fbpx

Chamber Blog

Meet the Finalists of the 11th Annual EPIC Awards

Meet the Finalists of the 11th Annual EPIC Awards

Each year, the EPIC Awards Gala recognizes the biggest talent and leaders in the region, celebrating those who foster community growth, demonstrate innovation, and champion alongside others as mentors and collaborators. Nominated by their peers, the recipients of the EPIC Awards are determined through a rigorous process and selected by community trustees for their contributions.

The recipients of each award will not be announced until the night of the event, so join us for this premier business celebration and be the first to hear who will receive these esteemed awards! 

Monday, October 25
5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
JW Marriott Grand Rapids: International Ballroom
Members: $80 / Non-Members: $110

REGISTER


SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Small Business of the Year designation is awarded to a for-profit organization with 50 or fewer employees.

AGELESS BEAUTY was established in June 2012 by Felicia Steimel at the age of 27. The company’s mission is to provide medical-grade services to a large variety of different skin ethnicities with a varying range of skin concerns. The woman-owned business offers a variety of services, including acne resolution, chemical peels, facials, microblading and sugaring. Ageless Beauty continues to grow with ongoing education and certification programs in multiple treatments styles.

EHTC is a full-service CPA firm with   team members who exceed in the areas of tax, accounting, transaction advisory services, technology solutions, personal planning, and management advisory services. EHTC was established in 1977 by Dennis M. Echelbarger whose passion for public accounting and community outreach has made EHTC what it is today. EHTC focuses on the core values of the firm: willing to grow, going above and beyond, having a passion for living and teamwork. Everything EHTC does, from the hiring, firing, developing, and rewarding of team members, centers around our core values.

PURE ARCHITECTS’ purpose is to create spaces and places that uplift communities, positively impact our planet, and inspire people to be healthier, connect deeper, and live authentically through consistent excellence in our work. As one of very few black-owned and black-led practices in the country, we view design ideas, partnerships, and opportunities to innovate through a special lens.


CREATIVE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Creative Business of the Year Award is awarded to a business from the following creative industries: Advertising, Architecture, Art Schools, Art Agents, Creative Technology, Culture & Heritage, Design, Fashion, Garment & Textile, Film, AV & Broadcasting, Literary Publishing & Print, Music, Performing Arts or Visual Arts & Crafts, that is innovating, collaborating, and helping to showcase our region as a hub of creative talent. 

GRAND RAPIDS BALLETs mission is to lift the human spirit through the art of dance by providing: exceptional and diverse programming, outreach to inspire and enrich the community, family-friendly programming, newly commissioned works, and a sound financial condition that enables growth, and assists our staff and dancers. GRB consists of 61 employees, with 31 dancers. Under the artistic leadership of James Sofranko since 2018, Grand Rapids Ballet has made an exciting transformation that has attracted world-class dancers, produced some of the most creative works in contemporary dance and generated local, national, and international attention.

OH, HELLO COMPANIES is a woman-owned business that started in 2014. Originally a greeting card company on Etsy (one of the top 5% of sellers its first year), Oh, Hello has morphed and changed over the years to include three tiers. Oh, Hello Paper & Gifts is our giftshop downtown where we host over 40 different local artists and vendors to share their talents with the community. Oh, Hello Branding Group is a full-service marketing company that helps Michigan businesses achieve higher sales and more leads through inbound marketing. Oh, Hello Promo provides high quality promotional products to businesses throughout the United States.

OZONE FILMS was founded on the  simple principle that video has the definitive power to change people’s lives through storytelling, and our entire purpose is to work to realize that principle whether it be for global brands and agencies, home-town tourism organizations, or even non-profits extending from at home to abroad. Simply put, and as our mission statement states, we’re a video production agency connecting the things that make us human to the brands that empower them.


NON-PROFIT OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Non-Profit of the Year designation is awarded to a non-profit organization with 50 or fewer employees. 

COMPREHENSIVE THERAPY CENTER (CTC) started in 1982 when founder and speech pathologist, Jean Silbar, noticed that children with special needs would often lose what they learned at school during summer vacation. To help mitigate this, Jean started a summer program where children with special needs could receive speech-therapy. Since then, CTC has grown from a summer program working out of Jean’s basement, to a 501(c)3 non-profit, CARF accredited therapy center with a staff of over 30 professional clinicians. Services today include speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, dance/movement therapy, tutoring, social work and educational psychology.

