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Current Issue
May 2011 • Vol. 17 • Number 10


Current Issue
Current Issue
May 2011 • Vol. 17 • Number 10

Below and in the box on the left side of this page are some of the stories you'll find in the most current issue.

View From the Top: Our region's top 20 most powerful women



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What is power? When it comes to the list of the 20 local women who have it in spades, we believe it comes down to this: grace, integrity, success, leadership and the oomph to make an undeniably positive impact on our region’s businesses, community and culture. That said, consider our proverbial hats off – and eyes on – the legacy these 20 women are shaping for tomorrow.

Elaine Wood

CEO, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments

personal triumph: I am most fulfilled when I see some of my younger colleagues and my son emerging as great leaders, and I can recognize some little bit of influence I’ve had in their development.

girlhood dreams: I really wanted to be a detective or forensic psychologist. Now I just have to be content with trying to solve the crime before the end of the novel.

advice for the ages: Be bold and limitless. Trust your gut more than what other people tell you. Believe in yourself, then forget yourself and just serve others.

my motto: I try to live by the words of the poet Edwin Markham: “There is a destiny that makes us brothers and sisters. None goes their way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.” And I try every day (although it’s sometimes difficult – but easier as I get older) to just feel the rapture of being alive.

local legacy: I don’t care much about a legacy; I just want to know in the end that I was kind and compassionate most of the time, and tough when necessary. But I would also like to be able to look back and know I played some small part in helping our region become a better and better place for families to learn, play, and be productive, and for businesses to thrive, and for our environment to be protected – not just because it’s a valued asset but also because it’s a spiritual connecter for us.

my secret to success: It came to me through genetics: a balanced right-left brain. I can’t begin to count the ways and times when extremely bold creativity, combined with an analytical, organized manner, has been a recipe for great results.

luckiest break: In 1975, when we inadvertently ended up in the Grand Traverse area after a four-month, multi-state search. My love for this regional community has provided inspiration and motivation. Every time I have stuck my neck out – to lead a charge for the West Bay bayfront to become parkland instead of sold by the railroad for development; to help move the college to become a 21st century leader; or anything else – it was motivated by my love for this place.

turning point: Building a house – literally doing all the labor with just our four hands because we couldn’t afford one any other way. I learned I was much stronger than I ever imagined, literally and figuratively speaking. After that experience, I have known I can get through just about anything if I just gut it out and focus on the goal.



Connie Deneweth

President & CEO, Traverse City State Bank

milestones: I am a CPA with 28 years of banking experience and I hope to be bragging about my involvement in a successful Bank turn around … we are almost there!

i serve: As an Executive Board Member of Munson Healthcare. I am so proud to serve an organization that provides some of the best health care in the nation. Working together with our physicians and rural area hospitals, we connect communities throughout northern Michigan with the highest quality of patient care. I also serve on the advisory board of the Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools and on the Oleson Foundation’s Board of Directors.

pride & joy: Spearheading a team of local doctors and business people to turn the former GT County Road Commission site into the Copper Ridge professional office complex, featuring the Northwest Michigan Surgery Center and Munson’s Smith Family Breast Health Center.

advice for the ages: Ice skate more often.

girlhood dreams: I wanted to be a professional figure skater, but instead I became a banker and have two boys and a husband who love and play hockey. I continue to practice my toe jumps in private on our backyard ice rink.

my motto: No one is going to outwork me.

i never leave home without: earrings on.

Kerry Winkler

Co-publisher of GT Woman Magazine

working style: On the fly.

advice for my young self: I’d tell myself, “Don’t be so quiet. Share those thoughts in your head – you’ll be more interesting out loud than in your head!”

local legacy: Someone once told me they can’t remember what it was like in TC for women in business before GTW events. That caught me by surprise – women have always roamed in packs!

my secret to success: Put personality into the workplace. Women thrive on relationships – they can get a service or product anywhere, but it will be the relationship they have with the person behind the business that makes it or breaks it. Women support relationships first, and the product or service follows.

aha! moment: You can say work and life are separate, but they simply aren’t; attitude, energy and work performance are all affected. So when my home life came undone, and I had to start over, I realized I could start over at work with new energy, new ideas and renewed excitement. I realized that rebuilding can be freedom – that I could shake off the dust.



