Author: Amanda Loveland

The Chamber and Experience Jackson: How Are They Different?

Have you ever stopped by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, or maybe Experience Jackson? If you have, you ended up in the same office. What comes as a surprise to most, however, is that the Chamber and Experience Jackson are two completely separate entities. This can be confusing, given that some of the team members overlap and each organization collaborates on some of the same projects. However, even with their similarities and overlap, the Chamber and Experience Jackson offer two entirely different purposes to Jackson.

Rachel Buchanan, Marketing & Development Director of Experience Jackson, described the two the following way: The Chamber is here to equip and grow your business and grow your professional connections. Experience Jackson is meant to attract people to those businesses.

The Chamber puts on events meant for networking and growing your business. It also provides business resources, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, legislatives support, and leadership development to its members. The Chamber is member-based, whereas Experience Jackson focuses more on the promotion of all local attractions.

Experience Jackson draws people to the community by promoting what Jackson County has to offer. They do so by sponsoring events or highlighting local restaurants and attractions to those that may not be familiar with the area.

Experience Jackson enjoys taking a hands-on approach when sponsoring and promoting local events, rather than just being a recognizable brand. Playing a role in the growth of Jackson is a large part of their mission, and they love seeing just how many visitors come to explore events like Bright Walls, Museum Day, Gus Macker Tournament, downtown events, and many more. The organization develops deep relationships with tourism locations and offers support where needed, to make sure new faces and returning visitors have plenty of reasons to return.

Photo Courtesy of JTV

Outside of event promotion, Experience Jackson also works closely with the local hotels and can set visitors up with hotel blocks, private meeting spaces, or recommend beautiful local venues to host your next event. Experience Jackson also offers golf packages to help bring visitors from all across the Midwest to Jackson’s award-winning courses. Golf is just one thing Experience Jackson focuses on throughout the year, they also push campaigns for fishing, hiking, festivals, food and beverage, and more. Maybe you’re simply wondering how you can fill your weekend plans? Experience Jackson sends out monthly newsletters and weekly updates about local events and happenings. Sign up here.

Experience Jackson specializes in staying involved with the community by investing in the Chamber. Since the Chamber is naturally recognized as a huge professional asset to the community, Experience Jackson takes advantage of its partnership by taking the opportunity to network with other members at Chamber events. By doing so, this opens the door to new partnerships and chances to continue to help bring people to those local businesses.

A must-visit destination is made by having healthy businesses. Therefore, Experience Jackson plays a role in helping those businesses thrive and keep the community vibrant by continuing to highlight them on their social media pages, blog, in publications, and their website. Say you have a friend from out of the area staying for the weekend and you want to plan a visit full of local eats, one-of-a-kind entertainment, and unique nightlife, look no further than

Photo Courtesy of JTV

There are plenty of ways that Experience Jackson makes the most of their Chamber membership. Experience Jackson loves being a part of is the MLK Diversity Celebration. Not only did Experience Jackson help sponsor, but the team also helped promote professionally and did some assisting behind the scenes. Experience Jackson is also excited to be the presenting sponsor of Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement, put on by the Chamber. If you kept tabs on Community Awards Week, you may have noticed that the Omotenashi Award was also sponsored by Experience Jackson.

Experience Jackson has a Community Champion-Level Membership, which means that they proudly sponsor a few Chamber memberships as well and bring that opportunity to a business that may be just getting started or needs some financial assistance to get their foot in the door and their name out into the community.

The Chamber is proud to have an organization dedicated to the growth of Jackson’s tourism, and to have it “in-house” at the Chamber makes the team feel especially lucky. To learn more about what Experience Jackson does for the community, click here.

Mission of Hope Cancer Fund Brings Relief to Those Affected by Cancer in Michigan

Cancer hits close to home for many people. You may know someone affected by cancer: a coworker, a family member, a friend. It may be yourself. Unfortunately, cancer has likely affected most, if not all, people in some way.

Sara Cyphers, Secretary (left) and Maria Ethridge, Executive Director (right)

You’ve probably heard of the 5Ks, the fundraisers, the GoFundMe pages, but have you heard of Mission of Hope Cancer Fund? A local nonprofit determined to help those affected by cancer. Mission of Hope Cancer Fund is made up of a dynamic duo, Executive Director, Maria Ethridge, and her secretary Sara Cyphers. Along with Maria and Sarah, there are eight members that sit on the Board of Directors. These board members offer support in many areas, including helping at events and visiting patients.

Maria stepped into the role of Executive Director recently. With experience working in education and human services and substance abuse, Maria has always had a passion for helping people. The essence of helping people has always been her focus, so when the opportunity came for her to alleviate one of the most stressful components of people’s lives, becoming the Executive Director of MHCF was perfect for her.

