Distinguished Women

The Distinguished Women Awards Gala & Events

Save the Date -
Saturday, November 2, 2019

To be held at:
Horizons Conference Center
6200 State St, Saginaw, MI 48603

Presented By

Northwood University


To make a donation to the
Distinguished Women Program directly,
click Donate.

For details regarding 2019 sponsorship information, please contact Ashleigh Summers.


The Distinguished Women Award

Forty-nine years ago, the Distinguished Women Award was created by the Northwood University Board of Trustees to honor the enormous contributions of women. The award is a recognition of excellence. The recipients represent the values Northwood espouses for its own students: commitment to free enterprise, the partnership of arts and business, and the management of global commerce. The honorees serve as role models for Northwood University students.

The Distinguished Women Award is bestowed at a multi-day celebration held annually and never given in absentia. The honorees receive their award in the form of a unique bronze medallion at an evening gala.

This event creates an occasion to bring Northwood University to the attention of those who share a dedication to its principles of higher education. We encourage the Distinguished Women to become involved with the University and its students, and to participate in the growth of the Distinguished Women Endowed Scholarship Fund.

For more information contact Ashleigh Summers, Director of Signature Programs & Special Gifts at 989.837.4465 or summersa@northwood.edu

2018 Honorees

Roberta (Bobbie) Arnold

President and CEO of Charles J. Strosacker Foundation

Bobbie Nelson Arnold is the President/ CEO of the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation in Midland, Michigan. In her role, she reviews grants, meets with organizations and individuals to discuss their needs and goals, and is active in the community as she guides the family foundation to the next generation. She currently serves on the MidMichigan Health Corporate Board, former chair of the board; DDA of the City of Midland, Session of the Bertha E.R. Strosacker Memorial Presbyterian Church and several committees in the region. She is a past board member of the Council of Michigan Foundations, Michigan Humanities Council and Wolverine Bancorp. She and several friends founded the Midland 100 Club, which serves as a giving circle and currently has more than 300 members. The impact into the community has been more than $400,000.

Bobbie has been married to David Arnold for 44 years and they have three children. Kim, Karie and EJ make Midland their home and they have blessed the family with six grandchildren. David’s job took the family to many different states and they have had more than 20 addresses. David has retired and volunteers at Northwood during the football season and spends the winter in Florida.

Currently Bobbie’s favorite role is grandma and she spends as much time as possible with her family. She gardens, cooks and enjoys time at their cabin at Wixom Lake and time in Florida.

Mary Callaghan Lynch

professional opera singer, founder of Motor City Lyric Opera, and Vocalist with Lynch and Sons Funeral Directors

Mary Callaghan Lynch ’76 has sung for a pope and first lady, for family and friends and thousands of strangers, in Europe and all across America, but bringing music to those who might otherwise have never heard such things is the gift that has given meaning to her life. As the founding director of The Motor City Lyric Opera, Mary has put to highest and best use her God-given talents, her education and the rich legacy of her late parents.

The daughter of Mary O’Brien Callaghan, from whom she inherited her fine soprano, and church organist, John Callaghan, who taught at Marygrove and was Music Director at St. Bernard’s & St. Catherine’s of Detroit and Holy Name Parish in Birmingham, Mary grew up in an Irish Catholic family that observed the liturgical calendar and marked its occasions with song and drama and holy music. Her parents believed in St. Augustine’s dictum: Qui cantat, bis orat - “who sings, prays twice” and with eighteen children, there was never a shortage of song or prayer in the Callaghan home.

A theater major, Mary Callaghan was singing professionally even before earning her Fine Arts degree from Marygrove, appearing in Michigan Opera productions as an undergrad. All through school she would sing for funerals at Holy Name Church. It was there that a young funeral director, Patrick Lynch, first heard her sing and begged the priest for an introduction. They were married on June 17, 1977.

Mary was soon singing major roles with Michigan Opera Theatre, Dayton Opera, Toledo Opera and Glimmerglass Opera of New York. She starred in the hit musical, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? and performed at the Village Gate Theatre in New York, Northlight Theatre in Chicago and L’Opera de Montreal. She has starred in over forty musical productions while raising a family and assisting her husband at Lynch & Sons.

For more than a decade Mary has served as voice coach for Aretha Franklin. She prepared “The Queen of Soul” to sing Pavarotti’s signature aria, “Nessun Dorma,” at the Waldorf Astoria in 1998 and a week later at the Grammy Awards to great acclaim. Mary has traveled extensively with Aretha for performances across the United States.

