Diversity A Natural Calling

October 17, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Debra Quade said she is almost speechless at being chosen as the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Awards Advocate of the Year recipient.

“I have a really emotional reaction,” she said.

Quade, a Douglas resident who is diversity procurement specialist for Magna Donnelly, said diversity is a natural calling to her. She feels honored to be among the previous award winners and to have been nominated by one of her peers.

Since starting the position in 1998, Quade has expanded to lead a Michigan Minority Business Development Council Project ONE Module. The program helps connect minority business enterprises with corporations that may be clients. Quade is the module leader of companies such as Whirlpool Corp., Herman Miller, Grand Valley State University and Spectrum Health.

“West Michigan has so much to offer and we’re just beginning to tap our resources when it comes to supplier diversity,” she said.

Quade said she could not take all the credit for her award.

“A person in my position could not be successful without the support of others within in the company. Magna Donnelly’s management team understands the business case for supplier diversity and supports its diversity team,” she said. “Also our buyers are the real heroes as they are responsible for assisting a diverse supply base to grow and thrive. Any award for diversity belongs to our entire team and I am so pleased to work amongst so many winners!”

Rick Henderson, manager of supplier diversity for Whirlpool, said Quade is someone who is always looking for ways the corporate and minority business members can benefit.

“There isn’t a time when she’s not thinking how to take advantage of an opportunity, to provide assistance or a resource to help the corporations or minority businesses,” he said.

Henderson said Quade is always there to help with ideas and solutions as he continues to develop supplier diversity at Whirlpool.

“She has a level of awareness and sensitivity to the needs of our corporate and minority members that I probably don’t have yet,” he said. “I’m very pleased to have her as a person to touch base with from time to time to help keep me on track.”

Quade also participates in the Michigan Minority Business Development Council West Michigan Roundtable. She attended the first Zeeland Institute for Healing Racism in 2003, and has served as the clerk/treasurer for the Village of Douglas, where she co-wrote the human rights ordinance for the village. Quade is a member of the Council of Supplier Diversity Professionals and received the Michigan Minority Business Development Council 2005 Regional Business Service Award for West Michigan and was the Corporate Diversity Advocate of the Year for 2003 and 2004. She also was recently elected to the Michigan Minority Business Development Council’s board of directors.    

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