Women Who Lead” honors female leaders from throughout the Great Lakes region who are influencing our communities in positive ways. Each year, we honor 12 of these amazing ladies at our Women Who Lead Honoree Ceremony. These women come from all backgrounds and fields … business leaders, small business owners, community organizers, civil servants, volunteers, and more.  Each of these ladies offer an inspiring story of a women who is leaning in and pushing the world to new heights.


March 25, 2023 ~ Common Ground President and Chief Executive Officer Heather Rae talks on her commitment to the vision and values of this 24-hour crisis services agency, which each year helps inspire more than 80,000 youths and adults beyond the trappings of grief, abuse, addiction, thoughts of suicide, and other impairments to lives fulfilled through hope and happiness.

February 25, 2023 ~ February “Women Who Lead” honoree Elissa Slotkin talks in the aftermath of the Michigan State University shootings about gun violence in America. Beyond a need to pass the “Safe Guns, Safe Kids” legislation she introduced, the congresswoman says that improved mental health services and an increase in the age to buy semi-automatic weapons are steps that would go a long way towards keeping our kids and society safe.

January 29, 2023 ~ Pamela Ahee Thomas has been an innovator in jewelry design throughout her life. As lead designer for Edmond T. Ahee Jewelers, Pamela crafts exquisite creations that commemorate life’s benchmark moments for their discerning base of Metro Detroit customers. Through her uncommon craftmanship, meticulous attention to detail, and one-of-a-kind originality, Pamala’s creations sparkle as uniquely as those who are lucky enough to receive them.





2019 Women Who Lead Class

  • Tavi Fulkerson – Founder, The Fulkerson Group
  • Marcy Hayes – Founder, C & B Scene PR & Marketing
  • Anne Parsons – CEO, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Annette Rummel – President & CEO, Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Mimi Musser Cunningham – Former Vice-President, Grand Hotel
  • Anne Blake – Chief Administrative Officer, Pope Francis Center
  • Kimberly Lowell-Leverett –  Director of Volunteers, The Parade Company
  • Candice Miller – Commissioner, Macomb County Public Works 
  • Kelly Carroll-Burgin – Owner & Founder, K. Carroll Accessories
  • Rev. Faith Fowler – Executive Director, Cass Community Services
  • Robin Terry – Chairwoman & CEO, Motown Museum 
  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer

2018 Women Who Lead Class

  • Maura Corrigan – Justice, Michigan Supreme Court (formerly)
  • Denise Gray – President, LG Chem Michigan
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha – Pediatrician, whistle-blower of the Flint Water Crisis
  • Danialle KarmanosDetroit Philanthropist and Social Entrepreneur
  • Tricia Keith – Executive Vice-President, BCBSM
  • Ronia Kruse – Co-Founder & CEO, OpTech
  • Zavid Mangaru – Executive Vice-President of Product Strategy & Innovation, North American Bancard
  • Mary Martin — Owner, Martin Media Services
  • Kylee Mitchell Wells – Executive Director, Ballmer Group’s Detroit Office
  • Lois Shaevsky – President, Variety the Children’s Charity (Detroit Chapter)
  • Amanda Sheehan – Dentist, Oakland Family Dental
  • Shirley Stancato – President & CEO, New Detroit

2017 Women Who Lead Class

  • Farideh R. Bagne – Founder, President & CEO, Magnolia by the Lakes Senior Living Resort
  • Carolyn Cassin – President & CEO, Michigan Women’s Foundation
  • Anne Doyle – President, Michigan Chapter of International Women’s Forum
  • Melanie Duquesnel – President & CEO, Better Business Bureau Eastern Michigan Division
  • Andrea Fischer Newman – Former Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs, Delta Airlines and U of M Regent
  • Karen Fox – Vice-President, Trinity Tool Co.
  • Emily T. Gail – Slogan Creator, Say Nice Things About Detroit
  • Jennifer Gilbert — Founder, Amber Engine, Doodle Home & dPop
  • Wendy Hilliard – Founder, Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation
  • Mary Kramer – Group Publisher, Crain’s Communications
  • Christina Lovio-George – President & CEO, Lovio-George Communications + Design
  • Martha Reeves – Entertainer & Politician

2016 Women Who Lead Class

  • Tonya Allen – President & CEO, The Skillman Foundation
  • Rose Bellanca – President, Washtenaw Community College
  • Tammy Carnrike – COO, Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Lisa Dancsok – Vice-President, Rock Ventures
  • Carole Kowalczyk – Founder, Michigan Center for Fertility & Women’s Health
  • Terry Merritt – Sr. Vice-President, Walbridge
  • Patti Poppe – President & CEO, Consumers Energy
  • Rochelle Riley – Columnist, Detroit Free Press
  • Kelly Rossman-McKinney – CEO & President, Truscott Rossman
  • Amy Tattrie-Loepp – Owner, Tattrie Strategies and Co-Founder, Impact 100 Oakland County
  • Susan Smyth – Chief Scientist, General Motors Manufacturing and Director, GM’s Manufacturing Systems Research Lab
  • Gretchen Valade – Business Mogul (Carhartt, Detroit Jazz Fest, The Parade Co.)

2015 Women Who Lead Class

  • Susie Dahlmann — Executive Director & Co-Founder, Reaching Higher
  • Jane Englehart – Director of Advertising, Ford Dealer Advertising
  • Sharon Gaber – President, University of Toledo
  • Amanda (Amy) L. Good – CEO, Alternatives For Girls
  • Nanci J. Grant — Chief Judge, 6th Circuit Court
  • Kristine B. Mestdagh — Executive Director, John A & Marlene L Boll Foundation
  • Jane McNamara – President & CEO, Green Path Debt Solutions
  • Terri O’Brien – President, Street Marketing
  • Lisa Price – Co-Founder, JACK’S PLACE for Autism Foundation
  • Anne Schenk – Vice-President of Advancement, Gleaners Community Food Bank
  • Luanne Thomas Ewald — Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE); Regional Vice-President of Business Development, DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan
  • Debbie Windey – Director of Corporate Alliance & Executive Services, Ford Motor Company

2014 Women Who Lead Class

  • Mary Barra – CEO, General Motors
  • Susan Ianni – General Manager, Gordon Chevrolet
  • Denise Ilitch – Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Lawyer, and member of the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan
  • Grace Keros – Owner, American Coney Island
  • Suzanne Mallare Acton – Asst. Music Director, Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Christine Mason Soneral – Vice-President & General Counsel, ITC
  • Barbara McQuade – U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Michigan
  • Cindy Paskey — Founder, Global IT and Strategic Staffing Solutions
  • Gael Sandoval – Senior Manager, Ford Global Action Team
  • Sue Snyder – Michigan’s First Lady
  • Pam Turkin — Founder, Just Baked Cupcakes
  • Kym Worthy – Prosecutor, Wayne County

2013 Women Who Lead Class

  • Lori Blaker – President, TTI Global
  • Mary Liz Curtin – Co-Owner, Leon & Lulu
  • Debbie Dingell – President, D2 Strategies & Wayne State Board of Governors
  • Irma Elder – President & CEO, Elder Automotive Group
  • Connie Holzer – Owner & Dealer Principal, Tom Holzer Ford
  • Donna Inch – Chairman & CEO, Ford Land
  • Nancy Maxwell – Executive Director, Sweet Dreamzzz Inc.
  • Tami Powell – Owner, Oxford Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center
  • Paula Silver – Vice-President of Communications, Quicken Loans
  • Lou Anna Simon – President, Michigan State University
  • Elana Sullivan – President, National MS Society Michigan Chapter
  • Damita Williams – Vice-President of Patient Care Services, DMC Children’s Hospital

2012 Women Who Lead Class

  • Hortensia Albertini – Founder, Global LT
  • Sister Bridget Bears – Head of School, Academy of the Sacred Heart
  • Susan Goodell – President & CEO, Forgotten Harvest
  • Kouhaila Hammer – President & CEO, Ghafari Associates LLC
  • Arestea Kakaris – Owner, Kakaris Family Dentistry
  • Florine Mark – President & CEO, WW Group
  • Carol McCloud – Author, Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
  • Nancy Nawrocki – Founder, Nawrocki Center for Elder & Family Law
  • Faye Nelson – President & CEO, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
  • Jill Ryan, Vocalist
  • Jackie Shuk – Chief Engineer, Ford Motor Company Product Development
  • Regina Villemure – Founder, Children with Hairloss” Charity

2011 Women Who Lead Class

  • Linda Blair — Executive Vice President & Chief Business Officer, ITC
  • Beth Chappell — President & CEO, Detroit Economic Club
  • Louise Downs – Founder, Desert Angels Inc.
  • Renee Draves – Owner/Operator, McDonald’s franchise
  • Sheila Kasselman – Founder, “SkyFoundation
  • Sandy Pierce — Chairman & CEO, First Merit Michigan
  • Linda Prister — Nurse & Executive Director, Dearborn Surgery Center
  • Nancy Schlichting — CEO, Henry Ford Health System
  • Carol Schoch — Founder, Detroit Children’s Choir
  • Rhonda Walker — TV New Anchor, WDIV Channel 4
  • Monica Yesh — Captain, Michigan State Police
  • Lisa Zimmer — Founder & President, “Just For Kids Foundation