Corp! Awards Honor MVPs Who Make Michigan the Best Place to Live, Work

Every year, the Corp! Most Valuable Professionals, Entrepreneurs and Millennials awards honor those who, through their careers, community involvement and passion, have made Michigan a better place to live and work.

MVP honors are deserving members of the community who are creating job opportunities, driving economic growth, nurturing community advancements or leading successful companies.

This year, Corp! honored more than 70 winners. Awards will be presented virtually at a webinar Feb. 25.

MichBusiness President and CEO Jennifer Kluge said the organization believes “it’s important to celebrate” the people who are moving Michigan forward. “It’s important to recognize their new ideas, products and services, all of which make our state’s communities stronger,” Kluge said. “That is the focus of these awards … to truly recognize achievements among a diverse group of professionals in a variety of areas.”


John Bridgewater
Manager, Technology Delivery
Michigan First Credit Union

Bridgewater is responsible for leading and supporting the technical team. As a trusted partner, he collaborates and engages business leaders, working together to integrate technology and create a better experience for Michigan First Credit Union members. Bridgewater says he defines success by the meaningful relationships that he has developed and the wonderful people who he has supported and who support him Best advice? “Everyone’s career path will look different, so take the time to enjoy the things you learn and the people you learn with. Don’t compare yourself to others, but build relationships with them and enjoy helping others.

Katie Bowman Coleman
Bowman Auto Group

Bowman oversees a team of nearly 130 employees, selling nearly 5,000 vehicles annually. Coleman lives by three overarching goals: to create the best experience for her customers, to create a positive work environment for her employees and to give back to the Clarkston community that has always supported the family business. Coleman became dealer principal in 2011, and a few short months later her dad, who served as dealer principal since 1984, passed away. Prior to taking on the role, she had spent nearly 15 years at the dealership, learning from him and working in every department to understand the business from the inside out. His passing was personally devastating and a truly pivotal moment in my career. It was the first time I was leading the dealership without him nearby.

Biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders? “Talent acquisition, especially in skilled trades, so we have teamed up with local technical schools and created an annual scholarship, which is awarded to students attending a two- or four-year college or vocational institution pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field.”

Matthew Briske
General Manager
HP Forklifts

Briske measures success by two things – the growth of the business and the growth of employees. “We like to say we are proactive, not reactive. If we can really take care of a customers needs, that is success for us. It is about doing a little extra or more than is expected of us,” he said.

What is the biggest misconception facing millennials? “The biggest misconception facing millennials is that we are all entitled and feel we do not have to work for our position(s). I know plenty of millennials in the work force and they are just like everyone else – hard working and just trying to do their job(s) to the best of their ability.”

Connie Cessante
Clark Hill PLC

Cessante is a lawyer and member in the Labor and Employment Group.  Cessante measures success on a daily basis and is defined by client satisfaction. Through her practice, she also counsels employers on all matters relating to the employment relationship, drafts, advises and trains clients on personnel policies, conducts workplace training and performs workplace investigations. Outside the office, Cessante serves on the Ministry Council for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, a nonprofit organization in metropolitan Detroit which provides meals, clothing, substance abuse treatment and other services to those in need. Connie also is a member of the Michigan Women’s Foundation, which champions the causes of social justice for women and girls.

Megan Finnegan
Sales and Account Management
MCM Staffing

MCM Staffing is an award-winning Hispanic- and woman-owned firm that staffs qualified talent for manufacturing, contact center, and hospitality customers.  Finnegan measures success by writing down her 5- and 10-year business goals and is not afraid of failing or changing course and making sure to feel happy every day, doing something she loves. What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders? “As most businesses still work from home, maintaining and building morale with their leadership teams and employees while driving growth is especially difficult to achieve in this environment. Leaders may feel they are taking one step forward and then two steps back. Stay strong, do not stop, keep moving ahead as a team.”

Edythe Ford
Director of Community Engagement
MACC Development

MACC Development is a faith-oriented nonprofit based on Detroit’s east side, and Ford certainly knows all about staying in touch with community members, especially during these difficult times. Ford’s success is measured how well her community is doing and assessing its supplier relations, diversity, and involvement in the local community and helping neighbors overcome poverty and inequity. What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders? “Creating companies that are more equitable in hiring minorities and women, the pandemic, fair wages, and wraparound services for their employees to assist them with life experiences.”

Michelle Harrell
Maddin Hauser Law Firm

Harrell is a strategic legal partner with her clients, and specialize in complex litigation. Her practice areas include business, shareholder and member, real estate, trust, zoning, and other types of litigation. Her advice is, “stay curious and keep learning. Keep an open mind that you may find that you become interested in other areas, paths and careers as you develop.”

