Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell believes in Kalamazoo and has a great sense of what the community needs. He is motivated by action and the drive to have a lasting impact. If you have talked to Mayor Hopewell, you know that he is congenial and enjoys laughter. The smiles of children are one of his favorite parts about the job.
Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell has been the mayor of Kalamazoo City in Michigan since 2007. He received his B.A in Public Services and EMS Administration from Siena Heights University. He also has a Master’s in Organizational Learning and Performance from Western Michigan University.
The interview took place at a scenic and impactful location, Pretty Lake Camp. The nonprofit organization “has provided a cost-free summer camp experience to over 50,000 at risk youth from Kalamazoo County.” Pretty Lake Camp not only has a rich history for Kalamazoo but for the mayor as well. He attended the camp for fourteen summers during his youth. He worked as a counselor, health officer, summer director, and now serves on the Board of Directors.
Mayor Hopewell’s leadership experiences started before he became a camp counselor. As a youth, Mayor Hartwell got involved in many organizations that assisted others. He first remembers leading in elementary school when he was captain of the safety guard. He was also an Eagle Scout as well as a CPR/ First Aid instructor. You may be surprised to find out that one of Mayor Hopewell’s first jobs was as a hotdog “slinger”. He performed this task at WMU football games for a short time and later at A&W.
Mayor Hopewell learned a lot of valuable lessons in school. One of his junior high school teachers had a lasting impact on his life. Bruce Arney, a driven and caring man, taught the students to hold themselves to expectations and follow their dreams. If Mayor Hopewell could add classes to the school curriculum, he would have a class focused on success strategies that would teach note taking skills, active listening, etc. He would also have a class about cultivating passions. Students could explore their passions and find out what they could do to fulfill their dreams.
If you have the pleasure of working with Mayor Hopewell prepare yourself to enter “the village of can”. He believes in asking for what you want because the worst that can happen is you receive a no. He stresses that “no is just a word. It is not a mantra or a driver. No is an enabler, an opportunity.” You will likely hear him use the words inform, truly, appreciate and clearly often.
When recalling his state of the city addresses, Mayor Hopewell fondly remembers his second experience. He had the desire to give the speech at a place other than city hall so that the event would be a dynamic celebration. It took place at Lincoln School Auditorium which was fitting because Kalamazoo is the city of promise. The event went well and highlighted citizens in the community including firefighters and a rescue team.
For those that have aspirations to work in the public sector Mayor Hartwell has useful advice. He recommends gaining life experiences from different communities by living in different places. He also suggests having quality mentors to help cultivate the leadership skills within you
Mayor Hopewell embodies the type of leader you want for your community. He has not gotten lax during his tenure and attends every community event he possibly can. One citizen wrote a message on a sticky note during the interview. It said, “You are learning from an amazing man who decided to improve his community.”
When he’s not running the city, Mayor Hartwell enjoys superhero cartoons, sci-fi, movies, and a good meal. He also tries to find time for cycling. One day when he has more free time, he aspires to travel to Australia.
Mayor Hopewell encourages future leaders to:
Always… follow strongly first and dive in and do. Challenge leadership when you can and always be engaged.
Never… use the word I, or at least try not to. If you succeed most of the time, you are focusing more on the citizens/ team than yourself.
Follow… your heart.
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