West Michigan executive director for Michigan Women Forward to retire

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Judy Welch Courtesy Michigan Women Forward

Judy Welch will retire this fall from her position as West Michigan executive director of Michigan Women Forward, a role she held for eight years.

Detroit-based Michigan Women Forward President and CEO Carolyn Cassin announced Welch’s retirement Thursday.

Under Welch’s leadership, Michigan Women Forward became a statewide organization. Welch opened two offices during her tenure — Grand Rapids and Lansing — and brought Michigan Women Forward programming and events throughout central and West Michigan.

Michigan Women Forward is currently searching for Welch’s replacement through Management Business Solutions.

Welch started with Michigan Women Forward in December 2013 and will officially retire in September. She will stay on through the end of the year to help orient and support her replacement. Some of her top accomplishments include:

  • Opening the Michigan Women Forward office in Grand Rapids
  • Forming partnerships with West Michigan stakeholders and community members
  • Growing Michigan Women Forward’s girls’ program in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing
  • Introducing Michigan Women Forward’s microloan program to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing
  • Expanding the West Michigan WomanUp & Celebrate luncheon into a staple event
  • Leading the grant application and approval process for the 2020 Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund initiative, which assisted entrepreneurs most impacted by COVID-19
  • Being named one of the 200 Most Powerful Business Leaders in West Michigan by the Business Journal in 2019 and 2020
  • Organizing the 2016 Empowerment Forum for 2,000 high school girls as part of the nonprofit’s UGOGirls program
  • Winning West Michigan Woman magazine’s 2017 Brilliance Connector Award
  • Being recognized in the 2013 Tribute Awards Women of Achievement gallery
  • Being nominated for the Athena Awards and the Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan in 2009

“Judy Welch is simply irreplaceable and has become a spokesperson for women throughout the state,” Cassin said. “It’s difficult to think of Michigan Women Forward without Judy, but she is embarking on a new phase of her life, after tirelessly supporting women, girls and Michigan Women Forward for the last eight years. We wish her well and know she will continue to be a part of the Michigan Women Forward family. Her work will live on long after she retires.”

Welch currently lives in Grand Rapids. In retirement, she plans to spend more time with her husband Jon, family and friends.

Michigan Women Forward

MWF was 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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