Karen Browne

CEO, TBA Credit Union

aha! moment: One of my most astonishing and awaking moments was in 1991 when the CEO of the credit union I was employed by – after finding out I was going to relocate to Traverse City – said, “Here are your choices of credit unions in TC. Which one do you want me to contact on your behalf?” Before I knew it he had called the CEO of TBACU, gave his personal recommendation, and set up the interview. Even though no positions were available, based on his recommendation a new position was created for me, and so I began my career at TBACU.

i serve: as treasurer for the Forest Area Athletic Boosters; on the executive committee of the Michigan Credit Union League, Paul Bunyan Chapter; and as a member of the Traverse City Economic Club.

pride & joy: The time and dedication TBACU puts towards the importance of financial education. For the past several years, TBACU has offered a 13-week Financial Peace University course to help educate community members on the importance of budgeting and saving, we’ve awarded $10,000 in classroom grants over the past five years in, and $20,000 in stimulus grants in 2010 – all to help improve the education of our region’s students.

maverick mission: During the 2010/2011 school year TBACU introduced Student Run Credit Unions in six local elementary schools. Helping to educate children on the importance of savings while teaching valuable life skills, we hope more schools participate in the program next year.

girlhood dreams: I wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels, preferably Jaclyn Smith!

secret to my success: Working hard, fast and accurate, proving my abilities and exceeding expectations with no anticipation of monetary reward, but only self-gratification that I did the best job I possibly could. With that ethic, you will be rewarded faster than you realize.

luckiest break: I was appointed interim CEO to fill a vacancy while the search for a new CEO began. I had no desire to become the CEO but quickly realized I had been steering the ship for years – I just didn’t have the title. The job was offered to me and, after much personal debate, I concluded that I was the best person to lead the staff I had already been guiding for years.



Brenda Biederman

Volunteer Fundraiser

milestones: What I am most proud of with regard to my community activities is that I began several annual fundraisers, which over the years have helped sustain several organizations whose work is so valuable to our community: The Womens Resource Center’s Extravaganza, the Old Town Playhouse’s Black & White Gala, the Traverse Symphony Orchestra’s Crescendo Club, the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big Soiree, the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Barons Ball and, most recently, mAIDens of Michigan.

pride and joy: Currently, my efforts are to help build and sustain mAIDens of Michigan, a giving circle in which I host two parties each year, with each of my girlfriends bringing a dish to pass and a check for $100. Together, we have raised thousands of dollars to help our area's most needy women and children; at the same time, we become friends with new and exciting women who truly care about the needs of our community.

local legacy: The fundraising efforts I have made to help sustain the above organizations has given me a lot of gratification.

girlhood dreams: Exactly 50 years ago I gave an interview to the Record Eagle after having just won Wexford County's Dairy Princess contest (I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Buckley). They asked me what I wanted to become, and because I wanted to impress my grandmother, who had founded the Buckley Gospel Tabernacle, I said, "I want to become a missionary.” What I really wanted to become was a movie star, but I dared not say such a thing! I didn't become either, to say the least!

advice for the ages: Instead of being concerned about what people think of you, get yourself together the best you can, then forget about yourself and go out and give love to everyone you see.

my mantra: is what I have preached to my children and what I try to live by: "Don't ever do anything – even in secret, or if you're sure no one can ever find out – which would make your mother or yourself ashamed of you.”



Lisa Wehr

CEO, Oneupweb

professional milestones: Recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2001; named one of Michigan’s Top 50 Companies to Watch in 2006; the purchase of our global headquarters on west Grand Traverse Bay in 2008; Oneupweb’s Step & Close documentary premiere at the State Theatre in 2010; national recognition as a pioneer and top search marketing agency by Advertising Age 2007 through 2010.

maverick moment: In Oneupweb’s One For The Road campaign, I toured the state of Michigan with six of my top employees (literally, in a motor home) delivering digital marketing advice to any business owner that needed it in August of 2009.

i serve: 2010 Board Member of the Bank of Northern Michigan and 2010 Enterprising Women Board of Directors.

