I started down my path to leadership as a child growing up in Hesperia, a small town in western Michigan. My parents always set high expectations for my siblings and me. They taught us the value of obtaining a college education and emphasized that it was not an option, but a must. As a result, we were the first generation to graduate from college. My mother taught me to treat others with respect, and exemplified the values of a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence with her famous saying: “If a task is once begun never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor big or small, do it well or not at all.”

I was blessed to have older brothers and sisters who excelled academically and athletically, which set a great example and laid the groundwork for my success. Watching them succeed helped me realize my own potential. I knew that my education would aid me in life, but it was up to me to work hard and seize the opportunities presented.
I credit my track and field experience for developing my competitive side, fueling my indomitable desire, and teaching me the importance of teamwork. In business, as in sports, you might face difficulties, but it’s how you respond and work through those challenges that define who you are.

Along the way, my family, friends, and other mentors saw my potential and motivated me to always work hard and do my best. In college, I was uncomfortable with public speaking, but my professor, Dr. Leroy Ray, encouraged me to speak. Early in my career, I had two managers, George Richards and Linda Forte, who made sure I was given challenging assignments, because they knew it would help me grow and develop as a professional. In addition, my husband, Chris, is a constant source of support, advice, and, of course, love.

No matter how far you advance in your career you can always improve. Therefore, I’ve made a conscious effort to seek candid feedback and not only hone my existing skills, but also add new skills through community service and professional development opportunities. I hope to remain a role model and mentor for those younger than me.

How has education affected your career?

Education not only provided me with a strong academic foundation but also, through several college professors who took a personal interest in me, helped me develop as a professional and learn how to gain the experience and exposure to be successful.

What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?

I believe it takes a professional who is willing to work hard, exemplify ethics and integrity in all she does, continually improve her skills, and always treat everyone with respect.