• Marcia Green

LEADING WOMEN OF ABWA 2023 Top Ten Nominee and 2022 Woman of the Year

Updated: Jun 7


Our 2023 Top Ten Nominee, 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 is currently serving as the chapter secretary. She has taken an Apex course (ABWA's education platform) and has attended an Eastern Michigan Council meeting. Veronica personifies the best way to get the most out of an ABWA membership!

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.”

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 in the fall of 2022. The 2022 Top Tens - including our chapter's current President, Holly Hengstebeck - can be seen at


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. For the 2022 Woman of the Year, we had SIX nominees! Being nominated is a high honor, and we are fortunate as a chapter to have these women as members. See below for more information about the nominees.

Betty Shultz was elected as our 2022 WOY at the February 9, 2022 meeting. She joined ABWA in December 1992 and has served on the board, including as President twice, and on most committees. In the past almost thirty years, she attended many national conferences. For the annual fundraising auction in 2021, Betty and Carol Ann Donnelly set records getting donations, visiting over 67 donors in 2021, and actively promoting our scholarship programs. She has sponsored 22 members.

Betty studied elementary education at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (plus additional training in education, photography, and dental). In Ohio, she was also co-owner of Shultz Photography (weddings, babies). Betty taught elementary school in Ohio from 1964 to 1970. After moving to Michigan, she worked in women’s clothing sales and insurance, and retired from a dental office in 1999.

Betty was co-editor and photographer for the monthly newsletter for the senior group and volunteered five days per week at the Clothes Closet at the Church of the Holy Family in Novi. She is a member of St. James Catholic Church (Novi) Hospitality Committee and Senior Group. Betty is a member of the Michigan Genealogical Society in Northville and the Seneca County Genealogical Society in Tiffin Ohio.

Betty said, "Thank you ABWA for my wonderful memories, experiences and education I received while attending the many conferences and conventions throughout the United States during my employment years."

Veronica Cruz and Betty Shultz 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 event on September 10, 2022.


MARY GANTT joined ABWA in March 2017. She served as chapter Secretary for two years, and worked on the membership, program, and fundraising committees. On the auction, she hosted a table, made donations, and found new donors. She modeled for our 2021 Fashion Show. Mary has invited nine guests to meetings and has attended Eastern Michigan Council events. She holds a MS in Physical Therapy from Andrews University and a BS in Biology from Madonna College. She worked extensively as a Physical Therapist at Botsford Hospital, Sunrise Home Health, and In Home Rehab Solutions.

Mary currently works as a Photo Coach with Creative Memories and FOREVER, helping people organize their photos so their memories can be celebrated and shared with others. She supports the New Hope Center for Grief Support and assists the Bethany Anne Galdes Foundation, a suicide prevention program for at risk children. She has also helped local Girl Scout leaders, senior living facilities, the Novi Public Library, and Scrapbooking for Soldiers.

Mary commented, "After attending my first ABWA Novi Oaks Chapter meeting, I was impressed with the ABWA mission and the Novi Oaks Chapter. My friend and I joined shortly after our first meeting. Through ABWA, I have grown personally and professionally."

JANICE JONES joined ABWA in April 2019 and has sponsored one new member. She hosted tables at the 2019 and 2021 auctions, donated items, and made several large baskets. When we could not hold an auction in 2020, she donated a major portion of her Mary Kay sales to the chapter scholarship fund. She donated to the 2021 Fashion Show and modeled. Janice holds a BS in International Studies and a BA in Theatre, both from Michigan State University. She is also a Certified Professional in Talent Development (2016). Janice’s work experience is diverse, and she has been working as a technical writer and an instructional designer for 15 years.

Janice supports the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Fred Astaire Dance Studio/Michigan RIM Foundation (helped teach amputees ballroom dance), Gilda’s Club Detroit , The Pink Fund, and the Oakland Literacy Council.

Janice said, "It is truly an honor to be nominated by my ABWA chapter for "Woman of the Year"! The women in this organization are truly some of the most giving and encouraging people I have ever been around and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

KAREN WERNETTE KOLC rejoined ABWA in August 2013. She had previously been a member of both Novi Oaks and the Ray of Light Chapter in Redford. In addition to serving on the board, Karen has served as the Education Chair for the past seven years. She also works on the auction committee and fundraising in general. Karen has a BSA in Business Administration from Madonna University and an ASA in Liberal Arts and Business Administration from O.C.C. Her career has been diverse, including computer tech support, banking, home health care, and working at a bakery. She currently works as a Patient Service Assistant at Northville Health Center (UofM).

Karen was very involved with her two daughters' school athletic, orchestra, Pom Pom, and clubs in the Farmington School District. She has supported charity events sponsored by Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, and sororities, LKS and ASA. She supported local charitable causes with the Sunflour Bakehaus in Farmington, including Detroit Freedom House, food banks, Farmington Farmers Market, and others.

Karen said, "Joining ABWA has enhanced my life in many ways! The lifelong friendships and sisterhood connections, the professional guidance and expertise, and the personal growth and development all have helped me to become who I am today. Supporting women and their educational goals is the number one reason why I stay with ABWA. As a mother to a two-time Outright Grant recipient, I know firsthand how the scholarship programs impact lives for the better."

SHERYL MAYER joined ABWA in August 2011. She has recruited one member. Sheri has served on the board and on the membership, education, and fundraising committees. She has served as auction co-chair for the past three auctions, has hosted tables, and with Peggy Aniol created and hosted the “Scholarship Garden” at previous auctions. Sheri holds a BS in Management from Cornerstone University and an associate degree in Business Management from OCC.

Sheri has an extensive career in the banking industry and is currently a Treasury Sales Associate for Huntington Bank. Sheri volunteers at Huntington with the Gleaners and Junior Achievement programs.

Sheri said, "I love this chapter! What means the most to me is helping women reach their educational goals. And I have formed so many close friendships in ABWA. Being a part of this group is special."

MAUREEN WALCZYK joined ABWA in May 2019. Since joining, she has enthusiastically offered donations from her Style Dots business for our auction and the Fashion Show in 2021. When we couldn’t hold an auction in 2020, she donated a portion of her Style Dots sales to our scholarship fund. Maureen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy from Oakland University and a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. Maureen has been a PT for 33 years, and currently works as a Physical Therapist at the DMC Huron Valley Hospital. She is also an independent Senior Director for Style Dots.

Maureen’s passion is helping the charities Style Dots supports, including I Pour Life, which supports women ages 15-26 who are at a social and economic disadvantage, so they can learn life skills to change their futures. Maureen also supports Whole Hearted Home, which is a small youth home in Haiti. She personally helps sponsor one young man who will be going on to higher education soon.

Maureen commented, "I'm so impressed by the ladies I have met through ABWA. All of them are professional and goal-oriented. Being a part of ABWA reminds you of how powerful women can be when they have a common goal."

Interested in joining ABWA? We hold an orientation Zoom every 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Visit Events to register (free).

Visit our home page to download a tri-fold about Novi Oaks (mid-page), and click on the button for the "ABWA: One membership: a lifetime of value" brochure. National membership is only $115 per year, and local dues are only $24 per year. To join, click the red "JOIN ABWA" button at the upper right corner of any page.

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