Agnieszka “Agnes” Jury was elected President-Elect of the Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim Bar Association at the association’s annual spring dinner. Her term as president will begin in May 2017. She has already spearheaded a new website and programming for the organization. “Agnes is bringing to the GRLA Bar the same high energy she has brought to Sterling Law,” said Lea Ann Sterling.

Steven Lee has joined the Neumann Law Group office in Traverse City, practicing in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense. He has over 28 years of experience practicing civil and criminal litigation in New York City.



Dawn Hemming, president of Hemming& Wealth Advisors, recently attended Barron’s inaugural Top Independent Women Advisors Summit in New Orleans, LA. The invitation-only event consisted of the Top 100 Women Financial Advisors, honored annually in Barron’s magazine. The conference featured highly-sophisticated content and networking opportunities for nearly 200 top independent female advisors.

Lauren Golba of Huntington Bank was named the Number One Business Banker out of 115 Business Bankers at Huntington Bank. She achieved a scorecard performance of 184% on her overall weighted scorecard.

Melissa Cole has joined TrueNorth Financial Group of Traverse City, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, as a paraplanner. A Grand Rapids native, Cole recently represented the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, worked with Manville and Schell in Traverse City, and has experience managing projects and people at Dave Cole Decorators, Inc.



Sandy Ehlers has joined Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors at its 522 E. Front Street in Traverse City. Ehlers was raised in the Elk Rapids area and summered there for 20 years. Manager Ken Kleinrichert said her knowledge of Grand Traverse Bay and the Chain of Lakes will help her guide clients.

Jamie Grace and Molly Buttleman, Century 21 Northland agents, traveled to Washington, D.C. May 9-14, 2016 to attend the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo. “We need to push our members to be involved in their areas to make sure we have a voice and can protect our client’s property rights,” said Grace. “Having the chance to participate in these informative sessions and represent the Northern Michigan chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors has been a tremendous opportunity for me personally and professionally,” Buttleman said.

Renae Hansen, Linda Zajac, Jon Becker, Luba Childs and Kristine Shacklette were recognized with Century 21’s Platinum Sales Achievement and Quality Service Pinnacle Award. The Quality Service Pinnacle Award is an annual award based on results from the Century 21 Quality Service Survey (QSS), which is e-mailed to consumers immediately after the purchase or sale of a home. To earn the award, an independent office must receive completed customer surveys for at least 30 percent of its transactions from Jan. 1-Oct. 31, with an average survey score of at least 95 percent or better for two consecutive years.



Dave Meachum has joined Fitzmaurice Garvin Insurance as a licensed insurance producer. Meachum was born and raised in Traverse City. During his 28-year career in law enforcement, he served in many capacities, concluding his career as Detective Captain, overseeing all major crimes for the county’s sheriff’s office. He will provide personal and commercial insurance products.

Garrett Boursaw, sales manager at Ford Insurance, earned the designation of Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS) from the International Risk Management Institute in California, the only insurance agent in northern Michigan with the designation. Ford Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency, which allows the firm to work with numerous insurance carriers.

Yvonne Groves has joined the Lighthouse Group as a Personal Lines Account Executive, selling home, auto, boat, RV, and life insurance. Groves has spent the past 15 years as a local business owner. She also has 12 years experience as a licensed insurance agent with a local independent insurance agency.

Jason Emerich has joined Global Marine Insurance as a Marine Underwriter. Emerich brings 16 years of experience in the mortgage and banking industry, making him a valuable asset to Global Marine Insurance Agency. In his new role with Global Marine Insurance, Jason champions finding marine insurance coverage that meets each customer’s unique needs.



Felicia Topp of Traverse City is the new sales and marketing assistant at organic food company Food For Thought. She will also serve as project manager for endeavors related to the company’s redesigned website. Topp previously was communications specialist for Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, where she managed communications and media outreach, including social media, press releases and website management.

Lee Dake is Food For Thought’s new production manager. He most recently was continuous improvement manager with Ademco Incorporated, a custom contract manufacturer in Spring Lake. He’s also been a production supervisor, quality engineer, quality manager and operations manager. Company founder and president Timothy Young said Lee brings manufacturing experience with expertise in quality control and production efficiency.

Cole Thornton is the new executive chef at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. He spent six years working for Aspen Skiing Company, as executive chef of Sneaky’s Tavern and chef at Sage at the Snowmass Club, and worked at Montagna at The Little Nell, a Five Star/Five Diamond Resort. He then returned to Michigan, serving as executive chef at The Hagerty Center.

Dorothy DeBlasio is the new events manager at Black Star. Previously, DeBlasio was responsible for corporate and wedding coordination at Biltmore in Asheville, N.C. During her eight years at Biltmore, she coordinated multiple departments involving all aspects of events. DeBlasio will manage sales and coordination of weddings, corporate retreats and all special events.



James A Morrison PE is the new President/CEO of ILF Consultants Inc., based in Traverse City. Morrison brings 34 years of experience in engineering and construction. He also serves as the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers Northwest Michigan Branch. ILF specializes in engineering for heavy civil infrastructure projects around the world.

Darren Graham, P.E., a Registered Professional Engineer, has joined Gosling Czubak Engineering Sciences, Inc., where he will be a project engineer. He has more than 24 years of municipal engineering and site development experience, serving municipalities, developers and industrial clients.

Andy Baranek, CADD/GIS Technician, is also a new hire at Gosling Czubak. He has more than 10 years of surveying experience, including boundary, topographic and MDOT-related surveys. He also brings proficiency in ArcGIS and Leica software and equipment.

Mark A.C. Wolschon, Quality Control Manager, marked 25 years of service with for Environmental Protection, Inc. Wolschon is responsible for the statistical process control functions on the quality of all incoming material and factory seam fabrication. He serves as the EPI representative to ASTM.



Eva Nienhouse has landed a position in the NBCUniversal Page Program in Los Angeles, Calif. The Traverse City Central High graduate earned a BA in journalism from Michigan State University this spring. She was one of just three percent of the 16,000 yearly applicants to the program to earn admission to the program.

Doug Luciani, TraverseCONNECT CEO, has been appointed to the new 21st Century Education Commission by Gov. Rick Snyder. The commission will make recommendations to position Michigan as a leader in developing talent to address today’s economy demands. It includes representatives from education, business, government, and nonprofits, with interest or expertise in education.

Katy Zimmerman has joined the staff of TraverseCONNECT as an intern for the 2016 summer season. Zimmerman is from Traverse City and is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she’s working toward her bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on global security.

Jeanna Michalek is the new Exploring/STEM executive for Traverse City and the surrounding area. The program offers young men and women the opportunity to join an exploring post operated in partnership with businesses and organizations involved in such areas as law enforcement, health sciences, skilled trades or science and technology.

Amanda Franke has joined the ASCOMNORTH Team as administrative and purchasing assistant/front desk receptionist. Franke is from the Traverse City area . Her background includes experience in the insurance and hospitality industries as well as volunteering at the Northwest Michigan Fair.

Fernando Belmar, tennis professional at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, was a finalist in the Spanish National Championship in the 50-55 years division. Belmar, a member of the Spanish National Team, won a semifinal match that lasted nearly five hours. More than 70 players participated in the event, which took place in Murcia, Spain.

Nathaniel Wittenbach, DPT, has joined Superior Physical Therapy as a doctor of physical therapy after completing his final clinical rotation with Central Michigan University. He is a native of Shepherd, Michigan, and has now relocated to Traverse City.


Four Northwestern Michigan College alumni were recently named recipients of the annual Outstanding Alumni award for their professional achievements and/or exemplary leadership in the local or global community:

Korvyn Hansen (1985–1987) began his career at the Grand Traverse Pavilions 24 years ago, rising to become CEO of one of the region’s largest employers in 2008. The Pavilions provides services for more than 300 residents and 100 daily program participants, and has become a teaching facility for health care students from NMC.

Therese Renis (1977–1978) has served as a nuclear safeguards engineer since 2001 for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. She was a member of the IAEA’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning team in 2005, a prize shared with IAEA director Mohamed El Baradei. In 2015 she was promoted to a directorship.

Michelle Witkop (1977) is the lead clinician in Munson Medical Center’s Northern Regional Bleeding Disorder Center, the only facility of its kind in the U.S. that is medically managed by nurse practitioners. In 2015, she was named by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as Nurse of the Year for her groundbreaking research related to pain management in hemophilia patients.

Capt. Dean Hobbs (1976 – awarded posthumously) was senior captain of the car ferry SS Badger, senior trial master for the Marinette Marine Corporation, and assisted in the sea trials and delivery of many of its new vessels, including more than 25 U.S. Coast Guard cutters and U.S. Navy Littoral combat ships.