local love: I moved my business to northern Michigan in 2000. Shortly after that, we were booming with big-name, enterprise clients and competing in an up-and-coming industry largely based in NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles. But I made the decision to keep Oneupweb headquartered in Northern Michigan – no matter what –to prove that good, cutting-edge work and talent doesn’t thrive exclusively in big cities.

girlhood dreams: In high school I wanted to become a Paleontologist. I also had dreams of becoming a rock band cover art photographer – missed on that front but worked four years as a forensic photographer at a Florida sheriff department.

advice for the ages: When you reach 25 years old and think you know everything, realize what you know could fill a thimble compared to what you have left to learn. And be open to learning it.

i never leave home without: My iPhone and a fast car.

turning point: The fear of failure when 9/11 occurred and the uncertainty of our future as a young struggling company in the few days following that event was immense. As it turned out, this was the year of greatest growth for Oneupweb due to the fact that businesses needed to continue marketing but were looking for lower-cost solutions to reaching a broader audience. Much of the country’s advertising dollars went online versus traditional media. When our clients came to us in need – we delivered.



Michelle Corteggiano

Founder & CEO, ATI Marketing

professional milestones: I just got word that Entrepreneur Press is picking up my new book “Power of Attraction,” and I am going to be a regular contributor to entrepreneur.com on social media marketing.

i serve: Several high-profile organizations throughout the United States with their social initiatives, including three big players in the direct-selling industry: DSWA Direct Selling Women’s Alliance, WorldVentures and Beachbody. I also head up several new media mastermind groups – one of them in TC; the other online. The goal of these groups is to stay on top of and ahead of cutting-edge marketing by testing and sharing results so local businesses can all have some guidelines to work with when using these mediums.

advice for my young self: I would tell that sweet little girl to make sure she lives her passion. I waited until I was 40 before I made the move toward doing what I love and, looking back, there is no time to waste doing things that don’t make you 100-percent happy.

my working style: Fun and engaging. I’ve been told that I put the “e” in engagement. I think it’s extremely important to share my fun, entertaining side while offering incredible value with my network so they get the most from my info. I am an “edu-tainer.”

local legacy: I hope to some day be known as one of the people who helped put Traverse City on the map for all of the goodness that it has to offer. My work takes me all over the world, where I stand on the stage in front of thousands and use our local businesses as examples. Between appearances and social media, I am helping little ol’ TC make some noise globally!

secrets to my success: Hands down, the three things that have guided my success are following my passions; surrounding myself with a positive, successful and diversified peer group; and taking time to learn and grow my “self.”

luckiest break: The day that my employer of 14 years fired me. I walked away crushed and thinking my life was over, but oh contraire – it was only the beginning.



Deborah W. Fellows

Founder and President, MyNorth Media, producers of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and MyNorth.com

milestones: Paying off our debt. Adding medical benefits, retirement plan and cafeteria plan for employees. Winning several awards for General Excellence from the City Regional Magazine Association and Magazine of the Year from the International Regional Magazine Association. Launching MyNorth.com, which had almost a half million visits in 2010 – from every state and 172 foreign countries. Being chosen for Folio’s – the magazine for magazines – Big Ideas for 2011, alongside Forbes and Conde Nast as one of those who best represent an increasingly multifaceted media landscape.

girlhood dreams: I wanted to be a writer for National Geographic. Or a swim coach.

advice for the ages: Don’t worry so much about how it will all work out. Stick to your dreams, don’t be too afraid, take risks, believe it is possible. Oh, and sleep more.

my working style: Columbus – I chart a course, worrying every single night that the earth is indeed round; fill the ship with brilliant, creative, independent people who believe in the mission and the value of the journey; and let them do their work.

local legacy: I hope our work will have helped insure that this region will long be a place where dreamers can come to build a life centered around land, water and community. And I hope that people who visit and ask for nothing more than a walk in the woods or clean water to paddle can come to celebrate, grieve, laugh, find themselves and each other. I got an email many years ago, and all it said was “Thank you. I need to know that places like Northern Michigan still exist.” That would be a wonderful legacy of our life’s work.

turning point: Two: First, at age 25, way in debt, I found a few mentors that helped me accept that I was a business owner and not only a writer/editor, and that helped me really hone our mission. I paid off the debt, and we’ve never wavered in our mission since. Secondly, four years ago, we began the transition from a magazine publishing company to a multi-media company. Today, we are celebrating and protecting Northern Michigan in all kinds of mediums: eight magazines, three books, MyNorth.com, e-newsletters, videos, online directories, digital magazines and more – and every effort speaks to that exact mission for northern Michigan honed so many years ago.



