November 4, 2011

Women Leaders Continue to Make a Difference

Last week IBM appointed Virginia Rometty as its first-ever female CEO. The move was hailed by MSNBC as both “symbolic” and “potentially game-changing” for the IT industry which, unlike many of its counterparts, is a field still made up predominantly of men.

As our own Dr. Todd Thomas, associate professor of leadership at the DeVos Graduate School noted, this move, “...shows there might be some activity going on in large companies about identifying female talent in the leadership pool, and also a willingness to adapt to different leadership styles.” (See full story at:

While the real and lasting role women leaders have and continue to play works out in various sectors, their place at Northwood University is a long-established fact. Indeed, women leaders have been at the forefront of Northwood since its founding and for over four decades we have led the way in recognizing and honoring leading women in business with our Annual Distinguished Women Awards.

The 2011 Northwood University Distinguished Women Awards

This weekend, Northwood University will honor eight women leaders as part of the 42nd Distinguished Women Awards. This year’s class brings the total number of honorees to date to 441 and, like their predecessors, our 2011 honorees are notable both for the level of their achievement and its relationship to the philosophy of The Northwood Idea. This year’s class is an extraordinary gathering of leaders who typify the exceptionalism that gave rise to the United States and other leading nations around the world.

One illustration of this is The Distinguished Women’s Endowed Scholarship Fund which was established in 1993. Each year, qualifying female students in their junior or senior year at Northwood are awarded scholarships to help ensure the completion of their formal education and set them on a solid footing in both work and life. Like our class of DWs, our 2011 scholarship recipients are themselves sources of hope and inspiration and prime examples of the benefits that come from supporting talented and promising students.

This year’s recipients are: 

  • Abbey Burkhardt, a senior on the Texas Campus majoring in International Business – hometown is Grand Prairie, Texas
  • Jennette Cobb, a senior on the Michigan Campus, double majoring in Advertising & Marketing and Management with a minor in Fashion Marketing – hometown is Grandville, Michigan
  • Kayla Duncan, a senior on the Florida Campus majoring in Business Management  – hometown is West Palm Beach, Florida

The 2011 Northwood University Class of Distinguished Women honorees are:  

  • Robyn Baker Flatt, – Co-founder of the Dallas Children’s Theater – Dallas, Texas
  • Brenda L. Hill-Riggins, co-owner of MARS Contractors, Inc., certified life coach, a motivational speaker and an author of Pregnant With a VisionMiami, Florida
  • Janet Pollman Kafka, principal at Janet Kafka and Associates – Dallas, Texas
  • Stacie McDavid, vice president of the board of the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, champion non-professional cutting horse rider and breeder and former professional model – Fort Worth, Texas
  • Kimberly J. McWaters, CEO of Universal Technical Institute, Inc., and board member, Penske Automotive Group – Phoenix, Arizona
  • Patricia Rhodes-Prowse, one of America’s top fashion designers specializing in Haute Couture special occasion dresses with a permanent fashion display in the Chicago Historical Society Museum – Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • D’Andra C. Simmons, founder and CEO the skin care line Hard Night Good Morning; co-author of Natural Guide For Healthy Living; co-host of  the daily cable TV talk show “Ultimate Living with D’Andra and Dee” and former professional model – Dallas, Texas
  • Pat Kerr Tigrett, Chairman/CEO of Pat Kerr, Inc., fashion designer, patron of Memphis Music and philanthropist – Memphis, Tennessee

Please join me in congratulating the 2011 Class of Distinguished Women and DW Endowed Scholarship Fund recipients. 

Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640
989.837.4203 (phone)
989.832.9590 (fax)