Martha Mayhood Mertz is the founder of ATHENA International and author of “Becoming ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership”. Carving out a career in the 1970s, Mertz experienced what many skilled women faced: what was acclaimed in men was often overlooked in women. The more Mertz observed, the more she became convinced that if women’s strengths and contributions as leaders were publicly acknowledged, they could no longer be dismissed. In 1982 in Lansing, Mertz spearheaded a new leadership award program, The ATHENA Award, named for the strong, enlightened goddess. The award would go to individuals who excelled in their professions, gave back to their communities, and helped raise up other leaders, especially women.
What Mertz conceived three decades ago is now a global movement. ATHENA International, headquartered in Chicago, has fostered leadership recognition, mentoring and training programs in more than 500 U.S. cities and six foreign countries. Mertz was President of ATHENA International from its beginnings to May of 1999. Now, a global board leads ATHENA and Mertz serves as a board member and ambassador, traveling the globe to share the message that women bring a distinctive, transforming approach to leadership – an approach that goes beyond gender to speak to all who would lead in the 21st century.
Mertz has been honored as one of the Top 25 Women Business Owners in Michigan by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and selected as the Michigan Women-In-Business Advocate by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Other awards she has received include the Visionary Award from Office Depot, in 2004; the Vassilissa Award in Moscow, Russia; and induction in 2006 into the Enterprising Women’s Hall of Fame.
Yvonne Caamal Canul has been an educator for more than 40 years serving in a wide variety of positions at the local, state, and national levels. Presently, she is the superintendent of the Lansing School District and has spearheaded a bold restructuring plan that focuses on research-based models to improve education. The plan establishes a long-term instructional vision that aims to achieve educational achievement and financial stability for the largest district in mid-Michigan. Canul also launched an innovative career and college readiness plan called the Lansing Pathway Promise that provides students with learning options in multiple pathways of learning. In 2017, Canul was awarded the National Women in School Leadership award from the American Association of School Administrators and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2015, she was named Michigan’s Superintendent of the Year and in 1995, she was selected for the Milken National Educator Award. Raised in Latin America, Canul bring a rich world-view to her work. She is well-known as a no-nonsense, student focused leader dedicated to educating students in a caring and collaborative environment.
Paula Cunningham was named state director of AARP Michigan in 2015. As director, she is responsible for leading and directing the advocacy and community outreach work of AARP and its 1.4 million members in the state of Michigan. Prior to this appointment, she served as the chief executive officer and president of Capitol National Bank for nine years, the first for a women, as well as the only African American female in the country to be president and CEO of a majority owned bank. Previously, Cunningham spent 25 years at Lansing Community College, including six years as the president, the first woman to hold that position. Under her leadership, the college implemented a strategic planning process that resulted in five new buildings. In 2006, the main campus building was officially named the Paula D. Cunningham Administration Building. Cunningham was also the first African American female to chair the board of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, she was also inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Margaret Dimond, Ph.D., is president and CEO of the 338-bed McLaren Oakland hospital in Pontiac. Previously, Dimond served as president and CEO of Ascension Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester, a 290-bed acute hospital. Dimond has also held leadership positions at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Henry Ford Health System and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Dimond has an extensive background of health care leadership experience, including 20 years of successful management of acute care hospital operations, ambulatory services networks and physician group organizations. An intuitive and dynamic leader, Dimond has achieved success in organizational integration with a focus on strategic growth as well as leading diverse stakeholders to common goals. She has a proven track record of increasing employee/patient satisfaction, combined with improving quality metrics and financial performance. She is an advocate for female leaders and is a sought-after speaker regarding women and business.
Tiffany Dowling is president and CEO of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency that helps organizations of all sizes with marketing, public relations and advertising services. She is also the publisher of Capital Area Women’s LIfeStyle Magazine, Greater Lansing Business Monthly, and ing Magazine. Prior to starting M3, Tiffany was appointed by Gov. John Engler as the marketing and public relations director for the Michigan Department of Career Development. She also worked on public relations effort for the Lansing-based biotech organization Neogen Corporation and was the public relations director for at Starr Commonweath, a nonprofit organization.
Tricia Foster presently serves as campaign treasurer for Gretchen Whitmer for Governor. From 2002 until her retirement as senior managing director and chief operating officer for both CBRE|Martin and CBRE|Grand Rapids, Foster oversaw approximately 70 professionals with assignments across the state, country and globe. Her comprehensive understanding of commercial real estate solutions developed over two decades.From educational clients to investment clients; local office, retail and industrial product owners to global corporations; federal, state, county and city public sector agencies to mid-cap companies; healthcare industry clients to banking clients, Foster served as a relationship liaison ensuring that service expectations were exceeded.
Mona Hinamanu joined RELO Direct® in June of 2017 as a client service specialist providing dedicated client and transferee support to client service managers. Hinamanu coordinates, manages, and oversees all service provided to transferring employees and serves as a support system for the transferring employee and his or her family. Hinamanu is part of the client services team for several of RELO Direct’s key government agencies. Hinamanu earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Olivet College in 2017. During her time at Olivet College, Hinamanu served as president of Nu Gamma XI, volleyball captain, secretary of the Black Student Union, and president of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Student Athletic Advisory Committee. Hinamanu is passionate about serving her community by volunteering for the Special Olympics and as a youth volleyball mentor.
Denise Page Hood presently serves as United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994. She became Chief Judge of the Court on January 1, 2016.Judge Hood previously served on the state court benches of 36th District Court, Recorder’s Court, and Wayne County Circuit Court and worked as assistant corporation counsel in the City of Detroit Law Department. She is a past president of the Detroit Bar Association and the Association of Black Judges of Michigan. Judge Hood has received numerous honors including the Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence Award, the Damon J. Keith Soul and Spirit Humanitarian Award, the Fair Housing Center of Metro Detroit Fair Housing Attorney Appreciation Award, and the Olivet College Leadership in Individual and Social Responsibility Award.
Sheri Jones anchors the 6 and 11 o’clock news for WLNS TV 6 and leads its Crime Stoppers Program. Her weekly Crime Stoppers report has aided in the capture of many of Mid-Michigan’s most wanted fugitive felons and earned many awards, including honors from the Associated Press, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Central Michigan Crime Prevention Association of Michigan, and for four years in a row, the top media award from the Crime Prevention Association of Michigan. Jones has also been awarded by the State of Michigan as an Outstanding Advocate for Crime Victim’s Rights. She was inducted into the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of her dedication to excellence and the contributions she has made to the television industry over the past 25 years. Her expertise has been showcased on national television, including Forensic Files and The Montel Williams Show.
Kay Kossen has been an attorney with the law firm of Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C. for more than 15 years. Her real estate practice focuses on residential and commercial transactions. In Kossen’s estate practice, she is an advocate for clients in their retirement years, assisting in long term care planning, including Medicaid benefits, and counseling clients and their families on succession planning and asset protection using estate planning tools such as trusts, wills, deeds, and power of attorney documents.
Kelly Rossman-McKinney is Lansing’s best-known and most-accomplished communications expert. Rossman-McKinney pioneered issue management in Lansing and continues to pursue cutting edge work in the field. She’s a certified crisis communicator, a nationally accredited public relations counselor, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America’s distinguished College of Fellows — one of only three in Michigan. Since 2011, she has been the CEO at Truscott Rossman, representing local, statewide, national and international clients and offers a full range of communications services. Through her leadership, Truscott Rossman has expanded from one office in Lansing and a dozen employees to three statewide offices and a team of nearly 30. This rapid growth led Truscott Rossman to be named one of Michigan’s 50 Companies to Watch in 2015. From 1988 to 2011, she was the owner of The Rossman Group, a full service public relations firm in Lansing.
Karen Preston is a human resources leader with more than 35 years of extensive global business and functional experience across multiple industries, operational platforms and cultures. She is known as a builder of organizational and individual capability through mutual goals and cultivating strong collegial partnerships. Post graduation, Preston spent seven years as an HR leader with large retailers in Michigan. After leaving retail, she joined General Electric where she held large scope global leadership roles in supply, consumer product and healthcare businesses over a 16 year period. Later, she joined SUPERVALU, a grocery store and supply chain business, where she had the opportunity to work in Bangalore, India. Preston then accepted the position of director for human resources for Worldwide Amazon Fresh & PrimePantry. Two years later, she returned to Michigan and took on the role of senior director of human resources for Kellogg Company. Today, she serves as director of human resources for RTI Surgical, a leading global surgical implant company.
Cassie McDonald Ross is a physical therapist at Agility Physical Therapy & Sports Performance in the Kalamazoo area. She has an extreme passion for physical therapy in the area of sports, orthopedics, pelvic health, pregnancy/postpartum, and overall injury prevention. Ross earned her doctor of physical therapy degree from Grand Valley State University in 2017. She graduated from Olivet College in 2013 with a degree in mathematics. She was a member and captain of the volleyball team, president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council, and participated in the first cohort of the Presidential Leadership Institute. Leadership continues to be one of her main focuses both personally and professionally.
Genise Shelton is a mother of six and married to the love of her life, Dr. Courtney Shelton. She’s best known as the newest addition to the season 4 cast of BRAVO’s “Married to Medicine”and is rapidly becoming a sought-after media and fitness personality. As a voice for social change and awareness, Shelton is passionate about platforms that affect the foundation of community, including homelessness, sex trafficking of minors and domestic abuse of children. In 2017, Shelton launched Our Children’s Keeper Foundation, created to help end modern day slavery of child sex trafficking and recover abducted and missing children in Atlanta and surrounding areas. The organization works to prevent the sexual exploitation of youth and helps current victims find confidence, strength and stability beyond the limitations of their current lifestyle. Adding author to her growing list of titles, her debut book, “Married to Fitness,” chronicles her fitness journey, with a mission to educate, encourage and empower people of color to make health and wellness a priority. In addition, Shelton is the owner of Flawless Bikini and Apparel Collection, Infiniti International Hair Boutique and Genesis Realty Group, LLC.