Our love of our heritage and local communities is what drives our passion for preserving our history. Because of our belief that certain stories need to be told, we formed the Holland Film Group.

Holland Film Group Team


Howard N. Veneklasen

Executive Producer

Howard is a retired businessman and lifelong resident of Holland, MI. He holds a B.A. degree from Hope College. He is married to his wife, Julie. Howard has four grown children and five grandchildren. He is the moving force that has brought the Holland Film Group together to preserve our local community's heritage. Currently, he works with various nonprofit and for profit projects locally, nationally, and internationally.

Rob Byrd for HFG Website (B&W)

Rob Byrd


Rob is an Emmy Award Winning Producer/Director with a 2nd nomination. He has received over 40 National and State of Michigan awards for production excellence including 7 Telly Awards. During his days in Television Broadcast, Rob received awards on over 14 different productions. Rob is a Graduate of Ferris State University with a B.A. in Television Production. For the past 10 years, he has been running his own company, Moondog Productions.


Robert P. Swierenga


Robert is Albertus C. Van Raalte Research Professor at the A.C. Van Raalte Institute, Hope College. He is also a professor of history emeritus at Kent State University. He specializes in Dutch religious and ethnic history. Robert is the author of ten books, including the widely acclaimed Dutch Chicago: A History of Hollanders in the Windy City and Holland, Michigan: From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City, in three volumes.


Louis Hallacy II


Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lou, moved to Holland in 1956 when he purchased the Goodyear Tire Franchise known as Hallacy Tire & Supply Company. In 1964 he became the leasing manager for R.E. Barber Ford. Lou became active in the Holland community and served as city Councilman for 5 years and 3 terms as mayor (1973-1979). Lou retired in 2000.


Milton Nieuwsma


Milt is a two-time Emmy Award-winning filmwriter, author and creator of the PBS series "Inventing America." His 1998 book Kinderlager was named Best Book for Teens and selected by the Institute for Higher European Studies in The Hague as one of the Top 10 Books on the Holocaust. In 2009 Hope College honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award.


Ben Beversluis


Ben has 30 years of experience as a writer and editor and operates a communications business in the Holland area. He came to Holland in 1985 to open the Grand Rapids Press Lakeshore Bureau. He held several positions with the Press for 25 years and retired as editor of the Holland Sentinel in 2013. Ben holds degrees in history from Calvin College and journalism from MSU.


Gregory J. Dykhouse, Ph.D

Education Consultant

Gregory is a West Michigan native who has devoted his life to secondary education. He joined the Black River School in Holland, MI in 1996-1997 at its inauguration. His unique qualifications as an educator and historian make him a great asset to the Holland Film Group. Supported both as a Board of Regents Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, he earned his doctorate in Theatre at Louisiana State University.


Bob VandeVusse


Bob is a Holland, MI native where he has lived most of his life. He has degrees in History and Library Studies. In the past he has been a teacher, school librarian and freelance writer. He served 24 years as a member of the Holland City Council. Currently, he serves as the director of the Howard Miller Library in Zeeland. Bob has an active interest in our local and state history with a special passion and fondness for railroads and Great Lakes shipping.


Tom Van Howe

Semi-retired Anchor Man

Tom is a graduate of Holland High School. He spent 4 years in the Air Force stationed in the Middle East and returned to Michigan State University where he obtained a B.A. in Journalism. Tom went on to work as a print journalist in Martha's Vineyard, Miami and Louisville. Tom's broadcast TV career journeyed through Buffalo, NY, Louisville, KY and home to West Michigan where he enjoys semi-retirement.


Randall P. VandeWater


Randall P. Vande Water spent 40 years as an editor of The Holland Sentinel and since 1992 has written and published 15 books on Holland history and given numerous illustrated lectures. A Hope College alumnus and recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award, Vande Water did his graduate work at Michigan and UCLA. He has served on Holland boards and committees and received the Holland Historical Trust Friend of History Award. He is past president of the University Press Club of Michigan.

Dawn Ward

Dawn Ward

Legal Counsel

Dawn Garcia Ward is passionate about the law, travel, her family and community. Senior Counsel at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, Dawn helps companies manage the data that drive their businesses. She believes in giving back, serving on the board of Holland Hospital and having served on the board of Holland Historical Trust and the Hispanic Center of West Michigan. Since moving from New Mexico to Holland in 1999, she sees both communities connected by a focus on God, family and a strong work ethic.