MHCF provides direct financial assistance, starting with something as simple as an online form. It’s easy, and only takes about ten minutes to complete once a doctor confirms the diagnosis. From there, MHCF is able to provide assistance for medical bills, insurance, supplies, and field costs. There are countless great things about what MHCF does, but to name a few, MHCF is able to assist with every type of cancer. Whatever diagnosis you or someone you love may have, MHCF is able to help in some way. It can be as small as providing a gas card to get patients to and from chemotherapy, and as large as assisting with medical expenses.

Fill out the form here.

Recently, the MHCF put on Concert for a Cause at the Michigan Theatre, where guests enjoyed an evening out featuring bands such as B!g L Code Blu & Kung Fu Diesel. Maria recalled that she heard stories of patients experiencing a sense of normalcy at the concert for the first time since their diagnosis. Another concert patron was struggling with her husband’s diagnosis, and the Concert for a Cause gave her reason to enjoy a girls’ night out.

In the future, MHCF hopes to continue to build their existing programs, like Concert for a Cause. They are also looking to expand their travel program. This could be ways to cover travel costs for patients going to and from treatments, or even having volunteers drive patients who are incapable of driving themselves. They hope to get out into the community more and connect people with MHCF. Maria and Sara have found that so many community members want to find ways to help, and MHCF is looking to give back in a similar way. With the state of the world being what it is, we need each other, and need to help in any way we are capable.

Maria and Sara have helped a number of patients, from the newly diagnosed who are overwhelmed with the treatments ahead, or a family member who is struggling with support. In many situations, friends and family of those with cancer want to help, but don’t know what they can do; Mission of Hope does. Sara explained that Maria is incredible with clients and patients, and always knows exactly what to say. If MHCF can’t assist you with exactly what you’re looking for, they will point you in the direction of a nonprofit who can.

Mission of Hope Cancer Fund is always accepting donations to continue offering assistance to cancer patients and those affected by this disease. To donate, click here.

If you or someone you know could benefit from the help Mission of Hope Cancer fund provides, click here. Mission of Hope is always open to community members to get involved and are always looking to partner with fundraising. If you hope to get involved in Mission of Hope Cancer Fund, you can reach Maria at

J&F Audio Brings New Beats to Jackson

In their early twenties, most people are trying to finish college or just figure out what field they want to dive into. For Tyler Boyer (21) and Ean Warren (20), they are working on wrapping up their first year of business with Jacob & Fritz Audio. 

J&F Audio is an audio retailer that specializes in selling audio equipment for events and spaces of any kind. A common demographic J&F Audio targets are churches, since that is where their passion for audio stems from. Tyler’s audio experience began when he was just ten years old when he helped with the internal sound system in his church. From there, he became involved with other churches as well. He and Ean have been friends for as long as they can remember and aren’t surprised that their friendship has grown into a professional partnership. 

Tyler is currently training to be a lineman and loves working on electronics on the side, like building RC cars or the wood casing for speakers. Ean is studying computer science at Spring Arbor University and enjoys tinkering with computers and electronics while dabbling a bit in the culinary world on the side. It’s no secret that these two have a knack for what they do, and both agreed that if you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all.

When starting J&F Audio, Tyler and Ean found the process surprising, as they didn’t realize how much of a need Jackson had for an audio retailer until they got into it. Now, after a few months of growth, Tyler and Ean offer services unlike any other to accommodate clients’ audio needs. J&F Audio even offers free consultations to determine exactly what fits your vision and budget. Whether that be mixers, speakers, soundboards, or even equipment for live music.

When asked what their favorite piece of equipment to sell is, that answer was easy: speakers. Tyler and Ean explained that speakers provide a way to be somewhere you’re not through sound; good sound transports you. With an increase in media trends that more and more businesses are taking advantage of, J&F Audio has recommendations regarding things like podcast and video equipment, like shotgun mics, headsets, interface, and much more. Interested, but seems a bit beyond your capabilities? That’s where J&F Audio comes in. J&F Audio is available for consultations and troubleshooting. One thing Tyler and Ean love for clients to remember is that there is so much when it comes to audio, and if you’re overwhelmed with choices, it doesn’t hurt to just ask. Most often, they’ll have an answer, and if they don’t, they will lead you in the right direction. “Phone calls are free,” they continued, “and will probably leave you happier than before you called.”

 J&F Audio had just joined the Chamber right before JAXPO. Days before the event, the Chamber had a cancellation and offered a last-minute booth to J&F Audio. Even with the short notice, J&F Audio was able to win third place for best booth at the whole event! Tyler and Ean share an impressive work ethic and initiative, seen both by the Chamber staff and by their Membership Sponsor, Monster Motors.

Monster Motors has enjoyed being an Executive Member of the Chamber because it gives them an opportunity to offer sponsored memberships to new businesses, like J&F Audio. Ron O’Rourke (Fixed Operations) and Lori Jackson (Owner) both agreed that being able to sponsor memberships is the perfect way to give back to the community. Ron continued that Tyler and Ean both have great vision and hope to utilize this sponsorship as a mentorship as well, meeting with Ean and Tyler, giving business insight, and helping them reach their goals. Monster Motors plans to continue developing relationships like this in the future by sponsoring more memberships for small businesses who want to get involved with the Chamber.

