Human Resources and Small Business & Startups

Event celebrates women leaders

March 19, 2019
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Autumn Fuchs
Autumn Fuchs, the founder of Fuchsia Design.

West Michigan’s top businesswomen packed the house with some serious girl power.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Top Women Owned Businesses Awards ceremony took a break from events of years past with a new format. The rebranded event, Women Who Mean Business, took place at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on March 19 and offered guests a more candid and networking-friendly event.

To give attendees more knowledge of the successful women in attendance, the Business Journal’s first Women Who Mean Business event featured two panel discussions.

The first panel focused on resources available locally to women business owners and leaders. Panelists were Bonnie Nawara, CEO of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women; Judy Welch, West Michigan executive director for Michigan Women Forward; Sandra Gaddy, CEO of Women’s Resource Center; and Elissa Sangalli Hillary, president of Local First.

The second panel explored the experiences of some of West Michigan’s top women CEOs. Panelists were Tina Freese Decker, CEO of Spectrum Health; Meredith Bronk, CEO of Open Systems Technologies; Christina Keller, CEO of Cascade Engineering; and Tracey Hornbeck, CEO of Legacy Trust.

The event honored 33 women-owned businesses – and 35 women – in four categories separated by annual revenue. Of those 33 finalists, four earned the Top Women Owned Businesses Award.

Winners were declared by category based on annual revenue: under $500,000; $500,000 to $1.499 million; $1.5 million to $3 million; and over $3 million.

Autumn Fuchs, owner of Fuchsia Design, won in the under $500,000 category; Dr. Elizabeth Christopherson, owner of Christopherson Orthodontics, won in the $500,000 to $1.499 million category; Raquel Salas Guzman, managing member of Avanti Law Group, won in the $1.5 million to $3 million category; and Deb DeGraaf, president and owner of DeGraaf Interiors, won in the over $3 million category.

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