MARCH 7, 2012
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Leadership by example Grand Rapids Business Journal has been identifying top female talent in the West Michigan region since 1997, saluting those who continue to achieve a place among the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan and congratulating newcomers who share talent in the region. The list changes each year it is published (every other year, alternating with Top Women Owned Businesses, for which nominations begin in August). And every year the list of nominations grows stronger. Many of the women new to the list this year are not yet 40. The list also reflects the talented women who continue to provide leadership even as they “retire” — a word difficult to define with this group. Why continue to identify women leaders? The Business Journal reported last October that women still have far to go: According to the 2011 Michigan Women’s Leadership Index, issued by the Inforum Center for Leadership through surveys conducted by the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University, the number of companies in Michigan’s top 100 with at least one woman among the top-compensated executives increased to 36 in 2011, compared with 24 in 2003. Among Fortune 500 companies in Michigan, women hold 35 (17.86 percent) of the 196 board seats. The MWLI provides a snapshot of the combined presence of women on boards and within the top five compensated officers of companies: •From a total of 662 executive positions named in SEC documents, the women top earners comprise only 6.19 percent, a decrease from 7.7 percent in 2009. •Only three companies among the top 100 have a woman CEO: Citizens Republic Bancorp, CNB Corp. and Community Shores Bank. •Four companies have four women directors: General Motors, Steelcase, Kelly Services and The Dow Chemical Co. Spartan Stores has three women directors. The Business Journal elects to request the time of judges from outside this region, women who are influential from east Michigan: Michelle Richards has been the executive director of the Center for Empowerment & Economic Development for more than 20 years. CEED provides small business training, counseling, financing and other assistance to women and minorities. One CEED program is the Michigan Women’s Business Council. Richards has served as president of the Michigan council and as a board member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. She has been honored with the Michigan Small Business Administration Women’s Business Advocate of the Year Award, and was a participant in the Women’s Economic Summit at the White House. The city of Ypsilanti and the Women’s Council of Washtenaw County selected Richards as its 2010 ATHENA Award Recipient. Anne Doyle is a contributing columnist for Forbes Woman and principal of annedoylestrategies.com. Her career began in Grand Rapids at television station WZZM 13 as one of the first female reporters hired. Doyle was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame for her leadership role in opening sports locker rooms for women reporters. She was named one of the 100 Leading Women in the Auto Industry during her tenure as a Ford Motor Co. executive, and she serves as Auburn Hills city councilwoman. Doyle authored “Powering Up! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders.” The Business Journal this year honors the most influential woman to ever call Grand Rapids home — former first lady Betty Ford, who came home to her final resting place July 14, 2011. The keynote speaker for the luncheon honoring 50 Influential Women in West Michigan, which is March 7 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel’s Ambassador Ballroom, is Susan Ford Bales — Betty and Jerry Ford’s daughter and a leader in her own right. In memory of Mrs. Ford, the Business Journal hopes to continue to offer encouragement and examples of courage to every generation of women. — Carole Valade
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O o p e w to d p su a in
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE HONOREES! Huntington Bank would especially like to congratulate our clients and especially our colleague Mandee Rick for their outstanding accomplishments in the business community.
2012 HUNTINGTON WOMEN’S ADVISORY BOARD
Our board is comprised of prominent business, professional, and educational leaders who have come together to assist Huntington in developing programs and providing opportunities that support and encourage the advancement of women in business.
DA Blodgett-St. John’s
Eva Aquirre Cooper
Bridge Street Capital Fund
The Skye Group
Arts Council of Grand Rapids
Seyferth Public Relations
Universal Forest Products
Member FDIC. Huntington® is a federally registered service mark of Huntington Bancshares Incorporated. Huntington.® Welcome.TM is a service mark of Huntington Bancshares Incorporated. ©2012 Huntington Bancshares Incorporated.
President/CEO Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids/Gilda’s LaughFest LeAnn Arkema is a woman of possibilities. Proof of her potential to realize noteworthy achievements is when she worked with a grassroots group of visionary volunteers who were determined to open a cancer support nonprofit organization in West Michigan. She became Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids’ executive director in 1998 — its fi rst full-time employee — and was promoted to president/ CEO in 2004. In the past 13 years, Arkema has led the way to raise more than $17 million — funds critical to making a positive impact in the lives of the more than 60,000 children and families who, since 2001, have accessed the nonprofit’s cancer and grief support programs at no cost to them. This makes Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids one of the busiest affi liates of the 52 Gilda’s Clubs
in North America. Then there’s LaughFest, which not only has become a major fundraiser for Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, but has put the community on the map by delivering an event that attracts thousands of attendees and headliner comedy acts, including Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Cosby. Making a difference in the community is not new to Arkema. She served former U.S. Congressman Vernon Ehlers as his community services director, St. Cecilia Music Society as its executive director, and Calvin College as assistant director of special events and conferences. She is a recipient of a West Michigan Business Review Innovation Award and a YWCA Tribute Award for business, management, industry and labor.
NANCY J. AYRES
General Manager Clipper Belt Lacer Co./dba Flexco-Grand Rapids At a time when the bottom line for many businesses in Grand Rapids took a drubbing, Nancy Ayres broke the mold. As general manager of Flexco-Grand Rapids, a producer of conveyor belt fasteners and associated products, Ayres was instrumental in helping grow the business the previous two years by 20 percent annually, adding a second facility in Grand Rapids and increasing employment by 25 percent each year for two years. Flexco-Grand Rapids has a budget of $50 million with 150 employees. Two years ago, Flexco ventured into the international market when it purchased Novitool, a Dutch company. Ayres’ ambitious nature started early in life. She double-majored in criminal justice and psychology at Michigan State University. Upon graduation, she launched her career at
Catholic Social Services before moving on to McNitt Contract Carriers and ETV Inc. Ayres pursued a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology at Western Michigan University. In 1993, she joined Clipper Belt Lacer as director of human resources and was promoted in 1997 to general manager. Ayres has strong ties to the community, serving on several boards including the Grand Rapids Metro YMCA and as former chair of Heart of West Michigan United Way. She is a strong advocate for workplace development, having played an active role in FIRST Robotics, Kent/Allegan Workforce Development board, The Right Place Inc., Manufacturers Council, Economics Club of Grand Rapids, Workpaths.com and Grand Rapids Community College Foundation.
MARY V. BAUMAN Attorney Miller Johnson
Blazing a new trail in the health care/legal sector is a recent hallmark of Mary Bauman’s career. Bauman is chair of Miller Johnson’s 15-member health care reform multidisciplinary team, which represents six practice groups. Her law practice focuses on employee benefits and executive compensation, with a primary focus on health and welfare benefits. For employers, the new health reform laws represent the most significant changes to health benefit plans since the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Bauman, a diversity partner with Miller Johnson, distinguishes herself beyond her legal acumen. Last year, she became the first woman president of the board of trustees in Hope College’s 145-year history. That same year, she was honored by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a 2011 Women in the Law winner and was recognized 6 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
with the 2011 Legacy Award for promoting diversity in West Michigan. Diversity and inclusiveness also are apt adjectives that characterize Bauman because she models it. She has worked with the pre-law society at Grand Valley State University to establish school year internships for students of color interested in pursuing legal careers. She also partnered with the Grand Rapids campus of Thomas M. Cooley Law School to establish an academic year internship for a student of color. Bauman has served on the boards of the Forest Hills Educational Foundation, Arbor Circle Corp., HHS Health Options and Western Theological Seminary, on the Reformed Church of America’s Board of Benefit Services and as an elder at Hope Reformed Church.
LAURIE F. BEARD President/CEO Founders Bank & Trust
Don’t expect to see a long face on Laurie Beard. A lifelong positive thinker and forever-optimistic Cubs’ fan, Beard without fail brandishes can-do enthusiasm in her leadership position at Founders Bank & Trust, which she has been with since its founding in 1991. Since Beard was named president 10 years ago, the bank has grown by 280 percent in total assets, with $25 million in revenues and $40 million in assets. Such notable growth can be attributed to Beard’s commitment to instill in each of Founders Bank & Trust’s 93 employees a passion to exceed customers’ expectations. Beard adopted a customer-focused corporate culture early in life through her father, the owner of a local drug store in central Illinois. She was taught the importance of local businesses supporting one another.
To this day, Beard continues to be a drum major of Local First, a nonprofit network of nearly 600 locally owned businesses in West Michigan that support local business ownership, social equity and environmental stewardship. Founders Bank & Trust is a charter member. Beard strengthens the community by serving on the boards of Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Senior Meals capital campaign, Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center, Downtown Rotary Club of Grand Rapids, Economic Club of Grand Rapids and Gift of Life. She also serves on a number of advisory boards at Grand Valley State University, including those for Seidman College of Business, Vice Provost for Health, and the Women’s Center.
STACIE R. BEHLER Vice President of Public Affairs Meijer Inc.
