Two new trustees want to leverage their extensive experience in business, finance and entrepreneurship to ensure the continued success of The Grosse Pointe Academy.
At the outset of this school year at The Grosse Pointe Academy, the school announced two key appointments to its governing body, the Board of Trustees. According to school administrators, Marita Grobbel and T. Hart Mecke, III, bring an impressive amount of experience and business expertise to the Grosse Pointe Farms day school.
“Marita and Hart already have been incredible and longtime advocates for our school,” Head of School Tommy Adams said. “Now, as board members, that advocacy combined with such a wealth of financial and business knowledge will no doubt help tremendously as we go forward with our strategic plan for a strong future for the Academy.”
New trustee Grobbel, who has built her career on innovation, relationship management, industry knowledge and entrepreneurial know-how, has served in a number of C-suite-level positions throughout the years with firms such as Unisys Corporation, ABN Amro Services Company and financial institutions that include Northern Trust Bank, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.
Strongly committed to the community in and around the Pointes, Grobbel, a resident of the City of Grosse Pointe, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the YMCA of Metro Detroit and a member and past chair of the YMCA Foundation Board. She is chair of the Board of Trustees for Ascension Health/St. John Providence and has advised the Services for Older Citizens non-profit organization as a member of its Board of Trustees. Grobbel also is a member of various committees for the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and the Detroit Athletic Club, and is a member of the Power of 100 Women of the Michigan Women’s Foundation.
Mecke, who along with board membership steps into the role of GPA’s board treasurer, is an analytical finance professional most adept at creating models to study new business opportunities, expansions of existing businesses, and changes in business strategies. Currently with Volte Advisors LLC, a Detroit-based municipal turnaround firm, Mecke has led studies and developed in-sourcing models for municipalities and has also developed models to measure the impact of the opioid epidemic on city and county budgets throughout the U.S. He’s served in leadership positions in finance with Cornerstone Schools Association in Detroit and Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, where he served as a finance manager with responsibilities in all areas of the automotive business in the United States and Asia-Pacific region.
Also well-connected to the regional community, Mecke has served as a board member and treasurer of Oakland Housing, Inc., a 501(c)4 organization that builds houses for low-moderate income families in southeastern Michigan, and was a board member and treasurer for the Country Club of Detroit, located in Grosse Pointe Farms.
Mecke also has a longtime familiarity to the Academy itself.
“My connection to GPA began in the 1960s when I attended the Early School for pre-school and kindergarten,” said Mecke, who holds a BA from Colgate University and a master’s from Northeastern University. “At that time, the school was the Academy of the Sacred Heart and after kindergarten, I attended St. Paul for the rest of my grade school education. My wife, Mary Alice, started in the Early School and graduated from 8th grade at GPA in 1974. She actually was there during the transition from the Academy of the Sacred Heart to the Grosse Pointe Academy.”
Mecke’s son, McCalla, who now goes by Ted, started at GPA in the Early School and graduated from 8th grade in 2011. After GPA, he attended Cranbrook for high school and currently is a senior at St. Louis University.
“Our daughter, Courtney, graduated from the Academy in 2017 and now is a sophomore at University Liggett School,” Mecke said. “They were both well prepared — especially in foreign languages — as a result of their GPA experience, Chinese for Ted and French for Courtney.”
For Grobbel, she also has long Academy roots as several generations of her family attended or were involved with the school back when it was known as the Academy of Sacred Heart.
‘Strong and vibrant’
“In addition, I’ve been on the finance committee at GPA since the major renovation project that occurred around 2006,” said Grobbel, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from Grand Valley State University and a law degree from the University Of Detroit School Of Law. “At that time, about 10 or 12 years ago, I also served as president of Northern Trust – Grosse Pointe.”
Grobbel has been committed to the Academy for long because she believes it is critical that a private, independent school like GPA remains available for students in southeast Michigan. “I think it’s very important that The Grosse Pointe Academy stays both very unique and vibrant. That’s why I’ve been involved with the school for as long as I have.”
That unique academic position occupied by GPA also is not lost on fellow new board member Mecke.
“GPA provides an educational alternative to parents and students not otherwise available in the Grosse Pointes or in the surrounding communities,” he said. “It’s a school with small classes, a strong staff and a Christian [or values-based?] orientation. One of the best features of GPA is that 8th-grade graduates move on to all types of schools within Michigan and outside the state. Schools like Grosse Pointe South, Grosse Pointe North, Liggett, U of D, Mercy, Cass Tech, Renaissance, Cranbrook/Kingswood and The International Academy as well as numerous elite east coast boarding schools. It’s difficult to find another school in the area that sends its 8th-grade graduates to so many different types of schools, which is a real advantage for our school.”
Mecke’s role as board treasurer also gives him a special insight and responsibility for the long-term viability of GPA.
“After serving on the finance committee for five years, I thought it was a great opportunity to continue to support GPA by joining the board and assuming treasurer responsibilities from Fred (Rollins),” Mecke said. “My goal is to ensure GPA is financially stable as the school moves forward. I also believe that the key to the success of the school is to continue to enroll students who can meet the challenging academic standards of the school and who will continue to contribute to maintaining such a vibrant school community.”