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Powerful Women Let's Talk - 051: Mia Gutridge

Mia Gutridge
Mia Gutridge
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Mia Gutridge

Mia Gutridge has a servant’s heart. She proves that daily as a Senior Human Resources Generalist at the Grand Rapids Housing Commission, responsible for all things HR. She is currently a department of one where during the pandemic, she had to help make sure their clients’ housing was not interrupted by the changes in society such as job loss or reduced housing.

Mia is also the president of the Grand Rapids Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., where she is responsible for leading and providing vision for the organization. As a public service sorority, she leads the way to community activism and assistance to those in need. Mia wears many hats and has proven to be a Powerful Woman in our community.

Powerful Women: Let’s Talk is created by WGVU NPR and made possible by WGVU NPR sustaining monthly donors. Become a sustaining monthly donor now at wgvu.org/donate to support WGVU NPR’s local programs, including Powerful Women: Let’s Talk.


Full Transcript:

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>> Produced by women about women, Powerful Women, Let's Talk is a series of interviews with women who are trailblazers and have helped shape our world. Transforming who we are and how we live.

Jennifer Moss: Hello everyone. It is time for Powerful Women, Let's Talk. Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm Jennifer Moss. It is a pleasure to bring you today's powerful woman Mia Gutridge. She is the senior HR generalist at the Grand Rapids Housing Commission with numerous certifications in human resources. She is responsible for all things HR but, those things got a little more complicated during the pandemic. We're going to talk about that. She's also the president of the Grand Rapids alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. A public service sorority that's been in place since 1913 and she's doing some amazing things there in our community. So thanks so much for joining us today Mia for this edition of Powerful women, Let's Talk.

Mia Gutridge: Thank you for having me.

Jennifer Moss: Okay. It's a pleasure to have you here. So I want to talk about all that you're doing at the housing commission but, first I want to add that you're also the first lady at Saint Luke AME Zion church and you're the district president of the Women's Home and Missionary Society of the western Michigan district. Plus, you're the director of music at the church and you serve on the evaluation and impact committee for the Women's Resource Center. So you've got a full plate and much of what you do it seems to me, has a very similar thread. It's all interconnected, you like public service.

Mia Gutridge: I do, it excites me. I enjoy helping people and that's what keeps me going is community service.

Jennifer Moss: So listen, let's start with the Housing Commission which provides housing, of course, for low income families and that's a big issue to tackle considering it's reported that we have a lack of affordable housing in the Grand Rapids area and add to that, the pandemic and I'm guessing you guys have been very, very busy.

Mia Gutridge: Yes, when they named the pandemic COVID-19 from March 2020 we had to let all of our employees except for the essential employees go home because of the governor's mandate and so the essential people stayed and we did double, triple, quadruple duties to make sure that our clients still had their housing that their payments were going to the landlords on time, we had to do the interims and what that is is because a lot of people have lost their jobs or were laid off for that period of time or their hours were cut down, we had to make sure that their income was recalculated. So, their rent would be able to get paid during that season. So, we were without a full staff until May 18.

Jennifer Moss: Wow, and so again, you handle the human resources side so you had some challenges to keep you and those that were there safe and it was your job to keep up with the changing face of Covid. You had to deal with that.

Mia Gutridge: Absolutely. I too, had to learn all the new regulations. The compliances the changes that happened under the HR umbrella meaning what were the laws against wearing masks? You know, either you can mandate it or not mandated temperature check, who's qualified to do the temperature check? Can the organization do the temperature check? Or should we allow the employees to self-certify? Or should we bring in a 3rd party to do our temperature checks? So, looking at all of those new regulations and compliances from OSHA and from the federal government and try and to see how they apply to the housing commission. It was a lot of reading. It was a lot of stumbling. It was a lot of oops, I made a mistake. Let's rewind and do it again. You know, so it was the unknown that you had to hurry up and learn in a short period of time and not only that train your staff and implement it. We were on a fast roller coaster.

Jennifer Moss: I was going to say, and a lot of moving parts with that as well.

Mia Gutridge: Yeah.

Jennifer Moss: A lot to keep up with but, again the important piece of that is keeping people in their homes so they can maneuver through everything, you know, it's a difficult year and so the last thing you want to worry about housing.

Mia Gutridge: Absolutely

Jennifer Moss: So, as we talk about powerful women, share with us, if you will some of the barriers you may have had to face as you've moved to your positions. What you do, trying to help others but, probably you've had issues of your own to handle as you travel along your careers path. What are some of the barriers that you may have faced?

Mia Gutridge: Some of the barriers that I face, number one is not knowing- it’s the unknown that sometimes what paralyzed me and until I know it is a barrier but, it’s a self-barrier that I put up against myself that I'm still working on, I’m not perfect, but I'm getting there. I’m striving for perfection and just learning a new area or learning a new task, or understanding and new policy or law that I have to be able to rattle off or implement with the employees or even myself and the barrier that I put up myself is like, okay, Mia how are you going to implement this? If you do it wrong, then how are they going to look at you? If you do it right, then how will they look at you then? It’s that I talked myself in circles.

Jennifer Moss: Like a mental barrier.

Mia Gutridge: Yes, it is and I try to block that mental barrier and try to look at it for face value and then that's when I am able to move forward.

Jennifer Moss: And I mentioned off the top that you are also the president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated Grand Rapids Alumni Chapter. I see your beautiful red shirt there today. Red and white and that's a big commitment right there and as you do that as well as your day job, tell us- because you work with so many people in both capacities. What leadership traits do you like to see in those you work with, perhaps those that you mentor because we know we mentor a lot of young people so, what leadership traits do you like to see?

Mia Gutridge: Accountability, compassion-a person that can show empathy to one another. Being at work and being the president of the Grand Rapids alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, it's important that I use time management and allow the individuals that I provide leadership to also use their time management skills, their work life balance and also hold them accountable as well as also tell them to hold me accountable. You know, juggling all the things that I do and all the hats that I wear, sometimes I can drop the ball on some things and I don't beat myself up because I've dropped the ball, I asked the people that I provide leadership over to hold me accountable but, also empathize with me, you know, and don't say well you said you're going to do this but, you didn't. You know, because my job is my job it’s paid, Delta Sigma Theta is volunteer and so, you know, you have to show empathy and to even be compassionate it to a person that's trying to have so many balls in the air and juggling it and especially during the pandemic when we had to make changes and make changes fast. Delta means change and we had to make changes really quickly in order to keep our chapter in order to keep the sorority moving forward. So those are the traits.

Jennifer Moss: Absolutely and so you know, on our journey in life, we move and strive to move forward. Many women say it took a while to get there, we face obstacles challenges and a whole lot more. So for our listeners, what has it taken for you to become comfortable to find your own voice and you could call it to be comfortable in your own skin, to own everything to own it?

Mia Gutridge: Good question- my faith in God, prayer, meditation and having a girl squad. Getting the right people around me. That will say, yeah, you’re doing a good job or you know, you shouldn’t have done that, what we’re you thinking when you did that. You know, to hold me accountable but, a lot of prayer and I rely on a couple of people as mentors to run things by and I ask them to really be truthful and say, well, you know, you shouldn’t have done that and that way, then I’ll go back and correct it because anything, you can change anything. Any mistakes that you make, you can always change it and make it right. That's what I say to myself.

Jennifer Moss: And it makes you comfortable within yourself I would imagine too.

Mia Gutridge: Absolutely.

Jennifer Moss: So, I always like to talk to people about, you know, how they got where they are and to encourage those who are younger than us who may not be able to see the forest before the trees, so to speak. So, many women deal with the pressures of getting it all done, like you said, you've got many hats that you wear. What was your journey like when you were raising your kids? I know your daughter is grown, right. So, what was it like to balance all of that? You may not have been president of the sorority then but, you were still wearing a lot of hats.

Mia Gutridge: Absolutely, mistakes happen and I made a lot of mistakes raising my daughter. Just listen communicate, my husband and I, we were active parents with her. If I couldn’t make it to an event, I would ask him to make it to the event but, if I could make it to an event then I’m there and I'm present. No cell phones, no other calls that I needed to make or anything. I was there supporting my daughter 100% of the time. When discipline had to be given out, we disciplined together, but we also follow this rule, if you asked your dad and he said no don't come and ask your mom.

Jennifer Moss: Don't try to play you against each other.

Mia Gutridge: That's right.

Jennifer Moss: Absolutely, absolutely. So, you know, I always ask this, but it's my favorite question, what is it as you know, as we get older you see need for laughter in this day in age and all that's going on. What makes you laugh?

Mia Gutridge: Life.

Jennifer Moss: Day in and day out. So, you find joy in every day.

Mia Gutridge: I do. My mother-in-law nicknamed me “Happy” because I'm always smiling, I'm always laughing and I look at the good in every situation until it proves me wrong but, life in general. You can find me laughing on the telephone, you can find me laughing in a stressful situation because that also helps to settle me and get my mind right to move forward. So, life in general makes me laugh.

Jennifer Moss: So-so much again happening in our world today. As we move forward, people are often looking for that word of encouragement do you by any chance have a favorite saying or favorite motto that you used to encourage yourself and others?

Mia Gutridge: Yes, I always use: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”, and that helps me get over the bad days, that helps me get over my uncertainties, that even helps me prepare myself when I am frozen in fear.

Jennifer Moss: And you share that with others, I would imagine too.

Mia Gutridge: I do.

Jennifer Moss: Being the first lady in the church, I would imagine using that and standing on that you set a great example as the first lady as well.

Mia Gutridge: Yes, and there are other scriptures that I give out but, that is my favorite one and you know, I will hug a person and whisper that in in their ear, especially if they're down or if they're struggling with something, I would give them a big hug and just whisper it. You can do all things through Christ which strengthens you.

Jennifer Moss: Mia Gutridge, you are so encouraging and you are an uplifting spirit. I really enjoyed our conversation- it was so nice talking with you and of course we want to thank all of you for joining us today for another edition of Powerful Women, Let’s Talk.

Mia Gutridge: Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Jennifer Moss: I'm Jennifer Moss. Enjoy the day.

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>> Produced by women about women. These powerful podcasts focus on powerful women and how their strength transforms who we are and how we live. Want to hear more Powerful Women, Let's Talk? Get additional interviews at WGVU.org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe. Powerful Women, Let’s Talk is produced by WGVU at the Meijer Public Broadcast Center at Grand Valley State University. The views and opinions expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU, its underwriters or Grand Valley State University.

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Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.