Since 1988, IN THE IMAGE has had a mission to provide hope, dignity, and respect through the best shopping experience money does not have to buy. With a vision to ensure everyone in need of clothing and household necessities shops for free in a welcoming environment, we serve the entire community through a multitude of free programs and services including our Free Store – a place those in need of household necessities, clothing, and basic needs can shop for free in a welcoming environment. Our Shoes Help Our Elementary Students program (S.H.O.E.S.) celebrated 25 years of providing a new pair of back-to-school athletic shoes to elementary students – helping over 65,000 students start the school year off on the right foot. The Job Preparedness Program – focusing on transferable skills in the workplace and providing clothing to those looking to dress for success. Brian’s Basic Needs Room – a space dedicated to ensuring families and individuals have what they need such as personal hygiene products and baby basics – diapers, formula, and wipes. We also launched our Emergency Services program during COVID, offering outdoor pick-ups and deliveries of personal hygiene products, basic clothing, and household necessities to those in need. 

TREETOPS COLLECTIVE became a 501(c)3 in 2017 after listening to the voices of women who had resettled as refugees, and community members looking to meaningfully engage locally in response to the global refugee crisis. We are a cross-cultural movement that seeks to connect with and invest in New American women leaders, together transforming our community into a place of belonging. Our vision is that anyone who has experienced the pain of resettlement, would live a vibrant, whole life in connection with their neighbors.


MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Minority-Owned Business of the Year designation is awarded to a business that is 51% minority-owned. 

LA FUENTE CONSULTING, LLC was founded in 2000 as Michigan’s first Latina, woman and minority-owned diversity, equity and inclusion consultancy. La Fuente provides consulting expertise and is a trusted adviser to organizations working in the global economy. One of their goals is to be part of the solution by helping organizations better understand the value and positive impact a diverse and inclusive workforce can have on individuals, organizations, and business results.

MANAGEMENT BUSINESS SOLUTIONS (MBS) finds the right talent to help meet our clients’ staffing needs. MBS is a staffing firm / recruiting agency, founded in 2006 to provide practical, cost-effective, and customized employment solutions to local and nationwide clients alike. Our intentionally designed process allows us to find the right candidate for each position. Our focus area for staffing deliverables ranges from office clerical to supervisory and management roles up to the C-Suite. Our service deliverables include temporary, temporary-to-hire, contingency placement, executive recruitment, and retainer solutions. MBS is a Minority Company and is a certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Certified Company.

PURE ARCHITECTS’ purpose is to create spaces and places that uplift communities, positively impact our planet, and inspire people to be healthier, connect deeper, and live authentically through consistent excellence in our work. As one of very few black-owned and black-led practices in the country, we view design ideas, partnerships, and opportunities to innovate through a special lens.


VETERAN-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Veteran-Owned Business of the Year designation is awarded to a business whose owner/operator is currently verified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) or Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB).

WIMAGE is a software development company specializing in children’s learning software that enables children to create visual stories. Wimage created an online educational show called Wimee’s Words to help parents and educators stay in touch with kids and to help them continue learning. Children are assisted by an animated robot named Wimee. Wimage products stand out from the rest because of their team of passionate educators and innovators inspired to create good quality and fun content that is inclusive to all kids.


WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Woman-Owned Business of the Year designation is awarded to a business that is 51% woman-owned.

GOLD COAST DOULAS is the area’s first doula agency with 21 subcontracted birth and postpartum doulas. Gold Coast is a Certified B Corporation and the first in the world in our category. Our vision is to serve families without judgment from conception through crawling. We serve Grand Rapids and the Lakeshore communities.

HIRE FOR HOPE is a recruiting and talent optimization agency transforming the way companies identify and optimize their employees. We are talent change agents helping companies develop a people strategy that aligns with their business strategy, and intentionally design winning teams that take them to the next level. Hire for Hope was founded on giving back to the community. With a model to donate 10% of our profits to organizations that supports women who are experiencing domestic violence, community impact is top of mind for us, always. We have donated thousands of dollars to change the lives of women just like me so that they, too, can go on to fulfill their lifelong dreams. 

LA FUENTE CONSULTING, LLC was founded in 2000 as Michigan’s first Latina, woman and minority-owned diversity, equity and inclusion consultancy. La Fuente provides consulting expertise and is a trusted adviser to organizations working in the global economy. One of their goals is to be part of the solution by helping organizations better understand the value and positive impact a diverse and inclusive workforce can have on individuals, organizations, and business results.


EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS FINALISTS

The Excellence in Business designation is awarded to a for-profit or non-profit organization with more than 50 employees. 

ACRISURE, LLC is comprised of the sharpest entrepreneurs and highest level of technology talent. Having already built the fastest growing, most profitable, and top-10 largest risk distribution platform, Acrisure is now deploying the best of human and artificial intelligence at scale to reimagine financial services distribution across insurance, asset management, real estate solutions and cyber security. In 2021, the company deployed an AI-driven prospecting and growth platform which has taken Acrisure beyond its core insurance offering into Asset Management and Cyber Security. Simultaneously, Acrisure has also maintained its industry-leading M&A pace. In March of this year, Acrisure announced a capital raise of $3.4 billion and the company expects to grow approximately 50% this year and reach $3 billion in revenue by the end of 2021.

AUTOCAM MEDICAL’s mission is to be the world’s leading contract manufacturer of high-performance, precision CNC-machined components for the most demanding medical applications, while creating value to their customers and providing long-term, meaningful employment for their workforce. The company strives to meet their mission by focusing on continuous improvement in the quality of everything they do and investing in the safety, well-being, and personal growth of all associates. Every associate participates as a contributor to the team and all members of the team treat each other with trust and respect. Autocam Medical strives to conserve, reuse, and recycle all materials with the objective of having zero impact on the environment.

GRAND RIVER ASEPTIC MANUFACTURING (GRAM) was founded in 2010 to support the growing pharmaceutical development and manufacturing industry’s need for quality sterile injectable products. Our team works together using advanced technology to provide safe, pure and effective products for our customers. GRAM’s culture stands outs in our industry because of our focus on quality, service, courage and collaboration. We are dedicated to quality as our foundation. We serve with intention to make a difference. We commit to the bold pursuit of progress. We are at our best when we work together.


LGBTQIA+ CHAMPION RECOGNITION: ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The LGBTQIA+ Champion Leader of the Year designation is awarded to an organization that works tirelessly to create an inclusive organization and serves as a champion of the LGBTQIA+ community. This organization will have consistently shown an ability to lead in EPIC ways.

CAMP BLODGETT’s mission is to empower youth in West Michigan through educational and recreational experiences that promote social responsibility, encourage academic success, and promote the development of healthy self-esteem. Camp Blodgett’s history is rooted in serving children who are experiencing poverty. Since 1921 we have been focused on providing recreational and educational experiences to children who could not otherwise afford them. In the last decade, we have realized that our need goes beyond ensuring children facing poverty have access to summer camps, but broader to ensuring all those excluded or with limited access are welcome at Camp Blodgett. This has grown to mean LGBTQ youth, which we are proud to do. It is tremendously sad that many youths must hide their gender identity or sexual orientation to be accepted into organizations.

HEALTH NET OF WEST MICHIGAN was founded in 2014. Our mission is concise: “Navigating Care. Connecting Resources.” The mission has grown along with our organization as we assist our community to navigate the complexities of local health and social services systems. Once we have walked alongside our neighbors to find the resources that fit their specific needs, we help them to make the connections they need to reach their personal health goals. Our organization’s vision of creating a community where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible is the literal definition of health equity. Our goal as an organization is to ensure equitable access to care and resources.

THE MITTEN BREWING COMPANY was founded in 2012 by lifelong friends (and Grand Rapids residents) Chris Andrus  and  Max Trierweiler. The goal was to create not only the West Side’s first brewery since Prohibition, but to build a business where everyone felt welcome. The company grew quickly from a startup to an established brand with three locations, nearly 100 employees, and annual sales of more than $4 MM. But just as importantly, our community work grew alongside it. Since 2012, The Mitten has raised and donated more than $350,000 to area nonprofits and spent countless hours and energy working to improve the lives of the marginalized in the communities we serve. 


DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION CHAMPION RECOGNITION: ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The DEI Champion Organization of the Year designation is a recognition of an organization that is committed to and working to embed DEI initiatives within their organization and the community, and who has shown an ability to lead in EPIC ways.

