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

2019 Honorees

Mary Anderson

Executive Director, Human Resources
Global Markets & Mobility, Ford Motor Company

Mary Anderson has 30 years of experience in the field of Human Resources and Organization Development. She has had the distinguished opportunity to work in three of the top companies in the world including General Electric, General Motors and Ford Motor Company. Mary has a B.A. in business and an M.A. in Human Resources & Labor Relations from Michigan State University.

She began her career at General Electric during the Jack Welch era, and over a ten year period worked for GE Medical, Aircraft Engines and Plastics. In addition to managing and executing the traditional HR functions such as recruitment, compensation planning, succession planning, employee development, labor relations and performance management, she also became certified in GE benchmark processes such as Workout, Change Acceleration (CAP), Six Sigma, Strategic Planning and Team Development.

Mary calls the Metro Detroit area home, and to broaden her sphere of experience and influence in the community, she transitioned to the Truck division of General Motors.

While at GM, Mary ran the $11 million GM Truck training organization and streamlined operations, cutting costs by $1.5 million. She launched the performance management process for GM Truck, which won the Chairman’s award and became a company best practice translated across all divisions globally.

After a successful stint with GM, Mary accepted an exciting offer to work at Ford Motor Company to lead the strategic planning process and performance management for the newly formed North American Operations. She has since held several HR positions including the lead negotiator with the UAW at the local and national levels, as well as assignments with Ford Credit and Product Development including HR oversight for more than 50k engineers, supply chain management leaders, and 9 VPs worldwide.

Mary’s current role as top HR leader for Global Markets and Mobility has provided her the opportunity to help shift Ford’s 115 year business model from traditional OEM to transportation juggernaut including setting up Argo AI – the Autonomous Vehicle subsidiary with a market cap of $4B, the formation of a new Human Centered Design organization, China Business Unit, International Markets organization, and the lead architect for running vehicle products and services as end-to-end businesses.

Mary has left a legacy at Ford by developing the first Global Organization Development practice and creating tools to improve individual, team, and organization effectiveness. She has mentored and taught countless HR professionals and business leaders how to accelerate teams to high performance, lead high-impact change efforts, create enduring strategic plans and deploy them across the business, and how to design elegant and efficient organizations to deliver results.

Mary also gives back to the community through her role on the Advisory board at MSU’s HR & Labor Relations master’s program as well as volunteering as a tutor for students at the Detroit Public Schools and Detroit Boxing Gym.

JoAnn T. Crary

President, Saginaw Future Inc.

JoAnn Crary is the President of Saginaw Future, a non-profit economic development organization. She has held that position since 1993. Crary has a Bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University and a graduate degree from Central Michigan University. She is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional. In 2015, Crary received the Fellow Member and Honorary Life Member designations by the International Economic Development Council.

Crary was the 2015 Board Chair of the 5000-member International Economic Development Council and in that role, she focused on Inclusive Economic Development. It was a top priority of the IEDC Board, the Economic Development Research Partners and work of an Equity Committee, which identified policy issues, solutions and tools around economic opportunity. Widening the circle for economic inclusiveness continues to play an important role in IEDC’s strategic plan today. JoAnn remains involved in IEDC as is a member of the Committee for Professional Conduct and the Economic Development Research Partners.

She is also a member of the MEDC’s Collaborative Development Council, an advisory group to Michigan’s economic development leaders. In 2016, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder appointed JoAnn to serve on the 21st Century Economy Commission to help recommend a vision for Michigan’s economic future and in 2017, the Governor appointed Crary to serve on the Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control.

Ms. Crary also serves on the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, DOW Community Advisory Panel, Huntington Bank Market Area Board, the City of Saginaw Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and Mobile Medical Response Finance Committee.

Kristen Hadeed

Founder, Student Maid Inc.

Kristen Hadeed is the founder of Student Maid, a successful cleaning company that has employed thousands of students over the last decade and that is known for building the next generation of leaders.

When Kristen started her journey, she had no idea what she was in for: The average turnover rate in the cleaning industry is 75%, and profit margins hover around just 15%. But even with the odds stacked against her, she built a company that blew the industry benchmarks out of the water. Her people love coming to work, they stick around for years, and some have even turned down dream jobs to join the executive team and build careers at Student Maid.

Kristen believes Student Maid’s success boils down to one thing and one thing only: creating a place with humanity at its core. A place where people feel accepted for who they are, where they are encouraged to fail and embrace their imperfections, and where they are empowered to reach their potential. Now she spends most of her time helping leaders and organizations around the world create similar environments for their people.

In 2017, she published her first book, Permission To Screw Up, in which she offers an unapologetic account of her biggest mistakes in leadership. She hopes that her vulnerability will give others the courage to open up about their own “perfectly imperfect” moments and proudly embrace them as the tremendous learning opportunities they are.

