Greatness Defined

Northwood recognizes the enormous contributions made by men and women to businesses, communities, nonprofit organizations, and public and private sector services. By acquainting our students with the lives and achievements of these present-day leaders, we provide an indispensable part of the education of America’s next generation of business leaders.

37th Annual Outstanding Business Leader Award
“Northwood University has been honoring business leaders for their contributions to our nation and to the world for 37 years,” says Keith Pretty, Northwood University President and CEO.

“By recognizing business leaders for their accomplishments in business, in their communities, and in their personal lives, Northwood encourages business excellence and inspires others, including our own students, to strive for success.

2017 Outstanding Business Leaders were honored at the March 4 dinner for their contributions to education, community involvement, personal and professional success, and dedication to Northwood’s philosophy. Proceeds from the event provide assistance to Northwood students with financial need and academic merit through the Outstanding Business Leaders Endowed Scholarship Fund.

2017 Outstanding Business Leaders, from left: Thomas J. Moran, Bernie Marcus, Carol A. Williams, Keith Pretty (NU President and CEO), Mary Ann Van Lokeren, Hank Graff, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Allen B. West, Lon Morey.


  • Hank Graff, President, Graff Automotive Group
  • Mary Ann Van Lokeren, former Chairman & CEO, Krey Distributing Company
  • Bernie Marcus, Co-Founder, The Home Depot and Job Creators Network
  • Thomas J. Moran, CEO & Founder, Moran Iron Works and Industrial Arts Institute
  • Lon Morey, Former Owner & Chairman, Morbark Industries
  • Lt. Col. (Ret.) Allen B. West, Executive Director and Vice Chair of the Board of the National Center for Policy Analysis, and former Congressman, Florida’s 22nd Congressional District
  • Carol A. Williams, former Executive Vice President, Manufacturing & Engineering, The Dow Chemical Company


47th Annual Distinguished Women Award Gala

Northwood celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of seven women at the 2016 Distinguished Women event on Nov. 5. Honorees represent the values Northwood espouses to its students: commitment to free enterprise, partnership of arts and business, and management in a global society.

2016 Distinguished Women, from left: Keith Pretty (NU President and CEO), Maureen L. LaFontaine, Deborah Haines Stephens, Patricia Anne Shaheen, Judith Schumacher-Tilton, Celeste D. Briggs, Terri L. Mulcahey, and Audrey Peterson Kline.


  • Celeste D. Briggs, Director, GM Women’s Retail Network, presented by Kaitlyn Cole, Saginaw, MI
  • Audrey Peterson Kline, ’76, Owner, Audrey’s Classic Designs, presented by Alix Gardner, Goodrich, MI
  • Maureen L. LaFontaine, Owner, LaFontaine Automotive Group, presented by Faith Hommes, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Terri L. Mulcahey, ’86, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, Penske Automotive Group, presented by Norma Benavides, Laredo, TX
  • Judith Schumacher-Tilton, President, Schumacher Chevrolet Auto Group, presented by Taylor Darby, Howell, MI
  • Patricia Anne Shaheen, philanthropist, presented by Emilee Davey, Saginaw Township, MI
  • Deborah Haines Stephens, President, Dow Chemical Canada, presented by Stephen Cecchini, Bay City, MI

“The creation of our Signature Events Team (SET) has allowed students at Northwood University to be actively involved and present at our signature events and ceremonies. The experiential learning opportunities that these students take part in range from onsite event execution to networking, meeting prep, and exposure to our honorees and friends of the University,” said Ashleigh Summers, Director of Signature Programs & Special Gifts.

Student-presenters interviewed and presented honorees at the Gala. They include, from left, Faith Hommes, Emilee Davey,Norma Benavides, Taylor Darby, Stephen Cecchini, Alix Gardner, and Kaitlyn Cole.

    About Northwood University

    Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

    Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at a full-service, residential campus located in mid-Michigan. Adult Degree Programs are available in multiple states and online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan and Texas. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.