With all this expertise under their belt, it’s hard to believe that the two friends started their business just in July of 2021. In the future, Tyler and Ean hope to open an interactive storefront where customers can see, touch, and hear equipment for themselves. They hope to fill the store with music and electronics that will enhance each customer’s experience while appealing to each of their needs. While they’re still structuring their business plan and assessing the needs Jackson has, Tyler explained that the story is still being written. The two of them want J&F Audio to be a known asset to Jackson, something everyone knows about, and no matter what passion you have, you can go to the J&F Audio store and have some fun. For now, whatever your audio needs may be, J&F Audio is here and eager to help.

For help with your audio and electronic needs, you can contact J&F Audio on their website, send an email, or give a quick call or text at 517-499-1412.

2022 Women’s Week Wall of Fame

Linda Hass

First ever honorary City Historian and has made a large impact on preserving Jackson County’s history for ages to come.

Carolyn Croteau

Carolyn is a hardworking woman. She makes the firepup costumes for fire departments all over the world.

Kelsey Miller

Kelsey is a hard working, momma of 3 with an incredible heart.

Mary Kolb

Ms. Mary Kolb is a retired teacher from Jackson Public Schools who goes beyond the call of duty in volunteering for the health of all! She’s a Quest Lions Club member and you can always count on her to be actively participating in things for the good of others! Ms. Kolb keeps in touch with her students from the local high school and reaches out to help them. She gives back after already giving so much. She’s been a Big Sister in the Big Sisters and Big Brothers program and so much more! I’d love to see such a woman honored on your Wall of Fame in our community! She deserves it for her many services to our youth, elders, and community.

Iesha Westbrook

Iesha is a hard working, fun loving business woman who “embraced the suck” of a pandemic and built a successful & impactful house keeping & home health care business during the pandemic. She’s a mother, friend, and entrepreneur and we are so lucky to have her in Jackson!

Toneka Smith

Toneka is a hustler! She is an excellent friend, a business owner who lifts others as she rises, and a rising star here in Jackson.

Kesha Hamilton

Kesha is a power house! Her strong leadership, her willingness to say what needs to be said, and her focus on equity is making a huge difference in our community.

Jenifer Scanlon

Jenifer’s passion for our city makes others want to move here, raise a family here, and start a business here. She serves others far beyond real estate and her enthusiasm for business and people are contagious!

Ann Monroe

Ann E. Monroe has been encouraging people to live their best lives for over thirty years. As Chief Executive Officer for Activities Recovery Empowerment (ARE), Inc., Monroe heads a peer-run mental health organization, employing over thirty individuals and serving hundreds of adults, young people and families in Jackson and Hillsdale Counties. The most unique aspect of ARE is that everybody affiliated with the organization, from top leadership on down, has a lived experience with mental health or substance use challenges. Ann’s priority is for ARE to be a place of redemption and healing, where people have the opportunity to grow beyond their past missteps and embrace recovery and wellness. In her thirteen years as ARE’s CEO, Monroe transformed the organization from a tiny drop-in center with one full time employee, to one of the premier peer-run mental health organizations in the state operating two drop-in centers, adult and youth peer support services, parent support and recovery groups spanning two counties. Ann Monroe is also the Chair a founding member of the Michigan Peer Recovery Coalition (MPRC) a coalition of Michigan peer-run organizations that enhances the voice, authenticity and practice of peer-run organizations across the state. Monroe is a member of the Jackson Business & Professional Women’s Club (BPW), the Michigan Peer Specialists United (MPSU), Non-profit Network, and sits on the Jackson Continuum of Care. She is the 1991 recipient of the Jackson BPW’s Individual Development Speaker competition.

Amy Lienhard

Amy Lienhard is the epitome of leadership by example. Her work ethic is second to none and dedication to making businesses thrive through marketing and promotional branding

Sammy Rebandt

Sammy has been an amazing teacher/ role model/ care giver/ mind shaper/ etc. to all of my kids. She is always involved in multiple groups and events for our school, East Jackson. I can honestly say that she cares about every single little human being that she comes into contact with. She makes everyone want to be a better person. My kids only had Mrs Rebandt for one grade, but they know that she is always there for them. She has passion for her job and it shows in every kid that is lucky enough to have her. She does so much for our community and she deserves to know that she is appreciated.

Lauren Dunigan

Born and raised in Jackson, Lauren Dunigan has been part of a family legacy in the community. She has watched many of her aunts, uncles, and family members continuously give back and help influence change. Because of that she has always had the passion and drive to help others. Lauren uses this drive to give back every day by helping others in the community and fueling local businesses with her marketing agency. Lauren is never afraid to reach out a hand to help those around her.

Felisha Carter

Felisha is the founder & owner of Shorties Sweet Eats & Treats. She is a wonderful friend, and even better mentor. Felisha goes out of her way to ensure those connected around her has the recourses needed to become successful. Felisha empowers other women no matter where she is. She is a star shining bright here in Jackson, MI.