Stacie Behler shoulders responsibility well. As vice president of public affairs for Walker-based Meijer Inc., Behler has oversight of five state Meijer Political Action Committees and manages the company’s political involvement and state and federal policies. Behler also directs all of Meijer’s community and philanthropic work, which involves investing more than 6 percent of the company’s annual net profit back into the community throughout the Midwest. Her previous posts at Meijer include vice president of corporate communications, interim vice president of corporate team and labor relations, director of communications, and senior legal counsel and legal counsel. Behler formerly served as an attorney with Smith, Haughey, Rice and Roegge. She considers her transition from a traditional legal practice to a large-scope busi-
ness that requires her to oversee high profile issues and a multi-million dollar budget as among her most significant career achievements. When not immersed in corporate political strategies, Behler serves on the boards of Heart of West Michigan United Way, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Women of Courage and Achievement Awards Committee, Economic Club of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Behler also has been a member of St. Cecilia Music Center Great Artist Gala, Federal Bar Association, Western Michigan Chapter Council, State Bar of Michigan’s Committee on Character and Fitness, American Inns of Court and a founding member of the Michigan Center for Civic Education.
Vice President of Regional Communications Saint Mary’s Health Care As vice president of regional communications for Saint Mary’s Health Care, Micki Benz shoulders the overall responsibility for creating and delivering the message for the new Trinity Health West Michigan brand that was launched last year. She has initiated, developed, managed and executed four major capital campaigns in seven years with goals totaling $62 million, including a $42 million campaign for a new cancer center and a $15 million campaign for the Hauenstein Center. Benz was elected to the Legacy Trust board in 2010 and later named chair of its compensation committee, whose mission is to develop a performance review of the president. She also works with its marketing committee and has recently participated in the identification of a marketing firm to work with Legacy Trust in branding and marketing activities.
She has served on Pilgrim Manor Retirement Home’s board for three years and was recently named vice chair. Benz uses her bridge-building skills to facilitate a stronger relationship between Pilgrim Manor and Saint Mary’s Health Care, a relationship that includes connecting the hospital’s athletic club with Pilgrim Manor so residents and staff can take advantage of inhouse exercise programs. Benz serves on the boards of Inforum, Literacy Center of West Michigan, African American Health Institute, Michigan Health and Hospital Association and Saint Mary’s Foundation. Previous board affiliations include Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Social Services, Leadership Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Urban League, Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation, Comerica Bank, Grand Rapids Downtown YMCA and Clark Retirement Community.
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Director of Residential Services D.A. Blodgett-Saint John’s Home Grand Rapids City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss holds dual leadership roles in two vastly different spheres of influence, yet they are entwined with a common theme: improving the lives of others. Bliss was part of the initial team that worked on a plan to merge the D.A. Blodgett Home for Children and Saint John’s, after which she was promoted to director of residential services. Her earlier involvement with helping children includes serving as a former member of the DeVos Children’s Hospital Child Protection Team and, as a medical social worker, helping develop and implement the Shaken Baby Program there and a child sexual abuse prevention program at the Children’s Assessment Center. A 2nd Ward Grand Rapids City Commissioner who represents more than 60,000 city residents, Bliss generated support to convert
to a single-stream recycling program through the Kent County Solid Waste Commission. She implemented the MyGRCity Point program, which is already increasing recycling by 40 percent in Grand Rapids. She was instrumental in reaching a $2.6 million fundraising goal to redevelop the Fulton Street Farmers Market, generated a groundswell of support to keep city pools open, assisted with the organization of the GR Bike Summit and subsequent designation as a Bicycle Friendly City, facilitated the mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on parks and assisted with the creation of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. Bliss is a certified child trauma and loss consultant and an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University’s School of Social Work.
DOREEN BOLHUIS President/CEO Gymco Sports Inc.
Doreen Bolhuis is determined to do battle with a childrearing statistic she finds unacceptable: Forty-five percent of all parents feel they don’t have time to play with their children. On the positive side, 73 percent of children think it’s more fun to play with their parents than watch TV. Bolhuis, founder and president of Gymco Inc., a physical literacy company geared at creating confidence in children, is convinced parents are the not-so-secret weapon to encouraging their children to get active. Every time parents stop to play with their kids, they make memories, increase the bond between each other and increase their self-esteem, Bolhuis said. Gymco has been a pioneer in childhood fitness, and in 2008 teamed with Pontentia to bring an adult “brain fitness” club, Connections,
to West Michigan. Connections is a yearlong program that’s conducted in a social group setting consisting of eight to 10 adults. After building a successful business that is recognized nationally and internationally, Bolhuis is now engaged in a succession plan for Gymco. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Central Michigan University. She taught and coached at East Grand Rapids schools. Bolhuis serves West Michigan through past and current affiliations, such as the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Inforum of West Michigan, Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center and Huntington Bank Women’s Advisory Board, which is dedicated to mentoring young female leaders in financial literacy, board, leadership and vision skills and community service.
Executive Vice President/CFO Perrigo Co. Judy Brown can justly take credit for Alleganbased Perrigo Co.’s financial growth spurt. As CFO, Brown enabled Perrigo, the world’s largest manufacturer of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, nutritional products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and consumer products for the store brand market, to reach $3 billion in revenue with a five-year compound annual growth of 17.24 percent. Moreover, Perrigo’s stock price has steadily increased to a value approximately six times the price it was when Brown assumed her current role. Although Brown is Perrigo’s first female CFO, she foresees many other women in the pipeline for senior management positions. She’s led the way, holding various senior-level positions in finance and operations. Brown, for instance, lived in Germany from 8 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
1993 to 1998 and worked as a manager within the audit practice for Ernst & Young offices in Frankfurt and Stuttgart. She then lived and worked in Italy from 1998 to 2002 while serving in finance, operations and product development leadership roles in Whirlpool’s European headquarters. Brown received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Illinois and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. She is a board member of Belden Corp., University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Michigan Economic Development Foundation, Perrigo Charitable Foundation, National Association of Corporate Directors and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
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As one of the first
women in West Michigan to become a Chartered Financial Analyst, Kathleen Vogelsang knows a good investment when she sees one That’s why she chooses to invest her time and talents working with organizations that make the West Michigan community a better place to live. • As Director – Chief Investment Officer of Van Andel Institute, she manages an endowment that enables philanthropic giving to be used where it is needed most – in the laboratories of scientists seeking advanced treatments for cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases. • As a Grand Valley State University Alumnus, she has served as President of the GVSU Seidman College of Business Alumni Association, on the college’s Finance Advisory Board, and established a scholarship for nontraditional students returning to college. • As a Founding Board Member and President of West Michigan Youth Ballet, she has helped to grow the organization into a ballet company of more than 100 children from 12 different ballet schools in the region. • As a Founding Member of Circle of Red, American Heart Association, she has worked to educate women about the risk of heart disease, and • As Co-Founder of West Michigan 100 Strong, Kathleen worked to help raise nearly $40,000 last year for local charitable organizations.
Van Andel Institute salutes Kathleen Vogelsang and all of the
“Most Influential Women in West Michigan” honorees living lives that enrich the entire community.
President/CEO Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids Inc. Kathy Crosby only worked for six months at the Navy Exchange in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but it was long enough to give her keen insight into the importance of honoring and respecting other cultures and a diversity of opinions. Now, as president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Great Grand Rapids, Crosby continues that strong sense of diversity as a strategic thinker who shares trend observations and future thinking with the myriad of people she serves. GIGGR is a $25.1 million organization serving eight counties in Michigan. At Goodwill Industries, where she’s worked since 1980, Crosby counts her greatest professional success as the management of a $20 million federally funded project with a 36-month timeline for completion. This is when Crosby’s multi-tasking skills kicked into gear. Meeting that deadline required her to hire and train
staff, work with nonprofits, state government employees and private for-profit vendors, make decisions on contract awards and monitor performance. Crosby led Goodwill through approval and sale of $7.75 million bonds for retail business development, hired a new executive team, acquired property for three new stores, developed and opened three leased/build-to-suit stores, achieved three-year accreditation (twice), completed review and revision of corporate bylaws, led a strategic plan for development and established a 10-year business model. Crosby provides leadership opportunities for women through various boards and councils, including Inforum, Huntington Women’s advisory board, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Varnum Diversity and Inclusion, and Goodwill International’s senior leadership program.
GAYLE L. DEBRUYN
Assistant Professor and Program Chair: Kendall College of Art and Design Owner: Lake Affect Design Studio Think of Gayle DeBruyn the next time you run into an up-and-coming furniture designer or artist. As an assistant professor of design studies at Kendall College of Art and Design and program chair for Furniture Design, DeBruyn plays a key role in helping students intentionally pursue a deeper understanding, and an application of, sustainable design strategies. DeBruyn thinks, works and advocates “green.” She serves on the boards of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability, the U.S. Green Building Council, the Community Sustainability Partnership, and the UNU Regional Center of Expertise committee for the city of Grand Rapids. She also serves on the advisory committee for Design West Michigan and MiBiz.
DeBruyn is an owner of Lake Affect Design Studio Ltd. in Grand Rapids, which serves clients in commercial, residential and educational/institutional interior design. The firm specializes in environmental and user-centered design strategies. Key examples of its LEED project work include the Thompson residence in East Grand Rapids and the Helmus Building. DeBruyn earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in interior design from Michigan State University, and a Master’s of Management and master’s certificate in sustainable business from Aquinas College. She has been a Best of NeoCon judge for Contract Magazine in 2008, 2010 and 2011, and completed the National Charrette Institute charrette system training.
