The 2023 Brilliant People's Choice Award!

People’s Choice Award voting is now closed! The top honoree will be announced on May 17 at the West Michigan Woman Brilliance Awards. Tickets can be purchased here.

Each of the West Michigan Woman Brilliance Awards finalists were selected for a reason. All exude a contagious spirit and broad skill set that in one facet or another, betters the West Michigan community. This is an opportunity for you to get to know them. Read through their bios, resonate with their challenges and triumphs, and ideally, make a few new connections!



Michigan African American Health Institute
Social Change Agent

Vanessa Greene is a leader and strategist specializing in racial and health equity, with an over 30-year track record of getting things done and maintaining her commitment to social justice and equity. Born and raised in Mississippi during the civil rights movement, Vanessa’s passion for social justice was sparked at a young age. As CEO of the Michigan African American Health Institute, Vanessa works with the community, physicians, health care systems, lawmakers, insurance providers, educators, and businesses to advocate for resources and opportunities to support the needs, well-being and quality of life of others. Vanessa began her career serving and advocating for adults with disabilities and spent more than 25 years in higher education at GVSU and Hope College as Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Dean of Students.

Vanessa says, “Social justice requires dedicated, strategic and focused attention on the desired outcomes and finding other committed partners from all backgrounds and walks of life to support the cause.”

Clark Communications
Best Supporting Man 

Craig Clark is the owner of Clark Communications, a Grand Rapids-based public relations consulting firm. In addition to 29 years of award-winning professional PR and marketing experience, Craig is dedicated to being active in West Michigan, including serving on the board for Nonprofit Hub, as a deacon at Magnify Church, and as former longtime board member at Women’s Resource Center. 

One of Craig’s passions is to help underserved and marginalized populations to be treated with dignity and respect. He says, “I’ve made a conscious effort every time I’m able to help lift up women in whatever way was necessary; not to be charitable, but to be equitable. I try to enlighten others in my professional circles of their bias, privilege or unequal actions and words by challenging or holding them accountable.”

Infinite Solutions Consulting Group

Henrietta Hadley is the Founder & CEO of Infinite Solutions Consulting Group, which provides services to small business owners and non-profit organizations across the country, with plans to expand internationally. Having been recognized with leadership and advocacy awards nationwide, Henrietta has over 30 years of experience in executive management, post-secondary education and economic development, along with grant administration for non-profit organizations and community foundations. After experiencing abuse growing up and surviving 12 years of domestic violence in her marriage, Henrietta has since written a book titled “Project We Are Free,” produced an award-winning monologue called “Promises,” and advocates for children, women and men who’ve been impacted by all forms of abuse.

On what this award would mean to her, Henrietta says, “It’s a reminder that I didn’t give up on myself and to encourage other women to believe in themselves; no matter what happens in their lives, to always believe in the life you’ve been given and live to the best of their ability.”

Sleeping Giant Capital
Emerging Leader

Lindsay MacMillan is a business leader, author and TEDx speaker. After attending Dartmouth and becoming a Vice President at Goldman Sachs at 28, Lindsay pursued her dream of being an author and landed two Penguin Random House book deals, publishing her bestselling debut novel in 2022, with a second forthcoming in 2023. After moving back to West Michigan and joining Sleeping Giant Capital, Lindsay now leverages her Wall Street background to empower women to become CEOs, and has helped the firm reach 50% women executives in their CEO pipeline.

Lindsay says, “Being a leader at an investment bank or private equity firm doesn’t mean I have to dress exactly like the guys, play golf or have a deep voice. It means I can wear bright colors, write novels and poetry in my free time, and use exclamation points in my emails.”

Broadway Grand Rapids

Jennifer Pascua is a savvy, strategic and collaborative communications professional, currently serving as Marketing Director for Broadway Grand Rapids. A communication person by love and by training, Jennifer has been a passionate cheerleader for the West Michigan community for nearly 20 years. After a 25-year run as a broadcast journalist, she segued her talents into various teaching and communications roles, including launching her own media freelance group during the pandemic, Halo Halo Multimedia, LCC. Her vast professional achievements include highlighting BIPOC businesses and organizations, fundraising for numerous non-profit organizations through various events and more. Her greatest achievement is raising her three sons—Devin, Drake and Payton—as a teen mom while working and earning her bachelor and master’s degrees.