Chris MacInnes

COO, Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa

memorable milestones: Receiving the Athena and Distinguished Service Awards were huge surprises that I will always cherish. In both instances, when I realized it was me, I wanted to apply lipstick but felt eyes upon me.

i serve: as a director of Munson Healthcare, Michigan Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee, PriorityHealth, and as director of Crystal Enterprises. Also, I also greatly enjoy the fellowship of being a Benzie Sunrise Rotary Club member.

pride & joy: Building a healthy lifestyle community where friends and families gather and can build skills and relationships that they will value for a lifetime.

girlhood dreams: What I’m doing now: skiing, golfing, living in northern Michigan overlooking the most beautiful lake in the world, Crystal Lake (sorry Glen Lakers. I admit, I’m biased), and working a with a great team that I trust and that challenges me everyday.

advice for the ages: Demand a stronger K-12 education and compete in sports.

local legacy: I hope to leave my campground in better shape than when I arrived; Crystal will continue to evolve as a great place to live, work and play, and Michigan Legacy Art Park will flourish as an integral part of this community; and the northern Michigan I love will continue to be a mecca for people who value a high quality of life, give back to their community, and who leave pretension at the border.

secret to my success: I take myself lightly, my work seriously and remember that my business is about fun. As a leader in a fun business, I set the tone. If our guests are going to have fun, we need to lead by example!

i never leave home without: my ski boots (winter), golf gear (summer) and a calculator (any season; I missed the gene to do math in my head).

turning point: Our decision in 1985 to be the “test case,” leaving work, friends and home in Southern California to join our family business here in Thompsonville. We arrived with a vague notion of building a resort; 25 years later this notion has evolved into creating a sustainable year-round community.



Laura Oblinger

COO, Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce

pride & joy: The Chamber has improved its communication strategies; many of the Chamber’s existing events and programs have blossomed – among them the Annual Chamber Dinner, Business Expo, Golf Outing, and Business After Hours program – and we’ve developed new programs like the Small Business Celebration, Entrepreneur Series, Business Camp, and the Chamber’s Young Professional program.

my plan: With my recent promotion to Chief Operating Officer, I have the distinct honor to manage the Chamber’s robust strategic plan. Key is the restructuring of all our programming, so we can present it as a continuum of learning in which all programs are integrated within one another.

local love: I can’t stop coming back to the results of the Chamber. It is where so much of my time is dedicated and as a result of the cumulative effect of the Chamber, I have seen businesses and people grow, thrive, become more visible and – simply put – flourish.

girlhood dreams: Even though I couldn’t be happier jumping out of bed in the morning to do what I do – my girlhood dream has nothing to do with what I’m currently doing. I’ve always wanted to be a personal trainer, and number two on my list is to be a chef! I love to cook – and eat – great food. I love “plating it up” and bringing to the table a beautiful meal for others to enjoy.

advice for the ages: One, be very choosy about who you surround yourself with. Two, protect your time. Three, you can’t control everything that life brings you, but you can control how you handle it.

secret to success: The true secret weapon – I live and breathe David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy. I have done so for many years, and it allows me to deliver what I say I’m going to do, when I say I’m going to do it, plus build trust, accountability and integrity – all really important aspects to leading people, processes, and functions.



Karen Schmidt

Realtor, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Real Estate

memorable milestones: My first year in real estate when I tripled my income – and the first full year when I did $10 million; the tears in a child’s eyes when she got her own bedroom; helping build a Habit for Humanity home with the Coldwell Banker group and seeing the family receive their set of keys; giving my mother a new car for Mother’s Day after she had been a widow for many years.

stellar service moments: Raising $60,000 for a Munson Medical Center benefit, being part of the prayer groups to plant, plan and build New Hope Community Church – and watching people accept Jesus as their personal savior, and seeing lives changed from messes to miracles; being on the board of WLJN (89.9 FM Christian Radio) and watching Jesus work. We have a great community of wonderful people.

girlhood dreams: To help my family for all they gave to me while I was growing up. We lived in a two-bedroom home with only an outhouse until I was about eight years old. My parents gave us four kids the opportunity to graduate from college, and I became a teacher.

advice for the ages: Learn to live life like it’s the last day here on earth and be more aware of our choice of life hereafter, eternity.

working style: When my feet hit the floor in the morning, I press on toward the goal laid out for me that day. I try to be ready to adjust to the events and changes for the day and see the positives.

my smartest move: When I realized from observing others in teaching, raising children, volunteer work and real estate, that we all struggle for something to make us happy. I have learned, turning to drugs, other people, gambling, busyness, and having and buying anything I want of this world is never going to give peace. It may give short-term happiness, but it never will fill the vacant spot in our hearts.



Karen Schmidt

Realtor, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Real Estate

memorable milestones: My first year in real estate when I tripled my income – and the first full year when I did $10 million; the tears in a child’s eyes when she got her own bedroom; helping build a Habit for Humanity home with the Coldwell Banker group and seeing the family receive their set of keys; giving my mother a new car for Mother’s Day after she had been a widow for many years.

stellar service moments: Raising $60,000 for a Munson Medical Center benefit, being part of the prayer groups to plant, plan and build New Hope Community Church – and watching people accept Jesus as their personal savior, and seeing lives changed from messes to miracles; being on the board of WLJN (89.9 FM Christian Radio) and watching Jesus work. We have a great community of wonderful people.

girlhood dreams: To help my family for all they gave to me while I was growing up. We lived in a two-bedroom home with only an outhouse until I was about eight years old. My parents gave us four kids the opportunity to graduate from college, and I became a teacher.

advice for the ages: Learn to live life like it’s the last day here on earth and be more aware of our choice of life hereafter, eternity.

working style: When my feet hit the floor in the morning, I press on toward the goal laid out for me that day. I try to be ready to adjust to the events and changes for the day and see the positives.

my smartest move: When I realized from observing others in teaching, raising children, volunteer work and real estate, that we all struggle for something to make us happy. I have learned, turning to drugs, other people, gambling, busyness, and having and buying anything I want of this world is never going to give peace. It may give short-term happiness, but it never will fill the vacant spot in our hearts.



Kim Hagerty

Chairman, The Hagerty Group

pride & joy: One of the items that I am most proud of is our employee volunteer program, Hagerty Cares. 90 percent of our employees participate in the program, which provides 16 hours of paid time for service in the community as an annual benefit. In 2010, our employees donated more than 4,000 hours and $80,000 of in-kind support to the Grand Traverse Area.

i serve: As the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of

local love: I am a tireless advocate for my employees, the keeper of the company’s unique corporate culture and a champion for Hagerty’s core values. I enjoy extending Hagerty’s internal culture to the greater community and spearheading the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts throughout the world.

working style: I live according to the same values exspoused at Hagerty. One of my favorites that I use both professionally and personally is, Enjoy meaningful work: work hard, feel good.

girlhood dreams: I attended college with the intention of becoming a teacher. When I graduated there were no teaching jobs available, so I decided to continue my education by attending law school. I am still on my way to figuring out what I most want to do – I love to evolve, and I love to learn.

advice for the ages: Get a great education. It’s something that no one can ever take from you. Trust your gut and follow you heart. Work hard and always express your gratitude.

local legacy: I hope to leave a legacy of giving. It’s the one thing that everyone can do - give a piece of themselves to help others. I spend my time helping to provide exceptional educational programming in our region. Another person may have the gift of creating music or organizing someone’s storage room. I want people to know that it doesn’t matter what you give. The simple act of giving will change your life so much more than what you ever anticipated.

i never leave home without: Something pink, a picture of my husband, and a picture of my daughter.

smartest move: Deciding to leave my law practice to come back to Traverse City 15 years ago and help to run my family’s business. It’s been full of excitement, challenges and wildly successful. I feel very grateful to have been able to live and work in such a beautiful area and to be back home.