Kristen and Student Maid have been featured in news outlets including PBS, FOX, Inc., NBC, TIME, and Forbes. Her first TED Talk has more than three million views on YouTube.

Molly MacDonald

Founder & CEO, The Pink Fund

Molly MacDonald knows what it’s like to battle the financial burdens of breast cancer while undergoing treatment to battle the disease.

Diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in April 2005, the disease was unlikely to take her life, but did take her livelihood. She was between jobs and was unable to start her new job as planned. Her family’s already tight budget was immediately overburdened with the addition of a monthly COBRA health insurance payments coupled with the loss of her income.

Within months, MacDonald and her family faced the potential for catastrophic financial losses, including the loss their home. At the end of treatment when family and friends stopped delivering dinner, MacDonald was forced to use a local food bank to feed her family.

When MacDonald’s quest to Get Help was met with blank stares, she became determined to Give Help to others suffering from lost income as a result of their diagnosis and treatment.

In 2006 she founded The Pink Fund, which provides 90 days of non-medical financial aid to cover basic cost of living expenses, such as health insurance, housing, transportation and utilities.

By providing this financial bridge, The Pink Fund helps to meet basic needs, while decreasing stress levels. These factors help breast cancer patients focus on healing, and improve survivorship outcomes and quality of life.

Since its founding through June 2019, The Pink Fund has made just over $3.4 million in bill payments on behalf of breast cancer survivors in active treatment.

In 2012, Ford Motor Company, invited The Pink Fund to be one of their charity partners benefiting from the Warriors in Pink program which allowed them to serve patients in all 50 states.

For her work, MacDonald has been the recipient of many local and national awards, most recently she was named 2019 Patient Champion North America by EyeforPharma, and was recently notified she is a semi-finalist for AARP’s 2019 Purpose Prize to be awarded in November. She is a Pink Power Mom, by Kids II and Bright Starts and a Purpose Prize Fellow, presented by Encore.org for her “outstanding contributions toward solving the world’s most challenging problems in the second half of life”, Money Magazine’s 2014 Michigan Money Hero and in 2016 and 2017 was named by Ernst & Young as a Finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Michigan and Northwest Ohio. In March 2018, MacDonald was awarded NAWBO Detroit’s Philanthropic Award and named a 2018 Healthcare Hero by Crain’s Detroit Business.

She is a columnist for Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine focusing on financial wellness, a contributing writer to the American Journal of Managed Care and a member of the Advisory Board for V-Bid, Value Based Insurance Design at The University of Michigan.

The Pink Fund was a finalist, recognized as a top global cancer innovator in patient centric care by the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s inaugural Big C Competition, for its work in helping to rebuild financial health; and in 2014 and 2015 was named by Time and Money, together with Charity Navigator, as one of five national breast cancer charities worthy of your donation, where you can feel confident your dollars will be put to good use.

A passionate Patient Advocate, MacDonald is a thought leader in the breast cancer space, specifically in cancer related financial toxicity. She is a sought after keynote speaker sharing her personal struggles which led to the founding of The Pink Fund while advocating for improved patient care.

MacDonald is a graduate from The University of Michigan with a degree in journalism and has extensive work experience in journalism, public relations, marketing and sales.

A mother of five adult children, and grandmother to two grandchildren, she is happily married to Tom Pettit, best known as Tom Terrific.

Kathleen B. McCann

Executive Chairman, United Road Services Inc.

Kathleen McCann is Executive Chairman of United Road Services, North America’s largest finished vehicle logistics provider. McCann joined the vehicle-hauler in early 2011 and since has led her team through three successive private equity owners (Gores, Charlesbank, Carlyle), while tripling annual revenues. United Road enjoys an integrated national network of carriers and customers and now delivers over four million vehicles annually, up from 1.5M in 2012. In 2015, United Road spun out VTV Systems, a tech start-up leveraging United Road’s unique logistics technology, for which McCann serves on the board.

Kathleen began her career as a CPA with Coopers and Lybrand. She subsequently joined Soave Enterprises, a privately owned $2B organization with holdings in real estate, metals recycling, beer distribution, industrial services, and automotive retailing, serving in various leadership roles for over twenty years. McCann has significant experience in leading acquisitions and divestitures. Her strategic planning, execution and negotiating skills have helped her manage portfolio growth, customer and investor relationships and franchise expansion.

McCann has served on various for-profit and non-profit boards and committees during her career. In addition to United Road and Soave portfolio companies, these include the Automobile Carriers Conference of the American Trucking Associations, Detroit Regional Chamber, St. John Providence Health System, Homebanc, Matrix Human Services, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, The Fishermen’s Fund, Inland Industrial Services, and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen Cabinet, among others. Currently, McCann is a founding member of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan Board of Trustees and chairs the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Catholic Schools Council.

