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The 2020 West Michigan Woman People's Choice Brilliance Award

BAPCA19 Social1 UPDATEVoting is now closed! The West Michigan Woman Brilliance Awards is entering its 4th year of celebrating the unique talents of women and men in our community. For the second year, the public will select one honoree from the finalists for the People's Choice Brilliance Award. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at the West Michigan Woman Brilliance Awards where they will receive their award and recognition.

• To vote, please provide your first and last name and email address
• You may only vote 1x for one person
• Voting opens March 2nd and closes at 5pm on March 18th

 Enjoy reading the bio snippets below that were written from the nominators' and finalists' submissions.

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Finalists

Owner
The Mitten Brewing Company
Brilliant Best Supporting Man

Chris is an advocate for everyone he meets. From a small startup, he now runs a $4 million company with 100-plus employees. Chris is a believer in giving back to the community, with more than $250,000 in charitable gifts since 2012. He also helped form the Small Biz 4 Equality, to rally small businesses to work toward expanding the Equality Act to explicitly support LGBTQ+ individuals. He currently supports Hillary Scholten as she runs for Congress and serves on her campaign committee.

Director of Sales and Event Services
ASM Global (DeVos Place)
Brilliant Team Player

Whether it’s a co-worker, staff member, or one of her many clients and partners, Kathy is always finding ways to lift them higher and encouraging them take every opportunity to grow, professionally and personally. She has been an integral part of the success of DeVos Place and the Grand Rapids convention industry as a whole but, according to her staff, she will never tell you that. It will always be a team effort or someone else’s success.

Founder & CEO
Hibachi Creamery
Brilliant Emerging Leader

After exploring several higher education options, Faten realized being an entrepreneur and a business owner was her calling. She invested in a concept West Michigan hadn't adopted yet: rolled ice cream. Despite having no knowledge in the food industry, she spent endless hours, sleepless nights, and never-ending days learning the ins and outs. Faten recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of Hibachi Creamery, a minority- and woman-owned small business that has regular customers coming in and out every day.

Founder/Executive Director
STEM Greenhouse
Brilliant Social Change Agent

Keli is the founder and Executive Director of STEM Greenhouse, a nonprofit organization that fervently believes if you plant the seed in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—aka STEM—and nurture the resulting curiosity, children will flourish! Keli adds her own fifth ingredient, which may be the most important: student mentoring. STEM Greenhouse, under her direction, runs afterschool programs at several Grand Rapids Public Schools and for Camp Blodgett.

CEO and Founder
Girls Growing 2 Women Inc.
Brilliant Mentor

Latasha is CEO and Founder of Girls Growing 2 Women, a nonprofit organization for young ladies who are faced with pressures and those who have succumbed to risky behavior outcomes. Her drive and passion are to help them live productive lives in society and in their surrounding communities. Her mission is to assist youth in identifying who they are and provide a safe space, resources, and support that will lead to their fullest potential.

President & Founder
Red66 Marketing
Brilliant Mentor

In addition to owning a full-service marketing firm, Rebecca is actively involved with the American Marketing Association, which allows her to connect with many professionals and students. She’s also a facilitator for Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women—better known as GROW—helping women navigate marketing their business and giving them tips and insights on processes to help them grow.

Personal Chef & Registered Dietitian
Jenny with the Good Eats + Grand Rapids Community College
Brilliant Emerging Leader

Jenn always had a passion for food—from how it’s grown, to cooking techniques, nutritional content and how it relates to chronic diseases. She has worked as a freelance culinary dietitian doing recipe development, food photography, and culinary instruction; judging local culinary competitions; writing health and wellness content for nationally known publications; participating in media; and more. Jenn teaches Nutrition and Menu Planning at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and is a personal chef for Root Functional Medicine. She hopes to show young women interested in culinary arts that they can thrive and trailblaze in this industry.

CEO/President
Grand Rapids Downtown Market
Brilliant Connector

Mimi has facilitated creation of jobs and startup businesses, encouraged small business owners to take a leap of faith and pursue their dreams, and helped a lot of dreams become reality by connecting people with essential resources, including other people and financial resources. The community partnerships she has facilitated have created a powerful support network for the market’s diverse community of food entrepreneurs, supporting and guiding the mission to serve small, independent, locally owned food businesses.

REALTOR® / Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
JH Realty Partners /Gordon Group
Brilliant Connector

Despite working in a competitive field, when Michelle sees a need for something or that someone has need, she will make it her business to find out who can help and then she goes to work to make it happen. She is not afraid to stand up for what she feels is right and shines a light on issues that may be lost. If she believes in something and she knows she can make a difference, she gives it her all.

