Labor Of Love Nets Ponitz Award

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    HOLLAND — Leading what she called a “labor of love,” the formation and operation of a regional leadership academy during 2003 earned Kathleen Ponitz recognition from the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce.

    Ponitz, the volunteer executive director for Leadership West Michigan, received the 2003 Louis Hallacy II Distinguished Service Award last week during the Holland Area Chamber’s monthly Early Bird Breakfast.

    A Holland-area resident and senior vice president at the Grand Rapids architectural and engineering firm Progressive AE, Ponitz served on the executive committee that formed Leadership West Michigan and then volunteered to lead the organization during the inaugural year. She was responsible for overseeing every aspect of the program, which ended its first year in December with 26 graduates in the inaugural class.

    “I’m a little bit humbled to receive an award for something I had such a blast doing,” Ponitz said in accepting the award.

    “It was a labor of love,” she said. “We really are on the path of setting a regional mindset. I loved every minute of it.”

     Past Winners

     Past recipients of the Holland

     Area Chamber of Commerce’s

     annual Louis Hallacy II

     Distinguished Service Award

     are:

     2002: David Myers

     2001: Judith A. Zylman

     2000: Rob Zaagman

     1999: Jim Brooks

     1998: Emilie Wierda

     1997: Ken Peirce and Grace 

     Piersma

     1996: Robert De Young

     1995: Marjorie Hoeksema

     1994: Tom Carey

     1993: Calvin Langejans

     1992: Jim De Graaf

     1991: Donald Stoltz

     1990: Cora Visscher

     1989: Jack Marquis

     1988: Deanna DePree

    1987: Jerrald Redeker

     1986: Dale Van Lente

     1985: Edgar Prince

     1984: Harvey Buter

     1983: Gordon Van Wylen

    An offshoot of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, a consortium of business and community leaders that promotes regionalism, Leadership West Michigan provides leadership training for business and community leaders who have graduated from local leadership academies organized by chambers of commerce in Holland, Muskegon and Grand Rapids.

    Leadership West Michigan is designed to foster greater regional collaboration in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland area.

    Ponitz “has done more for the greater Holland community in the last 12 months than anyone else,” said Holland attorney Nathan Bock, who nominated her for the award.

    The Louis Hallacy II Distinguished Service Award, renamed two years ago in honor of the Holland Area Chamber’s long-time former president, was started in 1983 to recognize individuals “whose endeavors and contributions have provided cultural, economic and social betterment for the greater Holland area.”           

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