AHC HOSPITALITY is a management company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We specialize in providing customized hospitality solutions for hotels, resorts, and restaurants by implementing successful operation models that yield positive results for our owners, associates, and guests. We believe in looking ahead and leading the industry in what’s new and what’s next in hospitality. Our insight helps our clients adapt, innovate, implement change, and move forward – faster.

FISHBECK is an all-in-one solutions provider with 11 regional offices in the Midwest. Sixty years after its founding, more than 500 staff members throughout three states have made Fishbeck one of the premier professional consulting firms in the nation. Engineering, environmental sciences, architecture, and construction management are the cornerstones of Fishbeck’s services and integrated project approach.

OST is an integrated, cross-functional business technology firm bringing together strategy & insights, digital experiences, connected products, data center transformation and enterprise managed services as we work alongside clients to optimize and grow their businesses. OST engages in ways that make the most sense and yield the best results for global Fortune 2000 companies to funded startups. This is all wrapped in a friendly, flexible, people-centered culture. 


DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION  CHAMPION RECOGNITION: LEADER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The DEI Champion Leader of the Year designation is awarded to an individual who works tirelessly as a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion in their work and community, and who has shown an ability to lead in EPIC ways. 

OVELL BARBEE is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer at Spectrum Health. With over 20 years of executive HR experience in a broad range of industries, Ovell is known for developing innovative workforce strategies that leverage best practices to propel companies to the next level. At Spectrum Health, Ovell oversees a 100-member HR team and has led multiple HR functions including talent acquisition, employee relations, compensation, and performance management to support over 30,000 employees. Ovell also serves as the Chief Diversity Officer where he has worked to transform policies and practices to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Under his leadership, Spectrum Health has been recognized as a forerunner in diversity and inclusion practices, being named among the Top-40 Best Employers for Diverse Talent.

JESSA CHALLA is a lifelong Grand Rapids resident and equity advocate. Recently appointed as the youngest Co-CEO and Software Engineer at a minority and women-led software company, Mallowfields LLC (MBE certified), Jessa is a dedicated leader in the work to democratize technology for West Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. She teaches free coding classes at Grand Circus, mentors and connects womxn and BIPOC individuals to opportunities in the tech sector, and maintains a high level of excellence within her field as a successful BIPOC woman in her field with the ultimate goal of making the tech sector a more inviting and inclusive place for all.

MANDICE McALLISTER is a dynamic information professional with 5+ years of experience in education and the legal field. A passionate self- starter with proven ability to collaborate and think creatively in order to drive engagement and implement change, Mandice currently serves as a Resource Analyst and DEI Coordinator at Warner Norcross + Judd, a full-service law firm in Grand Rapids. 


EMERGING LEADER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

The Emerging Leader of the Year designation is awarded to someone age 40 or younger as of October 26, 2021, that has shown an ability to lead in EPIC ways. 

SHAQUILLE ANTHONY is a proud native of Muskegon Heights, Michigan. He graduated from Western Michigan University with a B.B.A. in Human Resource Management. Over the course of his professional career, Shaquille has remained true to his desire to help train, develop, and coach others to become to the best versions of themselves. He currently serves as the Senior Talent Engagement Specialist at SpartanNash, where he is responsible for the development, planning and execution of strategic programs to engage talent in the community.

JESSA CHALLA is a lifelong Grand Rapids resident and equity advocate. Recently appointed as the youngest Co-CEO and Software Engineer at a minority and women-led software company, Mallowfields LLC (MBE certified), Jessa is a dedicated leader in the work to democratize technology for West Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. She teaches free coding classes at Grand Circus, mentors and connects womxn and BIPOC individuals to opportunities in the tech sector, and maintains a high level of excellence within her field as a successful BIPOC woman in her field with the ultimate goal of making the tech sector a more inviting and inclusive place for all.

SYLVIA NYAMUHUNGU serves as a Refugee Community Organizer through Bethany Christian Services, but she doesn’t just work for refugees—as a former refugee herself, she understands them. Sylvia was born in Tanzania of Rwandan parents and raised for 14 1/2 years in Kenya. With a passion for serving, Sylvia has had roles as an interpreter, community connector, advocate and more. She was part of the team that established Michigan’s first Refugee Advisory Board, made up of former refugees from all over Michigan. The board exists to represent, serve, empower, and advocate for the welfare of refugees in Michigan.


Join us for this premier business celebration and be the first to hear who will receive these esteemed awards!

REGISTER

Share:

Leave a Reply