July 16, 2021 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Many Grand Rapids Community College students lost their jobs and faced food insecurity and other challenges as the COVID-19 crisis struck, and Lina Blair sprang into action.
Blair, GRCC’s director of Student Life and Conduct, led efforts to expand the campus food pantry, working with community partners and others to provide thousands of meals and other items so students could continue their education and help their families.
Blair’s efforts were recognized this week by Northern Michigan University Alumni Association, which honored her with an Alumni Service Award.
Recipients, who are nominated and selected by fellow alumni, are honored for significant achievements in their fields, substantial contributions to society, and demonstrated exceptional leadership and civic qualities. Blair was one of four alumni saluted; awards will be presented during Homecoming festivities this fall.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by Northern Michigan for doing a job I love,” Blair said. “I’m part of a great team at GRCC that is passionate about helping students overcome obstacles. We’re fortunate to have community partners who recognized the challenges our students were facing, and stepped up to help us time and again. Working together, we were able to make a difference.”
The alumni association noted Blair “has implemented and maintained numerous service projects and efforts to address barriers to success. She advocates for student support in mental health, COVID-19 relief, and housing and food insecurity. In 2020, she led her team to establish a wider-reaching campus food pantry, with a new location and enough food to supply students in need.”
“The committee members were struck by Lina's long-term commitment to community service that was already strong when she was a student at Northern Michigan University,” said Diane Husic, chair of the alumni award committee of the NMU Alumni Association’s board of directors.
“We were impressed by her ability to leverage grant funding and collaborations with the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, Feeding America West Michigan, Support the Girls and Plainsong Farm to address food insecurity -- which is incredibly important work, especially during a global pandemic.”
The Student Life team also created a grcc.edu/gethelp website to connect students with campus and community resources for a variety of needs, an effort that will continue after the pandemic.
Blair has been with GRCC since 2016, and previously worked more than 10 years at NMU, which is based in Marquette.
As the assistant dean of students, she advised student government, created a new program for NMU's first-generation college students and provided leadership for the student conduct program. Blair also served as an adjunct instructor for six years, teaching a first-year experience class.
Blair, a native of Quincy, Ill., earned a Master of Science degree from NMU in 2008, specializing in psychology, training and development. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the college in 2005, specializing in psychology and management.