JOY FOSSEL Counsel Varnum LLP
Joy Fossel rightfully skews the image some have of attorneys eager to bill for as many hours as possible. She counts pro bono work as a true passion, and considers herself fortunate to be part of a law firm where volunteer service is encouraged and valued. Last year, she contributed more than 300 hours to pro bono cases. Her efforts have caught the legal community’s eye. In 2010, she received the Michael S. Barnes Award from Legal Aid of Western Michigan in recognition of exemplary dedication to pro bono service. In 2011, the State Bar of Michigan presented her with the John W. Cummiskey Award, the state bar’s highest honor for pro bono service statewide. That same year, Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly recognized her as one of Michi-
gan’s top 20 women attorneys. Another passion for Fossel is the vital role she plays as chair of Varnum’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, which now accounts for 50 percent of her overall work for the firm. Her work with this group involves leading the firm’s internal and external efforts to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the community, which has successfully culled a dynamic group of multiracial professionals. Fossel graduated magna cum laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing and earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Her six months as a foreign exchange student in Florence, Italy, has cultivated a lifelong passion for the European nation.
50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 11
FLORIZA GENAUTIS Founder/CEO Management Business Solutions
Floriza Genautis, founder and CEO of Management Business Solutions, has a passion for the minority business community. Her company has become a national player, with clients as far away as Silicon Valley. She attributes part of her company’s success to its emphasis on relationships. Management Business Solutions is a professional staffing firm that offers clients personalized and relationship-driven solutions. It places job seekers in the areas of accounting, finance, human resources, information technology, sales and marketing, and engineering. Genautis has a vita that furnished her credible know-how well before she founded her company. She has more than 10 years of accounting and financial experience and more than 15 years of professional staffing. Previous professional stints include accounting, human resources management, benefits administration and com-
puter network administration. She has recruited for Hewlett Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, Network Associates, McAfee and Nike. Genautis was born and raised in the Philippines. After graduating from De La Salle University with a Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics, specializing in computer application, she moved to California to start her career and met her husband, a Grand Rapids native. She serves on a variety of boards, including the Women’s Resource Center, Women In Successful Enterprises (of which she is co-chair), Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Direction, Diversity Advisory Council, Women Certification Council, the Michigan Society of Human Resource Management, Davenport University’s Employer Advisory Board and the Michigan Minority Business Development Council.
JANE M. GIETZEN
Technology and Information Solutions Director Spectrum Health Jane Gietzen has the responsibility of keeping the Spectrum Health Group staff informed. Her expansive responsibilities include directing the team that implements and supports information systems in legal, risk, compliance, supply chain management, human resources, payroll, benefits and finance — all within an operating budget of $7.5 million and $20 million in capital. She also provides senior IT leadership for the community hospitals of United, Reed City, Gerber and Zeeland, as well as those hospitals’ IT strategic planning and budgets. It’s clear IT isn’t Gietzen’s sole passion. She counts three programs from which she has graduated that influenced her perspective on life: Leadership Grand Rapids, Leadership West Michigan and The Institute for Healing Racism. Gietzen said such programs offer diverse perspectives that have rounded out the way she
thinks about issues facing the community. Gietzen worked for Grand Rapids-based Baan Co. and its subsidiary, Knowledgeware Solutions LLC, in an assortment of leadership positions, including resource manager. Her tenure with Baan includes working 30 weeks in the Netherlands, where she was initially hired to bring the transportation planning software to the U.S. market. Gietzen brings her professional background to the forefront as a Grand Rapids Public Schools board member, serving on its finance, education, liaison and executive committees, as well as the superintendent’s succession planning team. She’s on the Downtown Development Authority, completing a strategic planning effort that includes creating three advisory groups: experience, economy and environment. She also serves as chair for the Experience Action Group.
Owner/President The Paul Goebel Group Since assuming ownership of her father’s business, The Paul Goebel Group, in 1994, Meg Goebel has dedicated herself to a number of professional and personal endeavors that have promoted women in business. The city of Grand Rapids has recognized The Paul Goebel Group for its dedication to the downtown area, having been located in the Waters Building in downtown Grand Rapids for nearly 50 years. Its success as a woman-owned business has contributed significantly to the community. The Paul Goebel Group designs, markets and administers a range of insurance plans for life, health, disability, professional liability, commercial liability, property, workers’ compensation, homeowners and auto coverage. Goebel has been a member of the American Institute of Professional Association Group In12 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
surance Administrators since 1988 and served as its first female president in 2001-2002. She has served on the boards of the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Broadway Grand Rapids, Alliance for Health and the Historical Society of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. She also has served on the boards of the YWCA, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Planned Parenthood Centers of Western and Northern Michigan and the Economic Club of Grand Rapids. Goebel established “Suits for Suits,” which provides fundraising among executives to purchase swimming suits for underprivileged children attending YMCA swimming lessons. Additional community involvement includes fundraisers for the Michigan Women’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
sustainable . innovative . collaborative
Kendall College of Art and Design congratulates Professor Gayle DeBruyn, one of the Grand Rapids Business Journalâ€™s Fifty Most Influential Women in West Michigan.
Something to Feel Good About! March 9-11, 2012
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Ali Vincent Meet & Greet NBC’s First Female Winner “Biggest Loser” Champion “Believe It – Be It”
Jeffrey Zaslow Author A Tribute to “The Magic Room,” Girls from Ames, The Last Lecturer & The Gabrielle Gifford Story
Shari Steinback, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Cooking Stage Easy Meals for Healthy Families
Elizabeth Ann Wertenberger Miss Michigan “Continue to Dream” Sponsored by Dr Pepper Snapple Group Expo Sponsor:
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We are proud to salute attorney Raquel Salas on being selected as one of the 2012 Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Most Inﬂuential Women in West Michigan. Raquel’s innovation, leadership, and commitment to excellence is a great reﬂection of our law ﬁrm values. Quite different. And better.
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2/27/12 11:09 AM
MARCIE M. HILLARY
Executive Director for West Michigan; Vice President of Community Outreach and Resource Management Hospice of Michigan Stiff competition for hospice patients and a sputtering state economy has not deterred Marcie Hillary from leading a team that raises $3 million to $5 million annually for Hospice of Michigan. In addition to closing the gap for patients without financial resources, funds are used to provide the only pediatric hospice care program in West Michigan. Donations also are used to fund a fellowship for physicians and a nursing scholarship that assures medical professionals receive expert knowledge in hospice and palliative care. Hillary has overseen implementation of research programs that assure best practices are funded; a new and creative at-home support program to care for pre-hospice patients; certification programs for nurses and aides; and the establishment and implementation of volunteer
and grief support programs. Under Hillary’s leadership, two documentary films were developed and broadcast on PBS stations around Michigan: “Except for Six,” a Ken Burns endorsed video that follows Hospice of Michigan patients and their families through their final weeks to help demystify hospice; and “Grieving Families,” which utilizes Sesame Street characters and a panel of experts to help parents and children grieve together and remember loved ones who have died. Hillary has served on the boards of Catholic Charities West Michigan fundraising and marketing committee, Aquinas College alumni board, Hospice of Michigan Foundation board and St. Thomas the Apostle Social Justice and Advocacy committee.
Executive Director West Michigan Environmental Action Council Rachel Hood, executive director for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council since 2007, is an unapologetic “greenie.” Hood brings experience in fund development, strategic planning and program design and management to WMEAC’s mission. She is a diligent advocate for environmental sustainability, connecting environmentally concerned citizens with resources and with each other, informing residents of the best in global environmental thinking, innovating sustainable practices that apply the best in global environmental solutions to West Michigan problems and creating positive change by staying focused on a limited number of priorities. Hood has focused on implementing sustainable development concepts in Greater Grand Rapids throughout her career. She was influential in the program design and funding for the
Turner Gateway Project, a Michigan Cool Cities project. She was key in launching Local First, an initiative to educate Greater Grand Rapids about the value of locally owned businesses. Working with The Rapid public transit system, she increased participation in the Great Transit Grand Tomorrows study, which enjoyed a 500 percent increase in public participation. Hood serves on the West Michigan Strategic Alliance Green Infrastructure Task Force, Lower Grand River Organization of Watershed’s Development Team, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum Board, Green Grand Rapids Advisory Committee, GRCC Sustainability Team, Greater Grand Rapids Children’s Environmental Health Steering Committee, Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation, Progressive Women’s Alliance Candidate Committee and Michigan Clean Water Fund PAC.