Monique Zantop

Through being a foster parent herself, over the years to several special needs children, she recognized a need for not only the children, but for the foster parents themselves. Foster children are often dropped off with little more than the clothes on their backs. Out of love and compassion for children who are in need, her organization Birthbrite was born. While being a wife and a mother to her own 4 children, Monique still manages to drive, sometimes quite far, using her own personal vehicle to pick up donations from businesses offering clothing, toiletries and other essential items for the families. She has also been known to stay up until the early morning hours to sort and launder donations that come in so she can immediately get them out to foster homes in need. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of recognition for such a selfless, kind, and much needed gesture in our small community.

Holly Jenkins

Holly Jenkins started Jenkins Insurance Group in 2016. Since that time, she has grown her business to 7 employees. Holly’s agency participates in community events such as Northwest Elementary’s The $20K Food Truck Challenge and the Music in the Park/Grass Lake Farmers Market. At the end of 2018, Holly was diagnosed with breast cancer. That has not stopped this hockey mom. Even after treatment and multiple surgeries, Holly continues to grow her business and give back to the community she lives in.

Shelley Mitchell

Shelley Mitchell serves without exception. She is a pillar of strength, courage and wisdom and an amazing inspiration and leader to women everywhere.

Shawna Tello

Shawna Tello has made it her mission to improve the lives of kids, adults and families through her work as CEO of the Jackson YMCA. Having first come to the Y as a toddler, Shawna works tirelessly at the Jackson YMCA to ensure that programs and services are available to all. Along with serving members and the community through the YMCA, she has dedicated the past four years working to build a new healthy living campus in downtown Jackson.

Carrie Yetzke

Carrie is one of the most caring, genuine, and passionate women! Since coming to work at Recruit Specialized Staffing she has been the “work mom” for everyone. It is impossible to be in a bad mood around Carrie as she finds a way to find the positive in every situation. The list of good she has done for Recruit is too long to dive into and we couldnt think of a more deserving woman than Carrie Yetzke.

LaMonica Davis

She is dedicated to her family, her work, and the community.

Maureen Keene

As Assistant Superintendent and Director of Special Education for the Jackson County ISD, Ms. Keene leads a department that provides specialized services for approximately 4000 students with disabilities across Jackson County. Maureen’s passion, dedication and commitment to the students of Jackson County is invaluable!

Amy Rogers

Amy Rogers is the principal of the Lyle Torrant Center. Her dedication to the students, parents, and staff is amazing and life changing for those served!

Cheryl Lemons

Cheryl is the Assistant Director of Human Resources for the Jackson County ISD. She exemplifies customer service and is the first point of contact for JCISD employees with questions and concerns.

Tovah Sheldon

Tovah is the Director of Instruction for the Jackson County ISD. She works tirelessly to bring high quality professional development to educators across Jackson County.

Lynne Thompson

As Assistant Director of Finance for the JCISD, Lynne assists all participating local districts with their financial operations. Her expertise are an invaluable local resource for our districts.

Cathy Brechtelsbauer

Cathy is the Director of Human Resources and Legal Services for the JCISD. Her expertise and guidance are invaluable to the JCISD and its Board of Education. She is also a passionate community advocate, participating in many community efforts for student support services.

Deana Thomas

Deana Thomas is a true inspiration for her employees at Jackson Tool Sales. Deana just celebrated her 26th year anniversary of working at Jackson Tool. She started out with the company as a receptionist and from there moved to inside sales and eventually operations manager of the company. In August 2020, Deana became the President of the company. She is a true inspiration that hard work pays off. Deana makes the JTS workplace environment and fun and great place to work!

Sylvia Sharpe

Amazing amount of growth professionally and an all around amazing young lady.

Karen Sharpe

Strives to make our customers experience a great one. Always willing to help anyone anytime

Amber Hoard

10 year allstar employee.

Coral Ottney

Coral is a hard working mother of two! She also runs a farm and breeds rabbits in her own business all on top of a full time job in manufacturing! She is the definition of a hard working women!

Kelly Vowels

Kelly is an amazing women rocking the manufacturing industry! Her dedication to her work and her family is top notch!

Kelly Kofflin

On top of being a mother of two, Kelly works day to night ensuring the next generation of doers and makers are getting the start they deserve with the Shop Rat Foundation!

Rachael Wingle

Racheal is a mother of three and dominating the real estate world! As if that wasnt enough Racheal operates a slew of other businesses and has long dedication as the program director for the Shop Rat Foundation. Her drive is almost as big as her heart!

Jessica Monroe

Jesi is a mother of 5 and is an entrepreneur operating Fresh Life Cleaning Services for over 10 years!

Amie Pierce

Amie has been a pharmacist in the Jackson Community for 30 years. She is an incredible mother, friend, and wife. Amie has been imperative in the fight against Covid-19 at LTC Welcome Pharmacies and is passionate about helping and educating her patients. She is a continuous inspiration in the field, a leader, and a mother. Thank you, Amie!