Jennifer says, “No one begins or maintains a strong relationship without communication. So, if I have some communication skills that can bring people together and form potentially life-enhancing bonds, it almost becomes my obligation to share them in this way. It's an especially awesome privilege whenever I can connect an underrepresented community member with others who can help them grow.”

Koop & Burr Insurance

Alma Ross is a professional and author who has dedicated her career to serving her clients and empowering the Latina community. Born in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, Alma immigrated to the U.S. at 14 without knowing English and recently became U.S. citizen. A single mother of four children, including one adopted at a young age, Alma is committed to inspiring and empowering other Hispanic women, mentoring, and sharing her testimony as a public speaker. As a Personal Lines Account Executive at Koop and Burr Insurance, Alma strives to simplify insurance and help make her clients more knowledgeable. She became an advocate for life insurance after her husband’s death made her the only financial provider for her family. Her book, “Unbreakable Woman,” encourages the Latina community to embrace their pain and turn it into strength.

Alma says, “I believe that my ability to adapt and stay focused on my goals has been key to my success. Even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I always try to find a way forward, knowing that giving up is not an option.”

Disher Corp

After moving to West Michigan for her first post-college job almost 35 years ago, Aimee VandenElzen was told by her employer she was too abrasive and needed to work on it. Being “abrasive” meant she was an honest and direct communicator, instead of West Michigan nice. Today, it’s one of her greatest achievements to have stayed in West Michigan while remaining true to herself. She found community with people from all walks of life, and gets to live where she truly belongs. Aimee is passionate about seeing the light in others and helping them thrive with the gifts they’re given. She enjoys coffee shops, reading real books, making rosaries, drinking craft beer and cooking with her family. Aimee calls Holland home, along with husband Mike, their four children, a daughter-in-law, and Maggie the cat.

Aimee says, “I’ve always enjoyed people and building relationships. It’s just a part of who I am. I’m curious about people and I have a simple belief that everyone has a story, and we can learn from others by sharing our stories. Connecting people costs nothing. It’s a basic act of love for humankind.”

The StoreHouse of Community Resources
Social Change Agent

Jessica Johns began her career as an elementary school teacher, spending four years teaching in inner city schools, offering her a unique perspective into pervasive poverty. Upon moving to Grand Rapids in 2004, Jessica began volunteering at a food bank where she learned that while multiple organizations were supporting those facing food insecurity, a gap existed in the supply of durable, in-demand household goods. That led her to co-found The StoreHouse of Community Resources, which is focused on procuring scalable resources that support not only nonprofit organizations, but also schools. Since opening their doors in 2016, the StoreHouse has distributed over $25 million worth of new durable goods (including office supplies, personal hygiene products, furniture and more) to nonprofits and schools.

Jessica says, “There are multiple factors that place someone in poverty and even more that keep them in poverty. It takes a community of people willing to help bridge the gap to help people find their path to success.”

Department of VA, Biden Harris Administration
Woman of the Year

Zaneta Adams, JD served as Director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from June 2019 to December 2022. She was the first woman veteran in Michigan to be appointed to a governor’s cabinet and the first cabinet member from Muskegon. Zaneta is humbled to have recently been appointed by the Biden-Harris administration to the role of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Zaneta served eight years in the Army and was medically discharged with honor. She practiced law in Muskegon and assisted many veterans nationwide with VA appeals. Zaneta also serves on many nonprofit boards and was recently an appointed member of the VA’s Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevention Workgroup.

In 2021, Zaneta was named a Women Veteran Trailblazer by the VA’s Center for Women Veterans. She recently told her story for a VA’s Million Veteran Program documentary, which was submitted for a regional Emmy. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Columbia College and a juris doctorate from Western Michigan Cooley Law School, where she teaches veterans’ law.

Zaneta says, “There was a point in my life where I wanted to end my journey because I felt as though I was a burden on my family because of my disability. The fact that I made it through those moments to finish college, graduate law school, pass the bar, start a non-profit organization, and be selected by the Governor to run veteran affairs, is truly humbling. I never imagined I would find purpose in this way, yet because of my struggles, I was able to accomplish this. And by the grace of God, I am not done yet.”

Wedgwood Christian Services

Through her role as Advancement Officer at Wedgwood Christian Services, Kori Thompson, MBA works to develop partnership opportunities to make mental, behavioral, and emotional health services accessible to youth and families who are hurting in West Michigan. Kori serves on the Cornerstone University Young Alumni Council, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) West Michigan National Philanthropy Day Board. She recently participated in the Emerging Leaders Program through the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and is currently working on completing her Certification for Fund Raising Executives. She enjoys learning about the strengths, interests, and capabilities of others in order to identify opportunities that will allow them to grow and shine. Kori is passionate about building connections because she understands that so much more can be accomplished when we partner together.

Kori says, “Building genuine, authentic connection is a commitment. It doesn’t happen overnight. But I have witnessed how being present, intentional and faithful can make a significant and lasting impact.”

I Understand
Social Change Agent

After the loss of her husband, Rob, in 2003, Vonnie Woodrick’s life was forever changed. She was forced to live a life without her loving partner and father of their three children. Life after loss was devastating, and her passion grew to change the way we view and talk about suicide. The questions asked, the stares given, and the judgement experienced, brought Vonnie to a place of passion to bring understanding to something so difficult to understand. Vonnie went on to found I Understand, a non-profit dedicated to changing the stigma surrounding mental and brain health and suicide. Through many projects, appearances and community partnerships, Vonnie is determined to change the conversation by updating the outdated definition of suicide, to talk about the illness rather than the act, and to show compassion to anyone who may be living with a mental and brain health illness or suicide loss.

Vonnie says, “I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through, and if they do, I want them to have compassion, hope and understanding on a topic that has been judged, stigmatized, and swept under the rug for too long.”

WhizBang! Retail Training

Susan Negen has helped thousands of independent retailers from Michigan and beyond reach their potential through WhizBang! Retail Training. Getting her start as a senior executive for retail giants like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Lord and Taylor, Susan brought her skills to her husband Bob’s company, which she helped grow into a multi-store, multi-million-dollar business. After selling the company in 1999, Susan and Bob founded WhizBang! Retail Training, which helps thousands of store owners grow their businesses through online courses, programs, and live events like the Retail Success Summit held annually in Grand Rapids. Susan’s “givers get” philosophy drives her impact in the retail community and empowers women to run the business of their dreams. Susan also works with organizations like the International P.E.O. Sisterhood, The People Center, and the Spring Lake Schools Foundation.

Susan says, “That’s what drives me; the knowledge that these women are out there, working really hard, giving a valiant effort, doing their best, and they need help. They need to know what I can teach them. I can make their businesses stronger and their lives better—so I must.”

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Emerging Leader

Caylie Peet, MS, CTA, plays an important role for others: Daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and community leader. She has dedicated her life and career to being a difference maker by helping others find the confidence to follow their dreams and making people smile with every interaction. Caylie—a GVSU grad who continues to be spotlighted as a role model for students and alumni—has an energetic personality and caring heart that quickly makes strangers feel like friends. Caylie embraces forever learning and is pursuing her dream of a Ph.D. that will deepen her skills in economic and civic partnerships. In her role of Minority Business Program Manager at the Grand Rapids Chamber, Caylie brings access to resources and information to historically underrepresented businesses to ensure all companies receive the same opportunity through programming and events.

Caylie says, "My commitment is to stand alongside the business community to ensure all dreams become actions.”

Festival of the Arts

For Missy Summers, community service is at the heart of everything she does. Missy has served on the board of Habitat for Humanity, as treasurer for the Association of Professional Fundraising, and marketing chair for SCORE. She began her professional career in the banking industry, holding a variety of positions while also being a lead volunteer coordinator, serving on the state of Michigan grant committee in addition to managing environmental initiatives and helping establish employee resources groups for the state. Missy eventually transitioned to the non-profit sector as Director of Development for Junior Achievement. As the needs of the organization evolved, so did her role, becoming the Chief Rural Officer for Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, where she managed a team and multiple boards to help grow local programming.

Missy, who sees potential in the non-traditional, says, “Because I was lucky to have so many formal and informal mentors, I have made it a priority to be a mentor. The opportunity to share and learn from mentees is a great responsibility and joy.”

Heron Manor & Heron Woods 
Team Player

For 33 years, Kim Murphy has added her unique fingerprints to the life journeys of senior adults, an often-marginalized population. She believes her residents don’t live in a facility, but rather she’s a guest in their home, an honor she doesn’t take lightly. Kim is passionate about encouraging people to fill their days with laughter, learning and joy, and is often described as the glue that holds things together, an especially difficult task during COVID. Her strengths are her creativity and ability to build a sense of community among family members, staff and those in her care. She has hosted a consortium for many years helping other activity coordinators in the West Michigan area to excel in their positions, as well. Her desire is to serve in love, and do it with grace.

