Looking Back

Inspired by Heroes Far and Near

Who would have imagined in 1992 that saying “yes” to a job offer would lead to an almost 24-year career at what I have long called the very best position imaginable? This is an exciting time for me as I ponder the future — and reflect back on my many years here.

My life at the Mackinac Center has been all about three things: the VISION, the MISSION and the PEOPLE.

The opportunity at the center offered me my first look inside the nonprofit world. Before coming on board, I was employed by a major manufacturing company. While working for a large corporation has its rewards, nothing compares with the satisfaction one receives by being a team member at a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of Michigan’s citizens. Our vision of a better Michigan leads us to provide a free-market perspective, giving our citizens superior opportunities to evaluate policy decisions and make more-informed choices. Our mission commits us to achieve this vision.

My life has been enriched by the stellar people and real-life heroes I have had the great pleasure of meeting during my tenure here. One in particular was Sir Nicholas Winton, a British humanitarian who organized the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport.

My other heroes have been closer to home. They include the current and past co-workers who have enriched my life both professionally and personally; the contributors who have made the Mackinac Center stronger each and every year; the vendors who have partnered with us; and last but not least, the strong board of directors who have had the wisdom to place people with a vision, a strong work ethic, and an outstanding character in positions of leadership. These leaders have included my three supervisors: the late Joseph P. Overton, who first hired me; President Emeritus Lawrence W. Reed, with whom I have traveled the world; and current President Joseph G. Lehman, who made the transition between leaders look easily achieved. It has been a privilege to work with them. All of these local heroes have made the Mackinac Center a place I have called home these many years. I leave with the full knowledge that the legacy of the center is in good hands! I leave a large chunk of my heart on the corner of Gordon and Main and will continue to follow each victory achieved. After all, as a Legacy Society member I have a vested interest in what is to come!

In closing, I will steal a favorite word from President Lehman . . . “ONWARD!”

Kendra Shrode is assistant to the president, has worked for the Mackinac Center for almost 24 years, and will retire at the end of November.