand River Restoration Initiative and other tasks as required. The City of Grand Rapids will be the permit applicant and owner of physical structures in the Grand River until or unless another organization is identified to serve that role. After years of partnership, the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Whitewater formalized their partnership in 2019 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each organization in achieving the vision of restoring the Grand River in Grand Rapids, MI.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) is the organization responsible for city building and place-management in the urban core of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Established in 2013, DGRI serves as the singular management entity for the combined operations of the Downtown Development Authority, the Downtown Improvement District, and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority. DGRI led the GRForward planning process that engaged over 4,400 citizens in the development of a 10 year community plan and investment strategy to transform the Grand River into a distinct asset and support the next generation of growth in Downtown Grand Rapids.

The vision of the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is “to inspire passionate curiosity and a deeper understanding of the world around us.” GRPM is a key partner in the Grand Rapids Whitewater Summer Science and Leadership Program through their donation of classroom space, staff time and educational content. GRPM will also play a unique role in documenting this restoration project for future generations. President and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Dale Robertson said, “In the future there will be three distinct phases to the history of Grand Rapids. The founding of the city, the growth of the furniture industry, and the Restoration of the Grand Rapids.”

The Grand Valley Metro Council (GVMC) aids with grant writing, public outreach, education and communication/coordination efforts with upstream and downstream communities and government leaders. In 2017, GVMC secured a $4.1M commitment from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program for in-stream habitat restoration in the Grand River from the Sixth Street dam downstream to Fulton Street Bridge as part of the Grand River Revitalization project.

LGROW is an agency of the GVMC whose mission is to discover and restore all water resources and celebrate our shared water legacy throughout our entire Grand River Watershed community. LGROW is a critical partner in the restoration of the Grand River and a key player in the Grand Rapids Whitewater Summer Science and Leadership Program. LGROW provides extensive education and outreach about the river to thousands of local students and community members each year. Take a few minutes to learn more about LGROW by watching this video:

Kennari Consulting has been working closely with Grand Rapids WhiteWater since our initial fundraising feasibility study launched in 2016. Kennari Consulting is one of the largest full-service fundraising consulting firms in Michigan. Sandi Frost Steensma started Kennari Consulting in 2007 because she realized that nonprofit organizations needed more customized, day-to-day “nuts and bolts” fundraising support as well as campaign coaching. Today, the firm has 13 staff members and serves more than 100 nonprofit organizations with consulting and direct services each year.

Professional Services

River Restoration Org is the lead engineering and design firm working to restore the rapids in Grand Rapids. In 2009, GRWW hired River Restoration because of their uniquely holistic approach to restoring rivers. “We are river engineers and watershed scientists with a strong stewardship ethic. We are true to the river in all that we do. We apply our technical expertise to enhance the social, economic and ecologic values carried by our rivers. We help communities make their rivers into better places.”

Ms. Heidi Dunn has been working with the Grand River Restoration team since 2013 and is the professional Malacologist (Mussel Biologist) leading efforts to preserve and protect Federally endangered and state threatened & endangered mussel species in the Grand River. Since 1990, Heidi has successfully completed over 650 projects involving fish, invertebrates, and unionid mussels throughout the Midwest for management and regulatory purposes.

Marty Holtgren, Ph.D. is a fisheries biologist and scientist who has been involved with the Grand River Restoration team since 2017 with a focus on native species restoration, Tribal fishing rights and fishery management. Recently he has focused efforts towards engaging local communities in research and restoration of culturally vital species and habitats.

ERM is a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, social consulting services and sustainability related services. ERM has been assisting the Grand River Restoration team since 2013. Currently, they are writing and developing an Environmental Assessment and conducting a cultural resources survey as part of the required permitting documents.

ECT provides innovative management and river restoration solutions. ECT joined the Grand River Restoration team in 2018 and is currently leading the development of a Watershed Project Plan as required by the Natural Resource Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant award.

Richard Bishop served as the president and CEO of Grand Rapids Whitewater from August 2017–December 2018. Richard came to Grand Rapids from Columbus, GA where he led a $25 million dollar effort to restore a 2.5 mile urban whitewater course on the Chattahoochee River that catalyzed a 30% growth in gross receipts in the downtown business district over a six year period following the river restoration project. He is currently Chief of Staff to Mayor Henderson III.