MARIA LADAS HOOPES
Chief Judge Pro Tem: 60th District Court Acting Chief Judge: 60th District Court of Michigan Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes considers the development of a Mental Health Court docket in Muskegon County her most significant career achievement. The jail division program selects a group of misdemeanor criminal defendants with mentalhealth issues who are offered the option of probation with closer-than-usual supervision, regular contact with the judge, counseling and, when appropriate, psychiatric medication. The Mental Health Court’s partnership with Muskegon Community Mental Health provides intense mental health supervision, while the court, in turn, provides intensive court supervision. Hoopes meets every few weeks with defendants to review their progress. As a result, she has seen real success in lowering the percentage of repeat offenders. The program operates
without grants or additional funding. Hoopes is the first female to serve as a fulltime judge in Muskegon’s history. Born and raised in Muskegon County, Hoopes graduated from North Muskegon High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and communications from Michigan State University in 1987. In 1985, she was a student of international studies at Cambridge University in England. She received her law degree from the University of Iowa in 1992, and served as legal counsel to the vice president for university relations at the University of Iowa from 1992 to 1995. Hoopes serves on the boards of the Muskegon County Bar Association, Lakeshore United Way and the Child Abuse Council, and as guest faculty for the Michigan Judicial Institute.
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KIM HORN President/CEO Priority Health
Kim Horn and responsibility are a hand-in-glove fit. As president/CEO of Priority Health, Horn is in charge of leading the organization’s vision and strategic direction, developing a comprehensive and diversified portfolio of health and wellness solutions and guiding the corporation’s financial and operating performance. Horn previously served as president of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, which represents 17 health plans and more than 2.1 million health care consumers in Michigan. She came to Priority Health from Mercy Health Plan, the insurance subsidiary of Mercy Health Services in Farmington Hills, where she was COO, and prior to that, CFO. Before her move to Mercy Health Plan, Horn was vice president of finance administration for Health Plan of MidAmerica, an HMO owned by Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The Flint native held various positions over a seven-year period at Genesee Memorial Hospital. She left there as assistant administrator to assume responsibilities as controller and business affairs director at Physicians Health Plan in Lansing, an HMO managed by United Health Care in Minneapolis. Horn serves as director on various boards including The Bank of Holland, Davenport University and the Dean’s Advisory Board of Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration at University of Michigan. Horn is the 2004 recipient of the Ellis J. Bonner Outstanding Achievement Award, conferred by the Michigan Association of Health Plans, in recognition of individuals who have made a significant impact on health care in Michigan.
Vice President of Diversity and Community Initiatives Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Sonya Hughes knows “The Times They Are AChangin’” and she wants to ensure that Grand Rapids continues its trek toward being a city that welcomes diversity. Hughes, vice president of diversity initiatives for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, affirms employers must be sensitive to job candidates’ racial and ethnic backgrounds. Her career path is a reflection of her deeply held conviction that racial and ethnic diversity is a important. Her work in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural environments includes five years designing and delivering recreational and Girl Scout programs to kindergarten through 6th grade girls in Sparta and Holland, migrant farm camps and eight Grand Rapids Public School sites, and facilitating 50-plus Institute for Healing Racism programs, which successfully attract multi-
generational, immigrants and multi-racial participants. In 2004, Hughes was named the GR chamber’s first vice president of diversity initiatives and programs, a post that has resulted in her assisting other chambers within and outside Michigan to learn from GRACC’s diversity initiatives. Hughes has received the Dr. MaLinda Sapp Legacy Award, Grand Rapids Symphony Diversity Champion, CORP! Magazine Diversity Award, Wedgwood Christian Services Women of Achievement, YWCA Racial Justice Award, Knights of Peter Claver, Giants’ Walter Cole Public Service Award, Diversity Champion Award, Michigan Chamber of Commerce Executive Sonya Hughes Award and Michigan Trails Girls Scout Council Thanks Badge.
SHELLEY R. IRWIN Host/Producer WGVU NPR/PBS
Shelley Irwin enjoyed a stable career as a licensed physical therapist, but stable and challenging don’t always run in the same pack. It was slightly more than 10 years ago when Irwin risked it all and switched careers to journalism. She has no regrets. The host and producer of the WGVU Morning Show, Family Health Matters/Community Connection and Ask the Expert presents award-winning stories that educate, entertain and inspire her radio audience. Irwin is a sponge for knowledge. It’s why she spent time in Jordan, with a spotlight on the city of Petra, which included detailed conversations with those living in the area. Her journey to the Middle East produced an award-winning video and audio documentary on its life and culture. Over the past years, Irwin has served as keynote speaker or emcee for a number of organizations, including MHSSA Girls in Sports, 16 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
Athena Awards, Kent County Girls on the Run, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Girl Scouts, Grand Haven/Spring Lake High School Awards Ceremony, and War and Peace Kickoff. She has garnered five consecutive AWRT Gracie Allen Awards for outstanding show host, an Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan service award, multiple Michigan Association of Broadcasting awards and Silver Microphone Awards, and has been nominated for two Michigan Emmy Awards for Communicator/Videographer. Irwin’s active participation in organizations includes the University Club of Grand Rapids, Kent District Library Fund Board, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore, Girls Choral Academy, Rapid Transit and the Athena committee.
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CYNTHIA KAY President/CEO Cynthia Kay & Co.
It’s clear Cynthia Kay champions a multiplicity of clients. This year, Cynthia Kay & Co. helped launch Siemens’ first ever national diversity and inclusion program, all the while continuing to work with Wiley Publishing on its projects. Her video work for an East Coast agency, Compass Healthcare, is spreading the word about effective treatment for stage-four cancers. Cynthia Kay & Co. also produces communication for local nonprofits and global giants like Gerber Co., Novartis OTC, Herman Miller, Saint Mary’s Health Care, Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Grand Rapids Public Museum. Kay’s work isn’t always centered on the bottom line. She donates her creativity and energy to LaughFest, serving on both the original cabinet and the creative team for the first-year event that’s become a key fundraiser for Gilda’s Club
Grand Rapids. She also contributed production of all the radio and TV ads to launch and promote LaughFest. Her efforts to come alongside small businesses have caught state government’s attention. In his Special Tribute, Gov. Rick Synder recently recognized Kay during her tenure as chairwoman of the Small Business Association of Michigan for taking “a strong and viable leadership role in helping to enact business tax reform, a key milestone in the organization’s goal of propelling a new economic direction for Michigan.” Kay recently became chairwoman of the SBAM Political Action Committee. Her affiliations include Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business marketing department, Huntington Bank Women’s Advisory Board and the Cascade Community Foundation.
LYNN M. KERBER Regional Bank President Chemical Bank
Lynn Kerber is gifted with navigating big-time change. Three months after closing on an $83.9 million deal, Kerber, president of Chemical Bank’s West Region, was instrumental in navigating the merger of 14 Byron Bank offices in Kent, Allegan and Ottawa counties, and its parent company, OAK Financial Inc. The merger resulted in Midland-based Chemical Bank’s assets rising to $5.1 billion, which significantly expanded Chemical Bank’s presence in the Grand Rapids area and enhanced its ability to pursue greater market share. Kerber received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan University Lee Honors College and a Master’s of Business Administration from WMU’s Haworth College of Business. Not content with academic status quo, Kerber expanded her professional résumé with added coursework in financial and
sales training, MBA/RMA Graduate School of Commercial Lending, Municipal Finance and Not-For-Profit Accounting and Small Business Administration programs. Kerber has been recognized with a list of awards. Some of the more recent include the YWCA Tribute Award, Inforum West Michigan Inner Circle, Lakeshore Athena and, in 1997, Inroads Business Advisor of the Year. She is active in many organizations, including Inforum West Michigan, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Symphony, South Haven Community Hospital Foundation, Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Local Development & Finance Authority for the City of South Haven, South Haven’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Community Action House, West Michigan Lakeshore Certified Development Corp. and Risk Management Association.
Vice President/Executive Creative Director Peopledesign Yang Kim is an example of what creativity and a can-do attitude can accomplish. She has vast experience in designing everything from corporate product literature programs to holiday cards. While leading her design firm, Peopledesign, the last 15 years, she continues to design, direct and manage a plethora of projects, resulting in the firm securing recognition by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in America. Before co-founding Peopledesign, she served as a senior designer at Herman Miller where she was involved with the creation and conception of communications materials. Early in her career, Kim was enlisted by the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh to develop a media exhibit for children. She was a designer at Ethel Kessler Design in Washington, D.C., and managed the Reese Electronic Studio at Carnegie Mellon University.
Kim demonstrated her knack for grasping a new language and culture early in life. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim moved to the United States when she was 8 with only a couple of English classes under her belt. She quickly acclimated to the American culture and became fluent in English. Kim’s work has garnered more than 200 awards and received recognition from the New York Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club of New York, Communications Arts magazine, Critique magazine, American Institute of Graphic Art, Graphis, How magazine, International Design magazine and others. She currently serves on the board of St. Cecilia Music Center’s marketing committee, and previously served on the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and the AIGA National Nominating Committee.
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BIRGIT KLOHS President/CEO The Right Place Inc.
