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Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber to Host 5th Annual Awards Ceremony Honoring Downriver Women in Business Leadership

Recipients Announced for the 2021 Awards Ceremony

Press Release
Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber
Taylor, Michigan

For More Information, Contact:
Randy Pilon, Marketing and Events Manager
Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber
Tel: 734.284.6000 x 28
Email: rpilon@swcrc.com
*Contact also for award recipient interviews

Downriver region, MI – The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber will host the 5th annual Women of Achievement Awards presented by Beaumont Health on Friday, October 15 at 11 am. This year’s event will take place at Crystal Gardens, located at 16703 Fort Street, Southgate, MI.

This premier and elegant awards ceremony will showcase outstanding women in business and community leadership in Southeast Michigan’s Downriver region. The event will include a keynote address by Sandra Calabrese, Site Manager for General Motors’ Brownstown Battery Plant, the first major automaker battery assembly plant in America. Detroit Public TV’s Christy McDonald will return as emcee for the event.

This year, the Chamber will proudly honor recipients of the Kyle F. Stack Leadership Award, the Entrepreneur Award, the Unsung Heroine Award, and the Distinguished Young Woman Award to inspire and recognize future leaders in the region.

The 2021 award recipients have been announced, and include: Kyle F. Stack Leadership Award recipient Mia Harnos, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency; Entrepreneur Award recipient Ayana King, CEO of Maximum Communications; Unsung Heroine Award recipient Jessica Workman, Vice President of Member Experience at Advantage One Credit Union; and Distinguished Young Woman Award recipient Deidre Crockett, volunteer at Beaumont Health.

Among the many efforts that have resulted in tremendous impact at Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Mia Harnos has led the strategy to streamline wait times for residents seeking critical basic needs services, and has reduced response times from 20 minutes to three minutes for individuals who call their CONNECT Call Center. She was also instrumental in promoting “pay as you stay” legislation throughout Wayne County to help more residents obtain needed relief from past-due property taxes.

Ayana King is the founder and CEO of Maximum Communications. She launched her company by providing social media workshops to small business leaders. However, Ayana realized a great need in her community, and now provides a series of equity, diversity, and inclusion workshops to help businesses become more inclusive, improving overall outcomes and helping employers offer a more welcoming work environment.

Jessica Workman provided leadership at Advantage One Credit Union as the organization underwent a core conversion to streamline operations during the pandemic. Her direction during the conversion, along with her mentorship of other employees, were the key factors in earning the Chamber’s Unsung Heroine Award.

Deidre Crockett is a volunteer at Beaumont Health who is on her own path to becoming a healthcare professional. With a 4.42 GPA, Crockett is the valedictorian of her class and was accepted to Wayne State University’s Med Direct Program, offering her a straight path toward earning her M.D. and PhD through the university’s medical school. She plans to take her passion for healthcare and use it to help people with sickle cell anemia by becoming a geneticist.

“This signature event has become one of our region’s most highly anticipated celebrations of the year,” said Ronald J. Hinrichs, president/CEO of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber. “I am thrilled to congratulate the 2021 recipients and nominees! These remarkable women exemplify tremendous leadership and demonstrate a passionate commitment to the enhancement of our Downriver community. Their strong efforts and outstanding achievement are worthy of this recognition and more, and we are honored to have the opportunity to celebrate each of these women at this year’s prestigious awards ceremony.”

Sponsors include: Presenting sponsor Beaumont Health; Gold sponsors PNC Bank and Wayne County Community College District; Silver sponsors BASF Corporation, The Guidance Center, The News Herald, and The Senior Alliance; and Community sponsor First Merchants Bank.

This year’s award nominees included: Kyle F. Stack Leadership Award nominees Timber Baun-Crooks of City of Trenton, Patricia Lee Green of Dance Nation, Rose Angela Gronda of First Merchants Bank, Mia Harnos of Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, Kimberly Mott of Colors by Kim Salon & Spa, Mayor Patricia Odette of the City of Woodhaven and Odette & Corne Chiropractic, and Caroline F. Okonkowski, DMD of Taylor Smiles; Entrepreneur Award nominees include Jessica Bazner of Kevin James Menswear, Ayana King of Maximum Communications, Krishelle Kohler of Eldercare Home Care Group, and Diane Parker of Biggby Coffee Flat Rock; Unsung Heroine Award nominees are Bridgette Bowdler of the City of River Rouge, Barb Duran of Send Out Cards, Sandy Spradlin of Contract Furniture Solutions, Jenn Tucker of SEMCA Michigan Works, and Jessica Workman of Advantage One Credit Union; and Distinguished Young Woman Award nominees include Alyssa Angellotti of Expert Heating & Cooling in Taylor, Deidre Crockett with Beaumont Health, Makayla Green of Green’s Family Cleaning Services, Sydney Hovious of Biggby Coffee Dix-Toledo in Southgate, and Silvia Rainer of Paychex.

Community sponsorship, including recognition on event marketing and at the event is available to support this ceremony and to honor the women who lead Downriver’s business community. Sponsorship registration is now open at www.SWCRC.com or by calling 734-284-6000.

Be sure to follow the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber on Facebook at facebook.com/SWCRC and the Chamber website at www.SWCRC.com for all the latest news and events.

The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber provides businesses and organizations across the Downriver region with the opportunities and resources to engage and network with other businesses, enhancing financial growth, professional development, and the ability to contribute to a thriving community environment.



About Keynote Speaker Sandra (Sandy) Calabrese: Sandy Calabrese will be sharing her inspirational and powerful story of leadership, passion, and success within a male dominated industry. She is currently site manager at General Motors Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant. She was appointed to this position on January 1, 2021. Prior to this assignment, Ms. Calabrese served as general assembly shift leader at the Spring Hill Assembly plant. Ms. Calabrese began her career with GM in 1995 at the Massena Aluminum Casting plant in Massena, New York. She has worked at multiple GM facilities including Saginaw, Defiance, Indianapolis, and Spring Hill. Her diverse background includes roles in Engineering and Manufacturing Production, including being appointed the first female maintenance manager at Defiance Casting Operations (2011-2013). As Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant site manager, Ms. Calabrese is responsible for overseeing lithium-ion battery pack production for GM Customer Care and Aftersales. The Brownstown facility is the first battery assembly plant in the U.S. operated by a major automaker. Ms. Calabrese has been an active leader in the foundry industry serving on the National Board of Directors of the American Foundry Society (2015-19) and the Foundry Educational Foundation (2011-18). She was a founding member of Get WISE (Get Women In Science and Engineering), a non-profit organization dedicated to introducing middle-school girls to careers in science and engineering. Ms. Calabrese has also served as adjunct professor at Delta College near Bay City, MI, teaching Basic Metallurgy in the skilled-trades program. Ms. Calabrese holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering, both from Michigan Technological University. Ms. Calabrese and her husband, Marcel, have two sons, Joey 15 and Philip 13. Her husband Marcel is also a manufacturing leader at General Motors.

About Emcee Christy McDonald: Christy McDonald is the anchor/moderator and managing editor of One Detroit. She also anchors special coverage for WTVS Detroit PBS including documentaries, events and the Mackinac Policy Conference. McDonald has appeared on the PBS NewsHour and CNN reporting on Detroit’s financial crisis, Michigan politics and the 2016 Presidential Election. A sought after moderator, McDonald has led lively discussions at the Detroit Economic Club, Detroit Policy Conference, Mackinac Policy Conference, Great Lakes Conference among others. McDonald also co-moderated Gubernatorial debates in 2014 and 2018. She has appeared on WDET public radio as a guest host and panelist. McDonald is an Emmy award-winning anchor and reporter. She connected with Detroit viewers for 10 years on WXYZ-TV on the big stories, from 9/11 in New York to political corruption in the city of Detroit. She has received reporting honors from the Associated Press and Michigan Association of Broadcasters for anchoring and breaking news coverage. McDonald also has guest lectured at Michigan State, U of M Dearborn and Wayne State University. McDonald grew up in Troy and is a graduate of Troy High School. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s James Madison College with a degree in Political Philosophy. Contact Christy at cmcdonald@dptv.org or follow her on Twitter @ChristyTV.

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