Alyse Farley & Makaila Navarre

Alyse and Makaila are the head coaches for All Around Gymnastics Center. These incredible women devote their lives to inspiring and coaching our youth. They set amazing examples for the young girls who look up to them, and manage to find the perfect amount of support, tough love, and encouragement for all of their gymnasts. Their efforts in molding our strong young girls should be recognized as it is very appreciated.

The Women of Blue Ox Credit Union

The BlueOx Credit Union Jackson Team surpasses the norm to get work done! This team values members, teamwork, collaboration and creating an upbeat warm place to work. The value we place on our internal work relationships is the strongest influencing factor on how we collaborate. We celebrate diversity, integrity, passion, and being dynamic! This is a team of women who feel empowered, build a community, and put members first!

Miranda and Jamie of Two Board Girls

Miranda & Jamie work full time jobs while building the Two Board Girls empire. They are creatives that hustle, hustle, hustle! It’s been amazing to watch they’re business grow and the new collaborations they come up with. They are true BOSS BABES and we celebrate them this Women’s Week!

Kayla Nangle

Kayla is not only an entrepreneur herself (she owns and runs Darling Earrings) and holds a full time job, but she’s always thinking of ways to help small businesses. She took it upon herself to put together a small business holiday coupon book for the Jackson community. She worked hard to get Jackson County small businesses to participate and sold the books before the Christmas holiday. She is a hardworker, creative and deeply cares for her community. We are lucky to have Kayla in Jackson!

Ashley Bacon

She is an amazing baker. Her cakes are top notch, as well as her cupcakes, and boozy treats. She is a phenomenal mother and friend. She is kind, honest, and a very hard worker.

Yvette Wilkie, Tonja Worthey, Ella Hephzibah & Canena Adams

These four BOSS BABES put on the Jackson Black Excellence Awards here in Jackson. They are fierce business owners & forces in this community and we are extremely blessed they invest their talents and passion right here in Jackson, MI. These ladies deserve a round of applause!!!

Danielle Ransom RDH

She is a Dental Hygienist and provides excellent care for 29 years to Jackson county. Tooth be told, she loves what she does and treats patients like family.

Daveda Quinn

Daveda is a hard working community activist who gives 💯 to Jackson County. She is truly a trusted advocate.

Kelly Sharrer

Kelly is a ray of sunshine everywhere she goes. She’s passionate about her job, and her family. She is the greatest auntie ever and is always ready to help out where needed. She is loving and compassionate.

Danyelle Jayne

Danyelle is a very hard worker for her family and her job. She always has a smile on her face. She is the rock who holds it all together, she is a shining star.

Sarah Harmon

Sarah is a Rock Star in the REALTOR world! Not only is she successful in business, she is a wife and Amazing Mother of 3. Sarah has mastered the art of balance when it comes to family and work. She deserves to be recognized and celebrated!!

Monica Mays

Monica is one of the most caring people I know. She truly cares about her clients as much as she does her family. She loves her community and gives back every chance she gets. She is one of a kind.

Nicole Johnson

Nicole is such a staple in this community. She is active in many organizations, all while supporting so many others. All while still working her day job. Nicole deserves to be celebrated for the Woman she is.

Aimee Potts

Aimee is one of the most professional, hard-working people in Jackson. Her professional and positive attitude make her such a great mentor to so many people.

Kathy Wilson

Kathy loves hard, and deeply for the Jackson Community, especially when it comes to women. She works hard and tirelessly to support mothers, & women. Whether they are in a crisis or just need support, she will make sure to provide them with everything in her power to provide. Her love for people is contagious and her warm heart blesses all she helps, works & volunteers with.

Trish Lefere

If you’ve visited JTV, Trish lefere has probably greeted you with a warm smile. As Office Manager and Director of First Impressions, Trish does it all with a smile and kind heart.

Dr. Molly McClure

Molly has elevated the level of Client Care and innovative ideas around the office. Molly has a fun, positive attitude that is contagious. JTV is lucky to have Dr. MCClure on the team!

Megan Mello

Megan moved to Jackson to work at Consumers Energy, and has been an active member of the community ever since. She is a wonderful friend, community leader, and new mother! She is balancing being a new mom, planning a wedding and serves on the Jackson Young Professionals board as the Marketing Chair. She truly loves Jackson, building relationships and having fun!

Heidi Yahr

Heidi is a kind-hearted soul with an enterprising spirit. She is currently expanding her business into Jackson, bringing a fresh new perception of health and wellness into our community. Heidi has a passion for golf, yoga and a love for the great outdoors.

Dana Vance

Dana makes coming to work fun! Her always positive attitude and welcoming nature is infectious. We appreciate you, Dana!

Olivia Pageau

Olivia is an amazing woman that approaches everything with kindness, laughter, and tenacity. She is a rising star and will do amazing things!

Stepfanie Steinkopf

With much style and grace Stepfanie navigates motherhood and entrepreneurship beautifully. Her inclusive spirit seeks out ways to showcase the community and the people that make Jackson such a great place to live. She is one of those people, that make Jackson better, so we wanted to showcase her here!

