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Northwood University Announces Outstanding Business Leaders Class of 2022

February 14, 2022

Inductees to be honored during gala at Henry Ford Museum

Northwood University will be honoring the Class of 2022 Outstanding Business Leaders during an April 23 awards ceremony at the Henry Ford Museum.

“This is the first time this ceremony will be held in Michigan, and we couldn’t be more thankful to have the iconic Henry Ford Museum as the setting of our gala,” said Northwood University President Kent MacDonald. “Our sponsors have been very supportive of the move to Michigan, as it is closer in proximity to our Midland campus and has the largest concentration of Northwood alumni in the region.”

The Outstanding Business Leader award honors men and women from across the world who have made a difference in their business and community.

The 2022 Class of honorees includes:

  • Jim Fitterling, Chairman and CEO, Dow

  • Michael LaFontaine Sr., President, LaFontaine Automotive Group

  • Bill Long, President and CEO, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA)

  • Ben Manthei, Managing Partner, Redi-Rock International

  • Lisa McClain, U.S. Congresswoman representing Michigan’s 10th District

  • Andra Rush, CEO, Dakkota Systems

  • Angela Steele, Publicis Groupe

In addition, Manik Thapar, owner of Eco Wise Waste Management in Uttar Pradesh, India, will be honored with the Richard M. DeVos Young Entrepreneur Award.


Northwood University annually recognizes a select group of business professionals for their achievements, support and exemplary leadership of the communities in which they live and work. These individuals serve as role models for Northwood University students as they share their experiences and obstacles they have encountered, in addition to how they overcame them while on the road to success.

In the four decades since the program began, more than 300 business leaders from more than 30 states and several countries, have been recognized. These honorees represent a vast, diverse, group of people from dozens of industries and fields of business expertise.

The Outstanding Business Leader Awards are presented by the Northwood University Board of Trustees. Each awardee is selected based on personal achievements which typify the unique philosophy of Northwood University. Criteria used in the selection of awardees include a contribution to the philosophy of private enterprise, support of the integration of business and the arts, contribution to education, economic innovation, creative marketing ideas, community involvement, religious leadership, philanthropic contributions, as well as business success. All honorees past and present serve as role models for Northwood University students.

Northwood University bestows the tremendous honor of the Outstanding Business Leader Award over a multi-day celebration ending with a formal gala event where the members will receive an engraved crystal recognizing their honor. The 2022 gala will be held Saturday, April 23, at The Henry Ford Museum, 20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, Michigan.

If you’d like to celebrate one of our honorees, sponsorships are available. Proceeds from the event will fund endowed scholarships. To learn more, please call Jessica Hufford at (989) 837-4465 or email . To see event details, please visit the OBL event web page.

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