Nonprofit names Seeds of GROWth winners, 2017

By Rachel Watson
Grand Rapids Business Journal
549 Ottawa Ave NW Ste 201
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-1444

A local nonprofit that provides resources to female entrepreneurs has recognized four leaders for their community contributions.

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, or GROW, said this week it selected Shannon Cohen, Floriza Genautis and Julie Lankes as its three 2017 Seeds of GROWth award recipients.

In addition, the organization created a new partner award, and GROW board member Jack Keller is the first recipient.

All four individuals will be recognized at the 2017 Seeds of GROWth awards luncheon and fundraiser from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.

Bonnie Nawara, CEO of GROW, said the Seeds awards recognize business leaders and supporters who exemplify the work of the organization.

“In addition to being the organization’s largest fundraiser for our training programs and microloan funds, Seeds is a huge opportunity to celebrate the clients we serve and their impact on the community,” Nawara said.

Seeds of GROWth award winners

The GROW Leadership Award

Shannon Cohen, founder and principal of Shannon Cohen Inc. (formerly Community Ventures), for her dedication to the transformation of communities by empowering current and emerging leaders

Business of the Year Award

Floriza Genautis, founder and CEO of Management Business Solutions, a staffing firm, for leading the company and her management team through a growth period, including moving to a new, larger office this year

The Lee Ann Moss Service Award

Julie Lankes, owner of BOXBOOM Creative, for supporting GROW clients and female business owners in developing their marketing strategies and their brands

NEW Grow Partner Award

Jack Keller, commercial loan officer at Lake Michigan Credit Union, for serving on the GROW board and finance committee for three years, representing GROW at community events and always seeking opportunities for continued development of the organization and its clients


In partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women is a nonprofit focused on women at various stages of business ownership and offers training and business counseling in finance, management, marketing, strategic planning, human resources and more.

GROW is one of 110 certified Women Business Centers in the nation and one of three in Michigan.

Last year, GROW helped start 68 new local businesses and create 251 new jobs, and it delivered 1,377 hours of business training to more than 700 participants and provided 806 hours of one-on-one business mentorship.