Chambers name lakeshore ATHENA winners


Helen Zeerip, president of Teddy’s Transport in Holland, holds her 2014 Lakeshore ATHENA Award.

The lakeshore business community recently honored two women for their work within their professions, communities and in the lives of other women.

During the 10th annual Lakeshore ATHENA Award luncheon this week at the Trillium Events space in Spring Lake, Helen Zeerip, president of Teddy’s Transport in Holland, won the 2014 Lakeshore ATHENA Award, and Kris College, program director of Kids’ Food Basket in Muskegon, won the inaugural Young Professional Leadership Award.

The awards luncheon also recognized 25 female finalists, who live and work along the lakeshore, for the awards.

Dwana Thompson, chairperson for the Lakeshore ATHENA Award program, said the finalists were honored in front of an audience of more than 360 people from the area's businesses and communities.

“We are honored to have so many women from our region that make significant contributions in the communities where they live and work,” Thompson said.

Lakeshore ATHENA Award winner

For the ATHENA Award winner Zeerip, sales have increased dramatically at Teddy’s Transport, a nationwide expediting service, under her leadership since 1997.

In 2013, the trucking company specializing in local pickup and delivery was named the Family Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and was recognized as one of the nation’s 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies by Inc., due to its 25 percent revenue growth from $5.8 million in 2008 to $7.2 million in revenue 2011.

Zeerip’s leadership extends to her service on the Business Advisory Board for the Business College at Davenport University and as director on the board at Pathways, MI, which is an organization providing responsive and compassionate service to individuals, families and communities.

Teddy’s Transport also supports a variety of local and international charities: Beacon of Hope, Habitat for Humanity, Holland Area Arts Council, Holland City Mission, Wings of Hope Hospice of Allegan County, Disabled American Veterans, Paradise Bound Ministries, Samaritan’s Purse and World Gospel Mission.

Lakeshore ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award winner

College was named the young professional winner based on her demonstration as an emerging leader in her field — who is 40 or younger, with a minimum of five years of professional experience — and her service as a role model for young women personally and professionally.

As program director, College oversees the Sack Supper program at Kids’ Food Basket in Muskegon, which was introduced at Martin Luther King Elementary in 2012 and has grown to serve nutritious evening meals each weekday night to approximately 600 children.

The team has also increased volunteerism by 1,300 percent and has developed sustainability partnerships within the community.

College previously served with the Jaycees, a leadership training and civic organization, and AmeriCorps, which is an organization for national and community service. While involved with AmeriCorps, College directed a team of 21 members, service-learning projects and addressed community issues, such as gang violence and teen pregnancy.

Nomination process

The lakeshore award program recognizes people who live and work in Ottawa, Allegan or Muskegon counties.

The program is run jointly by three chambers: the Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce.

Nominees are chosen by a selection committee consisting of community leaders.

The committee considers several criteria in making the nominations: established as a leader and mentor who assists women in reaching their potential; demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in their profession; exhibits the spirit of regional collaboration; and for young professionals, serves as a role model for young women personally and professionally. 

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