Alexandra Rheinheimer

Owner, Horse Sports by the Bay, Inc.; event manager, Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival

pride and joy: Creating and developing the Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival – which, after being a mostly regionally attended event, has now grown into one of the nation’s top 25 equestrian events in the country and one of Traverse City’s main sources of summer tourism revenue.

local love: I like to think that, besides impacting our community economically Horse Shows by the Bay is also exposing Traverse City and the surrounding area to a very dynamic and affluent segment of America – therefore assisting in the branding of the Grand Traverse Region.

girlhood dream: To ride horses, of course – and win lots of blue ribbons!

advice for the ages: Be somebody – and don’t let anyone convince you differently.

my style: I take my life by the reins – with my head up, heels down, never pulling back, and with my eyes always on the prize.

my legacy: I hope to leave Traverse City with a continual stream of reliable summer revenue, and the people an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s very best equestrians and their horses. These type of events are rare, and to be exposed to past, current, and future Olympians is a gift not only to the equestrian community but to everyone who appreciates the skill and passion required to achieve absolute perfection, harmony, and precision.

i never leave home without: My Crackberry!

luckiest break: After year three of Horse Shows by the Bay, I had the pleasure of uniting with Karin Flint, who is the owner and developer of Flintfields Horse Park, home to Horse Shows by the Bay. If it weren’t for a similar shared vision and for Karin’s commitment to northern Michigan we’d likely have either had to pack up “the dream” or move to a less desirable piece of land. Karin Flint’s dedication has enabled Horse Shows by the Bay – and more recently, me – to flourish. !



Debbie McKeon

Executive Director, NorthSky Nonprofit Network

milestones: Developing NorthSky Nonprofit Network as a program of Rotary Charities from a start-up less than five years ago to its present state with five building service lines for the nonprofit sector and a network of providers. What we’ve made happen: a professional development series for 600+ people annually; an online resource center that garners 5,500 visits per month; 40 to 50 free SBTDC business counseling appointments per year; 60 to 70 fee-based consultant network engagements; and special services that are a conduit for development of partnerships and new resources.

pride and joy: My consulting work on partnership relationships and social enterprise achieved the first management services agreement – between the City of Traverse City and Township of Garfield Joint Recreational Authority, and three nonprofit organization partners – for the Historic Barns Park and the Recreational Authority’s first business plan. Also, consulting to develop the City Opera House-Wharton Center agreement.

i serve: As Government Relations Council member of Social Enterprise Alliance; Co-Chair of Grants, Resources and Opportunities Committee of Grand Vision; Management Support Organization Network and Public Policy Committee member of Michigan Nonprofit Association.

girlhood dreams: Professional flutist until, as a music major, I realized my career would be spent practicing alone for several hours per day for the rest of my working life. I preferred to spend more time engaging with others.

who knew: I still love making music and am very happily playing for the Old Town Playhouse and Encore Society of Music.

i hope: That my work contributed to the growing movement to overcome stereotypes and silos that deter our communities from working together to achieve our region’s potential.



Debbie McKeon

Executive Director, NorthSky Nonprofit Network

milestones: Developing NorthSky Nonprofit Network as a program of Rotary Charities from a start-up less than five years ago to its present state with five building service lines for the nonprofit sector and a network of providers. What we’ve made happen: a professional development series for 600+ people annually; an online resource center that garners 5,500 visits per month; 40 to 50 free SBTDC business counseling appointments per year; 60 to 70 fee-based consultant network engagements; and special services that are a conduit for development of partnerships and new resources.

pride and joy: My consulting work on partnership relationships and social enterprise achieved the first management services agreement – between the City of Traverse City and Township of Garfield Joint Recreational Authority, and three nonprofit organization partners – for the Historic Barns Park and the Recreational Authority’s first business plan. Also, consulting to develop the City Opera House-Wharton Center agreement.

i serve: As Government Relations Council member of Social Enterprise Alliance; Co-Chair of Grants, Resources and Opportunities Committee of Grand Vision; Management Support Organization Network and Public Policy Committee member of Michigan Nonprofit Association.

girlhood dreams: Professional flutist until, as a music major, I realized my career would be spent practicing alone for several hours per day for the rest of my working life. I preferred to spend more time engaging with others.

who knew: I still love making music and am very happily playing for the Old Town Playhouse and Encore Society of Music.

i hope: That my work contributed to the growing movement to overcome stereotypes and silos that deter our communities from working together to achieve our region’s potential.



