GROW makes 2021 board appointments


Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women has a group of new board members.

The West Michigan nonprofit Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) said last week that it welcomed many new members to its 2021 board of directors to further provide strategic direction for the development of the organization.

GROW said its board of directors plays an integral role in providing the resources and expertise needed for the organization to effectively serve thousands of entrepreneurs in West Michigan, as well as support growth in the Muskegon and lakeshore area, especially as small businesses continue to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

More than half the clients GROW serves are low- to moderate-income individuals who want to start or build their business.

“The addition of these new members to our talented board will aid in the organization’s growth and governance, providing a more diverse range of expertise and experiences to support the staff at GROW,” said Deborah Phillips, board chair.

New board members

  • Janis Petrini, owner-operator, Express Employment Professionals of Grand Rapids
  • Tracey Burke, health care consultant
  • Catherine Kloska, retired CFO, Muskegon Public Schools
  • Zara Smith, senior project manager, Emergent Holdings Inc.
  • Katy Felver, business adviser, Hungerford Nichols
  • Veverly Austin, owner, Confident Living
  • Damian Ciavattone, branch manager, assistant vice president, PNC Bank
  • McKenzie Jackson, program manager, Access of West Michigan

The new members above are joining the returning board officers and existing board members listed below.

2021 returning board officers

  • Deborah Phillips, consultant and chief people strategist of Deborah Phillips & Associates — board chair
  • Rebecca Dutcher, president of RED66 Marketing — board vice chair
  • Debra Van Hevele, senior vice president, Comerica Bank — board treasurer
  • Kim Suarez, community member — board secretary

Returning board members

  • Shannon Cohen, owner, Tough Skin Soft Heart/Shannon Cohen Inc.
  • Floriza Genautis, CEO, Management Business Solutions
  • Jack Keller, commercial loan officer, Lake Michigan Credit Union
  • Jason Reep, president, The Employers’ Association
  • LaChaun Steverson, owner, Fibrenew


Founded in 1989 to assist low-income women in creating economic independence through business ownership, GROW supports and trains women and men at various stages of business ownership.

GROW is one of 110 certified Women’s Business Centers in the nation and one of three in Michigan in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It also recently was designated as a community development financial institution.

Facebook Comments