Think of Birgit Klohs as a Johnny Appleseed who travels the world to sow economic development in West Michigan. A native of Germany, Klohs has a tri-lingual arsenal and a worldly business view honed by extensive travel overseas. Her experience adroitly translates to successfully marketing West Michigan to companies from around the world, including Germany, France, Sweden, Australia, China and Japan, regularly traveling overseas to market this region to the world. It’s been a mission of Klohs’ the past 24 years to build and lead The Right Place Inc. from a local business development organization into one of the strongest economic development organizations, not only in Michigan but in the country. Within her two-decade tenure, Klohs has led the development of more than $2 billion in capital investment and facilitated the creation of
30,000 jobs. She also participated in a number of other critical issues related to the long-term health and economy of the region, including the most recent establishment of a 13-county economic development collaborative. Klohs administers a budget of more than $2 million and oversees 19 employees for the regional economic development organization known for its retention, expansion and attraction of businesses to the area. Those initiatives have helped preserve jobs and have led to thousands of new ones, including a host of opportunities brought about by foreign companies locating here. She serves on for-profit as well as nonprofit boards, including Macatawa Bank, ADAC Automotive, Grand Action, Spectrum Health, LDFA, Federal Reserve Board of Chicago and the Kent County Convention/Arena Authority.
DENISE R. KOLESAR President/Owner Kohler Expos Inc.
Denise Kolesar keeps two words close at hand: professional excellence. It’s a laconic business model that has enabled her to build from the ground up the largest events expo for women in two key markets in Michigan: Grand Rapids and Lansing. In addition, Kohler Expos provides three West Michigan bridal shows annually, in the winter, fall and spring. Kohler Expos has produced the West Michigan Women’s Expo for the past decade. Annually, it draws more than 17,000 women and business owners into downtown Grand Rapids for the three-day event, which offers a blend of education, entertainment and enjoyment. Five years ago, the expo expanded into a second hall, allowing the addition of more booths, activities and more reasons for women to make the Women’s Expo a weekend destination.
Kolesar’s expos are known as incubators for women-owned and women-focused businesses, as well as a safe and tested venue for entrepreneurs to introduce new products and services into the market. She proudly notes that dozens of products have debuted at the shows she produces before they become successful in the larger marketplace. Kolesar manages a budget of $900,000 and three to five employees, plus seasonal help, all of whom enable Kohler Expos’ shows to become must-attend events. Her past and present board activities include Women and Girls Lead; Global to Local; St. Pius Catholic Church’s pastoral, community, social and outreach commissions; Time Out for Women; and Hospice of Holland Home’s Watchmen Ministries.
Judge Michigan Court of Appeals The Honorable Jane Markey does not allow status quo and conventional wisdom to determine her future. She blazed trails for women by enrolling in law school in 1978, when women entering legal studies were a distinct minority. After she was admitted to the bar, Markey eschewed what was considered acceptable legal work for women: divorce, child custody and legal research. Instead, she threw herself into the male-dominated world of civil litigation, representing individuals, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, medical professional, legal and other professionals and businesses throughout Michigan. But she didn’t stop there. In 1988, Michigan’s second-largest city had only two female judges. That same year, Judge Carol Irons was murdered by her husband. A write-in campaign ensued and a man was elected to replace her. That 20 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
election created a second opening at the busy 61st District Court, and then-Gov. James Blanchard appointed another man. Markey decided to run against the new appointee in the 1990 general election. Few believed she would win. But Markey did win that election, which paved the way for women throughout the area to seek judicial office. She has profoundly influenced the direction of Michigan law over the past 17 years, making decisions involving the constitutionality of Michigan’s anti-stalking law, the composition of Kent County juries, and pivotal issues pertaining to child custody, property division and a myriad of other family law problems, auto no-fault statutory construction, the complexities of medical malpractice, medical marijuana, insurance, consumer protection, governmental immunity and civil litigation.
As the proud employer of more than 10,000 West Michigan women who positively influence lives every day, Spectrum Health congratulates the “50 Most Influential Women” and thanks them for their many contributions to our community. 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 21
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President/General Manager WZZM 13 Janet Mason has been WZZM 13’s general manager and president since 1997. The news media has experienced seismic changes since that time, and Mason has shepherded that change. She launched two websites — www.wzzm13. com and www.grandrapids.momslikeme.com — a 24/7 digital TV local weather channel, plus a mobile site and lifestyle program “Take Five & Company.” She also added newscasts and crosstrained a staff of 100 for the digital age. Mason is active in many community and industry organizations. She is vice chair of the Gannett Leadership and Diversity Council, serves on the executive committee and board of directors of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Davenport University Foundation, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation’s strategic initiatives committee.
She has been a guest instructor for the National Association of Broadcasters Management Development Seminar for TV Executives and the News Executive Seminar at the University of Missouri. Mason is the recipient of the Inner Circle Award from Inforum, Amazing Asians Award from the Asian Center in Grand Rapids, Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Twin West Career Achievement Award from the Twin West (Minn.) Chamber of Commerce and Certificate of Commendation from the governor of Minnesota for her work on diversity issues. Mason’s prior work experience includes vice president of news for eight years at KARE 11, Gannet’s NBC affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where she served as the local anchor for the “Today Show.”
RACHEL P. MRAZ
Wealth Management Advisor/Vice President Merrill Lynch Rachel Mraz’s method for encouraging the next generation of philanthropists to make a difference in their communities and in the world is clear-cut: Lead by example. And that means she’s been to the mountaintop. Literally. Internationally, Mraz is organizing an excursion to Costa Rica for a statewide group of nextgeneration philanthropists in an effort to show the importance of global philanthropy in relation to Michigan’s resources. She recently co-chaired an independent effort that raised funds for an AIDS orphanage in Mhangura, Zimbabwe. Her fundraising method? Climb Mount Kilimanjaro with her husband, Mike. Their mountain climbing efforts raised enough money to construct a new multi-use administration building that will nearly double
the orphanage’s student capacity in an area projected to be more than 80 percent HIV positive. “It was an intense undertaking, but the reward of seeing the children’s faces when we went to Zimbabwe and broke ground after the climb made the project something that we will never, ever forget,” said Mraz. She serves on a national speakers bureau for next-generation philanthropists, is an inaugural Youth Trustee (under 30) for the Council of Michigan Foundation board and is the Next Generation Family Foundation liaison for the Council of Michigan Foundation. She also has put her fundraising skills to use for Opera Grand Rapids, The Eventing Association of Michigan, DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan Women’s Foundation and the Cornell Alumni Association of West Michigan.
CPA/Shareholder Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter PC Peggy Murphy possesses the know-how to earn her clients’ trust, which includes expertise in family-owned and closely held businesses. They rely on her experience and advice to make decisions on issues such as purchasing or selling a business, adding or retiring owners, purchasing, leasing or selling real estate, downsizing in tough times and growing in good times, obtaining financing, succession planning, tax issues of divorce, death and other life-changing issues. Murphy is one of eight shareholders who owns and manages the second largest locally owned CPA firm in West Michigan: Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter PC and its affiliated companies, which employ more than 70 people in Grand Rapids and Greenville. She is a regular guest on WOOD radio’s morning news show and teaches classes to
small business owners through the Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center at Grand Valley State University. Her for-profit and nonprofit board activities include serving as one of six members whose responsibilities include deciding whether to approve Select Bank’s largest loans. She also advises the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, providing crucial guidance to ensure the organization’s financial stability. Murphy previously was board president of the Grand Rapids Economic Development Corp., Family Owned Business Service Providers Group and United Methodist Community House. She recently completed a 20-plus year stint with Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs where she helped to obtain Small Business Administration and state of Michigan grants for training women business owners.
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2/27/12 12:03 PM
Vice Provost for Health and Professor of Nursing Grand Valley State University Improving the outlook of the public’s well-being starts with successfully educating the area’s college students. Credit for achieving this vital task is rightly due to Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for health at Grand Valley State University. Nagelkerk has strengthened and expanded initiatives with community partners and facilitated the development of new collaborations with GVSU nursing, health professions and life sciences programs and centers. This includes creating the West Michigan Interprofessional Education Initiative, establishing and implementing the Health Compliance Program, providing oversight to the Center for Health Sciences Simulation Center, and developing and updating the strategic plan for health for GVSU. In the health education sector, Nagelkerk has served as an educator in diploma, associate degree, RN-BSN, baccalaureate and graduate nurs-
ing programs. As an instructor, she has coordinated revisions, updates and clinical changes for Medical-Surgical Nursing II. She also assisted with analyzing and presenting nursing models for a proposed curriculum change, and chaired the systematic evaluation plan committee. As a professor, she has developed and updated courses in community health, management, clinical practice and research. Nagelkerk also has advised students, developed grants, chaired the personnel, scholarship and curriculum committees, served as a member of ECS/UAS and the administrative council of the KSON. Nagelkerk serves on several boards, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, David D. Hunting YMCA, and the Grand Rapids chamber’s health care and human resources committees.
CEO Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women Bonnie Nawara demonstrates unflinching determination to make certain that GROW grows. As CEO of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, Nawara has identified key components that will move it forward in serving women entrepreneurs. The services Nawara has in mind will provide business strategies that determine sustainable success. Under Nawara’s tutelage, she has revamped GROW’s core start-up programs, strengthened its second-stage services with the inclusion and growth of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, and placed procedures around success measurements for accountability to GROW’s funders and community members. She manages a $400,000 budget and a staff of four. Nawara has walked in entrepreneurs’ shoes. She was the small business owner of a Sir Speedy Printing Center, which required her to
create a business plan, identify a location, purchase equipment, set up operations, hire employees, establish accounting and financial controls, cultivate clients and profitably operate the business on a daily basis for 16 years. She later served for six years as director of estate and assets services for the American Cancer Society, a role that was vital to developing a loyal and diverse donor base. Nawara currently serves on the Economic Club of Grand Rapids’ membership committee and previously served on the boards of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, West Michigan Estate Planning Council, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Roundtable, Kent County Silent Observer, Golden K. Kiwanis Club, Quota International, West Michigan Estate Planning Council and National Day of Philanthropy.
Vice President of Corporate Affairs Spartan Stores Jeanne Norcross doesn’t flinch at juggling a demanding portfolio. As a member of Spartan Stores’ executive management team, Norcross serves as vice president of corporate affairs and is responsible for corporate communications, Spartan Stores Foundation, government affairs and community relations. She administers a budget of $2.4 million and four employees for the Byron Township-based food distributor and grocery store chain, which owns and operates 97 supermarkets in Michigan under the D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen’s Markets and VG’s Food and Pharmacy banners. It also supplies more than 40,000 private label and national brand products to nearly 350 independent grocery stores. Spartan Stores Foundation supports four primary giving areas: fight hunger, promote diversity, encourage health and well-being, and support 24 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
youth development and education and literacy. Perhaps the most visible and recent example of its philanthropy is that, in its first year, it pledged $3 million toward the construction of the Spartan Stores YMCA that serves southwest Grand Rapids. During its first four months of operation, almost 2,000 families chose the Spartan Stores YMCA as their way to live a healthier life. Norcross also was instrumental in developing and implementing the communications and community support of the merger of Blodgett Memorial Medical Center and Butterworth Hospital and developing the master brand strategy for what’s known today as Spectrum Health. She has served on the board of the Michigan State University College of Communication Arts, Saint Mary’s Women’s Health Center Women’s Advisory Council and the Special Olympics Michigan Advisory Council.
Congratulations to the 50 most influential women in West Michigan Your success inspires. Your determination empowers. Your lead we follow. Wells Fargo Insurance Services and Wells Fargo Bank commend each of you for your leadership as well as for investing in the continued growth of your local and surrounding communities. Team up with us today. wfis.wellsfargo.com/grmi wellsfargo.com
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SANDI FROST PARRISH President: Parrish Consulting Kent County Commissioner
Founding Parrish Consulting in 2007 is Sandi Frost Parrish’s most significant career achievement. Area nonprofits confer a thumbs-up for her ability to generate crucial financial support. As the only fundraising consulting firm devoted to nonprofits, Parrish Consulting specializes in capacity building, sustainability and unusual fundraising. She has assisted 45 nonprofit organizations in less than five years. Her diverse client base includes The Salvation Army, Grand Rapids Symphony, The Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding and Baxter Community Center. She deems her most significant achievement helping to raise $57 million for the Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Grand Rapids. Elected a Kent County commissioner in 2006, Parrish believes her constituents’ most important issue is land use, specifically maintaining
open space, parkland and preservation of natural features. Her efforts include continuing to find a sustainable source of funding for the farmland preserve program which, fully funded, can reduce the cost of government-provided infrastructure and help ensure the future of 114,000 farmland and food-processing jobs in Kent County. Parish is active in many community organizations, currently serving on the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cascade Community Foundation and as an elected county commissioner serving Cascade, Lowell, Vergennes and Bowne townships, as well as the city of Lowell. Former board service includes Kent Community Hospital, Arbor Circle, Multi-Cultural Association of Professionals, Junior Achievement, Grand Rapids Rotary and Grand Rapids Jaycees.
KATHLEEN STEWART PONITZ Principal Progressive AE
As a principal with Progressive AE, Kathleen Ponitz led a corporate initiative to become the first architectural/engineering firm in North America to earn CarbonNeutral Company status. Progressive AE also was the first architectural and engineering firm in West Michigan to be an Energy Star Partner, to be a part of the Mayor’s Community Sustainability Partnership and to earn a Sustainable Merit Award for Aquinas College’s Jarecki Center for Advanced Learning from AIA Grand Valley. Ponitz is founder and principal of The Stewart-Ponitz Group, a consulting practice dedicated to the development of robust learning organizations. An accomplished business executive and community leader, Ponitz excels at aligning people and resources determined to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. A catalyst for change in the West Michigan
community, Ponitz launched the Holland and Grand Rapids chamber of commerce leadership initiatives, and established Leadership West Michigan — the first regional leadership program. Ponitz played a key role in diversifying marketing and membership in the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, as well as launching its first strategic plan and rebranding initiatives. She generated marketing and client strategies to build customer share for National City Bank and serves as governance chair for Priority Health’s board. Ponitz’s community work includes serving on the board of Experience Grand Rapids. She’s also on Grand Rapids Symphony’s Development Committee, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Circle of Red (part of the Women’s Heart Association) and West Michigan Sports Commission.
MARSHA D. RAPPLEY Dean, College of Human Medicine Michigan State University
Dr. Marsha Rappley originally intended to make teaching her career choice, but such jobs were hard to come by in the Mitten State in the early 1970s. The rearview mirror of history confirms that Grand Rapids’ health and educational circles are fortunate for that dearth of teaching jobs. After a friend found a job as a licensed practical nurse, Rappley also decided to study for a year so she too could earn her license and work as an LPN while waiting to find a teaching position. Today, Rappley can declare, “mission accomplished.” She went on to earn a medical degree and was appointed dean of Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine in 2006 after serving as the college’s acting dean for more than a year.
Rappley is known to set students and faculty at ease with her calm but commanding presence at the school’s Secchia Center in downtown Grand Rapids. An MSU faculty member since 1988, Rappley is a 1984 graduate of the College of Human Medicine. Prior to serving as acting dean, Rappley was the college’s associate dean for academic affairs. Other administrative positions she has held at MSU include interim chairperson of the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development and interim associate dean for academic affairs of the College of Human Medicine. She is recognized nationally for her expertise in children’s learning and behavioral problems, especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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Vice President, Portfolio Management/Team Leader Huntington Bank “Pay it forward” is not just a stock phrase in Mandee Rick’s book. She is passionate about shepherding young professionals in ways they can give back to the community. In her position as vice president and team leader, Rick played a key role in forming Huntington Bank’s internal women’s initiative committee. Then, in 2010, she took on the task of leading a committee that implemented a formal mentoring program in West Michigan, the first of its kind for the bank. Late last year, the program wrapped up the first cohort, which proved to be a rewarding experience for those who learned about various career paths within the bank. Plans are underway to start up the 2012 class. As immediate past president of the Grand Rapids Young Professionals, Rick directed the activ-
ities of more than 1,600 members. She also is a board member of the Van Andel Institute J-Board, an initiative that helps engage young professionals with the VAI’s mission and who, in turn, gain some sponsorship dollars. Rick serves as secretary on the advisory board of Camp O’Malley and on the Heart of West Michigan United Way and Davenport University alumni board. For the last three years, she has volunteered for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign’s silent auction committee and assisted with the Up On The Roof event for Saint Mary’s Doran Foundation. She served in 2010 as event chair for the American Cancer Society’s Grand Rapids Relay for Life.
MARY ELLEN RODGERS
U.S. Managing Partner, Workplace Services & U.S. Corporate Deloitte LLP What glass ceiling? Mary Ellen Rodgers successfully navigated past gender barriers long ago. In 2008, she was promoted as Deloitte LLP’s managing partner for workplace services, where she oversees a significant portion of the firm’s U.S. operations and assets. Her extensive portfolio also includes all personnel in administrative services, facilities, document and creative services, global conferencing and meeting services, real estate, the office of security and several others. Deloitte LLP is among the nation’s leading professional services firms in audit tax, risk management and financial advisory services. Last year, Rodgers’ expansive list of responsibilities increased when she also assumed responsibility for policy and compliance and Deloitte’s procurement services. More than 2,850 employees report to her in more than 100 offices in 90-plus cities throughout the United States.
A major accomplishment Rodgers reached is the strategic application of shared services models and other advanced management techniques that enable Deloitte to reduce its operational costs across the nation while maintaining a high level of service excellence. Rodgers is responsible for heading up Deloitte’s Next Generation Workplace initiative, which is transforming the firm’s U.S. offices into a more modern work environment through the use of less energy and more openness and collaboration among Deloitte professionals at all levels. She utilizes her considerable experience for the boards she serves on, including the finance and executive committees of YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, the finance and audit committees of ArtPrize, and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Development and Marketing Manager viastore systems inc. Amanda Rogalski possesses the skills and intellectual moxie to work from the ground up. Viastore systems’ marketing department is a salient example. Viastore is a German-owned company that helps warehouses become more efficient by developing material-handling solutions, automated storage and retrieval systems, conveyor and warehouse management software systems. This ambitious business model requires a concerted effort from viastore’s employees, which is where Rogalski takes center stage by internally working to create a fun and charitable environment. Specifically, she’s accomplished this through her initiation of the interconnected workplace management “Fish!” practices, employee recognition programs, Adopt-a-Highway, charitable giving at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and multiple blood drives. She also has been influential in helping viastore’s employees 28 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
find training programs that are a good fit, and has fashioned communication strategies and activities that have allowed company employees to engage customers, employees and German colleagues. Rogalski has served on multiple teams related to viastore’s initiatives to become more global in its thinking. To that end, she has helped identify global markets and develop a new global intranet. She is currently working toward a master’s degree on developing internal communication best practices. She is the current president of the Grand Rapids Young Professionals and a founding member of Grand Valley State University’s Young Alumni Council. She also is a charter member for a Young Professionals Council that will serve as a voice of young professionals to David Behlen, current CIO of Michigan.
