Tenisa Frye Is a Family Promise Changemaker

February 23, 2024

In honor of Black History Month, Family Promise is highlighting Black members of our community who are actively making change. 

Tenisa Frye has an unmistakable way of describing the work of Family Promise. 

“We’re changing tragedies into transformative triumphs,” Frye said. 

Now in her first year as the Chief Executive Officer at Family Promise of West Michigan, Frye’s path to Family Promise was happenstance. She was introduced to the organization through a promotional video of a young child narrating his experience of homelessness. That convinced her to get involved with Family Promise of West Michigan, where she joined the board and eventually chaired the DEIA Committee, all while working her way up the Farmers Insurance corporate ladder. 

However, when the CEO role at Family Promise of West Michigan opened up last year, she knew she had to make a professional pivot. 

“I loved my last role, but now I’m running toward a mission I’m passionate about,” Frye said. “I’m hoping to build upon the amazing foundation at Family Promise of West Michigan.” 

Frye’s experience leading Family Promise of West Michigan’s DEIA Committee is a major reason why she was recently named to Family Promise National’s Racial Justice Council. Nevertheless, she is quick to point out that she has experienced DEIA her entire life, which is why she made a conscious decision to focus on the issue early in her career. 

“Before my time at Farmers Insurance, I opened a childcare facility and created an atmosphere that was inclusive to diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses,” Frye said. 

That focus on inclusion is apparent in her work at Family Promise of West Michigan. 

“I’ve added 6 additional board members and 10 board committee members from various ethnic groups, ages, and backgrounds,” Frye said. “I’m also very proud of being able to prioritize our DEIA efforts with the board.” 

Currently, West Michigan’s DEIA Council is creating a resource library of literature, videos, and tools to help the leadership team implement DEIA. A clear example of equity shining through the organization’s work is its social enterprise program, where manufactured homes are purchased to house families. These families receive everything they need to feel at home – from furniture to Christmas lights.  

While Frye is forging her own path at Family Promise, she is also helping young people begin to think about their own journeys. She recently spoke to students at Grand Valley State University about service and solidarity. 

“I wanted them to know that they are starting their legacy by prioritizing service and giving back,” Frye said. “Being fully transparent, I told them it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.” 

She concluded her speech with her favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving.”

If one thing is for certain, Tenisa Frye is not standing idle.

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