Two siblings credit their strong roots in Bay County for their ability to grow into statewide roles.
Mallory Rivard, a first-grade teacher in the Bay City Public Schools, was crowned Miss Michigan in June of 2019. Her brother, Mitchell Rivard, serves as U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee’s Chief of Staff in Washington, DC. Kidee’s district extends across six counties including Bay.
Though they chose different life paths, Mitchell and Mallory each credit their parents, Bay City Public Schools, and what they learned through community service for setting them up for success.
Today, they strive to create opportunities for other young people in their hometown.
Mallory’s Miss Michigan platform encourages parents to read to their children to build literacy.
As a member of Congressman Kildee’s staff, Mitchell says he lives in Washington DC, but is back in the Great Lakes Bay Region several times a month.
“The work that we do in Washington and the work that we do out of our Flint congressional office is for the congressional district and for Bay County,” he says. “I call it the best of both worlds. I get to be involved in politics in our nation’s capital, but I also get to work in my own hometown and my own community in a pretty impactful way.”
Mitchell said his parents, Troy and Wendy who run Auto Tec Inc. at 905 Salzburg Ave., inspired him to seek a career in public service.
“I think they took that work ethic and instilled it in both their kids,” Mitchell says. “As part of that, they got us involved in the community at a young age.”
Mitchell says his dad was not only involved with his t-ball team as a child, but still sponsors a team today. The Rivards also encouraged Mallory and Mitch to volunteer in the community.
When Mitchell and Mallory started at Western High School in Auburn, the emphasis on volunteering continued.
“We had to have 12 hours of community service to graduate from Western High School,” says Mitchell, but “I certainly had more than 12 and as a result of that, I just really fell in love with trying to help other people in the community. When I was 15, I was the youngest member of the United Way of Bay County Board of Directors.”
Mallory says she went from high school into a co-op job with S.C. Johnson that led to employment while she was at Saginaw Valley State University. She’s currently working on a Master’s Degree at Saginaw Valley State University, where she also received her Bachelor’s.
“There are a plethora of opportunities here,” she says. “I chose SVSU because it has one of the lowest tuitions in the state of Michigan. That was really important for me as a first-generation college student because I didn’t want to have student loan debt for the rest of my life.”
Mitchell helped start the Bay Area Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council, and both he and Mallory were heavily involved in the program. The Advisory Council has a voice in funding local projects such as building a spray park at the Bay City State Park.
“I think my love of volunteerism and seeing the changes in Bay City stems from there,” says Mallory. “That has really allowed both Mitchell and I to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in this community.”
Mallory says she loves still seeing the results of a residential clean-up project with the Bay County Habitat for Humanity. “Every time I drive down that road, I think ‘oh – I painted that front porch.’“
Mitchell remembers raising money for organizations such as Relay for Life of Bay County. “It’s funny, you drive around town and you see places that remind you – like driving down Wilder Road in front of Rowley’s Tires is where we used to hold car washes for Relay for Life,” he says. At the time he was co-chair of Western’s Relay team and recalled being one of the top teams in the county.
Keeping young people here
Mallory and Mitch each are committed to helping young people see the benefits of staying in this community.
“I remember that being a challenge when I was in high school. I still see that as a challenge, but with challenges come opportunities,” says Mitchell. “I think there’s a lot this community and the Great Lakes Bay Region has going for it.”
Several local businesses partner with the school districts to give students opportunities. The goal is that the students work for the companies after graduation. Both Mitchell and Mallory were part of Western’s co-op program. “I was a co-op at The Bay City Times,” says Mitchell. He worked as an editorial clerk at the newspaper, and “fell in love with communications and public relations and journalism.”
Both he and Mallory were recognized as co-op student of the year in their senior years in high school and received scholarships as a result. “I’ve always loved that about Bay City. The people who live here are committed to the community and investing in youth.”
“When I was in college, I was able to teach at eight different school districts across the region,” says Mallory, adding that she not only received real-world experience but also made the connections she needed to ultimately land a teaching job. “I chose to student teach in this district, and had a job before I even graduated college,” she says. “If I didn’t have those experiences, I don’t think that would have necessarily happened.”
When he is back in Michigan, Mitchell said he stays in the family home. He and Mallory said they both consider Bay City home and always will. “We also recognize how much this community has given to us, which emboldens us to give back to the community.” They also hope their experiences will give other young people the sense that Bay City has a lot to offer.
Both Mitchell and Mallory say they appreciate all that Bay City has in the way of attractions, too, including the new developments along the Saginaw River, but Mitchell said there needs to be more to keep people here.
“People are anchored to communities where they know they’re going to be able to provide for their families,” says Mitchell.
“There’s a lot of great things that are happening in Bay City and that’s a testament to the community. The traditions that we have and also looking forward to new things that are happening as well, but we’ve got to constantly come up with new things if we have an interest in attracting particularly younger folks. We need to have a keen eye on what will interest them, too.”