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Inspirational women honored

Becky Vargo • Oct 3, 2018 at 9:00 AM

MUSKEGON — Inspiring other women to have a voice was the theme carried through by the keynote speaker and award recipients at the 14th annual Athena of the Lakeshore leadership award luncheon, which took place Tuesday at the Muskegon Country Club.

Mary Boyd of Norton Shores, the chief integration officer for Trinity Health Michigan, was presented with this year’s Athena Award.

The Young Professional Award was given to Meghan Heritage of Grand Haven, founder and owner of BlueWest Properties.

Keynote speaker Carol Valade, immediate past editor of Gemini Publications and the 2012 Grand Rapids Athena recipient, encouraged women to take a risk — even in the face of being ridiculed and not believed — to help make a path for other women.

“Use your voice,” she said. “It’s not really about you. It’s about helping others.”

Heritage echoed the speaker and said it was important for women to champion women, as well as for men to champion men. She encouraged attendees to tell others that “they are amazing.”

“People rise to the occasion of being the person we tell them they are,” Heritage said.

Heritage began her career as a teacher at an inner-city school district with gang activity. She received the New Teacher of the Year award after leading students as a forensic and debate coach to a national competition. She said she recognized at the time that people could accomplish a lot more together than they could apart.

Heritage eventually transitioned from education to land development and real estate. The broker prides herself on not selling clients, but instead educating them on all options to make their choices. 

Her business accomplishments include building a woman-owned, top-producing real estate brokerage with a philanthropical initiative of giving away a portion of the brokerage proceeds to local charities.

Heritage is a member of the Grand Haven Rotary, The Chamber of Commerce, West Michigan Association of Realtors, Michigan and National Association of Realtors, Center for Women in Transition, First Presbyterian Church, 100 Women Who Care, Tri-Cities Ministries, Love in Action, Camp Bluebird, Kids Food Basket, Extended Grace Momentum Center, and United Way Lighthouse Circle.

“Mentoring others, sharing time, talent and treasures has become the hallmark of this year’s recipient,” her nomination stated.

Boyd started her career in business finance and has held roles of increasing responsibility as she moved along in her career. Mentoring other women has been important in her journey, she said.

“She is approachable, available and committed to seeing women succeed in their career aspirations,” her nomination document cited.

Nancy Crandall, the 2005 Athena Award recipient, made the presentation to Boyd.

“(Boyd) strives to make her community a great place to live, work and play as she spends countless hours as an active community volunteer,” Crandall noted. “She currently serves on several boards and has received many accolades for her leadership and involvement. As an accomplished health care executive and community supporter, she has held many roles within Mercy Health West Michigan over the past 26 years.

Currently, Boyd is responsible for integrating operations and policies, as well as implementing best practices across eight hospitals and more than 60 ambulatory sites within a network of nearly 1,400 providers.

Boyd said she was honored to be among the nominees, let alone the winner of the award.

“They are all such accomplished women,” she said.

This year featured nine Athena Award finalists and four Athena Young Professional Award finalists.

Other than Boyd, the finalists were: Zaneta Adams, William Hughes PLLC; Jennifer Bustard, Mona Shores Public Schools; Pam Curtis, Senior Resources of West Michigan; Kimberly Maguire, Mercy Health Muskegon; Julia Rupp, HealthWest; Brianna Scott, Brianna T. Scott & Associates PLLC; Chris Weavers-Stevenson, JW’s and J-Dubs; and Barbara Lee VanHorssen, Extended Grace. The young professional finalists were Heritage; Sara Barco, Weiss Chiropractic; Dena Isabell, Consumers Energy; and Cece Riley, HealthWest.

The Athena on the Lakeshore Award Luncheon is a program of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and The Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg. Athena International is a non-profit organization created in 1982 to support, develop and honor women leaders. The vision, developed by Martha Mertz of Lansing, was to recognize women’s strengths and contributions as leaders so they could no longer be dismissed.

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