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Mayor Hopewell Goes Back to Where He Started - and Why He'll Always Call Kalamazoo Home

Bobby Hopewell

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell has worked across the region throughout his career in healthcare, but he wouldn't dream of living anywhere else. Local writer Gretchen Johnson, owner of WordPlay Marketing Communications, tells us about his new role leading a young start-up in Lansing.

In addition to serving as Kalamazoo's mayor, Bobby Hopewell was recently named president and CEO of Mobile Health Resources (MHR) in Lansing. Leading the young company offers new opportunities and a few challenges for the Kalamazoo native, but, as an entrepreneur at heart, he is finding it a perfect fit.

"Healthcare is undergoing dramatic changes right now and delivering better, faster, more cost-effective services to patients is vitally important - maybe more important now than it's ever been," Hopewell said. "It is the goal of our clients to provide outstanding patient care to the individuals and communities they serve. We help them do that."

MHR specializes in support services for healthcare. It provides patient billing services, employee engagement and customer satisfaction surveying, and group purchasing. Hopewell is the second CEO and the first non-founding leader to spearhead the 18-year-old company. In addition to overseeing the company's day-to-day operations, Hopewell is responsible for implementing strategy and driving growth.

When asked about the distance between home and work, Hopewell said. "Some days I commute, but others I work remotely. The company is based in Lansing, but we have clients all over the country."

Drive time is also work time, he said, but was quick to assure that he always uses assisted technology so his hands stay on the wheel.

Hopewell said his approach to leadership is largely a matter of developing his team and empowering them to perform at their best. It is an approach he learned as an EMS administrator and paramedic. His entry into healthcare was as a paramedic at LifeCare Ambulance based in Battle Creek. He still maintains his paramedic license and holds the profession close to his heart.

"You have an opportunity to intervene at a time of crisis and challenge. You encounter people during the worst of circumstances. And it requires you to be at your very best," Hopewell said.

Coming full circle, Hopewell became aware of MHR while serving as operations manager of Life EMS Ambulance in Kalamazoo. Mobile Health Resources began by serving the EMS and ambulance markets before expanding into other healthcare niches.

Hopewell said he is excited about the opportunity to grow MHR at an important juncture in the history of healthcare. As a Kalamazoo City Commissioner for six terms - serving four of those as mayor - he's no stranger to leading in challenging times.
Before joining MHR, Hopewell spent nine years with Borgess Health, serving most recently as administrator of Borgess Health Park in Battle Creek.
During the construction, Hopewell was working on his master's degree. In April, he received a degree in organizational learning and performance improvement from Western Michigan University.

With those challenges behind him, he was ready to build and take on something new. Without missing a beat, Hopewell left Borgess on May 9 and stepped into the role as MHR on CEO May 12.

Hopewell is passionate about Kalamazoo as a place to live, work, and start and grow a business. He is part owner of Salut Fine Wine and Spirits on Gull Road. Among his many volunteer and civic activities, he's also a vocal champion of Startup Zoo since it began in 2010.

"In some ways I'm more connected to Kalamazoo now than I have ever been," Hopewell said.

"I love Kalamazoo. I can't imagine living anywhere else. I am incredibly blessed that my career has allowed me to work in southwest Michigan and to continue to live in this masterpiece in progress, Kalamazoo."

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