Celebrating Resilient & Strong Women

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating women this month by asking you to tell us about the inspiring women in your life. Each of the women you will read about on this page has been honored for their resilience, bravery, leadership, and strength. Each woman’s story is unique and inspiring.

Let’s uplift the women around us. We encourage you to show a woman in your life that you see her strength with this great honor for International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month with a tribute donation to Michigan Women Forward! All donations support Michigan Women Forward’s programs to create economic equity for Michigan women, empower girls through extracurricular programming, and recognize the achievements of Michigan women in history. Thank you for supporting women and girls!


Sheilah Clay

Sheilah embodies sharing the best with others in all areas of her life. She lifts up women professionally and personally. She has unwavering faith in others and support them to be their best. She lives out her commitment every day to leave this world a better place because of her involvement. I am honored to have known and learned from Sheilah and am awed by her strength!

Donor: Allyson Boyle

Dorothy Salhaney

My adorable Mother, Dorothy Salhaney, was one of the strongest most resilient women I know and the rock of our family. She was tenacious a trailblazer and way beyond her time. She always made time for everyone, no matter of their status and made everyone around her feel so comfortable. She raised 5 strong daughters to be fierce, independent. I thank her for that and always being so supportive and by my side. Miss her every day!!

Donor: Judy Welch

Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. Women Attorneys

Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. is proud to make a $500.00 donation in honor of our women attorneys: Susan M. Williams, Jami E. Leach, Stacey L. King, Ebony L. Duff, Sarah Nadeau, Catherine A. Witherspoon, Tara L. Velting, Rachel Bissett, Julie L. Druzinski, Jennifer E. Davis, Chanel R. Shamoun, Lisa D. Screen, Samantha J. Orvis, Kathryn L. Burkhart, Courtney A. Krause,  Matilda Zoto, Lauren A. Saad, Thamara E. Sordo-Vieira, Kathleen Griffith, Arooj Anjum, Chelsea Saferian, Jacqueline August, Nina Prashad-Kidd, Kristi-Trigg-Johnson, Fiona E. Heady, Breanne M. Neros and Rosalind Rochkind. GLM recognizes and applauds their significant contributions and commitments, as they bring an increasingly valued, needed and respected perspective to GLM’s legal services as well as to our communities.

Donor: Garan Lucow Miller, P.C.

Bryanna McGarry

Bryanna, in the short year and a half of knowing her, has opened up my mind and heart to the type of woman I strive to be. She has comforted me through hard times and constantly reminds me that I am never alone. She is a true woman’s woman and I am so blessed to have her in my corner

Donor: Meaghan Bergman

Eva Marie Gugino

I’ve been married to her for almost 23 years and anyone who can put up with me that long, make it through what we’ve made it through and continue to grow and improve is truly a strong woman. Every day she impresses me and teaches me something new.

Donor: Wade Gugino

Rebecca Bahar-Cook

Rebecca has been a mother, mentor, aunt, employer, confidant and SO MUCH MORE to me. I would not be where I am without her support. She deserves a monument built in her honor!

Donor: Meaghan Bergman

Helana Nelson

Helana has taught me so much about letting things go that I can’t control. This gift in itself is enough to honor her, but she is also so fearlessly authentic and inspires me to be fearless in my authenticity, too. We could all use a Helana in our lives!

Donor: Meaghan Bergman

Terry Harrison

I am honoring my mom for her unwavering commitment to her family and her resilience while balancing her career and family.

Donor: Alexis Dishman

Ethel McSherry

Born in 1898 she was a pioneering woman — the first woman in her family to attend college, she became a librarian, the first woman elected to the county commission, and had the moxie to write to Andrew Carnegie and ask for money to build a library in the small Ohio town in which she lived. She got the money, built the library and became the town`s librarian for nearly 50 years. Every day I try to emulate her courage, her determination and make her proud.

Donor: Carolyn Cassin

Susan Powell

Susan Powell defied many stereotypes and overcame many barriers including poverty and being an orphaned teen mom. She worked hard and was committed to her family and later became not only a leader in her family but a safety leader for a fortune 500 company. In a role most fulfilled by a man, Susan was able to make a career at DTE energy and created a stable foundation for her children. She spent her entire life supporting others and her family and was tragically killed in 2014. Her commitment to her family is carried out by her children who honor her daily.

Donor: Portia Powell

Lynne Thompson

Lynne is a joyful, generous, and passionate woman. She’s a fiercely loyal friend, endless giver of herself to her children, and has a warm and welcoming presence to every person she meets. Every day I think about how lucky I am that I get to call her my mom. She is everything I hope to be in my life.

Donor: Hannah Heebner

Geaneen Arends

Proud of how much you have done, and you are only just starting. You are a true leader.

Donor: Beth Gotthelf

Dr. Philomena “Philly” Mantella

I am honoring Philly today for her incredible leadership of my alma mater, Grand Valley State University; her mentorship and all I have learned from her; and most of all, her friendship. I have watched in awe as she led the Laker community through the obstacles presented by COVID-19. Philly does not back down from a challenge; she faces them head on with a positive attitude. She has demonstrated the power of collaboration through her Acceleration Teams. I am grateful for the energy she brings to GVSU and throughout the West Michigan community.

Donor: Danielle Dewitt

Beth Kelly

Beth Kelly is a leader who trusts her team and allows others to be heard. She’s a courageous entrepreneur who started and leads a successful HR consulting business, who values its clients. I’m honoring Beth Kelly for believing in me and being there when I most needed a friend. She lifts you up and walks along side you until you’re ready to soar. Thank you, Beth Kelly, for advancing the role of HR in our community. You are truly an asset to your clients and this community.

Donor: Deborah Phillips

Emma Crosby

Emma is a mental health worker who moved To a new job and a new city just as COVID did was hitting. She worked in her office for one week before being sent home to work remotely. She has been doing that for the past year working with the middle school children who are dealing with issues of trauma and other mental health issues. She has helped so many young people and has stayed strong for them the whole time even though she was navigating a new job, a new city, and trying to get acclimated to a new place.

Donor: Linda Goulet

Ellyn Crane

Ellyn has been my best friend for 23 years now. She is a 5th grade teacher and works so hard to make our world a better place for the next generation. She is my muse and inspires me every day to do the work that I do. Love you, Ell Bell!!!

Donor: Meaghan Bergman

Blanca B de Quinones

In Memory of the best mom in the world! A strong, brave, loving and supportive woman/wife/mother and friend to many. Thank you for always being there and encouraging all of us to be the best we could be and follow our dreams. Your faith and prayers guided us. We feel your presence every day. With love.

Donor: Blanca Q. Fauble

Cheryl Bergman

Cheryl is a strong woman who goes out of her way to support and uplift other women. I would not be who I am today without her encouragement and activism.

Donor: Rebecca Bahar-Cook

Lynsii Ward

Lynsii has been a rock of mine for years now and has helped me grow as a woman in more ways that I can count. She is so selfless, and is always sharing her valuable energy with those who need it. Women like Lynsii make our world a better place and I’m so proud to know her.

Donor: Meaghan Bergman

Aunt Tudi

For 24 years of my life, my Aunt Tudi was my Godmother, my friend, and my confidant. Her laughter brightened any day, her smile was contagious, and her strength was incredible. I loved walking into her house and taking a seat at the kitchen counter and talking about anything and everything that was on my mind in that moment. She would always have some words of wisdom, encouragement, and I`d walk away from each conversation with a deep sense of gratitude. While I miss her dearly, I know that she is with me in spirit every single day.

Donor: Danielle DeWitt

Julianne Cassin Sharp

Julianne is a loving daughter, a devoted mother and a standout in her chosen field — Immigration law. She inspires me every day as she finds time for family, friends, and continues to do outstanding work professionally and takes on leadership positions nationally and at the state in her field. She is a great blessing to everyone she meets, but especially to me who has the privilege of being her mother.

Donor: Carolyn Cassin

Laura Cassin Ecclestone

Laura is one of the strongest, bravest and smartest women I know. She is a devoted daughter, a loving mother and a successful professional and leader in her field. I’m so proud to be her mother and she inspires me everyday.

Donor: Carolyn Cassin

Catherine Hadley

Catherine, my daughter, has shone an integrity and fortitude beyond belief. After having suffered a horribly difficult Caesarian, she has devoted herself to maternal health. She founded a website, Birthsafe.org, started schooling to work in the field, and now is at U of M, where she is a Truman finalist: all this while raising two fine young boys. She has become a dedicated and formidable policy advocate. And shows the grit to push forward unceasingly on progressive issues.

Donor: Perry Engstrom

Tina Freese Decker

The four values we work hard to live out each day as Spectrum Health team members are courage, compassion, collaboration and curiosity. Over the last year, and since I have known her, Tina has exemplified each of these time and time again. I am grateful for her leadership, especially this past year. Her strength and resilience, her consistent message of hope, and the encouragement she has provided to all of us in an extra big way these last 12 months have served as a spectacular example for everyone.

Donor: Danielle DeWitt

Sherelle Hogan

Sherelle is the CEO and founder of Pure Heart Foundation. Pure Heart is a nonprofit that supports kids and families with incarcerated loved ones. She has a genuine heart and is dedicated to her kids and community. She grew up with incarcerated parents and truly grew through what she went through.

Donor: Shayla Zimmerman

Sarah Smith

For many reasons, Helen DeVos Children`s Hospital is a special place for every child and family who walk through the doors of the “big blue building.” One of those reasons is Sarah Smith, the Dick and Linda Antonini Hospital Teacher and School Liaison. I have been a fan of hers for years, but this past year it was incredible to see how she led her team of teachers through the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presented to their program and how they would reach the students. They quickly pivoted to teaching lessons from home and streaming them through the “Blue Glass Studio” into patient rooms. Sarah`s creativity and her passion for making sure every patient who wanted or needed the services of the Antonini Hospital School Program had access to them. Today I honor Sarah`s persistence and innovative thinking and celebrate her dedication to this work.

Donor: Danielle DeWitt

Marcella Easthom

My mother was everything I aspire to be — smart, courageous, bold, loving and generous. She was a successful business woman for 40 years, joined the Navy as one of the first group of Waves during WWII and became one of five first female control tower operators in the Navy. She told me every day I could be anything I wanted to be but taught me to work hard for it. I honor her life and her legacy and miss her every day.

Donor: Carolyn Cassin

Hannah Heebner

I am honoring Hannah Heebner, who is resilient, strong and brave in both her personal and professional life. She is an inspirational leader, is willing to take chances on things she feels strongly about, and has worked harder than anyone I know to get to where she is in her career, where she constantly focuses on helping other people. Hannah is ambitious, thoughtful and caring, and is making a big impact on the world.

Donor: Karl Henkel

Jennifer Nelson

Today I honor my best friend, Jen. As a teacher, she has navigated this last year with grace and strength. As a leader in her church and in her community, she has encouraged countless individuals and walked alongside them when they needed a hand up. I admire her courage, her kindness, and her ability to face a challenge head on in her own way.

Donor: Danielle DeWitt

Kathy Parker

My Aunt Kathy is one of my favorite people! Very resultant and determined, she has weathered whatever life has thrown at her. I’ve always felt loved and connected to my Aunt. She shows her strength and warm ness at the same time. She is a role model for all, particularly women. As a working Mom, or a single Mom, she was was always there for her boys. I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I would like, unfortunately. She is always happy n my heart!

Donor: Cristine Taylor

Nancy Schwallier

In the short time that I have known and had the pleasure of working with Nancy, I have quickly learned that she is a calm, effective, and tenacious leader. She has been kind enough to mentor, answer questions and provide guidance to help me grow and learn in my career. Nancy truly cares for her team members, and strives to make sure everyone is feeling respected and appreciated. She aims to make sure each patient and their family receives the highest quality of care. And she does all of this with grace.

Donor: Danielle DeWitt

Mintee Ishmael

She is my hero. She devoted her life to educating, mentoring and guiding her family, friends and students (she was a teacher for ~30 years). She suffered a rare illness called progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and throughout her journey one can only describe her strength, resilience and courage as Extraordinary!

Donor: Sasha Ishmael

Carie Gort

I’m honoring my colleague and friend Carie Gort for her strength, resilience, eternal optimism, and hope. Carie lives her life to its fullest and puts 110 percent into everything she does. She has so much passion for the work she does at the Spectrum Health Foundation. In her spare time, Carie uses her social media to encourage others to live fuller, healthier lives by leading a couple different Facebook groups focused on wellness. She is incredibly brave and is willing to be vulnerable when she knows it can help others around her. For example, in 2019 Carie was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and throughout the month of March (Kidney Cancer Awareness Month), she is using her Facebook page to share a little bit of her story each day. I am so grateful for her friendship and the joy she brings to my life and the lives of so many others. Carie is very worthy of this recognition for International Women’s Day!

Donor: Danielle DeWitt

Meaghan Bergman

Meaghan is so genuinely passionate about making Michigan more equitable for Women. She is a trusted friend who energizes and lifts me up whenever I see her. She helps me see the best in myself while inspiring me to be better simply by her living example of strength and authenticity. I’m deeply grateful to have her in my life.

Donor: Helana Nelson