Executive Director
Customer Experience
Brilliant Team Player

Throughout Lisa’s 40-year journey with Consumers Energy, she’s remained a champion for people, leading with a heart of service that ensures the team crosses the finish line together. Lisa offers thoughtful, creative, candid feedback that is always spot on—and always ensures her co-workers feel cared for.

Shareholder
Kreis Enderle Hudgins & Borsos, PC
Brilliant Tenacity

At age 16, Bobbi found herself in a predicament: pregnant with little support. Despite the challenges, Bobbi finished high school, attended college and put herself through law school. Years later, Bobbi met her husband and had two more children, one who, as a toddler, was diagnosed with cancer. After a few stints practicing law on her own, Bobbi joined Kreis Enderle in 2017 as an estate planning and family law attorney. Her practice thrived and she became a shareholder as of January 1. Bobbi gives back to the community in multiple ways, including sponsoring young families trying to get on their feet and volunteering with Lifeline at Ada Bible church, working with middle school girls.

Director of Social Justice Education
Grand Valley State University
Brilliant Best Supporting Man

Relando advocates and promotes violence prevention work with unrelenting dedication at Grand Valley State University, where he co-facilitates workshops on healthy relationships, consent and violence prevention. Much of his contributions to the work involve thinking through messages we have heard about race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, religion, social class, and other aspects of identity, and how those messages have influenced our worldview and decision making.

Facilities Manager
Rockford Construction
Brilliant Best Supporting Man

Despite working in a male-dominated industry, Joel is dedicated to advocating for and empowering women. From day-to-day interactions to long-term projects, he takes the time to teach and share his experiences, encouraging advancement and professional development for the women around him. Joel sees everyone as an equal contributor, which is especially valuable for a property management team.

Morning Show Host
Cumulus Media
Brilliant Mentor

Michelle has spent most of her radio career here in Grand Rapids, where her name is a staple. Michelle continues to support charity events throughout the state while waking us up every morning with an engaging and fun show on WLAV. Michelle also finds time to find and coach talent for her company and continues to be a sounding board for woman who need advice or help with placement in broadcasting.

President/CEO
Inspire Me! Home Decor
Brilliant Entrepreneur

Farah started Inspire Me! Home Decor In 2012 and has subsequently grown the brand to include 5.7 million followers, appearances on QVC, and features on Forbes and House Beautiful, and to be the most-followed home décor page on Instagram. She has designed a home décor collection exclusively designed for QVC and designed and launched her own furniture and rug line on Wayfair.com. Her brand has expanded to the successful inspiremehomedecor.com online business. In 2019, she wrote a book that was a No. 1 best seller on Amazon. In the wake of her success online, Farah will open a retail space in Grand Rapids this year.

Owner
Mosley School of Cosmetology
Brilliant Tenacity

Early life came with challenges, including learning and a teenage pregnancy, yet Theresa was determined to overcome them. After graduating high school, she obtained her Bachelor's in Business Management and later her cosmetology license. A mother of six, she is proud to say she beat the odds by opening Mosley School of Cosmetology. Theresa has created an avenue for people of all ethnicities and economic standing to pursue their dreams. She has assisted non-English speaking students with community resources to help complete classwork and ESL courses. She also founded Hair for Hope, a hands-on class that teaches foster and adoptive parents how to do hair for the children of color they’re raising.

Senior Vice President of Traditional Undergraduate Academics
Cornerstone University
Brilliant Team Player

Shawn has been instrumental in ideating and executing the implementation of several key initiatives at Cornerstone that have helped the university gain a competitive edge in the higher education market. In addition, she shows great concern for and investment in those with whom she works, which in turn inspires them to do their best work.

Company Member
Grand Rapids Ballet
Brilliant Tenacity

Currently in her ninth year with Grand Rapids Ballet, Yuka has overcome injuries, personal losses, language barriers, culture shock and professional disappointments to become the prima ballerina of Michigan's only professional ballet company. Despite challenges she initially faced, she persisted, using dance as a way to connect across these barriers. In recent years Yuka dealt with the death of two close family members, making the long trip home to Japan to pay her respects. Never one to rest on her laurels, she finds ways to push herself by expanding her steps, finding new coaching for her roles, taking on new responsibilities like choreographing and teaching, and always searching for the route to further improvement.