During her career, Kathleen has been honored with various awards, including the Aldo Maestro Leadership Award, DBusiness’ Power Women, Crain’s 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan and the Life Directions Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. She and her husband of thirty-plus years, George, reside in Northville, Michigan.

Sandy Lamerson Morrison

Former Vice President of Development,
Oakland Family Services

Sandy Morrison was Vice President of Development for Oakland Family Services. Prior to joining OFS, Sandy owned a retail store in Birmingham, Michigan. Her professional career started with the J.L. Hudson Company and the Dayton Hudson Corporation where she traveled the world to purchase and merchandise designer clothing.

Sandy is an alumni of Northwood University and currently serves on The President's Advisory Committee. A past member of the Women's Advisory Board for Women in Public Policy, The Harvard Kennedy School.

She has been very involved in the community; Served as President of The Parents Association, President of The Friends of the Arts, and chaired the Auction for Detroit Country Day school. Served on the Stewardship Committee for Christ Church Cranbrook; worked on special events and volunteered for Women’s Committee for Hospice, Michigan; tutored grade school students in Pontiac, Michigan; organized an election campaign for Michigan 48th District Court Judicial Election; organized fundraising events for University of Michigan State Regent election campaign; participated in Community Youth Athletic Associations and managed many local sports teams.

Sandy was acknowledged for outstanding service to her profession by The Michigan Retail Association, recipient of Northwood University's Outstanding Alumni Award, she was recognized and honored by The National Society of Fundraising Executives, Michigan Chapter, for her outstanding contribution as a volunteer.

She was married for almost 44 years to Dr. Daniel L. Morrison (deceased), has three married sons and six grand children that live outside of Michigan.

Rhonda Walker

News Anchor, WDIV Local 4 News
President, Rhonda Walker Foundation

Rhonda Walker has been helping Detroiters get motivated and ready for the day with her incredible energy, enthusiasm, impeccable style, and passion for her hometown for the past 20 years. A confessed morning person, this award winning talented and versatile journalist starts her day at 2:00 am to co-anchor the weekday morning newscast at WDIV-Local 4 News. A position she’s held since 2003. But for those of you who only know Rhonda Walker the Anchor Person, there is so much more.

Throughout her life, Rhonda has been committed to serving the Detroit community. Rhonda’s passion for giving back and uplifting others is shown by the nearly 75 appearances she makes throughout the year with motivational speaking and in support of charitable efforts, establishing herself as not only a leader in her profession but also for service to the greater Detroit Community.

Over the past 8 years Rhonda has been recognized by her peers, and received awards and honors from nearly 50 different community, corporate, and professional organizations, including:

  • 14 times for her Community Service including honored nationally with the -
  • 2018 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Angelo B. Henderson Community Service Award
  • 8 times for her work related to empowering youth and mentoring
  • 17 times for leadership and distinguished service; and
  • 10 times for professional media related awards
Her scores of awards and numerous accolades include honors from the NAACP, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, FCA Standing Ovation Award (2019), News/Talk WJR 760am, YWCA, NAWBO, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, Art Van Award of Hope and 6 consecutive years of “Best News Anchor Awards” from Hour Detroit Magazine (2014-2019). And Best News Anchor Awards from the Michigan Chronicle (2016-2018).

Rhonda is an active member of the Renaissance Chapter of the Links Inc. and a Board Trustee at Harper/Hutzel and Detroit Receiving Hospitals.

Rhonda is also the founder and president of the Rhonda Walker Foundation, now in its 16th year. To date the foundations award-winning, comprehensive five-year Girls into Women education, career and personal development, mentoring and college prep programming has resulted in 100% high school graduation and college enrollment rates among the inner city teen girls that complete the program, along with a 95% college graduation rate. Rhonda helped launch the foundations comprehensive college prep initiative that provides year-round tutoring in all subjects and ACT/SAT test prep courses starting in the 8th grade and helped launch the award winning Give and Get Fit program in 2011 to promote healthy lifestyles among the RWF teens and families and raise community awareness about health, fitness and nutrition. The foundation is also excited to launch it’s after school Girls into Women Academy at partner middle schools in spring 2019. For more information about the foundation visit http://rhondawalkerfoundation.org/

Born in Detroit and raised in Lansing, Rhonda holds a degree in Communications from Michigan State University. In her spare time Rhonda is an avid golfer and loves to travel, shop, dine out, enjoy Michigan summers, volunteer and spend quality time with family and friends.

Previous Honorees


Bobbie Arnold

DW ’19

Nancy Barker

DW ’70

Yvonne Crum

DW ’01

Eileen Curtis

DW ’17

Catherine Eklund Mares

DW ’03

Susanne Forbes Dicker

DW ’84

Pamela Good

DW ’17

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: