Chamber names minority business award winners
A chamber of commerce in the region has recognized two attorneys and the owner of a manufacturing company with awards that celebrate diversity and community advocacy.
The Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce said it presented two awards at its 12th-annual Minority Business Luncheon last month at the Midtown Center in Holland.
Francé Allen, of Ventura Manufacturing, won the chamber’s Minority Business of the Year award.
Dawn Garcia Ward, of Warner Norcross and Judd, and Juanita Bocanegra, of the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, won the chamber’s Minority Business Champion award.
Each year, chamber members nominate recipients, and a committee selects the winners.
The Minority Business of the Year recipient must be a member of the chamber, a minority owned business, in business for at least three years and able to demonstrate strong financial stability.
The Minority Business Champion award goes to a recipient who works for a chamber member firm, promotes or positively affects the minority business community, values diversity and promotes the appreciation of differences.
Allen grew up in Mexico and moved to America as a teenager. She worked in Texas and migrant fields in Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, which led her to a job at Prince Manufacturing. Her career path took her to Innotec, where she began with small cell assembly.
In 1997, she launched her own company, Zeeland-based Ventura Manufacturing, which now operates in the U.S., Mexico, China and Hungary.
Ventura Manufacturing aims to be a company based on values that include "trust, humility, service, fun, forgiveness, learning, change, hard work and teamwork," according to the chamber.
Ward is a co-founder, with Bocanegra, of the Professional Lakeshore Latinas, an affinity group through the chamber.
A former litigator, Ward concentrates her practice at Warner Norcross & Judd on records and information management for small-to-large entities, including several Fortune 500 companies.
She is a member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan and State Bar of New Mexico. She is a member of the Association for Information and Image Management and ARMA International.
Ward has been named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
She serves on the board for the ARMA West Michigan Chapter and Holland Hospital and is a past director for the Hispanic Center of West Michigan and the Holland Historical Trust.
Since 2011, Bocanegra has served as assistant prosecuting attorney at the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office.
She received her J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2008 and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Spanish from Grand Valley State University in 1997.
Bocanegra is board secretary for the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, a board member of the Lakeshore Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and a board member of Holland Hospital.
Along with Ward, Bocanegra recognized a need in the community to support and mentor other Latinas, so they co-founded the Professional Lakeshore Latinas in 2016. The group has grown to almost 70 women over the course of the past year and meets regularly, uniting business professionals in the local Latina community, who offer mentoring, networking and support to each other.
The Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1908, represents 1,400 organizations with 70,000 employees in the greater Holland-Zeeland area.
It has offices in Holland and Zeeland.