Kandace Chapple

Co-publisher, Editor, GT Woman Magazine

milestones: GTWoman has been publishing for 8 years and we’ve built a fab network of local, smart, funny, sensible, sassy women through our luncheons, network nites and annual girls-only events. The best night ever was our first Network Nite where we’d planned for 30 women and 150 RSVP’d!

local love: When we started the magazine, the women of TC were bursting to come out and talk, rabble-rouse and create. We didn’t know it, but we kicked open the door to a huge, thriving network of women who simply needed a place to convene. We are happy and proud to be that little oasis they can come to, write for, work with, to make awesome things happen with each other.

girlhood dreams: Daisy Duke. With a magazine job. I got half the deal.

advice for the ages: Lose the eyeglasses, wear more skirts and gather your girlfriends MUCH earlier in the game!

my legacy: I hope a bunch of women keep getting together under the pretense of “business,” but actually do it to escape the grind, to see each other, to laugh and to meet without any agenda at all. Then my legacy will be the magic that happens later – when the synergy does its thing, when no one is looking.

luckiest break: I was home on maternity leave from my teaching job and found an old college “Where will you be in 5, 10, 15 years?” assignment. I’d written (foretold, I dare say): Publish a women’s magazine. I never did go back to that job. Grand Traverse Woman magazine was born the same year as my son.



Marsha Smith

Executive Director, Rotary Charities of Traverse City

milestones: I have spent most of my professional career in the nonprofit sector here in the Grand Traverse Region. For the last 15 years I have had the privilege of leading Rotary Charities, prior to that I have been blessed to have been a part of Interlochen Center for the Arts and Traverse City Osteopathic Hospital. I am especially proud to have helped establish the Women’s Resource Center, the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and NorthSky Nonprofit Network.

i serve: I have been an active member of the Traverse City Rotary Club since 1996. I am also on the Munson Healthcare Corporate Board. In 2005 I was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve on the Michigan Community Service Commission. Over the many years I have lived in Traverse City I have been an active member of many organizations. I was honored to receive the Athena Award in 1998 and have served on a variety of committees over the years related to that project. Much of my volunteer time has been related to land use and environmental causes.

girlhood dreams: I wanted to be a nun. Isn’t that every good little Catholic girl’s dream? Somehow, as I grew up, those vows of poverty, chastity and obedience didn’t sound quite as good. So, then I dreamed of becoming an actress; I still might be poor, but at least I didn’t have to worry about the other two.

advice for the ages: I have benefited from these wise words by my friend, Mary Lee Lord: “All you need to do in life is four things: Show up, pay attention, tell the truth and let go of the outcomes.” The last one would have been impossible for me as a young woman and is still pretty darn tough today.

my legacy: I hope that in some small way I will be remembered as having contributed to the legacy that was dreamed of by the citizens in the Grand Vision – a region of abundant natural resources with a thriving farm economy that also has vibrant cities and villages with a variety of housing options connected by smart transportation system all powered by clean green energy.

turning point: When my dad died suddenly when I was 16 years old, it shaped my life. I learned that life can turn on a dime, and that the only thing you can truly control is your response to what happens to you. My mom, who is one of the most amazing, resilient people that I know, showed me how to rebuild a life and hammered into my sister and me the importance of getting a good education so you can be financially independent and able to take care of yourself. I have never forgotten these lessons.



Susanne Kildee Janis

Volunteer Fundraiser

pride and joy: In the ’60s I was the first female DJ in TC and worked for WCCW. I was the first female to ever serve and then chair NMC’s Fdn. Board; the first person to receive TSO’s Golden Baton award; the third female ever to be elected to Traverse City’s Chamber Board. I received Rotary’s Paul Harris (aka service above self) award as a non-Rotarian; NMC’s distinquished alumni award in 2010; and was named northwest Michigan’s No. 1 Volunteer in 1997.

milestone moment: Being there to actually open the doors of the Dennos for the first time was a thrill beyond words. Being a part of something that would be standing long after I am gone was so rewarding.

girlhood dream: Becoming everything I am – a wife, mother and to serve the community I live in.

advice for the ages: Always be yourself. It is truly the hard times that lead you to become introspective and grow.

i never leave home without my: Lipstick. Yup, hubby loves it, and at this age I really need it!

turning point: When we were raising money to build the Dennos, several people on the board asked, “Who really will come and use a museum in TC?” Well, at that year’s NMC BBQ, Shirley Okerstom and I set up a long table with brochures about the museum out in front of the campus library. We were swamped all day long with folks we had never seen or heard from before who were so excited and hungry for the museum … we knew they may not have the funds to build it but they would volunteer and be there to keep the doors open and lights on for a long time.



