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Papke and Velie Nominated for Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards

February 7, 2012

Varnum partner Melissa Papke and Human Resources Director Carroll Velie have been nominated for two of the 2012 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of West Michigan awards.

Papke's corporate and real estate practice was nominated for the Hispanic Business of the Year award, which recognizes a Hispanic-owned business that has demonstrated a history of growth and community participation.

Melissa Papke joined Varnum in 2004. Upon moving to Grand Rapids from New York City, she felt it was important to remain connected with her Latino heritage  and immediately sought out opportunities to serve the Hispanic community. In 2010, Papke was selected to serve as a member of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Papke makes significant efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within her practice and the firm. She is an active member of Varnum's Diversity Team, which includes selecting internal diversity programming for attorneys and staff, and represents a number of Hispanic-owned businesses and individuals and often serves as the contact point for Spanish-speaking clients.

Additionally, Papke spearheaded creating a Spanish portion of the firm website in an effort to meet the legal needs of the Spanish-speaking population, and maintains her social media sites in Spanish. Papke also serves as Varnum's liaison to Hispanic law student groups in effort to recruit attorneys of Hispanic descent.

Carroll Velie was nominated for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Building Bridges Award, which recognizes a non-Hispanic individual who has been an advocate for the Hispanic business community. Velie joined Varnum's administrative management team in 1987 and brought her passion for advancing diversity and inclusion in the firm and community. Over the years, she has played a role in numerous events and initiatives within the Hispanic community and has hosted several community welcome receptions in effort to introduce Hispanic and other minority leaders to the West Michigan business community.

Most notably, Velie helped establish Varnum's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, an advisory group made up of community leaders who share our commitment to making Varnum – as well as our community – a more inclusive and welcoming place to live and work. Council members generously give their time, insight and perspective to strengthen Varnum’s internal programming, communications, recruiting and retention efforts.

In addition to the external council, Velie is a founding member of Varnum's internal Diversity Team, which has now been in place for nearly 20 years. She and the internal team work with the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council to provide programming for attorneys and staff that develops and advances the firm's diversity and inclusion efforts.

Award recipients will be announced at the 2012 Hispanic Chamber Annual Awards Banquet at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids on March 5, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.

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