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About
Ovell

The Corporate Gent

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan in a single-parent family who instilled the importance of hard work and education. I started working as a newspaper carrier at age 12. An aspiring news reporter, I earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Michigan, then pivoted my career path to earn a master’s in social work. I went on to attend Michigan State University for a second master’s degree in HR and labor relations.

As a human resources executive with a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion, I’ve held executive leadership roles in an array of companies and industries, including Motorola, Dow Kokam, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, General Motors/OnStar, Spectrum Health (now Corewell Health) and Indiana University Health.

I’ve led teams that drove sustained cultural change and reduced barriers for diverse populations with a “human centered” approach. I’ve implemented policies and practices that addressed systemic and unconscious barriers and bias, giving everyone opportunities to thrive within a corporate culture.

Ask me a question

Every individual has a unique story

What’s the greatest challenge I’ve faced as a leader in the diversity space? The answer is silence. People are going to be uncomfortable is often used as the reason to avoid having needed conversations. But you need to use your voice as a catalyst for understanding and change, to advocate for others and to build better communities.

Candid and unfiltered conversations about racism, discrimination, and diversity lead to understanding. What we don’t understand, we often fear. And when we fear something, we want to control it or keep it as far away as possible. And that holds people and organizations back from reaching their full potential.

Every individual has a unique story. By offering opportunities to get to know our colleagues, we build trust. Trust allows people to thrive by bringing their “whole-selves” to work. This leads to better engagement, productivity and retention – at a time when employees have more choices than ever.

Leaders who master these skills and competencies build a human-centered culture of inclusion that will ensure success well into the future. I am driven by a personal goal to help strengthen communities and to encourage people to advocate on behalf of others.

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Certifications

Honors & Awards

  • Crain's Notable Leaders in Human Resources
  • Top 100 Chief Diversity Officer,
    National Diversity Council
  • Top 100 Human Resource Leader,
    National Diversity Council
  • Top 50 Under 50 Executive,
    National Black MBA Association
  • Top 100 Human Resources Professional, OnCon
  • Walter Coe Public Service GIANT award,
    City of Grand Rapids