Rachel Buchanan

Rachel is a role model to all! She encompasses a business woman, mother, coworker, friend and supporter.

Amanda Loveland

Amanda is the definition of a leader. She puts everything into her work and life. She leads with her heart and is truly someone to admire.

Haley Hemmig

Haley puts her heart into everything that she does. She is eager to help, learn and grow. She has a laugh that is infectious and just lights a room up wherever she goes.

Pam Mackinder

Pam is a one of a kind person. She is not only a successful Realtor but also gives back to her community at every chance possible. She has a heart of gold and we need more women like her.

Stephanie Hawley

Stephanie is one of the smartest, hardest working people you will ever meet. She is the first to help a friend or family member in need, the loudest fan cheering at her daughter, Ella’s sporting events and putting up with her loving husband, Andy. Professionally, Stephanie is a Vice President of Sales with Flagstar Bank and ranks in the Top 10 for the company nationally in units closed as a lender.

Annie Wallen

Annie is the first female firefighter to work for the city of Jackson. She is the public education director there and is paving the way for more full-time women in her field. In addition, she spends her time assistant coaching women’s basketball at Vandercook High school and taking courses to better herself in her career and for the community.

Leslie Bradley

Leslie is kind, compassionate, and hardworking. She is a mentor for young women in the Jackson area and she is passionate about volunteering in the community.

Gabriella Bach

Gabriella is a servant leader. She has worked in the healthcare field for over 10 years now and continues to display high staff retention rates and meaningful connections with older adults within the Jackson community. She loves being involved in local government, volunteering and giving back to those in need.

Heather Brand-Wakefield

Heather is a phenomenal mother and the perfection definition of role model. She is the most genuine, kind and humble woman around. She strives to make the world a better place every day. She works hard to support her family. She is always putting others before herself.

Reanne Asbury

Reanne is a hardworking HR Professional and a dedicated mother of two. Her genuine care for her community and everyone around her is apparent through her work. She is an incredible mentor and always makes sure her staff knows they are people first and employees second. The professional community of Jackson is lucky to have her!

Karen Hawley

Karen is the glue that keeps everything together whether it’s family or business. A leader by example, Karen selflessly cares for others and is one of the biggest supporters of our community. Karen is a wonderful mom to Andy and Joe and the best grandma to Ella, James and Quinn.

Shaney Gorrell

Shaney Gorrell deserves recognition on the Wall of Fame because of how active she is in the community, experienced as a real-estate agent including connections with over hundreds of local community members. She is down to earth, helpful, and kind. She also opened the second branch of Your Premiere Properties in Brooklyn, MI and I would like her to be praised for all of the hard work she completes for family, friends, and colleagues.

Katelyn Gebhardt

Kate exemplifies the meaning of strong woman! Defying gender roles, she is the organized and creative Executive Kitchen Manager at One North Kitchen & Bar. She’s always organized and leads her team with a positive attitude and a never ending pursuit of perfection.

Jennifer Trammell

Jenny has not only raised 5 beautiful but now uses that experience to lead the host team as the Service Manager at One North Kitchen & Bar. She’s never sitting still and strives to make every guest experience a memorable one.

Submit your candidate for the Wall of Fame here.

The Women’s Week Wall of Fame is Sponsored by Meade Wheeler Financial Group.

Endurance Law Brings IP Resources to Jackson Entrepreneurs

Starting a business can be intimidating. You have an idea, now what? How do you protect that idea? The startup scene is something more and more entrepreneurs in the Jackson area are dipping their toes into. For that reason, the Jackson entrepreneurial community is lucky to have dedicated intellectual property (“IP”) expertise in Endurance Law Group PLC. Jon Shackelford, one of the partners, explained that Endurance Law is made up of patent lawyers, a rare breed who are as much engineers as they are attorneys, which makes them unique in the legal field.

Endurance Law was formed by Jon and law partner Brad Smith, who each left big Ann Arbor firms in 2012 to set-up shop in Jackson. The motivation was different for each. For Jon, he always admired clients who were entrepreneurs, taking risks on ideas and new ventures. The thought of starting a business seemed exhilarating to Jon. Brad was motivated by the prospects of a better quality of life and the ability to closely manage the working family farm in Addison.  Leaving the security of large firms and steady incomes to start a boutique IP practice in Jackson was daunting, to say the least, but the pair have never had any regrets for taking that leap of faith, now ten years ago. 

A patent lawyer must be able to understand an invention in order to write an effective patent. Brad and Jon both come from a mechanical engineering backgrounds, meaning they love inventions made of gears and springs and moving parts, but have less experience dealing with inventions based in electrical, software, and E-commerce tech. That’s why they’ve recently made an important addition to the firm, Jim Yee.  Jim is an electrical engineer and specializes in exactly these areas. With Jim, Endurance Law is able to better serve clients in the electrical, software and E-commerce spaces at a competitive cost.

