Sarah Chartier, left, Jenny Bongiorno and Jessie Schulte hold up their Hidden Heroine awards. Courtesy WMEAC
A local nonprofit concluded its week-long Women & the Environment Symposium by naming its three Hidden Heroine award recipients.
The Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Environmental Action Council, or WMEAC, named this month the winners at an awards ceremony: Sarah Chartier, sustainability manager for Spectrum Health, Woman of Inspiration award; Jessie Schulte, of the Kent County Conservation District and formerly with Blandford Nature Center, Woman of Vision award; and Jenny Bongiorno, program manager at Urban Roots GR Community Farm and Education Center, Woman of Hope award.
Woman of Inspiration
Sarah Chartier was nominated for her ability to “cut through bureaucracy to make meaningful change that impacts the environment.”
Among her accomplishments, WMEAC said Chartier has developed a food prescription program for clients enrolled in Healthier Communities programs to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from area farmers markets.
Currently, the program has more than 100 clients enrolled and is developing a research model to evaluate the impact of the program.
Chartier is a board member of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, on the Environmental Advisory Council of Vizient, on the District Leadership Council for the Grand Rapids 2030 District and on the Michigan Green Health Committee.
She recently served as chair of the Third Annual Triple Bottom Line Bash and Sustainable Business of the Year Awards.
Woman of Vision
Jessie Schulte was nominated for her work in spearheading the transformation at Blandford Nature Center and her impacts “at a broader countywide scale,” due to her new role at the Kent Conservation District.
Among her accomplishments, WMEAC said Schulte found a way to save several large trees at Blandford, by developing a plan to build a temporary wood retaining wall with lumber and metal posts, which would protect the trees until the project’s Green Wall could be constructed.
Volunteers constructed the temporary retaining wall. The project would have otherwise required a team of skilled laborers to construct a traditional masonry wall, which would have negatively impacted the surrounding trees.
Woman of Hope
Jenny Bongiorno was nominated for her ability to “create change at a young age” in the areas of urban farming or healthy affordable food in Grand Rapids.
WMEAC said Bongiorno has contributed to a range of projects and ideas in Grand Rapids, including helping to develop and test new technologies for low- maintenance, low-water raised beds and also technologies for harvesting and selling vermiculture compost.