Brian J. Hunter
Managing Partner
Fenner, Melstrom & Dooling, PLC

Hunter’s pivotal moment came when he recognized he was more passionate and enjoyed working with entrepreneurs than Fortune 500 companies.  What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders, and what is the solution to it? “The doors to working in a remote environment have been opened. And it seems it’s here to stay. The challenge is: how do you engage with your business relationships moving forward? It sees there needs to be a balance between face-to-face vs. virtual to establish trust and friendships. What does this look like moving forward? Understanding and sharing best practices and business values will help to find solutions in this area.”

Christina Keller
Cascade Engineering

Cascade Engineering (CE) is a global manufacturing company with nine business units supporting a diversity of strategic markets. Under Keller’s leadership, Cascade Engineering is focused on being an Employer of Choice, maintaining the values of servant leadership, pathways out of poverty, anti-racism and triple bottom B Corporation; as well as a Woman-Owned Business.

Aaron Krohn
Vice President of Technology
Allied PhotoChemical Inc.

Krohn’s role is to proactively create and improve coating to help customers be more efficient and clean.

Krohn defines success by helping customers solve problems (environmental, process, quality) that give them a competitive edge in the market.

Was there a pivotal moment in your career? “Being a cancer survivor, it gave me a reality check of what is important in life and has pushed me to think differently. I take our business relationships personally and have ownership in helping our customers succeed. “This has allowed us to grow our business while retaining current customers.”

Matt Kurtin
Senior Director, Technology and Visual Design
Innovative Learning Group

Kurtin provides leadership for ILG’s programmers and graphic designers as they create custom training and tools that help employees do their jobs more effectively. His deep understanding of technology connects ILG’s project teams to creative, innovative ideas for truly interactive, engaging client learning experiences. Pivotal career moment? “I’ve spent a great deal of time immersing myself in AR and VR to learn how to best use these technologies for our clients resulting in great opportunities to create and implement VR strategies at major companies.”

Ken Martin
Quality Dairy Company

Quality Dairy is a manufacturer of a full donut line and an assortment of sandwiches, salads and snacks for the company’s 28 convenience stores including several large distributors across the Midwest. A family owned business founded in 1936, the second generation is in control and is actively handing off responsibilities to the third generation. Martin is currently the President and CEO of the company and “find myself truly blessed” with supportive co-owners and dedicated staff at all levels of the organization. What advice would you give to someone just embarking on a career?  “Find a mentor you respect, find what you truly enjoy doing and improve your abilities constantly. If you have done this well you will never work a day in your life.”

Mansfield Matthewson
Director of Purchasing
Grand Rapids Community College

Matthewson defines success by providing opportunity to marginalized groups in doing business with the public sector in a fair and equitable environment. Matthewson says every day is a pivotal moment as he makes decisions to help and support local businesses and believes a leader means to be an example to those you influence. Advice to someone just embarking on a career? “Do whatever makes you happy. Enjoy every day of your career. Look for fulfillment. Look to influence and bless others. Try to make a difference on a daily basis.”

Nancy Negohosian
HMS Products Co.

HMS Products is a family owned business which manufactures Pressroom Automation for the Stamping Industry. Outside of work, Negohosian is the President of the Boys & Girls Club of Troy.

Negohosian’s education is in Marketing and Hospitality Services Administration. She joined the family businesses in 1983 and started to learn about manufacturing. “Through the years I have grown to understand Pressroom Automation and the Plastic Consumer Industry,” she said on her Linkedin Profile.

Negohosian’s specialties include Non-Profit Board Development and Fund Raising, as well as community involvement. Since April 2018, Negohosian has served as president of HMS Products Co., a full-service Pressroom Automation Specialist located in Troy. Based on the team’s knowledge and experience, HMS excels at providing innovative engineering solutions to the stamping industry. Besides being the industry leader in press transfer systems technology, the firm’s commitment to customer service is second to none. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University.

Dr. Richard J. Pappas
Davenport University

Davenport serves nearly 6,200 students at campuses across Michigan and online. It specializes in innovative undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students for in-demand careers in business, technology, health, and urban education.

Pappas learned early in his career that you could never achieve sustained success unless you have a real passion for your work. This passion is what led him to becoming a president, a position he has held at several educational institutions for more than 30 years.  Advice to his graduates? “It’s important to find something you really love to do. Not what pays the most. Not just a title. Find something that you’ll enjoy that is bigger than yourself. It’s important to try different things to determine what you truly love. Once you find that, you’ll find both happiness and success.”

Valerie Rhodes-Sorrelle
Vendor Relations Manager
Grand Valley State University

Rhodes-Sorrell’s primary responsibility is to work with the campus community to increase opportunities for minority, women, and veteran owned businesses.

She defines her success by being happy with her accomplishments and knowing she is making a difference in her community. What is the most important trait in a leader? “HONESTY!”

Rhett B. Rowe
Chief Executive Officer
Great Lakes Business Credit

Great Lakes Business Credit provides private non-bank financing to those companies which cannot maintain or obtain traditional bank financing.

As CEO, Rowe leads the firm’s vision and strategy throughout as well as heads all partner channels and business development efforts. What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders? “The preeminent concern is staffing – finding the right people for the right spots.”

Dave N. Sheeran
Meadowbrook Insurance Agency

Sheeran leads a highly competitive team in providing necessary insurance coverages for business and individuals. He’s an excellent leader who inspires productivity and customer service while contributing to the community through several programs in supporting awareness and leadership throughout the market.

Candice Simons
Brooklyn Outdoor

Brooklyn Outdoor is a Detroit-based outdoor advertising company with satellite offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. 

Simons persists to see opportunities where they have not previously existed. Candice has changed the face of what leadership traditionally looks like in a male dominated industry. She has made a seat for herself at the table where women were not always welcomed while creating a small predominantly women advertising army.

Tim  Skrotzki
Senior Market Development Lead
Elevate Energy

Elevate Energy designs and implements programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment ensuring the benefits of clean and efficient energy use for those who need it most. 

Seeking to create a world in which everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water, Skrotzi currently leads Elevate’s strategic engagement team in Michigan, designing sustainable and equitable business models customized to lift underserved markets. Biggest misconception facing professionals or millennials in the workforce? “The biggest misconception I see in younger professionals and millennials is thinking that you must be a manager, making key decisions, or earning a large salary to be a leader. At every level in every organization, there is an opportunity to lead from where you are.”   

Patrick Spyke

LAFCU is a state-chartered, not-for-profit financial cooperative, founded in 1936 to serve Oldsmobile employees.

Spyke leads an amazing team of dedicated employees who work to provide the best financial resources to credit union members while being a positive force in their community. How do you view success? “I view success not based on the number of awards in my office, but by the number of awards in the offices of my team members.”

Jean M. Stenger
Senior Accounting Manager
DKSS CPAs + Advisors

DKSS CPAs + Advisors is a full-service woman-owned CPA firm, where she co-manages the Accounting Services Group as well as oversees client accounts related to tax and financial statement services. Stenger defines success by doing the right thing for the right people at the right time for the right cost and says, “If you do the right thing, produce the right product, service with the right attitude, the money follows.” Her pivotal career moment? “I have at least two: Realizing people were looking to me to lead, I needed to define the type of leader I was going to be and I went after that style. In my 30s and responsible for 100s of employees, I vowed to not fail them and worked hard, taking leadership classes, reading books and started communicating regularly. And the second is starting my own business and merging it into DKSS.”

Erin Strang
Central Michigan University Research Corporation

Central Michigan University Researdch Corporation is aprofessional co-working space with accelerator programs focused on product and strategic development for entrepreneurs to positively impact the economy.

Strang has led this company for the past 12 years, and built a dynamic team around making things happen. Was there a pivotal moment in your career? “In the non-profit world, I believe it is important to stay true to your mission and to not chase the money. I identified early on that if I wanted to build an organization that was sustainable, I was going to have to develop repeatable and scalable programs that met the demands of the entrepreneurs and businesses that our organization was trying to serve. Ten year later, the model is proving out.”

Jana C. Warford
Executive Vice President
Almetals, Inc.

Warford manages the finance and administrative duties for Almetals, Inc.

She also developed the processes, protocols and devices required to keep associates and their families safe while they did their jobs. She provided motivation to support the Wixom Fire & Police, a food drive for Gleaners Food Bank, a donation to Special Olympics & The Salvation Army instead of sending Christmas Cards.

Ashley Williams Clark
Director, Center for Equity, Engagement and Research
Detroit Future City

Clark serves as the center’s director, where she establishes a clear vision and direction for advancing economic equity in Detroit and the region. This advancement includes establishing a common definition of economic equity and creating an equity indicator dashboard by engaging civic and community leaders and residents around the effort.

Then, she is to help develop technology that will allow stakeholders to track indicators over time.

As Detroit grapples with the inequities that exist like disparities in income and employment outcomes, the center’s director leads the crucial work to advance economic equity in Detroit—and the advancement progress has an ambitious yet critical timeline. Success to Clark means making a difference through her work towards economic equity and making positive impacts on the communities she serves and loves.


Dave  Achatz
Achatz Handmade Pie Co.

Achatz Handmade Pie Co.’smission is to find the best and healthiest products for its customers and the planet.

Achatz’s success stems from the customers trust that the ingredients that are free of toxic chemicals, raised humanely and respectfully. The farmers they work with are faithful stewards, rebuilding and regenerating the soil, which contributes to clean water and air for the long term sustainability of the planet.”

Chris Ake
Sidekick Ai

Sidekick Ai is a new software product that was started in Grand Rapids in May 2020. 

