21st Annual Leadership Awards

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The University of Olivet will recognize three outstanding Michigan business leaders during the 21st annual Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner on Wednesday, May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Country Club of Lansing.

The 2017 honorees are leaders in their chosen professions and reflect the college’s vision of Education for Individual and Social Responsibility. They Include:

Chief Jim Blocker 

Chief Jim Blocker is the chief of police for the Battle Creek Police Department (BCPD). He has served in that role since February of 2014 and provides the critical leadership of all law enforcement activities in the City of Battle Creek and Bedford Township, an area of 65 miles. Blocker leads a department of nearly 150 sworn police and support personnel.

Prior to being named chief of police, Blocker served in various other roles within the BCPD including patrol officer, community police officer, SWAT team member, detective and executive officer. In addition, Blocker retains the rank of major in the U.S. Army, serving in the Michigan Army National Guard as provost marshal for Camp Grayling. He has done multiple tours of duty in South America, Egypt, Latvia, Iraq and Afghanistan, earning two Bronze Stars, two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the NATO Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.

While Blocker strives to provide safety in the City of Battle Creek every day, he is also thinking ahead to the next generation of law enforcement officers. In 2016, the BCPD entered a partnership with the Calhoun County Prosecutor and The University of Olivet Criminal Justice Department to launch the cold case course at Olivet. Since then, students have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Blocker and his team to reinvestigate decades-old cold cases.

Blocker earned a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree from Cornerstone College. He is a graduate of several U.S. Army command courses, such as the Red Team Leaders Course and the Senior Management Institute for Police – Police Executive Research Forum.

Rina Risper

Rina Risper is the publisher and owner of The New Citizens Press, a multicultural community newspaper of Lansing, Michigan. In addition, Risper is the executive director of The New Citizens Press Community Action Network (TNCP CAN). TNCP CAN’s mission is to raise awareness of stopping violence, focusing on domestic violence, and promote literacy programs and all forms of the arts – literary, expressive and musical. She also is a radio personality on MichiganBusinessNetwork.com.

The New Citizens Press debuted in 2002 and is published biweekly with a readership of 30,000 concentrated in Ingham County. The publication provides readers with a wide array of information and current topics about people of all backgrounds. Risper says that she loves to share people’s stories and messages, and especially find common ground between different groups to bring them together.

Risper has also created “State of Our Health: Through the Voices of Our People,” an event to foster open community conversation between survivors of health issues, medical personnel and the community; “Poetry in the City,” a program that gives people an opportunity to perform on the Capitol steps; and “Read to Succeed, Write to Ignite,” providing dictionaries and thesauruses to classrooms and teachers.

Risper is a native of New York, New York and earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the City University of New York.

Ric Walton

Eric “Ric” Walton, CIC, LIC, is the president and owner of Walton Insurance Group. Founded in 1951 in Jackson by Ric’s father, Lee Walton, the Walton Insurance Group is one of the largest privately-owned independent insurance agencies in the country and employees nearly 50 professionals. Walton has served as the president since 1974.

Walton strives to lead by example and encourage others to enjoy their career, work hard and focus on ways that they can give back to the community.

Walton is a board member for the Enterprise Group, OSB Community Bank and United Way, in addition to being a member of the Jackson Community Foundation, Citizens Insurance Advisory Board and Premco. The company also hosts an annual community Christmas Open House, complete with a visit from Santa, a decoration tour, gifts and refreshments. Further, the Walton Insurance Group Charity Fund was established to help people in need in the Jackson County community.

Walton earned a degree in finance from Western Michigan University. He is a native of Jackson and has three children and five grandchildren.

Tickets to the Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner are $75, which includes a $40 tax deductible donation to The University of Olivet. For more information, contact Carol Flanigan, senior director of annual giving and donor services, at 269.749.7625 or cflanigan@uolivet.edu.



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