Mary has done benefit concerts for Angel’s Place, the Christ Child Society and for Haitian relief among many other charities. As a benefit for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), she produced the one-act opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. The performance at the IHM Motherhouse in Monroe, Michigan, was such a huge success that it was presented again at the Music Hall Center in 2001, the 50th anniversary of its first performance. Mary produced this performance and arranged to bring composer Gian-Carlo Menotti from his home in Scotland to direct. This production was later filmed and broadcast on local Detroit stations. These events gave her the vision for The Motor City Lyric Opera to bring music to the disadvantaged and underserved. Since its founding in 2002, it has taken opera to schools, senior centers, treatment centers and families all over Metro Detroit.

According to Mary’s son, Paddy, his mother established The Motor City Lyric Opera with the primary mission of bringing music—with an emphasis on ethics – to both educate and inspire others. With advance study guides, audiences are able to fully appreciate these presentations from The Goose Girl to Mozart to Les Misérables to Schubert to Showboat. Each performance includes a “talk back” when audience members interact with singers and musicians. Mary emphasizes that the music is never amplified, a first for many who hear it. She has added The Motor City Lyric Children’s Chorus, who, along with local musicians and poets, perform in mid-March at Mary’s annual “Patricktide” celebration. The Motor City Lyric Opera has brought its gifts to over 80,000 children and their families free of charge.

Mary’s husband writes, “With all her successes, Mary still possesses the same angel’s voice I fell in love with years ago... She has used her musical talents to comfort the bereaved at hundreds of funeral masses.”

Daughter Caitlin, also a professional soprano, adds that her mother has appeared in feature films—Whip It, Secrets in the Wall and Salvation Boulevard where she portrays Pierce Brosnan’s secretary. She has done innumerable commercials and radio work throughout her career and is an active member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, The American Federation of Radio and Television Artists and The Actor’s Equity.

Pat’s brother, Thomas Lynch writes, “My sister-in-law lives out the lessons of her education at Marygrove—competence, compassion and commitment—in her personal and professional life. Music as voice of worship, prayer, community and thanksgiving has been the art and practice of her life.”

Karen S. Carter

Chief Inclusion Officer at Dow Chemical

Karen S. Carter serves as the Chief Inclusion Officer for the Dow Chemical Company. Carter is responsible globally for guiding and directing Dow’s efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive environment and workforce, building off the progress the Company has made in recent years. As Dow’s first Chief Inclusion Officer, she will lead a team to drive Dow into the forefront of inclusive companies and integrate diversity and inclusion as a key driver and enabler of the Company’s growth strategy.

Carter has more than 20 years of experience with Dow. Before assuming her current responsibilities, Carter held the role of North America commercial vice president, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics (P&SP). In her role, Carter was a member of the global business leadership team and was responsible for the overall profit & loss of P&SP’s North America region, which is part of Dow’s Performance Plastics Division and represents more than $18.4B in sales. Her responsibilities included developing and driving the business strategy and delivering value creation initiatives that would help better serve customers and the entire industry.

Carter has held the position of global business director for Dow P&SP as well and was responsible for the Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and Slurry Polyethylene value centers. Prior to that, she was a global marketing director leading the global strategy for all downstream engagements within the packaging value chain to develop new business opportunities and deliver solutions for sustainable packaging. Carter has also held roles with Building and Construction, Gas Phase Polyethylene, Engineering Thermoplastics, Fabricated Products and Information Technology Equipment and Consumer Electronics.

Carter is a board member of Kids’ Meal, a non-profit organization in Houston, TX that seeks to end childhood hunger by delivering free, healthy meals. She is an active member of The Links, Inc. which serves the Houston community through educational, civic and intercultural activities. Carter is also a previous member of the Dow Kakoh Kabushiki Kaisha board of directors, a joint venture between Sumitomo Chemical Company, Limited and The Dow Chemical Company, and was board chair of the Adoption Option, Inc. board of directors. Carter has also been published in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association and featured in the Huffington Post and MORE Magazine.

Carter has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Howard University and a master’s degree in international business from DePaul University. She has also completed various executive training programs including the Young Executive’s Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Strategic Leadership Program at China Europe International Business School, and the International Program at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. In 2014, Carter was named to the prestigious Forty Women to Watch Over 40 list for her innovative leadership contributions. In 2018, Carter was named a Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise.

Dolly Plaster Clement

Executive Director of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation

Dr. Clement is a veterinarian and owned her own small animal practice for 15 years. After her father passed away, she took the reins of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation as executive director. Dr. Clement is active in church, Boy Scouts, the NRA, and Rotary Club, among other things. She is on the Mercy Health Foundation and Ozarks Technical Community College Foundation Boards. She supports organizations fostering belief in Christ, free enterprise and pride in America. She has earned her single and multi-engine pilot’s licenses. Dr. Clement married an Eagle Scout and now has two sons who are also Eagle Scouts. She and her husband Tom are active raising their two boys and enjoy horseback riding and shooting sports.