Sidekick Ai uses machine learning and language processing to schedule meetings. Chris Ake is very active in his entrepreneurship and is also Partner with Kyros Digital Agency and Managing Partner of Bluefin Ventures.

Eran Bashan

Bashan is the developer of the d-Nav® Insulin Management Program and a physician practice specializing in insulin therapy management.

Hygieia’s d-Nav technology is the first and only to earn FDA clearance for changing prescription of insulin doses, which until now has been the sole responsibility of physicians.

Bashan believes effective leaders instill trust through transparency, communication, accountability, authenticity and integrity. Bashan’s pivotal moment? “I grew up in Israel and was considering a military career after spending several years in the armed forces as a field officer. This experience proved pivotal because many of the leadership skills I value today come from my military training and the very real combat excursions I lead teams through.”

Katie Bigelow
Mettle Ops

Mettle Opsprovides transparent and dependable program management and engineering services to government customers and assists other companies with the same goal of improving warfighter survivability.

Bigelow has the vision of Warfighters Serving Warfighters, having served her country as a soldier for more than 10 years. As an Army Aviator, she piloted and commanded missions in Korea and Iraq as well as the United States. In 2013, Bigelow founded Mettle Ops, which now has $34 million in contracts that focus on materials and solutions for soldier survivability.

Mark Bigelow
NUDG Systems

NUDG Systems is a program management software tool used to manage and maintain NIST and CMMC cyber security compliance. Bigelow defines success in the business world by actionable results that show clients in measurable ways. What is the biggest misconceptions facing entrepreneurs? “It’s not necessary a misconception, but more of an overlooking of how hard you need to work to be successful in your endeavors. No one sees the weekends, the late nights, the phone calls, the text messages you get during family time. They only see what you reaped from your crop, not all the hard work it took to get to that point.”

Jon Butler
Kyros Digital

Kyros Digital a software development agency servicing companies from small start-ups to large Fortune 500 companies.

Butler’s success comes from learning from his mistakes and never making them again.

Biggest misconception facing entrepreneurs? “A lot of people out there think that a good idea is all you need. Without dedication and execution, your “good idea” means nothing.”

Rob Cote
Security Vitals

Cote devotes his career to helping organizations successfully protect against cyber attacks. Security Vitals is a cyber-security consulting firm that helps organizations understand where their critical data may be at risk and provides process and technology solutions to help mitigate those risks.

Cote is also a contributing member of the global Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) where he has been an active member for more than five years. His career dedication has demonstrated an ongoing passion for working with clients to deliver solutions that solve critical problems and keep their environments secure.

Bill Cousins
WJ Cousins & Associates

WJ Cousins & Associates is a full range of security investigation, protection and litigation consulting services to individuals, corporations, law firms and government agencies worldwide. Cousins started his company after retiring after 22 years with the U.S. Secret Service as an assistant to the special-agent-in-charge.

His pivot came when he made the decision to service the cannabis industry and make a difference in the success of the industry, propelling it more into the mainstream of the modern day business world. Misconception of an entrepreneur? “That if you own your own business, you can set your own hours, and take days off when you desire. In fact, if you want to be successful, you have to make yourself available 24/7 for your clients.”

James L. Cowper

OneResults.comlaunched to support an underserved market. Cowper’s is a full service, vendor-neutral managed service provider (MSP) that bridges the gap for its clients by providing them with the right talent at the right time, every time.

The MSP/VMS helps dynamic companies streamline suppliers, improve productivity and reduce the costs related to managing contingent labor.

Was there a pivotal moment in your career? “Early in my career, I recognized that failure was a much better teacher than success. Many people are afraid to fail. And while I don’t necessarily relish the idea of failure, I welcome the gifts and lessons only failure can provide.”

Dr. Chanel Hampton
Founder/Chief Executive Officer
Strategic Community Partners

Strategic Community Partners is a national firm with Detroit roots and headquarters. They work with organizations by advising, designing, and managing projects and initiatives that advance equity with and for communities.

Hampton launched the company in 2015 and today has nearly seven full-time employees and 30 consultants across Detroit, D.C., and St. Louis.

What is the most important trait in a leader? “Passion, excellence, integrity, and equity. When a leader is passionate, their heart is in it.”

Matt Krause
Advanced Architectural Products

Krause founded Advanced Architectural Products in 2008. The company produces a continuous insulation system for commercial buildings, optimizing the heating and cooling efficiency of the structure.

Krause is an entrepreneurial visionary who has grown his company from a small West Michigan based entity, to a national organization that services clients and industries from across the country.

In addition, he’s never satisfied with the status quo and is always looking to innovate, whether through improving his products, creating the best client service experience, or ensuring his employees feel valued. Krause is the perfect example of a Michigan MVP whose vision and hard work is helping to drive the Michigan economy.

Fares Ksebati

MySwimPro is a global technology and media company that creates fitness apps that help people improve their performance and health.

Most recently, Ksebati was selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for 2020 in Consumer Technology. MySwimPro is a digital community with over one million members in 180+ countries.              What was your pivotal moment? “Taking the first step! Launching a business is intimidating, challenging, and most of all scary. The fear of the unknown can be crippling. When I was able to overcome this, and take the leap of faith, I gained confidence to take on more ambitions opportunities.”

Dustin McClellan
Pontiac Community Foundation

Born and raised in Pontiac and the recent founder of the Pontiac Community Foundation, McClellan is a champion for the people of Pontiac.

As a young child, he experienced the poverty and violence of the city, and found himself at a pivotal crossroad when his brother was shot and nearly killed. It was the programs offered at a community organization, The Power Company Kids Club, that changed his life and, after graduating university, he accepted the position of Executive Director of the very organization that had saved his life.

Still he felt called to do more for his hometown, and embarked on the journey of creating the Pontiac Community Foundation to build a brighter future for Pontiac.

Define success: “Success, for me is not in the dollars you make, the number of people you lead, or the size or scope of your organization. Success is making a difference in the world and leaving a legacy of positive impact.”

Lori McColl
Lori McColl

Whim-Detroit is a creative and strategic digital consultancy that helps companies speak to the customer in a unified voice by implementing holistic solutions that merge people, processes and technology.

McColl is a creative technology executive with more than 15 years of experience across mobile, web, and emerging cloud-based applications, as well as enterprise solutions. She has a proven track record of establishing long-term client relationships, building top performing teams, providing future forward solutions, and simplifying complex concepts to deliver value to her clients.

Blaire Houchens Miller
Managing Partner/Owner
The Hunter Group

The Hunter Group is a retained executive search and leadership services firm celebrating 25 years of developing exceptional leadership in the community.

For more than 30 years, Miller has been recruiting U.S. and foreign companies to invest in the region as a former global banking executive.

 A native Detroiter, Miller is “proud to recruit executives to our region” for strategic leadership positions in our growing companies. She takes great pride in presenting a short slate of diverse executive candidates for every c-suite leadership search.

Neetu Seth
NITS Solutions Inc.

NITS Solutions Inc., specializes in technology and marketing solutions for the automotive industry. As a founder Seth’s responsibilities include managing the vision and strategic direction of the company, as well as, the day-to- day operations. Misconceptions for Entrepreneurs? “People think Entrepreneurs have the best work/life balance and everything looks glorious from the outside world – in fact they have to put a lot of effort and time and forget about work life balance in the initial years to launch the firm and take it forward.”

Jeff Sloan

FanLabel is a music gamification platform that provides users with a fantasy-sports style experience for music.

A Flint, Michigan native, Sloan’s expertise is broad and deep, from inventing and commercializing his own inventions to developing, financing and selling his own tech ventures.

An entrepreneurial visionary and leader since the age of 18, Sloan immediately learned the power of entrepreneurship as a way to enhance and enrich lives, communities and nations. He saw a need to help aspiring entrepreneurs, so in 2002, he co-founded StartupNation to do just that. Ever since, StartupNation has empowered millions of entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources required to start a business.

Dong Un Kim
I-Tech USA, Inc.

I-Tech USA is a certified minority company, supporting global industries with mechatronics capabilities, technologies, and industry know how. Dong ensures all current customers’ needs are met, establish new business opportunities with mechatronics capabilities, continue to be a benchmark in technological development, and provides a clear vision and direction for the company.

Jayson Waller

After launching and selling two home security companies, Waller started POWERHOME SOLAR in 2014. Originally having just 15 employees, the company has since expanded to 10 states with more than 1,600 employees and 25,000 lifetime customers. Waller has been the key driver and visionary for that growth. 

POWERHOME SOLAR’s extensive growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic was Waller’s biggest achievement in the past year. POWERHOME SOLAR has more than doubled its employee count since January and even expanded into its 10th state, Tennessee, in April. He is also intent on making an impact in the communities POWERHOME SOLAR serves. Waller and his company have supported causes including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Gobble Gobble Give — an initiative that provides Thanksgiving dinners to homeless people in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day – and Toys for Tots, making sure that needy families can provide a bright holiday season for their families.

Mark Zawaideh
Mark Z Realty

Mark Zawaideh runs the largest team in Southeast Michigan. Currently carrying over 60 agents working from the Novi office, the firm is servicing all of the metro Detroit real estate market.

The Mark Z Team has sold over $1 billion in Real Estate during its sixteen year existence. The team will close over 750 transaction this year alone. Zawaideh’s diligence and perseverance is what brings his team together. He motivates and inspires the team to work with proficiency.


Meagan Belfinger
Chief Audit Officer – Internal Audit
Flagstar Bank

Belfinger oversees the internal audit, SOX, Loan Review and Regulatory Affairs teams. During 2020, Belfinger joined the Board of Detroit Horse Power, a nonprofit whose mission is to expand opportunities for urban youth through riding and caring for horses.

Detroit Horse Power’s vision is to give at-risk youth a safe and enriching space that furthers their future development. What is the most important trait in a leader? “Humility. Celebrate the highs, recognize you had help getting there, and do not forget to say “thank you”. Acknowledge the lows, and start planning for how to fix them.”

Richard Bryant
Senior Data Scientist
MMS Holdings

MMS Holdings is an award-winning, data-focused contract research organization (CRO) that supports the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries.

Bryant also runs the YouTube channel “RichardOnData” and creates content aimed at delivering candid education to people trying to break into data analytics and data science.

Advice? “It is easy in our culture to get distracted – there are many opportunities out there and different forces competing for our attention. And it is true, you must initially get exposure to various things to understand what you are passionate about. “But after that, some specialization is required – to be really good at something, you must select one or two things you enjoy and focus on them!”

Jeff Chappell
Business Development Manager
Consumers Credit Union

With a decade of experience helping West Michigan businesses, Jeff Chappell knows that relationships matter.

That’s why for most of his career he has focused on entrepreneurial professionals and business owners by walking alongside his clients as their companies develop and grow. Chappell graduated from Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business with a bachelor’s degree of business administration in finance.

Djeneba L. Cherif
Senior Director of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction
University Prep Schools

Cherif is responsible for managing the instructional vision, priorities, and performance metrics for all schools at University Prep Schools, which is the first and largest public charter network in Detroit. Youngest ever in the role, Cherif chaired the State COVID-19 Preparedness and Reopening District Plan. 

A pivotal time in her career came at the age of 27 when she became the youngest high school administrator in Washtenaw County.

What is the biggest misconception of millennials in the workforce? “Some of the biggest misconceptions facing millennials in the workforce are that we are in need of constant recognition/praise, entitled, and sometimes lazy. What I do know to be true is that millennials are interested in transparency and fairness. “We are willing to advocate for ourselves and don’t mind having tough conversations. Flexibility and efficiency are just a few of our generation’s core values, we believe in doing more in less time. We are technologically savvy, innovative, and love to collaborate to maximize impact.”

Joseph DiClemente
Vice President of Sales and Quality Assurance
RPM Freight Systems

RPM Freight Systems is one of the fastest-growing, most-awarded logistics providers specializing in transportation and supply chain solutions for vehicle, freight, and bulk commodities.

DiClemente has a pivotal role in leading the strategy and growth of the sales reps along with ensuring quality assurance across all areas of the organization.

Phillip Garcia
Commercial Construction Incorporated

Commercial Construction Incorporated is a certified Minority (MBE) contractor providing turnkey services for the heavy industrial industry. Garcia oversees the day to day from the financials and strategic plans to the estimating and project management departments.

In addition to the day to day, he manages the marketing campaigns, new business development, quality assurance program and community involvement initiatives.

What advice would you give to someone just embarking on his or her career? “I believe everyone should do something every day that makes you uncomfortable. You cannot grow within your comfort zone. If you can consistently challenge yourself, you’ll know who you are and what you can become.”

Nathan Hamood
President and Director of Coffee
Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters

Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters is a multi-location craft coffee roasting company. They source coffees from renowned, quality driven farms, and strive to maintain a high level of care in roasting, brewing and serving those coffees.

How do you define success? “Success certainly means different things to different people, but success to me in business is having the ability to do the things you’re most passionate about, that excite you the most about your craft, uncompromisingly, and that excite your teams and organization, creating a culture of shared excitement that creates a community.

“It takes a lot of sacrifice to get to the point where you really feel like you can excel in that pursuit, and that pursuit truly is never ending.”

Kerrie Mitchell
Vice President of Marketing & Development
Matrix Human Services

Matrix Human Services is a non-profit in Detroit that empowers people of all ages by giving hope and providing opportunities for a better quality of life.

As a millennial, Mitchell serves as a member of the executive leadership and key responsibilities is to lead a team of eight employees that work together to build brand awareness, increase fundraising, volunteer initiatives and board engagement for the agency.

Career pivot? “The pivotal moment in my career was choosing to leave a career in media for the world of non-profit. My childhood dream was to be a media maven, but as I matured, I searched and desired a career that was more purposeful. “Choosing to accept my current role has been the most rewarding experience.”

Cory Mouton
Vice President of Application Development and Business Architecture
United Wholesale Mortgage

United Wholesale Mortgage is the top wholesale lender in the nation six years in a row. Mouton’s role is to design and build software to improve the overall process as well as implementing new tools for internal teams to use which drives the industry in client service. How do you define success? “Success is directly correlated with the setting and achieving of goals. It is important to identify what you’re trying to accomplish and what you need to do to achieve it.”

Justin Nisbet
Brightwork Marine LLC and Brightwork Storage LLC

Brightwork Marine specializes in providing repair and maintenance solutions for boat and personal watercraft clients and Brightwork Storage offers indoor heated and cold storage for boats, RVs, and car. Nisbet’s biggest hurdle was overcoming the initial shutdown which included motorized boating. This prevented access to boats for the previously scheduled off‐season service work as well as delaying the boating season.

Adelaide Pascaris
Manager, Area Government and Community Affairs
ITC Holdings Corp.

ITC is the largest independent electricity transmission company in the United States, moving power from where it is generated to where it is needed.

Pascaris develops and implements organizational community relations strategy for capital and maintenance projects in the southeastern Michigan region, and enhances relationships with area communities, local government groups and officials.

Her role also focuses on building partnerships with charitable giving organizations to advance ITC’s philanthropic priorities.

What is the biggest misconception facing millennials? “Millennials are quickly becoming the largest generation in the workplace. One of the common misconceptions about millennials is that they lack a strong work ethic. Millennials tend to be technology savvy; innovative self-starters who have adopted the motto ‘work smarter – not harder.’

“Millennials have a strong work ethic and tend to be more creative and collaborative when they have a passion for their vocation. Millennials care about social justice and want to work for socially conscious organizations that give their employees a greater sense of purpose.”

Connaé Pisani
National Real Estate Management Group

National Real Estate Management Group, based in Metro Detroit, has emerged as an industry leader in real estate investment, construction and property management.

Pisani has single-handedly built three companies from the ground up in just under two years and has been a big part of the resurgence of the Detroit area by bringing investors and homeowners into the city.

With a degree in civil engineering, she could have remained in the corporate world and continued to work for others. Instead, she chose to begin serving the needs of her community by providing services where they were lacking in the Detroit area.

Alex Ramsay
Versant Medical Physics and Radiation Safety

Versant Medical Physics and Radiation Safety is a woman-owned medical physics and radiation safety consulting company based in Kalamazoo.

They are a small family business that provides Radiation Safety Officer and regulatory support, online training, clinical physics and commissioning. Ramsay was responsible for the smooth transition for his development team to remote work and oversaw the movement of company servers to a new office.

Sam Rau
Technical Services Manager
Micro Visions Inc.

Rau has grown the company into a culture of outstanding customer support and focus on creating the perfect user experience, both internally and externally.

Rau’s dedication to integrity and accountability has fostered a transformation within the Technical Services team and the company as a whole.

Rau has been with Micro Visions for nearly 10 years and has held every tech position prior to his promotion as the Services Manager.

His long-term vision for the company continues to inspire and drive the company to new heights. In his spare time, he volunteers his expertise for various West Michigan non-profits and individuals.

Gino Roncelli
Vice President
Roncelli, Inc.

Roncelli, Inc. is one of Michigan’s largest construction firms with over $300 million in revenue and projects throughout the Midwest and Ontario. Roncelli’s capabilities include preconstruction services, design services, construction management, equipment installation, facilities management, owner reps services, self-performing excavation, and concrete work.

Andrew Rudnycky
Technical Design Lead

Rossetti is a full-service architecture and design firm located in Detroit that provides design inspiration and services to the local Detroit community and professional and collegiate sports.

Rudnycky oversees large scale projects ranging from $20-200 million and provides technical expertise and encourages individuals to push their knowledge and leadership in the fields of architecture and design.

What was your pivotal career moment? “A pivotal moment in my career at ROSSETTI was when we as an office pushed our client’s at the U.S. Open Tennis Center to take a leap of faith and design and construct the world’s largest naturally ventilated tennis stadium with a retractable roof. “The decision to incorporate the natural air movement into the stadium design, rather than mechanically cooling, saved the project tens of millions of dollars and provided the Owner with sustainable marketing jewel.”

Ryan Schario
Vice President of National Accounts for Renaissance Capital Alliance, Sales
TCF National Bank

Schario is also the Co-Founder of the Steering Committee Member for 100 Millennials Who Care Michigan.

In Schario’s role, he is responsible for managing national accounts and growing RCA’s client base across the United States.

He has helped to successfully raise more than $60,000 for local non-profits and contributed to the growth and well-being of his community.

Kiersten Schulte Miller
Project Manager
West Michigan Works!

West Michigan Works! is committed to creating a diverse and qualified workforce for West Michigan.

Miller implements and steers the largest program designed in response to employers’ need for future talent in advanced manufacturing, agri-business, construction, health sciences, and information technology.

What is the most important trait a leader should possess? “While there are many traits good leaders exhibit, integrity is the cornerstone of all other leadership qualities. As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.’ “An honest leader succeeds when they stick to their word, live by their core values and lead by example.”

Jonathan H. Schwartz
Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss, P.C.

Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss is a full-service law firm headquartered in Southfield. Schwartz’s practice focuses on bet-the-company litigation, and a range of business, employment, real estate, intellectual property, entertainment and media law projects for clients in Metro Detroit and across the country.

He co-founded and serves as President Emeritus of the Jewish Bar Association of Michigan, where he leads the Holocaust Art Recovery Initiative, a project which raises awareness about the injustice of still-missing artwork looted by the Nazis, and assists with recovery efforts.

In addition, he is the chairperson of Humble Design Detroit, a non-profit that furnishes homes for families and veterans transitioning out of homelessness. The biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders? “The biggest challenge facing all of us is how to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and business leaders should also consider themselves community leaders, and must think and act outside the box to help metro-Detroit move forward.”

Travis Spencer
Head of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company. In this role, Spencer is responsible for driving diversity and inclusion among Ford’s strategic partners and supply chain. This is accomplished by connecting minority, women, veteran, disabled, LGBTQ and small business enterprises to Ford and its Tier 1 suppliers.

How do you define success in the business world? “The mission of our SD&I program is to drive economic prosperity for people, communities, and businesses by developing an inclusive supply chain. ”I believe that economic empowerment for diverse suppliers and their corresponding communities is the epitome for what it means to drive human progress… Thus ultimately delivering Ford’s aspiration of Creating a Better Tomorrow. Given this, success for me is facilitating the growth and/or development of those who have been historically underrepresented!”

Mona Viktoria Tierra
Product Manager
Samex LLC

Samex LLC is an Information Technology and Business Consultancy company where Mona Viktoria Tierra helped design Big Business Blueprint, their AI-powered Business Consultancy course.

Tierra played an integral part in building and organizing the consulting lessons for their clients.

What are the biggest misconceptions facing Millenials? “What looks like ‘Stubbornness’ is us being eager to present fresher and robust ideas. “Us being ‘Inexperienced’ is us willing to grow, adapt and learn from veterans. Being ‘Indecisive’ and ‘Discontent’ actually means not sticking to one solid option — making room for broader alternatives that could shift things around to a better position.”

Jasmine Valentine
Marketing and Development Manager

Oakland County’s only comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year.

Valentine has been an advocate for survivors and cultivates and encourages corporate and community partnerships.

What is the biggest challenge facing Michigan business leaders? “From a nonprofit perspective, I would say the steady decline of partnerships. Many Southeast Michigan non-profits share the same mission and vision, often times assisting the same individuals. “Instead of viewing each other as competition, it is in the best interest of our clients and community to encourage collaboration. We’re stronger when we work together.”

Kristen Walker
Vice President of Marketing
Michigan Financial Companies

Michigan Financial Companies is a local financial services firm comprised of independent financial advisors who are dedicated to positively affecting the lives of members.

As the Vice President of Marketing, Walker works closely with teams to provide individual marketing plan support to each of their advisors and markets the firm overall.

What advice would you give to someone just embarking on a career? “Take chances and speak up – it can be intimidating to go to your superiors with your ideas but leaders at your company want to hear from you and WANT you to bring fresh ideas to the business. “If you want to feel like you are making a difference, you have to be comfortable bringing those to them.”

Ryan Wichmann
Senior Manager

Rehmann is a financial services and business advisory firm providing tax consulting and compliance services to both businesses and individuals.

Wichmann provides tax consulting and compliance services and performs financial statement preparation,  review and compilation engagements with a focus on new vehicle dealerships and leasing companies. What is the most important trait a leader in business should possess? “Enthusiasm. If you perform your work with enthusiasm, people will want to work with you and be around you. Whether you oversee a large team, deal with angry and happy customers, or take out the trash, do it enthusiastically and you will bring light to the situation and feel more composed.”

Anastasia K. Wiese
Senior Financial Advisor and Equity Owner
Grand Wealth Management

In 2018, Wiese joined Grand Wealth Management after having managed her own, independent advisory firm. The alliance appealed to her as an ideal solution for delivering new levels of client care to her existing relationships, while positioning her to serve a growing client base.

Anastasia defines success as, “truly enjoying going to work each day.”

Ashley M. Williams

RIZZARR is a curated content marketplace that allows businesses to create digital media alongside everyday Millennial and Gen Z content creators. RIZZARR acts as an intermediator, enabling businesses to use its content-as-a-service platform to find and work with its network of over 5,000 talented content creators.

Best trait in a leader? “I think the most important trait that a leader in business should possess is empathy. I believe that it is the key to connection, development, and growth not only within ourselves, but also in the relationships that we hope to garner and maintain.”