Example of a Patent

All three lawyers that make up Endurance Law came from big firms, posh offices and expensive hourly rates.  Here they are now, in Jackson, the very same lawyers without the flashy surroundings and big city rates.  When the Lean Rocket Lab was established in downtown Jackson (2018), Endurance Law jumped at the opportunity to relocate its offices within the hub of the city’s entrepreneurial heartbeat.  The Lab offers Jim, Brad and Jon the ability to easily connect with Jackson’s best and brightest rising stars on the entrepreneurial scene.  Endurance Law passionately believes that the future entrepreneurs of Jackson are to be found flowing through the Lean Rocket Lab in some capacity, and that’s why the firm is exactly where it needs to be. Jon testified that after observing the entrepreneurial scene in Jackson over the past 10+ years, the Lean Rocket Lab has done a remarkable – make that miraculous — job establishing a genuine, fully-functioning, entrepreneurial community in Jackson. Being in this environment allows the Endurance lawyers to be one step closer to their clients, while offering their specialized type of support to this important growth sector of our community.

Endurance Law specializes in Intellectual Property Law, IP law for short, which is an umbrella term for four different legal tools/devices created to protect different facets of human creativity: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. They work mainly with inventors and creators to protect and defend their creations.

Example of a Trademark

If a client has an invention, they need a patent. If a client has created a work of art, they need copyright. If a client has come up with their own brand, they need a trademark. Confidential formulations need a trade secret.  Brad, a seasoned litigator, handles IP disputes for the firm.  Jon described their services as a sort of cocktail. Depending on what each client creates or needs, Endurance Law devises a “cocktail” of intellectual property ingredients to maximize protection.  With that, the partners at Endurance Law see themselves as “mixologists” for Intellectual Property – custom IP cocktails made to order.

Entrepreneurs have something unique to offer their customers. Businesses without a unique offering at least want to be distinguishable from their competition.  In both cases, the path to distinctiveness in the business world travels through Intellectual Property. Though needs differ from business to business, Endurance Law helps entrepreneurs and businesses of all kinds establish themselves in a unique way so that they can maintain, and hopefully grow, their market share.

One major point that Endurance Law wants to get across is – why pay for showiness? Jon explained, “If someone is looking for a flashy, expensive IP lawyer, go to a big city like Ann Arbor, Detroit or Grand Rapids.” Rather, the Endurance lawyers are highly qualified, experienced “IP mixologists” that know the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.  For day-in, day-out IP legal affairs, come to Endurance Law for the same quality of service as you will find in the big firms, just with lower rates and skipping the superficial stuff.

To find out how Endurance Law Group PLC can mix a custom IP cocktail for your business, give them a call at 517-879-0261, visit their website, or find them on LinkedIn.

Grow Jackson’s Fight Against Food Insecurity

The Feeding America Network defines much of the city of Jackson as a “food desert.” It’s hard to believe that such a jarring issue can be found so close to home. It seems as though most people are able to make that quick run to the grocery store after work to pick up those last few ingredients to put a meal on the table. For Jacob Inosencio, founder of Grow Jackson, his involvement in extracurriculars and classes during college and growing up volunteering at the local food pantry opened his eyes to the environmental inequalities found in the food system. It may not seem like it, but every county in the United States has food insecurity, and no demographic has consistency in their diet.

The basic need for food seems like it should be widely attainable. Waking up, making breakfast – it should be as simple as that. Jacob points out that food insecurity harms many people in our own city but disproportionately affects children, the elderly, and people of color. It could be affecting someone as close as your next-door neighbor, a coworker, or even a friend.

Knowing this pushed Jacob to put an end to food insecurity, starting in his own hometown. Jacob founded Grow Jackson, a non-profit 5O1c3 dedicated to ending food insecurity in Jackson through inclusive access to organic produce. Grow Jackson rescues food from being thrown away and has built a number of local urban community gardens. These gardens not only grow produce to sustain the people of Jackson who may need it but grow our community as well.

They continue their involvement by managing the gardens, growing organic produce, and keeping that produce available for people to harvest their own flowers or vegetables, or to be given away. Volunteers have the opportunity to get their hands dirty and be rewarded by seeing the product of their hard work, as well as the faces of those they are feeding when they harvest. Just recently, Grow Jackson was able to dedicate Martin Luther King Jr. Day to rescuing boxes of food from landfills, and giving them out to communities in the Jackson area.

Grow Jackson offers a variety of programs in the area to further its mission. One of which is the Garden Education Initiative, in cooperation with St. Mary’s School, the City of Jackson, and Young People of Purpose, where students K through 8 have the opportunity to learn about environmental science, plant and soil science, the food system, and home gardening skills.

Jacob and Grow Jackson are especially excited to be partnered with Orthopedic Rehab Specialists to put on this year’s Groundhog Gallop, sponsored by Experience Jackson. This 5k race is a great opportunity to raise money during the season of giving. Grow Jackson believes food and nutrition are a human right and being active as a community is a great way to support wellness, as well as Grow Jackson’s mission to end food insecurity. The Groundhog Gallop matches up with Orthopedic Rehab’s race series, this being the first of the year.