Vice President, Corporate & Member Engagement
Inforum Michigan
Brilliant Connector

Becky has worked tirelessly for Inforum Michigan for the past several years, revamping programming to better meet the needs of West Michigan professionals while playing connector to countless women. The leadership programs, networking events, dinners, and more are met with rave reviews and are sold out time and time again.

FitKids360 Director
Health Net of West Michigan
Brilliant Social Change Agent

Keyuana is a community activist, author, poet, change agent, and nonprofit professional who believes in community-building, equity in all spaces, and creating changes and legacies that future generations would benefit from. She is credited with helping develop Health Net’s first equity team and providing historical context to support the organization’s equity efforts and also developed the FitKids en español program, which allows monolingual Spanish-speaking families access to participate in the program.

Director of Specialty Services
Cancer and Hematology Centers of Western Michigan, PC
Brilliant Emerging Leader

Tanya gained this upper leadership position through experience, skillset, positivity, collaboration, and vision for change to continually improve the care delivered within the organization. She has worked as a health care professional in oncology for over six years. Her positive attitude and leadership motivate her staff on a daily basis. She has also successfully spearheaded huge initiatives and changes. Her vision for an effective organization and her servant attitude toward others make her a role model for everyone.

Owner
Sanchez Income Tax & Translation Services
Brilliant Entrepreneur

Zoraida runs a thriving business for tax preparation, translations and other services. She also teaches tax preparation classes, is a special guest of many local and state activities, and serves as a consultant to several agencies interested in serving Hispanics. Zoraida has received many recognitions at the local, state, and federal levels for her community services and activism and for her business. From inspiring other women, to serving as a role model, to having excellent business practices, to using her voice for the benefit of the community, she is persistent and doesn’t stop until she finds the solution she seeks.

President and Founder
Reagan Marketing + Design, LLC
Brilliant Entrepreneur

Nearly 30 years ago, Mary set out to take charge of her professional life, launching Reagan Marketing + Design, LLC (RM+D) as a one-woman business. Today, she continues to lead a successful agency that has grown to a team of 28 talented individuals. Over the years, she’s been most proud of her ability to bring stakeholders together and help clients develop strategies for what’s next in their business—whether it’s manufacturing, health care, small business, nonprofit, innovation, digital media or otherwise. What Mary is most proud of, perhaps, is her team’s commitment to local organizations that serve our community.

Adjunct Professor (CIM) | Marketing Director (WMSBF)
Culinary Institute of Michigan | Muskegon Food Alliance/Muskegon Food Hub | West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
Brilliant Champion of Service

Rose lives and breathes to serve the West Michigan community and maintain its beauty for the generations to come. She is always thinking about what is next and brainstorming how her vision, hope, and passion for sustainable food practices can be implemented in personal and professional lives. As an Adjunct Professor at the Culinary Institute of Michigan, Rose works with the future of our hospitality and food industry on sustainable food practices to better preserve the communities they will someday serve. Rose sits on numerous boards and recently took on the role of Marketing Director at the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

Director of Operations
Full Circle Care
Brilliant Champion of Service

Starting out as a direct-care worker, today Marissa leads a new path toward a different care model for young adults with severe disabilities, and their families. This strategy brings parents, residents, community supports and staff together with Community Mental Health in a way that is unique. She leads a staff of 35-plus and participates in local and state CMH events, advocating for the mental health system and for improving standards of care.

Psychologist
Pine Rest Mental Health Services
Brilliant Social Change Agent

Dr. Charmeka Newton is a psychologist at Pine Rest Mental Health Services and faculty member at Western Michigan University. Outside of her work at Pine Rest and in the classroom, she volunteers her time speaking on topics connected to depression, anxiety, multiculturalism, and microaggression, and serves on the executive board for Kids Moving & Thriving, a nonprofit for kids at risk for obesity in West Michigan. Recently, she was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve on the Michigan Board of Psychology. Through serving her community, she hopes to create a more equitable playing field for individuals needing emotional support and mental health services.

Senior Director of Leadership Giving
Make-A-Wish Michigan
Brilliant Champion of Service

Ellie carries the torch for many fundraising initiatives that have grown to be record-breaking under her leadership. These funds are vital to Make-A-Wish’s mission and without the steadfast efforts under Ellie’s leadership, transformational wishes wouldn’t be possible for Michigan kids. Through a tough three-year battle with leukemia as a teenager, Ellie realized philanthropy was her passion. Ellie has been a Patient Mentor for the P.O.R.T program at Spectrum Health where she mentors young women going through their cancer journey. Ellie also volunteers her time as an AFP mentor to young women entering the non-profit world in fundraising.

 

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