Human Resources and Nonprofits

Foundation honors women for achievements and courage

Five leaders will be recognized for how they influenced their surroundings.

April 18, 2014
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Five West Michigan women are being recognized this week for their business leadership and other contributions at an annual event.

The Michigan Women’s Foundation, an organization committed to fostering economic empowerment for women and girls, is hosting the 2014 Women of Achievement and Courage West Michigan Celebration from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., April 22, at the JW Marriott, 235 Louis St. NW, Grand Rapids.

Judy Welch, executive director of the West Michigan division of Michigan Women’s Foundation, said the region is an economic engine for health care and the event is aimed at honoring women who normally may not be recognized for their achievements.

The West Michigan Women of Achievement and Courage Celebration will recognize five women who were chosen through a nominating process conducted by an MWF committee. The selection process was based on factors such as: philanthropy, education, research, advocacy, medical and professional. According to Welch, the committee looked at the accomplishments of the women leaders and then classified how they influenced their surroundings based on the different areas.

Peg Tallet, chief community relations officer at MWF, said the procedure in selecting the leaders is a robust process and takes into account other aspects than professional milestones.

“We really look at a lot of things, but we look at women who have extraordinary achievement in their profession or their careers, those who balance family life and all the things they need to do and still find time to contribute to the community. And that’s very important to us.”

The event will honor Carol Van Andel, executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation as the Trillium Award Winner. The other four honorees include: Micki Benz, regional vice president of communications and advocacy at Mercy Health; Dr. Marsha Rappley, dean of the college of human medicine at Michigan State University; Teresa Hendricks-Pitsch, executive director of Migrant Legal Aid; and Dr. Tammy Born Huizenga, chief executive officer of Born Preventive Health Care.

According to the press release, Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to speak at the luncheon event. 

The event began as an opportunity to celebrate women and raise funds for the foundation at the same time. Corporations and groups can become sponsors of the event through the purchase of tickets or tables at the celebration. Sponsorship ranges from the Trillium level at $25,000 for three tables or 30 tickets, to a Partner sponsorship at $500 for two tickets.

According to Tallet, the 2014 event will benefit the foundation’s Angel Microloan program. The microloan fund grants low-interest loans from $2,500 to $35,000 to female entrepreneurs who are seeking to launch or grow a small business in Michigan.

“I always think it is important for women to be recognized,” said Tallet. “It is nice to have one specifically aimed at women, primarily supported by women, although over the years our support based on corporate sponsors has grown tremendously.”

According to Tallet, the increase of advocacy from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations is a result of realizing the significance of supporting women-related initiatives and gender-specific programming.

MWF also will host a dinner celebration for Southeast Michigan April 29 at the MGM Grand in Detroit. The southeast event will honor Mary Barra, chief executive officer at General Motors; Linda Forte, senior vice president of business affairs at Comerica; and Irma Elder.

Headquartered in Detroit, the Michigan Women’s Foundation began in 1986 when a group of 30 prominent women gathered to discuss philanthropy and inequality in contributions toward women’s causes. At the time, only 3 percent of philanthropy in the United States was devoted to charities, programs, or causes for women, according to its website.

For more than 25 years, MWF has given more than $3.2 million in funding to at least 500 programs and organizations with values aligning with the foundation.

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