PREPARED FOR WORK + LIFE Employers appreciate how Calvin’s rigorous liberal arts education shapes the whole person with the faith, knowledge and skills to walk confidently into a career and life. Calvin congratulates our “50 Most Influential Women” alumni honories: Tamara Vandenberg, The Meanwhile/Pyramid Scheme
Ahna Terpstra ’12 media production major
Leanne Arkema, Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids
Coming to Calvin College Friday, May 4, 2012 Register at www.calvin/innovation
www.calvin.edu 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 (616) 526-6106 or 1-800-688-0122
Sponsored by the Calvin Center for Innovation in Business
Innovation, professional development, community and eminence. Congratulations to Mary Ellen Rodgers and all of West Michigan’s 50 Most Influential Women.
Our vision is to drive marketplace growth and create a culture where the best choose to be. The goal is clear: Give our talent the opportunity to succeed and work in an environment where everyone can succeed, where our people can advance, thrive, benefit from one another, and successfully integrate their personal and professional commitments.
www.deloitte.com About Deloitte Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Copyright © 2012 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved. Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited
50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 29
Celebrating excellence. Grand Valley State University congratulates our alumni and faculty and staff members who have been named to Grand Rapids Business Journal’s list of the “50 most influential women in West Michigan.” Their leadership and accomplishments positively impact our region, and are examples of how Grand Valley is fulfilling its mission of educating students to shape their lives, professions, and societies. gvsu.edu | (616) 331-2250 Laurie Beard, ’81, Founders Bank and Trust
Amanda Rogalski, ’04, Viastore Systems, Inc.
Marcie Hillary, ’06, Hospice of Michigan
Diana Sieger, Honorary Doctorate, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Shelly Irwin, WGVU NPR/PBS Jean Nagelkerk, Grand Valley State University Mandee Rick, ’97, Huntington Bank
Kathleen Vogelsang, ’95 & ’99, Van Andel Institute Chris Willis, ’83, Media 1
Congratulations to MARY V. BAUMAN Miller Johnson celebrates Mary Bauman’s recognition as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. But we’re not alone because her family, clients, professional contacts, community partners, and friends also congratulate her. Sara Tountas, an associate at Miller Johnson, sums it up best. “ Mary Bauman has achieved something even more impressive and worthy of acknowledgment: that elusive balance most professional women and working mothers struggle to find. She manages a successful career and vibrant family life, while also finding time to volunteer in the community and nurture her personal interests. Mary personifies Miller Johnson’s ‘down to earth, down to business’ viewpoint making her an inspiration to younger attorneys like me and a role model to all women.” Grand Rapids 616.831.1700 n Kalamazoo 269.226.2950 www.millerjohnson.com
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2/27/12 12:02 PM
RAQUEL A. SALAS Attorney/Managing Member Avanti Law Group PLLC
Raquel Salas doesn’t waste time. She and three partners founded Avanti Law Group PLLC in May 2010 and, 18 months later, can now boast that it’s a leading law firm serving more than 400 clients. Furthermore, Salas helped grow the firm without incurring any debt, a goal that continues today. Avanti is a full-service business and litigation firm offering legal representation to businesses and individuals in a full range of interdisciplinary legal services in Michigan, throughout the United States and internationally. Avanti’s practice areas include class action litigation, commercial litigation, criminal defense, immigration, business law, family law, labor and employment, wage and hour, civil litigation and personal injury. The firm serves a niche market: 90 percent of
Avanti’s clients are Hispanic individuals and businesses in the West Michigan area. Avanti is a woman- and minority-owned law firm. Prior to co-founding Avanti Law Group, Salas was an attorney in the litigation, business and family law practice groups of one of Michigan’s premier law firms, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, where she assisted in the representation of high-profile clients including Whirlpool Corp., Alticor, Amway Corp., Wolverine Worldwide, Macatawa Bank, Chemical Bank and East Jordan Iron Works. Salas graduated summa cum laude from Universidad del Este and magna cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law. While a student at MSU, she was a founding member and president of the Hispanic Law Society and studied international business transactions in Hong Kong, India and Mexico.
DIANA R. SIEGER
President Grand Rapids Community Foundation The quality of life that Grand Rapids’ residents enjoy can be attributed, in part, to Diana Sieger and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Sieger was instrumental in developing and implementing five strategy plans that resulted in six major community change efforts, including the purchase of a 105-year-old building in downtown Grand Rapids for the new home of GRCF, which moved into its new digs in October 2008 and received LEED Silver certification the following year. Sieger directed substantial growth for the foundation during its 2010-11 fiscal year, raising more than $12 million at a time when charitable giving was sluggish. The foundation was able to distribute more than $654,000 in scholarships, which was $100,000 more than the previous year. The foundation’s assets grew, recovering to more than $10 million above the 2008 level,
which was at $240 million. It’s now at the $251 million mark. With the development team, she coordinated and implemented a comprehensive fund development program for GRCF, including the initiation of an agency endowment program, donor advised fund, major individual giving, cultivation for planned giving and support systems for prospect identification, research and tracking. Sieger extends her considerable experience with endowment funds by working with the National Council of Foundations, Transatlantic Community Foundation Fellowship, Forum of Regional Associations, Council of Michigan Foundations, Midwest Community Foundations, Center for Community Leadership, Kent County Family and Children’s Coordinating Council, Economic Club of Grand Rapids, GVSU Foundation and Community Foundations Institute.
SARA J. SMOLENSKI Chief Judge 63rd District Court
The Honorable Sara J. Smolenski possesses the exceptional blend of serving as an impartial judge, education advocate and humorist. She’s earned a reputation among her peers as a distinguished judge and community leader, spending countless hours outside of the courtroom as a legal advocate, contributor and activist for a number of nonprofits and organizations. She has earned a reputation as a popular local humorist who frequently exhibits her unique “real life” humor for community organizations and is a pleasant addition to a number of community causes and a frequent guest speaker just about anywhere. Smolenski serves on the Hospice of Michigan board to give this nonprofit organization a much-appreciated legal perspective, as well as a number of other endeavors over the years, such as St. John’s Home, Kent County Literacy Coun-
cil, American Cancer Society, YWCA and Resources Against Violent Encounters to Women of West Michigan. She’s also past president of the Women Lawyers Association of West Michigan and has held various leadership positions with the Michigan Judicial Conference, Michigan District Judges Association and National Association of Women Judges, Kent County Literacy Council, Encore Plus YWCA and Grand Rapids Bar Association Law Day Committee. She is the recipient of a 2011 Hospice of Michigan Volunteer Recognition Award, a 2009 YMCA Tribute! Award, a 2009 Inner Circle Award from Inforum, and a 2009 Western Region Outstanding Member Award from the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She also is a former Athena Award winner from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
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JESSICA ANN TYSON Owner Events By Jessica Ann
“Giving back” is more than a catchphrase to Jessica Ann Tyson. It’s a testament to the priorities she threads throughout her business and community. Events By Jessica Ann is a full-service eventplanning firm established in 2003 that includes event and wedding consulting. Tyson created a scholarship and, with the help of other companies, has conferred more than $10,000 in scholarships to support the local community. She also was instrumental in supporting an African village in Ghana by sending 50 students to school for a year and providing financial help and training to business owners there. Tyson devotes her time as a board member of the Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and she is president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation.
Helping to avert foreclosure on homeowners’ mortgages, Tyson is former chair of Home Repair Services of West Michigan, and current chair of Experience Grand Rapids’ Diversity Advisory Council. Last year, she also served on the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s executive board. When naming her biggest professional break, Tyson relates: “When our company had saved up enough money to start a scholarship fund.” She adds: “We are most proud of our signature events that we have created for our communities’ enjoyment such as The Mixing Pot, a multicultural community festival held in Rosa Parks Circle; the Legacy Ball held at JW Marriot; the United Multicultural Parade; and the Minority Professional Business Tour at Huntington Bank.”
TAMARA J. VANDENBERG Co-Owner The Meanwhile/The Pyramid Scheme
Tami VandenBerg’s can-do attitude should give local music enthusiasts cause for celebration. Last year, VandenBerg and two other co-owners opened The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce St. SW, filling an important niche in the Grand Rapids music community. With a 420-seat venue in the back and capacity for 180 people in the front, The Pyramid Scheme can book up-andcoming touring bands that previously wouldn’t consider a gig in Grand Rapids. What made opening the new bar possible was securing an investor, enabling VandenBerg to seal the $1.4 million deal for the building and business. The new project provided 25 new jobs and restored a historic Heartside neighborhood structure. Celebrated green initiatives for the Meanwhile Bar, which opened in 2007, included salvaging and recycling equipment, furniture and fixtures, and the minting of its own “Meanwhile
Money,” which gave patrons $12 in Meanwhile Money for every $10 purchased — all of which was featured on National Public Radio. VandenBerg’s passion to end homelessness is expressed as a former board member of the Uptown Corridor Improvement Authority Board, which added several green initiatives to the project, including public recycling, bike racks and light rail. She also worked with The Well House Community and Eastown Community Association. Now, VandenBerg is pouring all her volunteer energy into the Grand Rapids Red Project, of which she was appointed chair in 2010. The nonprofit initiative is comprised of community members who are passionate advocates and activists in the fight against HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and the harmful or risky choices that help spread these medical conditions.
CARROLL G. VELIE Human Resources Director Varnum LLP
Carroll Velie is a seasoned human resources professional with a generalist background encompassing employee relations, benefits, compensation and training. She has worked for the law firm Varnum the last 24 years, which has enabled her to make an important imprint on its corporate culture. She affirms that Varnum’s commitment to its people, clients and communities has afforded her the opportunity to serve as a catalyst for change, keeper of the culture and champion for people. Velie was instrumental in developing a diversity and inclusion advisory council comprised of a dozen community leaders, primarily people of color. She currently is working with a second leadership team that is opening eyes and doors for both the council and the law firm. 32 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
Velie earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at the University of Michigan. Armed with a degree in teaching, she left her familiar white suburban Detroit neighborhood to teach in a recently integrated Atlanta public school where 80 percent of her students were African-American. Southern culture was an admitted shock to her progressive, feminist mores, but in two years, Velie became well acquainted with the area’s history, food, literature, music and people, all the while developing friendships and a healthy respect for the cultural differences and similarities. Velie’s current and previous service to local boards includes Quaeris/Hello West Michigan, LaughFest 2012, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Grace Church Vestry, United Way and the Association of Legal Administrators.
Diana inspires her board and staff with leadership and determination. Sheâ€™s a community advocate, has the spirit of an entrepreneur, and has great compassion for people in need. (Sheâ€™s fun, too). Laurie Craft, Program Director
Diana makes it happen here.
Creating a welcoming community is important to Diana. With intention, she leads the Community Foundation and partners with others in Grand Rapids to foster an environment that values diversity and inclusion. Jonse Young, Donor Services Director
Diana Sieger, President Grand Rapids Community Foundation
50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 33
Siena Heights University is a Catholic university founded in 1919 and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. • Enrolling a diverse community of traditional age and working adult students • Offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and specialist’s degrees
• Headquartered in Adrian, MI, with degree completion centers in Southfield, Benton Harbor, Monroe, Battle Creek, Lansing, Jackson, and Online
Kathy Crosby ‘93, ‘06 and the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan!
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Changing lives and communities through the power of work.
CONGRATULATIONS! Kathy Crosby - 50 Most Influential Women goodwillgr.org 34 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
KATHLEEN B. VOGELSANG Director-Chief Investment Officer Van Andel Institute
Kathleen Vogelsang excels at working from the ground up. She was hired in 2005 to start the Van Andel Institute Investment Office from scratch, made possible by a generous endowment from Jay and Betty Van Andel’s estate. Under Vogelsang’s aegis, the funds were quickly invested because markets were moving up and she did not want to miss the opportunity to grow the endowment. She created an investment policy and strategy, and put into place a well-diversified endowment portfolio with high-quality investment managers in a short amount of time. She also put into place the required systems, developed a department budget she now manages at $800,000, and oversees three employees who assist with the endowment. At the start of 2011, Vogelsang and two
friends founded the West Michigan 100 Strong charitable group; each member donates $100 per quarter to local charities serving the West Michigan Community. Vogelsang helps organize the nominations for the charities under consideration, as well as the voting and quarterly meetings. Last year almost $40,000 was raised for 12 local charities. Vogelsang is a founding member of the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red. Her involvement with the community includes Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business Alumni Association, Seidman College of Business finance advisory board and the West Michigan Youth Ballet. In 1999, she became the second female in West Michigan to earn the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
LINDA VOS-GRAHAM President/Owner Vos Glass Inc.
Linda Vos-Graham doesn’t consider herself an in-the-spotlight type of person. No problem: Her company’s high-profile glass glazing work speaks for itself. Vos Glass Inc. was tasked with installing the complicated glass portions of the $170 million, 240,000-square-foot Van Andel Institute. The first phase of the building project was designed to resemble the falling water of the Grand River. Phase II involved connecting the interior and exterior and making the most of natural daylight while ensuring energy efficiency. Rafael Vinoly, of Rafael Vinoly Architects PC in New York, was lead architect for both phases. VAI selected Vos Glass to carry out this vision by compiling a team to provide the unique glass features required by the architect and meeting the installation challenges. During the design development and construction phase, Vos Glass
provided advice, comments, shop drawings, submittals, suggestions and information on systems and components of various aspects of the glazing trade to the general contractor and architect. Vos Glass remains a family-owned and operated business, and has been led by Vos-Graham since 2002. Vos-Graham helped develop the American Subcontractors Association of Michigan, a group that focuses on topics such as prompt pay, change orders, contract language and negotiations, design build, project management and emerging trends in construction. She has served on the boards of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Associated Builders and Contractors of West Michigan, Michigan Glass Association, Child and Family Resource Center and Grand Rapids Exchange Club.
BRIDGET CLARK WHITNEY Executive Director Kids’ Food Basket
Bridget Clark Whitney feeds her soul by making it possible for hungry children to eat. She is executive director of Kids’ Food Basket, a childhood hunger relief organization that furnishes daily evening meals or sack suppers to elementary school-aged children at four public school districts in Kent County — Grand Rapids, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville and Wyoming — and a charter school. Eighty percent or more of the children Kids’ Food Basket feeds live in poverty and likely would not receive an evening meal at home. During Whitney’s nine-year tenure, KFB’s significant growth has increased from serving 125 children in 2002 to serving 4,400 each weekday last December. Its annual budget has seen a well-needed bump as well, from $20,000 to $3.8 million in nine years, making it one of the largest and most successful anti-childhood
hunger programs in Michigan. Whitney credits KFB’s success in part to its 170 volunteers who, every day, help ensure children have nutritious meals to eat. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was one of 12 young nonprofit professionals from around the country chosen for the 2009-2010 American Express NGen Fellows program with Independent Sector in Washington, D.C. She also served on last year’s Heart of West Michigan United Way campaign cabinet, this year’s Gilda’s Club LaughFest cabinet, and on the boards of Indian Trails Camp, Nonprofit Innovations Inc. and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids. Whitney earned a degree in community leadership from Aquinas College and a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University.
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CHRIS F. WILLIS CEO Media 1
Chris Willis knows full well a sputtering economy doesn’t entitle senior managers to rest on their laurels. It’s taken every bit of influence and skill she possesses to drive her Muskegon-based business, Media 1, to a successful rebound through the Great Recession. Her company’s revenue dropped from $1.6 million to $1.1 million at its lowest point. In 2011, she doubled that figure to $2.2 million through a complete repositioning of the company, bringing in new managers, consultants and sales leadership to partner with her in a completely retooled line of business that focuses on human capital improvement. All told, Willis oversees an operation with a budget of $2 million and 24 employees. She realizes that rethinking Media 1’s business model must include her, requiring her to quickly adapt to new technology and designing new
methodologies while honing advanced skills in marketing, research-based leadership and company finance. Willis builds connections with the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, city officials and the Beachwood-Bluffton Neighborhood Association through her work, as well as interacting with 300-plus friends at Muskegon Dog Beach and at other community events. Willis is a frequent speaker at workshops and conferences on topics including how to avoid making mistakes that prevent owners from taking their businesses to the next level, a new approach to problem solving, and learning to write content that works. She is an active member of the chamber of commerce representing Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg, as well as the Lighthouse Quilt Guild.
HELEN ZEERIP President Teddy’s Transport
The sluggish economy required Teddy’s Transport to generate new growth, which is why the company implemented a less-than-truckload shipping service between the Greater Chicago Area and West Michigan in 2009. This new service enabled Teddy’s Transport, a nationwide expedited trucking business that Helen Zeerip and her husband, Craig, operate out of Holland, to bring out-of-state money back in Michigan’s economy. The LTL program enabled Zeerip’s company to experience unprecedented growth of 44 percent in 2010, and 51 percent in 2011, which resulted in hiring 55 new employees in the last three years. Zeerip’s parents started Teddy’s Transport when she was a teenager. It was a small business focused on West Michigan, using pickups and light trucks.
36 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
In 1997, Zeerip and her husband bought the business, added semi-trucks and hired up to 60 employees, mostly drivers. A business that had never had more than $1 million in sales before 1997 now has revenues that run close to $6 million, making deliveries in all 48 of the continental United States. In 2006, Zeerip completed the Leadership Holland program and now is chair of its curriculum committee. She serves on the executive committee of the Holland Chamber of Commerce and on the board of Wings of Hope Hospice in Allegan County. She also is active in Love in the Name of Christ. Zeerip has taught Sunday school, coached girls’ softball, made weekly meal deliveries for 10 elderly shut-ins and served on her church’s congregational care committee and senior high youth department.
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Grand Rapids Business Journal presents "The 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan"