Bonnie Nawara grows women-owned businesses


Bonnie Nawara.

Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature profiles of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.

Bonnie Nawara readily concedes she has been given an incredible opportunity to develop and expand the entrepreneurial resources available for women-owned businesses — one that dovetails nicely with her skill set and community connections, setting her up to have a direct impact on the economic vitality of the Grand Rapids community.


As CEO of the nonprofit Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women for the past three years, Nawara has revamped and expanded entrepreneurial trainings to better reflect today’s learning styles and time constraints, and she has deepened the organization’s outreach within the business community.

Those efforts have included the addition of second-stage business services, the launch of a micro-lending program for the region and the development of strong alliances with the Hispanic Chamber of West Michigan, LINC and the South East Neighborhood Association.


A former business owner, Nawara cut her teeth in three different career lives, two of which were in non-traditional industries for females: as a parts manager for the Midwest service area and an owner of a printing franchise.

Nawara later spent six years as planned giving officer for the American Cancer Society, where she was named top fundraiser in the Great Lakes division five years running.

In the community

Nawara’s accomplishments include being the first female board member of the Golden K Kiwanis Club, founder of a Toastmasters chapter and leadership positions with Heart of West Michigan United Way, Economic Club of Grand Rapids, The Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Kent County Silent Observer and Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

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