Lisa Phillips

Principal of Cass Technical High School

Principal Lisa Phillips has been at the helm of Cass Technical High School, a nationally-recognized, college-preparatory school of excellence since 2010. Principal Phillips’ accomplishments are both copious and phenomenal. To begin, Cass Technical High School has the largest student body in the city with over 2,400 pupils. Additionally, Cass Tech has a college entrance rate of 98% and this year earned over $64 million in scholarships. Over the last 5 years, Cass Tech seniors have earned nearly $300 million in scholarship and some grants, Also noteworthy, Cass Tech became the first, and remains the only, International Baccalaureate High School within Detroit Public Schools Community District, under Principal Phillips’ leadership.

Principal Phillips’ goal has been to create and expand invaluable programs/partnerships that will enrich the lives of Cass Tech students. During her tenure at Cass Technical High School, Mrs. Phillips was instrumental in implementing the STEM Education Project, which promotes science, technology, engineering and math opportunities. Principal Phillips also implemented the Underwater Robotics Projects where students build their own robots and compete in local competitions. Additionally, Principal Phillips was instrumental in the implementation of the CT Greenhouse which creates extended learning classrooms in which students learn to grow healthy vegetables through hydroponic practices. Under Principal Phillips’ leadership, students are able to participate in the Wayne County Dual Enrollment Program which allows students to take college classes for four years resulting in an Associate’s Degree upon graduation from Cass Tech. In the last 5 years, Cass had graduated over 100 seniors in high school from WC3 simultaneously. Additionally, Principal Phillips’ leadership made way for the University of Michigan’s Doctors of Tomorrow Program to partner with Cass Tech students. This program allows University of Michigan medical students to mentor Cass Tech students in all aspects of medicine as they attend medical school once a month introducing them to the medical field prior to college. Lastly, Mrs. Phillips created pathways for students to earn on the job experience through paid summer internships. Mrs. Phillips partnered with the Ilitch Holdings, UAW-Ford, Chrysler-Walbridge and Mercedes Benz summer internships which have afforded over 400 students opportunities to work with business executives in the fields of accounting, communications, entertainment, retail, automotive design, engineering, construction, and more. The plethora of partnerships, programs, internships and scholarships that Principal Phillips has secured during her tenure is evidence that she always puts students and education first.

Principal Phillips has had the opportunity to see so many students graduate from high school and continue their academic journey to four-year universities/colleges with thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants because of her leadership. However, Mrs. Phillips’ dedication to her students does not end at graduation. Mrs. Phillips observed that so many Cass Tech graduates lacked the funds needed to afford the necessities to start their college careers. As a result, Mrs. Phillips created The “Bridging to College” - Senior Open House” for Graduates Program. Through the creation of this program, Principal Phillips was able to secure care packages and priceless commitments for CT seniors as long as they attend college. The students received everything they needed to begin their college life. To date, she has been able to help over 600 students through sponsors and their generosity. Next year-2019, Principal Phillips has made another mission to assist all students in Detroit Public School Community District that need help bridging the financial gap to make it to college.

Principal Phillips’ leadership extends beyond academics. Under her leadership, Cass Tech has excelled in the fields of athletics and the arts. Cass has the most scholar-athletes of any other high school in the region and is one of the most sought-after schools for National Signing Day. The Cass Tech Football team has won three-state championships; and Cass Tech’s basketball, baseball, swimming, tennis, golf, volleyball, and cross-country teams have all won city and state championships and continue to be a force to be reckoned with. With a new state-of-the-art recording studio built by CT Alum Artist Big Sean and Adidas, students from the music and drama departments can explore their talents and receive training from top music producers and talent scouts.

Principal Phillips’ excellence in leadership has been celebrated widely. She was nominated as “Teacher of the Year” in 1998 for WDIV/Newsweek!! Additionally, Principal Phillips’ was named 2014 National Principal of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) and received the 2014 Michigan Chronicle “Women of Excellence” Award. In February of 2016, the Michigan Lottery honored Mrs. Phillips with a radio and television tribute distinguishing her for Excellence in Education and as an Outstanding Principal and Educator. Just this year, Mrs. Phillips was nominated and won “The Best in Black Detroit” as Best Principal, Best High School, for the 2016 and 2017. She was named “Principal of the Year for the State of Michigan-2017”. She is the first African American women to receive this honor.

