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  • Marcia Green

ABWA 2021 Woman of the Year and 2022 Top Ten Nominee

Novi Oaks Charter Chapter members choose their 2021 Woman of the Year and nominee for the American Business Women's Association National 2022 Top Ten


The members of our ABWA chapter are hardy, and we do not give up easily! Due to COVID restrictions and not being able to meet in person for regular meetings, Novi Oaks Charter Chapter members held a special voting meeting outside on March 7, 2021, in the parking lot of the Kerby's Koney on Six Mile Road at Newburgh Road to vote on our outstanding chapter members for the Woman of the Year and Top Ten honors. As cold as it was (mid-30's), at least there was sunshine!


The Woman of the Year (WOY) is a local American Business Women's Association award based on the contributions a member has made to the chapter in the previous calendar year. Members Regina C. Hall and Veronica Cruz were nominated for the WOY, and Veronica Cruz was chose as the recipient. Being nominated is a high honor, and we are fortunate as a chapter to have these two women as members.


Holly Hengstebeck was nominated and accepted as our chapter's Top Ten candidate. The Top Ten is an ABWA National award, with chapters across the United States nominating a member based on her career, education, involvement in ABWA, and contributions to her community.


The final Top Ten are chosen by a panel of three businesswomen outside of ABWA. These ten women will be interviewed by a three-person panel made up of the current American Business Woman of ABWA (top honor in ABWA) and two other ABWA members who have previously served as national officers or are previous Top Tens. These three women choose one woman from the Top Ten to be recognized as the new American Business Woman. The second virtual ABWA 2021 National Women's Leadership Conference (NWLC) will take place on November 4-6, 2021.


The 2021 Top Tens can be seen at https://www.abwa.org/about-us/.



Veronica Cruz and Holly Hengstebeck will also be honored along with other Michigan chapters' Women of the Year, Top Ten nominees, and Protégé Award recipients at an Eastern Michigan Council of ABWA Zoom event on September 11, 2021.


WOMAN OF THE YEAR, VERONICA CRUZ


Our 2021 Woman of the Year, Veronica Cruz, joined Novi Oaks Charter Chapter in January of 2020, sight-unseen. We are thankful for her leap of faith. She immediately became involved and has volunteered her help on the annual fundraising auction, the Eastern Michigan Council (EMC) event to honor Cheryl Blair (July 16 & 17, 2021), is Chair of the fundraising committee, and helped Novi Oaks find its new meeting location at the Livonia Chamber offices. She has already taken an Apex course (ABWA's education platform) and has attended an Eastern Michigan Council meeting.


Veronica works as the Human Resources Manager at AlphaUSA in Livonia (metal stampings).

She has earned an Eastern Michigan University Master Certificate in Human Resource Management, and will complete a Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development degree in April, 2021. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and a member of the Honors Society. She received the ABWA Protégé Award from Novi Oaks in 2020 (an award for members who "jump" right in!).


Her community service is extensive: “I am an active member of the Livonia Symphony Orchestra (since 2017), where I serve on the engagement committee. This committee aids in member outreach, fundraisers, and marketing efforts. I also manage a non-profit, Livonia Kids & Families, which provides food, school supplies, and additional aid to families in need in our local and surrounding communities. My passion is to also help schools and kids create and organize events such as: Manufacturing Day, CO2 races, and Young Inventors for nine different high schools throughout the Livonia, Clarenceville, Garden City, Wayne Westland, and Northville districts.”


When asked if she had additional comments, she said, “I have really enjoyed meeting everyone at ABWA. Thanks to each of you for being so welcoming and supportive.”


TOP TEN NOMINEE, HOLLY HENGSTEBECK


Have you ever been around that woman who brings everything she has to whatever she does? The experience is energizing and inspiring. Holly Hengstebeck is one such woman. She came to Novi Oaks Charter Chapter in April of 2008. At the time, she was expecting our now youngest member, daughter Lauren Hengstebeck. Her son, Christian, was a toddler at home.


Novi Oaks was at a crucial point in 2008. We were down to eight active members, so being able to attract new members was challenging to say the least. Holly was in her early thirties at the time and brought a breath of fresh air. She believed in Novi Oaks, and that made all the difference. Her recruitment of fantastic speakers, in particular, helped us do a 180 and thrive. She OWNS positive energy, and contributes to any brainstorming that goes on.


In January of 2020, at our 30-year anniversary celebration, Holly was recognized as the Novi Oaks Charter Chapter’s Woman of the Decade 2010-2020. A more appropriate honor could not have been awarded. Her leadership and innovation were the keys to what revitalized the chapter, and we are forever grateful.


This year, she has been chosen as the chapter’s ABWA 2022 Top Ten nominee, and we are so proud to say she is our member. She will go through the Top Ten process and be judged by an outside panel of business people. We are looking forward to the announcement of the Top Ten in August or September, and we’ll be there to cheer her on.


In the past, when we participated in the Novi Memorial Day Parades, even Holly’s children, Lauren and Christian, got involved and helped us greet people along the parade route – with Christian making sure every kid got a piece of candy. Lauren has co-hosted a table at the Autumn Brunch With Auction several times. The energy and high level of caring have been passed on to the next generation . . . .


Holly’s current position at Detroit Thermal is Director of Finance. Prior to working at Detroit Thermal, she was a Field Finance Manager at Ryder Integrated Logistics. She holds a BS in Finance and an MBA from Wayne State University, where she is also a mentor through the Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business Corporate Mentorship Program.


Holly is also a Certified Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Professional, and is currently pursuing a Certified Management Accountant designation. She is also a member of Women in Energy and the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business.

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