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Varnum Partners with GRAM, GROW for Women Connect Event

June 11, 2015

For the third year in a row, Varnum is partnering with the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women in an event that welcomes women professionals who are new to the community.

Called "WomenConnect," the event provides an introduction of female professionals who have moved to West Michigan – especially younger women and women of color -- to the community. The formal programming is intentionally light, allowing ample time for attendees to network, meet new people and catch up with friends and colleagues.

This year's event will be held Tuesday, June 16 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The following professionals will be introduced:

  • Alisha Cieslak: General Counsel, Gordon Foods
  • Cassandra Hayes: Manager - Executive Communications & Corporate Affairs, Amway
  • Michelle Jones: Director - Technology & Information, Varnum LLP
  • Stephanie Naito: Vice President - Talent Management, HR, Meijer
  • Judy Torres: Graduate Mechanical Engineer, Progress AE
  • Shana Welch: Regional Director - Talent Acquisition, Mercy Health

WomenConnect was developed in large part to support retention of professional talent in West Michigan.

"Too often, we lose talented professionals who come to the area for a few years but then leave, in part because they don't have a strong connection to the community," said Carroll Velie, Varnum's Director of Human Resources. "WomenConnect is a way to introduce these newcomers to other women in the professional community in a relaxed and fun atmosphere."

This is the third year in a row that WomenConnect is being held at the GRAM. The event is by invitation and designed to include a cross section of generations, providing an opportunity for women in different stages of their careers to meet and network.

In the previous two years, WomenConnect has recognized Kim Dabbs (West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology), Mimi Fritz (Grand Rapids Downtown Market), Veronica Ramirez-Garcia (West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), Anne Berquist (Opera Grand Rapids), Jennifer Smith (National Heritage Academies), Jessica Cruz (Ferris State University), and Sharron Pitts (Grand Rapids Public Schools).

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