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About Rapid Growth

Tommy Allen, Publisher & Lifestyle Editor

Tommy Allen is founding member of Rapid Growth and the creator of the "no topic or event off limit" G-Sync column. Allen has exhibited as an artist, produced films and even finds time to create exciting events for commercial and notprofit agencies. His photo-based artworks often depict highly stylized images addressing issues of identity that challenge social mores while examining the sameness within a diverse "humanscape." His civic projects include numerous awards and committees like Green Grand Rapids and arts leadership projects at UICA; West Michigan Center for Arts and Technologies (WMCAT) Capital Campaign; West Michigan Environment Action Council (former board member); Fulton Street Farmers' Market (expansion fundraising committee); and LaughFest's (talent cabinet committee), among others. In those rare instances when Allen is not creating art, preparing an editorial or fighting for community enhancements, he can be found with his partner working in the garden, enjoying a movie on the couch or simply playing with their rescued Border Collie. He became Rapid Growth's Publisher in February 2015.

Lauren Fay Carlson, Managing Editor

Raised and rooted in Grand Rapids, Lauren has spent her adult life participating in Grand Rapids latest renewal and revival. With a passion for people's stories and a belief that a place is more than a location, Lauren received her B.A. in English literature from Aquinas College and went into business for herself writing for various local and state publications. With a lifelong love for words, Lauren enjoys applying her skills to food, beer and entertainment, as well as more complex issues like immigration, housing, and gentrification. This obsession with people and their places has nurtured an intense desire to experience the world. Bilingual in English and Spanish with an adventurous spirit, you can often find her and traveling to far-flung destinations like Italy, Spain, and Iceland, or closer hubs like Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and San Francisco. But are most likely to find her at her Eastown favorites—Yesterdog or Early Bird Cafe—or working on her turn-of-the-century home. At the heart of Lauren's desire to write is the ambition for truth. In her post at RG, Lauren labors to do just that, mining the various communities of Grand Rapids for their own truths, the stories that surround them, the organizations and businesses that anchor them, and the individuals that populate and inspire them.

Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor

Stepping into the role of Development News Editor at Rapid Growth Media in July 2014, Anya Zentmeyer earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University, where she was also editor-In-chief of the student-run newspaper, the Grand Valley Lanthorn. Though the topic areas she has reported on in the past have been diverse, her journalistic experience has always been largely community-driven, reporting on everything from film to food systems to city governance through a hyper-local lens and contributing regularly to publications like Revue Magazine, Michigan Nightlight and Southwest Advance (via MLive.com). A Grand Rapids native, she doesn't think she will ever get tired of showing people where she lives by holding up her right hand and touching her index finger to the spot on her palm where she grew up. That is to say, West Michigan is very much where her home and her heart is, so reporting on development news in the city she has grown up alongside of feels only too fitting. Outside of work, Anya is happiest when she's spending her free time winding down on front porches with good friends, realizing she knows all of the lyrics to a difficult rap song, or trying to figure out what her anthropomorphic Boxer pup Leo DiCap is making that weird face about. Send Anya an email at anya.zentmeyer@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @anyazeee.

Ken Miguel-Cipriano, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Ken immigrated to the south side of Grand Rapids from Peru in 1990. After graduating from Grand Rapids Public Schools, he then went to the east side to the University of Michigan. Following college, Ken moved for work from the east side to the east coast until finally making his way back to Grand Rapids to become part of the startup community. He's a self-proclaimed tech geek through and through, and is interested in everything from research projects and consumer products to cyber-punk media. When he's not reading blogs, articles or watching videos on tech, he likes to race through the city on his bike, captain his neighborhood soccer team, spar in Muay Thai, watch films at home or at the cinema, and go into deep-dive conversations/debates about anything the person in front of him is deeply passionate (love deep field math? Ken's the person to talk to about that!).

Adam Bird, Manager of Photography/Videography

Adam was born and raised off of Woodward Avenue, on the edge of Detroit. His life transformed when he stole his father's camera from his closet as a child, furtively rediscovering the world through a lens. Being an active observer gave Adam a role and purpose that previously did not exist in his life. His father never asked for the camera back. He says, "I am so very grateful to the people who have helped me, even when I was too prideful to ask and too arrogant to admit it. My wife is my true believer, not just in my work, but in me. I can only hope every day to prove her right." Through all of the work and play that is his life, Adam says he always measure his virtue against a compass of compassion. "This is rarely easy," he says, but it is in the doing that life's poetry is found." Adam also sits on the board of directors for both The Geek Group and Give Camp Grand Rapids, and contributes to the Marketing Committee for the Susan G. Komen Foundation West Michigan.

Please send all press releases and article submissions to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com. For sponsorship and partnership opportunities, please contact tommyrapidg@gmail.com.
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Rapid Growth is published by Issue Media Group. Our publications are supported in part by underwriting partnerships with local businesses, institutions, nonprofits, and foundations to support and expand coverage of job growth, economic development, real estate, non-profit innovation, city building, and placemaking. Learn more about our underwriting policy here.
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