Through her hard work and willingness to lead, Principal Phillips has truly continued the legacy of Cass Tech as a jewel and a beacon of light for the city and the school system. Principal Phillips is truly an exceptional leader whose vision, influence and zeal have made a tremendous mark on the landscape of education.

Principal Phillips’ proven record of success is evidence that she takes her role in education seriously and is greatly dedicated to the success of her students. Mrs. Phillips ethic of success extends beyond her profession. Perhaps her greatest joy and best record of success is being married to Ronnie Phillips for 34 years and the mother of Jasmine and Ronnie Phillips. Mrs. Phillips is a graduate of Mumford High School, Alabama State University, Wayne State University. She has also studied at Harvard University (2005) and Oxford University (2007).

Annette Rummel

President/CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureaus of Bay County, Midland County and Saginaw County

Annette Rummel has been President and Chief Executive Officer of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureaus of Bay County, Midland and Saginaw Counties since 2009. Prior to this, Annette served as the President/CEO of the Saginaw County Convention & Visitors Bureau and also President/CEO of the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau. She has served the Michigan travel and tourism industry for more than 30 years.

Annette is a graduate of Delta College, Saginaw, Michigan; Northwood University, Midland, Michigan; received her Master of Science from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York and her Ph.D. from Michigan State University from the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the area of Park, Recreation and Tourism Resource Studies.

Annette and her husband William reside in Frankenmuth, Michigan. They are the parents of daughter Elizabeth and husband Brandon Semrau and daughter Sarah Rummel.

Linda Schinkel Rodney

Founder, General & Counsel and Artist of Shinkle Fine Art

Linda Schinkel Rodney is CEO, General Counsel and Managing Partner of Shinkle Fine Art, a business she started with her two sons to create original art touching and engaging lives to make the world a better place. Prior to this time, Linda practiced law both in private practice and as corporate counsel. Recently Linda acquired the oldest brick dwelling in the city of Detroit, formerly known as the Moross House Museum. This property currently serves as their art studio and showroom and is being developed into an Event Space. Through restoring this historic property Linda plans to leave an enduring legacy to the city of her birth.

Linda creates as part of an Artist Duo; the other part of the Duo is her eldest son, Theodore Shinkle. Together they create their award winning original medium, known as Metalagram® - two-dimensional mixed media sculpture. They etch, engrave, grind, print and paint images made from their photography and digital art culminating with an automotive finish – truly a medium born in Detroit. Awards include London England Biennale, Chianti Star Festival, Tuscany, Italy, Best of Show for Art, Innovation & Technology Beverly Hills, CA and selected one of the top 50 Emerging Artists by Art Business News. Numerous articles and publications of their artwork include those in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, A& E Network, Art Business News, Ambassador Magazine, Style Magazine and Worldwide Art Books. National and international Exhibitions and Installations include, Grand Palais Museum, Paris, France, Cranbrook Institute of Science Museum, Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art, London Biennale, Office of Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, Detroit Country Day School, Detroit Music Festival, Escada USA, Henry Ford Health System Ford Hospital, Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital, Carr Center and. Their luminous multi-dimensional artwork is collected worldwide.

Linda has served as a Director and corporate officer on numerous corporate and non-profit Boards, including Centaur, Inc., and Heidtman Steel Products, Inc., Director and Board Secretary, Junior League Public Affairs Statewide Director and Chair, Mackinac Center for Public Policy Treasurer and Board Director, State Board of Canvassers, Chair and Vice-Chair (Gubernatorial appointment from Governor John Engler) Detroit Country Day School Upper School Board Director, Detroit Country Day School Fine Art Committee Board Director and Bloomfield Village Garden Club Director and President. Linda has created art with community groups including Cranbrook Institute of Science Museum, Kids Kicking Cancer, Carr Center and Beyond Basics. Linda is licensed to practice law in Michigan and Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Literature, Science and Arts from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Her undergraduate studies included studies in Art and French at the Sorbonne, University of Paris, Paris, France. Linda earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Toledo College of Law, Toledo, Ohio where she served as a Director on the Law Review Editorial Board. Linda has lived, worked and traveled on six continents.

Previous Honorees


Nancy Barker

DW ’70

Yvonne Crum

DW ’01

Catherine Eklund Mares

DW ’03

Susanne Forbes Dicker

DW ’84

Marge Hohman

DW ’85

Tommie Pardue

DW ’02

Brenda Rowley

DW ’15

Patricia Rhodes-Prowse

DW ’11

Patricia Shaheen

DW ’16

Linda Solomon

DW ’02

Deborah Stephens

DW ’16

Lynn Stinson

DW ’14

Pat Kerr Tigrett

DW ’11

2018 Sponsors

DW Honorees Only: