Gerald R. Ford Leadership Forum


Gleaves Whitney
Executive Director, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation

Gleaves Whitney began his role as executive director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation on September 1, 2020. He is the fourth person to lead the Foundation as it fosters increased awareness of the life, career, values, and legacy of America’s 38th President.

“Gleaves has a strong background developing successful collaborations and partnerships, which will be beneficial for the Foundation’s relationships with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Library, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, as well as Grand Rapids community and nationwide entities,” said Foundation Chair Mike Ford, son of President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford.

Jeff Polet

Director, Ford Leadership Forum

JEFF POLET is Director of the Ford Leadership Forum at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. Previously he was a Professor of Political Science at Hope College, and before that at Malone College in Canton, OH. A native of West Michigan, he received his BA from Calvin College and his MA and Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America in Washington DC.

In addition to his teaching, he has published on a wide range of scholarly and popular topics. These include Contemporary European Political Thought, American Political Thought, the American Founding, education theory and policy, constitutional law, religion and politics, virtue theory, and other topics. His work has appeared in many scholarly journals as well as more popular venues such as The Hillthe SpectatorThe American ConservativeFirst Things, and others.

Lauren Velting

Communications and Digital Strategist

Lauren Velting is our Communications and Digital Strategist, where she promotes the values and ideals of our 38th President through a variety of digital platforms and media. Lauren brings experience from multiple agencies including a non-profit organization in Sydney, Australia. Lauren graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Advertising Management while competing on a national level for the Michigan State University Women’s Club Water Polo team.

Lauren enjoys painting, photography, and spending time with her family and her three dogs. In her spare time, she operates her own business, Elysian Illustrations, where she focuses on presenting a wide selection of art.