Bonnie Alfonso

President/CEO, Alfie Logo Gear for Work & Play

milestones: Being named a Michigan 50 Company to Watch was an incredible experience. It had a significant impact on my team and still does. The recognition provided some great opportunities & opened several doors personally & professionally.

i serve: the Traverse City Chamber Board of Directors; Small Business Association of Michigan Board of Directors; Northwestern Michigan College Foundation Board of Directors.

pride & joy: My involvement with the Chamber, EDC and community leaders to pro-actively assist and advocate on behalf of business growth and development in our region.

girlhood dreams: Hmmm, the career kept changing but living in Barbie’s Dream House was a pretty constant goal.

advice for the ages: Don’t chase after the outcome you think should happen; it limits the possibilities and detracts from the experience.

my motto: Attitude is a choice.

i never leave home without: cash and a water bottle – logo-ed of course.



Kathleen A. McManus

Executive Vice President & COO, Munson Medical Center

milestones: I began my career as a registered nurse 37 years ago and have been fortunate to have grown through a variety of experiences: from an intensive care nurse, to an inner city health department RN, to various hospital leadership positions. I have enjoyed the rewards of caring for patients and helping the most vulnerable – taking satisfaction from making a difference in their lives.

i serve: as Committee Chairperson for the Michigan Organization of Nurse Executives (M.O.N.E.) and a member of the State M.O.N.E. Advocacy Committee; the Board of Directors (and immediate past Chair) for the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation; on the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

local love: I have had the fortunate honor of working with a talented group of staff and colleagues at Munson Medical Center. This position has been without a doubt, the most challenging and yet rewarding position of my career. I view my role as continuing a tradition of quality health care that the hospital is known for and that impacts the region one patient at a time.

girlhood dreams: I wanted to have a position that was very outdoorsy – a naturalist or national park ranger. My father was a forester for the D.N.R.

my legacy: I hope to leave a positive impact as a role model for the many up and coming leaders here within Munson Healthcare and this community. I am really encouraged with the generation of young leaders I see, who will be stepping into new roles.

advice for the ages: Don’t be afraid of stepping a bit out of your comfort zone. Take on the challenges, work hard, be persistent and you will succeed.

luckiest break: When Jack Calvin, Board Chair of Traverse City Osteopathic Hospital, asked me to assume the position of Vice President of Patient Services. It was at a precarious time for that facility. For me, it was a critical and difficult decision, but Jack provided great support and guidance. That difficult decision and the support of a wonderful mentor was a definite turning point in my career.



Denise Busley

Co-founder, Grand Traverse Pie Company

milestones: Co-founded the Grand Traverse Pie Company with husband, Mike Busley, in 1996. We started with one shop on Front Street in Traverse City. Now there are 19 shops (five of our own and 14 franchises) around Michigan and in Indiana.

pride & joy: I think I’m most proud of what commitment has done in my life. Mike [Busley, husband and co-founder of GT Pie Co.) and I were very committed to making sure this business didn’t fail and doing whatever it took to see it succeed, whether that was making hundreds of pies and schlepping them down to Detroit every week, or reinventing ourselves by making and serving more than pie. But even more than the business itself, I’m proud of the culture we’ve created because of that commitment. I think people should enjoy working where they work. And be treated like they matter. That’s something we strive for every day.

i serve: Children. All of my work – most importantly, with the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center and Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative, which supports foster children during and when they “age out” of foster care – involves children. I would lie in front of a train for somebody else’s kid. If we are not a species who would protect each other’s young, that is a serious problem. There are animal herds that take better care of our kids than we do. Pretending we don’t belong to one another is like pretending your hand doesn’t belong to your body.


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