Michigan Women Forward to honor Hall of Fame inductees

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A women’s community development organization will induct six women into its Hall of Fame next week and continue the celebration into November at virtual and in-person events.

Detroit-based Michigan Women Forward (MWF) — which has locations in Grand Rapids and Lansing — will honor the 2021 Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame inductees with a virtual induction ceremony at noon Tuesday, Oct. 26.

This year’s cohort of Hall of Famers are Debra White-Hunt, Diana Sieger and Rosalind “Roz” Brewer, with historical inductees including the late Lila Neuenfelt, Sarah E. Ray and Fannie B. Peck. The six honorees join the 333 women already in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

The festivities will continue with in-person and virtual meet-and-greet events featuring the contemporary inductees:

Detroit in-person meet and greet: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, at the Durfee Innovation Society with White-Hunt and Sieger

Grand Rapids in-person meet and greet: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the St. Nicholas Cultural Center with White-Hunt and Sieger

Virtual meet and greet: 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, via Zoom with Brewer.

The cost of the virtual induction ceremony, at which attendees will hear from the three living inductees, is included with the purchase of a meet-and-greet ticket. The in-person meet and greets will include networking, drinks and appetizers. Ticket prices range from $60-$100 and can be purchased on MWF’s event page.

“We are so proud and excited to welcome these six powerful women into our Hall of Fame,” said Carolyn Cassin, MWF president and CEO. “Their stories of perseverance, innovation and inspiration will resonate with women in Michigan for years to come.”

Brewer is the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and a member of the WBA board of directors. She leads more than 450,000 colleagues whose goal is to help people across the world live healthier and happier lives.

Sieger has been the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) president for more than 30 years and is an advocate for racial justice. She helped raise more than $5 million to address the COVID-19 health crisis and immerses herself in community issues, making contributions to causes such as the Our LGBTQ Fund and Our African American Heritage Fund.

White-Hunt is a retired Detroit Public Schools teacher and the co-founder and artistic director of Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy (DWDA). She established the DWDA mentoring program to train student dancers on classroom and business assistance and has earned many awards for her work.

Ray graduated from a secretarial training course as the only African American in the class. To celebrate, she boarded the SS Columbia but was removed due to her race. This was one of the test cases that led to the 1954 Brown v. Board Education decision. Later, she founded Action House in Detroit to provide safe after-school care, cultural enrichment, academic instruction and food to dozens of families.

Neuenfelt was the first female circuit court judge in Michigan and fought for married women during the 1930s and ’40s for the right to use their birth name. She also served as president of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) for two years.

Peck was the first national president of the Housewives League and led a group of women to help create better conditions for their community. She also founded the Fannie B. Peck Credit Union to give African Americans job opportunities and the chance to create a financial legacy.

The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame events are sponsored by Comcast, MGM Grand Detroit, Magna, Desk Drawer Fund, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, Ascension, Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Western Michigan University Alumni Association.

Michigan Women Forward

Founded in 1986 by 20 visionaries who conceived of an organization that would encourage women to play an active role in philanthropy and governance, MWF is a community development organization whose mission is to expand economic opportunity, empower the next generation, and celebrate and honor the accomplishments of Michigan women.

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