Kim says, “I love synchronizing my efforts with other equally gifted people to provide ‘wow!’ service and create memory making moments for the residents I serve. At the end of the day, I love the satisfaction of knowing that as a team, we made a difference in turning daily routine into an adventure.”

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Team Player

Katie Racey finds managing large live events and attractions to be highly rewarding. Even more rewarding are how these events bring together people of all different backgrounds. Katie watches this unfold in her role at Frederik Meijer Gardens when guests meet someone in line at the ‘Butterflies’ exhibition or experience a new type of music they weren’t exposed to prior. While a visit eventually ends, people carry with them the memories and relationships made. These moments are created amongst guests and the co-workers who as a team put in the hard work to ensure an experience comes together. Katie considers the relationships and memories created at these events, and the environment she fosters in everyone she works with, her greatest contributions.

Katie says, “Being on a team is unique: Most of the time you have little control over who’s on the team with you. This is what I like most about it! When you’re on a team, you’re forced to learn about others and are exposed to many backgrounds. I’ve learned the true meaning of ‘team player’ from the wonderful team I get to work with every day.”

Grand Rapids Symphony

Born and raised in West Michigan, Salina Bishop’s Cuban American upbringing taught her to be selfless, a hard worker and a catalyst for good. Salina has dedicated her professional life to missions larger than herself, from a career at Hospice of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation, to joining the Grand Rapids Symphony during the height of the pandemic. Salina has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Board and is currently a member of the Board at the Community Food Club. She actively participates in AFPs Mentorship program. In her free time, she enjoys the food landscape of Grand Rapids, spending time with her partner Scott, her daughter Dawson and her grand-pup Lucy.

Salina says, “As a woman who has faced both personal and professional obstacles—sometimes alone—it’s important to me to not let that happen to others. I know all too well the hardships women face, by design an already a bumpy road. Yet, when you have someone on your side, guiding and cheering you on, it makes the journey a bit easier to navigate.”

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Best Supporting Man 

Omar Cuevas is Vice President of Investor Relations at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Omar— whose greatest accomplishment is honoring the legacy of his grandmother and mother, who raised him as a single parent—offers close to 20 years of community-focused and results-oriented work. Omar is involved in the community, serving on many boards and committees, including Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

Omar says, “One of my greatest accomplishments in supporting the work of women is creating a culture within the teams I’ve led that encourages the career development of my female employees, particularly women of color. Throughout the years, I’ve acted as a mentor and coach, providing guidance and support to my female colleagues, and working to break down any barriers that may be holding them back.”

Robyn Gobbel

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a licensed therapist, author, educator, podcaster and community creator whose 20-year career has been dedicated to serving the families of children with histories of complex trauma. In 2019, Robyn retired from the therapy office and created The Club—an online community for parents of kids with vulnerable nervous systems and big, baffling behaviors. Robyn also created Being With—a year-long training program to better equip professionals to serve vulnerable children in their community. Her services are delivered online to minimize barriers and maximize accessibility, and most of her resources (including a podcast, online videos and eBooks) are free. Her first book will be published in September by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Robyn says, “I hear from folks who tell me their family has been changed just from my emails and social media posts. I’m so proud of how my business earns enough revenue in two programs that I can also help people all over the world for free.”

Woman of the Year

Megan Schmidt leads Priority Health’s commercial line of business that serve small and large companies across Michigan. In April, she accepted a new position leading health plan growth across five states for Health Partners, an integrated health system headquarters in Minnesota. She inspires and empowers her teams to think bigger, bolder and braver to make health care work better for everyone. Fueled by complexity and challenges, Megan found her place in health insurance about 20 years ago. Her areas of expertise include driving growth, leading through change, and creating strong client relationships. Her greatest achievements include leading amazing teams, raising two incredible young men, professional success and overcoming hardships, as well as being able to mentor and inspire women.

Her recent community involvement includes serving on the board of the American Cancer Society Leadership Council and the advisory board for Ferris State University’s Healthcare Administration program, as well as being co-chair of Inforum HealthcareNEXT West Michigan, among others. A pilot by training, Megan channels her fearlessness both at work and at home with her husband and two sons.

Megan says, “As women, we are often stuck in our own head, stuck in what others think of us, and stuck prioritizing what we truly want for ourselves. My advice is to recognize all of that, but believe we can rise above politics, what others think of us, and the fear of failure. We are all afraid of something, but that fear can make your world smaller and more limited. When you walk with the fear, that is where growth happens. When you’re afraid of what’s on the other side of your goal—whether failure or accomplishment—push through.”

Camp Shout Out Inc./Chmela Communication Center
Champion of Service 

Kristin A. Chmela, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F, has passionately served children who stutter, families, graduate students, and professionals for 35 years. Along with her colleague Julie Raynor, Kristin co-founded Camp Shout Out, which assists children who stutter within the community, graduate students and speech-language pathologists, in evolving as communicators and individuals. Recently, Kristin directed and co-produced a free video and advocacy guide to help teachers better understand the unique experiences of students who stutter and ways to help them. Kristin’s desire is for every teacher in West Michigan and across the world to watch this video, and for children who stutter to become their own self-advocates.

Kristin says, “While growing up, I suffered tremendously. I was a child who stuttered and I had severe anxiety. I was bullied often and felt isolated. I believe those experiences have contributed to my relentless passion focused upon helping children and their families.”

Comprehensive Therapy Center
Champion of Service 

Nicholette Driggs, CFLE says her passion and greatest joy has always been connecting with other people. With her unique skillset and knowledge, she’s able to connect people, whether it be with each other, services, non-profit organizations, healthcare, and/or other resources. She knows firsthand how difficult navigating these systems can be and wants to help remove barriers to ensure that others thrive. Through her work at Comprehensive Therapy Center, Nicholette fills the gap between service-based revenue and community need. She serves on the board of the Grand Rapid Trans Foundation, helping to build equity in our community. Nicholette also channels her talents into public speaking engagements and education, often speaking about women's empowerment, connection and community, and body image.

A believer in community over competition, Nicholette says, “Growing up, my mom and grandma instilled in me there’s always someone who needs help. When I was young, it was us. I serve others, because without community resources, we wouldn’t have thrived growing up. I serve others because that’s what makes our communities better places.

READ Ottawa
Emerging Leader

Stormie Drake, Executive Director of READ Ottawa, has dedicated her career to creating equitable, quality education for all. Since 2021, Stormie has expanded READ Ottawa’s one-on-one adult tutoring program from Northwest Ottawa County to serve the whole of Ottawa County; more than doubled annual revenue; and served more clients and volunteers than ever. Stormie serves on the leadership team of the early childhood department of the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, in addition to volunteering for other areas of passion including immigration rights, building equitable communities, animal welfare and the giving circle Women of Color Give.

Stormie, who spends her extra time caring for her five special needs pets, says, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up for others who may not be able to stand up for themselves. A strong leader’s purpose is not to uplift themselves as a leader, but to uplift everyone else around them to reach their goals.”

Portal Point Counseling

Rachel VanBuskirk, LMSW is a mental health therapist with over 10 years of experience in her field. In 2018, Rachel opened Portal Point Counseling. Due to the high volume of counseling requests, Rachel soon hired three therapists to join her, signed a long-term lease in 2020 when COVID hit, and pivoted to offer virtual options. Portal Point—which is now a million-dollar practice—is currently home to 10 therapists and supports hundreds of clients weekly in person and virtually, with plans to welcome additional therapists soon. Rachel maintains a full client load, along with overseeing the day-to-day business operations. Known for her empathetic and non-judgmental approach to therapy, Rachel works with clients from diverse backgrounds, including adults, adolescents, couples and families.

Rachel says, “What motivated me was the desire to help and empower even more people. Clients but also other clinicians. Having a private practice meant I was able to share the opportunity for other clinicians to love their work, make a difference, have work-life balance, and achieve financial success, as well.”

Davenport University - Casa Latina 
Best Supporting Man 

Born in Mexico City, Carlos Sanchez, MAD is the Executive Director of Casa Latina at Davenport University. In the past at Ferris State, Carlos developed two initiatives designed to foster Latinx leaders and entrepreneurs: LEADeres—a professional development and leadership program that has seen over 150 Latinx professionals (60% of them Latinas) graduate and advance in their organizations—and Emprende, an entrepreneurship program in Spanish that has successfully trained many Latinx entrepreneurs, as well as current Latina business owners.

Carlos says, “As a male, I believe our voices should support and elevate the voices of our female counterparts in the workplace. I believe the future is female and I’ve championed initiatives that support inclusion of women in all points of the decision-making process.”

Skin CoLAB

Meredith Kent, MS, PA-C, is a Master Injector, Clinical Educator and Owner of Skin CoLAB. Recognized as one of most respected and sought-after providers in her field, Meredith educates via her self-founded company, Science + Beauty, and is among an elite group serving as a key opinion leader for Allergan Aesthetics and is a national trainer and speaker for the two largest aesthetic companies in the country. Beloved by patients and staff, Meredith was the first in Galderma’s company history to achieve Presidential status so quickly upon opening a practice, all while being a stand-alone provider, entrepreneur and mother. Just as Meredith’s team at Skin CoLAB has grown, so has her patients’ respect and trust.

Meredith says, “I’m not convinced that success is something that’s achieved. Rather, I think success can be defined as a commitment to live in a way that reflects growth and gratitude—in other words, living towards one’s full potential.”

Team Player

Colleen Laskowski is a wife, mom of two kids, an active community member in Holland and the Director of Delivery at SpinDance, an IoT software consulting firm. With a tenacious and level-headed spirit, Colleen has a drive for organization and thrives on creating community. She is passionate about adopting sustainable practices and creating meaningful relationships through supporting her team, family and local community. In her five-year tenure at SpinDance, she has led over 50 projects and crafted processes that have been instrumental in transforming the business. Colleen intentionally focuses on fostering a culture of community, teamwork and giving back. When not setting her teams up for success at work, you can often find her baking in the kitchen, planning her next trip to a national park, or volunteering at her children’s school.

Colleen says, “Teamwork isn’t always easy, and the magic of a team certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but the power of a group of people cohesively working together is extremely rewarding.”

Michigan State University
Woman of the Year

Dr. Cara Anne Poland, MD, MEd, is a recognized expert in addiction medicine with an interest in educating healthcare providers and providers-in-training to improve care for patients with substance use disorders, particularly during pregnancy and early parenting. Dr. Poland’s clinical work supports creating inclusive, safe, nurturing, and empowering addiction treatment for pregnant people and their families experiencing the effects of substance use. She provides technical assistance to implement addiction care in pregnant and parenting individuals across the Midwest. Her GREAT MOMs program materials are nationally recognized as a model program.

Dr. Poland’s flagship education program is MICARES, which focuses on strengthening our country’s Addiction Medicine workforce. The program currently provides training to physicians, nurse practitioners, and social workers across the educational spectrum. She has supported over 700 physicians in 48 states in becoming addiction specialists.

Dr. Poland says, “I have a rare disease that was misdiagnosed for 12 years—with the symptoms and trajectory, I wasn’t supposed to live to be 20 years old. In the fall of 2023, I will reach 40—double my life expectancy. As a result, I’ve been reflecting over the last few months on my accomplishments and dreams. I’ve been thinking about who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do to improve myself … I like to think we all lift each other in different ways and on different days. While this might be my turn to shine, it’s because I have a strong circle of women who mutually support each other.

Trinity Health Grand Rapids
Champion of Service 

Rev. Joanna Bailey is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, mother and wife. Healthcare ministry is her calling, and she’s drawn to caring conversations with the healthcare workforce at all levels. Known to be a pioneer, Joanna makes a way where there has not been a road. During her time serving as Lead Chaplain at Spectrum Health, Joanna achieved two dreams: Establishing a Critical Incident Stress Management Team and beginning the Schwartz Center Rounds program to support compassionate care of patients—two initiatives designed to support healthcare’s resilience. These experiences prepared her to transition to a new healthcare system just months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with healthcare leaders to support their colleagues is her greatest source of joy in the service she provides. 

Joanna says, “I’m called to use my gifts to support and empower individuals in their efforts to improve their well-being. When I serve, I also receive. When I empower others to serve, they receive.”


Amanda Villarreal, Owner of AVWELLNESS, is known as a health and wellness ambassador, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and more. What most don’t realize is Amanda struggles daily with a very rare circulatory/vascular condition called KTS (Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome) which causes swelling, masses of varicose veins and poor circulation. Despite many surgeries, being told she may lose her leg, that she shouldn’t have children and should stop all physical activity, Amanda turned her pain into a passion for health and wellness, receiving a degree in Corporate Fitness & Wellness. Along with her professional accomplishments and certifications, Amanda and her husband have also raised five children. She’s held free community park workouts, nutrition and education seminars, fitness and wellness classes and more. Her newest adventure is developing a fitness and nutrition app.

Amanda says, “We can all do hard things. It’s important to be positive and accept the challenges that life brings to you.”


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