Even though it’s winter, Grow Jackson is gearing up for another busy spring and summer full of gardening and giving. More information will be posted, come summer. To donate, visit If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering at a community garden or packaging food, visit

Arbor Hospice Offers Rewarding Ways to Give Back

Hospice – confronting the concept of it can be daunting. For a lot of people, once they hear “hospice,” they immediately jump to the idea of death. However, Alana Knoppow from Arbor Hospice mentions that, though the idea of hospice and death being synonymous is common, something Arbor Hospice hears often is that relatives and friends often wish they had enrolled their loved one in hospice sooner, to make the last phase of their life as comfortable and content as possible.

Alana Knoppow has been with Arbor Hospice for almost nine years, caring for those as they enter and leave the last phase of life. Arbor Hospice is a non-profit organization that specializes in care for people at that point, by providing comfort and enhancing their quality of life in any way possible. They provide aids and volunteers to patients both in their residences, in patients’ homes, and in other care facilities.

Hospice is described by Alana as palliative, meaning “comfort care,” which is exactly what those in hospice aim to do. Those who work in hospice specialize in symptom management, which can fall under spiritual, physical, or emotional pain. Something that Arbor Hospice recognizes in their practice is that as long as a patient is living, they are in fact alive. With that, Arbor Hospice strives to make patients’ quality of life as valuable as possible, even in its final stages.

Arbor Hospice provides a unique approach to hospice care. Rather than simply sitting at someone’s bedside, Arbor Hospice enlists volunteers such as massage therapists and musicians to gift patients with their talents. Veterans can visit fellow veterans. Whatever special care a patient wants or needs in their time with Arbor Hospice, it can be achieved. Arbor Hospice also brings in licensed cosmetologists to provide haircuts and paint nails, so that patients feel their best, even when their best may seem unattainable. Something that makes Arbor Hospice unique is that they provide pediatric hospice, which Alana expressed can be hard to find, but at the same time, so necessary to young patients and their families.

When asked of a time that stood out to Alana in her nine years with Arbor Hospice, she reflected on one specific patient that had a projected 48 hours to live. It was Christmas Eve, and this patient had no family or friends at their side. A vigil visit was requested, which is when a volunteer offers a quiet and supportive presence to a patient. The request was put out to all volunteers, with the hopes that maybe one or two would make time around their holiday celebrations to be with this patient. The response was overwhelming, and Alana was able to provide volunteers back-to-back until the end of life, which was about 72 hours later. As Alana recalled this memory, she referred to it as “The Christmas Miracle Vigil.”

Hospice care not only greatly affects the patients, but the loved ones of those in hospice care. Arbor Hospice offers incredible resources to those who may be struggling with having a friend or relative in hospice or are grieving. Arbor Hospice offers grief support, which is open to the community at no cost. They also provide a variety of educational offerings and are very involved in the community. You may have even seen them at Paws in the Park downtown.

Speaking of paws, volunteers and aids can even visit with a pet. Alana has visited with a few of her own furry friends. Her first therapy dog, a black pug named Sammi, had one eye and was blind. Even though Sammi was blind, he always knew to put his paw into others’ hands for comfort. Her current black pug, Albert, is described as very playful and energetic, but always provides a calming presence alongside hospice patients. Alana expanded on this by saying that dogs have a special way of sensing who in the room needs them most.

Being an employee or volunteer in hospice can be quite heavy and weigh on anyone emotionally. Alana mentioned that there are a few ways to keep morale high among staff and clients. She continued that everyone at Arbor Hospice has a team to lean on. At Arbor Hospice, they hold weekly team meetings, in which each person has the opportunity to talk and reflect on their experiences. Though dedicating their lives to helping patients pass and comforting loved ones would ordinarily be something that would weigh heavily on a team’s morale, Alana explained that it is meaningful and an honor to be included in that critical point in a loved one’s life. Arbor Hospice often receives calls of gratitude and reflection for the wonderful things their team has done to provide patients with the utmost quality of care.

Alana explained that the people behind hospice care are truly one of a kind. There is a type of person who wants to get involved in hospice, and it’s evident that they are selfless and strong.

Arbor Hospice is always looking for volunteers to spend time with patients. They can do so on a weekly or monthly basis; Arbor Hospice just asks that volunteers make a one-year commitment. All volunteers are screened and trained, and a staff member will go with any new volunteers for their first visit or two. Arbor Hospice is eager to welcome any and all potential volunteers who hope to get involved in hospice care, they just ask that, if you are grieving, wait 12 months to process your own loss before stepping into someone else’s.

Anyone hoping to get involved can reach Alana Knoppow at and 248-303-6818. If you aren’t available to volunteer yourself, Alana shared that even something as small as liking and engaging with Arbor Hospice on social media and sharing what their organization does can be huge for their organization.

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