Bonnie Nawara, CEO
Bonnie ran a successful business for over 20 years, and she also spent six years in the area of non-profit fund development. Bonnie has been with GROW since September 2010. As CEO, Bonnie is responsible for overseeing all GROW operations including community involvement and outreach, business coaching and consulting, programming, funding for microlending and other financial programs, and much more.
Bonnie is also a board member of the Association of Women Business Centers (AWBC). GROW is one of just over 100 Women’s Business Centers in the country, and one of only three in Michigan. She represents GROW throughout the West Michigan community and beyond.
Jill May, Director of Lending Programs
With nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, holding an emphasis on corporate relations and economic development, Jill is a lifelong nonprofit professional. Before joining GROW, she served as Interim Executive Director of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Jill has held fund development positions at The Right Place, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, the American Cancer Society and Catholic Charities of West Michigan.
Jill earned her master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from Olivet College. In 2016, Jill was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by GVSU, and has been nominated for the Young Athena Award and Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year Award. Jill currently serves on the boards of our LGBT Fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and the GVSU LGBT Alumni Chapter.
Mary C. Hartfield, Program Manager / Business Consultant
Mary oversees training and one-on-one counseling to women-owned businesses in West Michigan.
Mary has an extensive background in community involvement, entrepreneurship, strategic planning, and leadership training. Prior to joining GROW, Mary served as director of community and corporate collaborations for a local non-profit. Her expertise in business development is complemented by her own experience as an entrepreneur. She is an experienced professional with over 35 years of work in banking, finance, non-profit administration, and community and economic development.
Kelli Smith, Business Development Specialist
Kelli comes to us from the Ludington area where she owned and operated her own business successfully for more than a decade. She has over 20 years of experience in business operations and client services as well as cost control strategies and finance. Kelli has been a long time advisor for youth services, coordinating internships and mentoring both high school and college students. Her commitment to community development has led her to serve on the board of directors at Safe Harbor Credit Union, West Shore Community College and Memorial Medical Center Benefit Committee.
As an experienced entrepreneur, Kelli’s focus at GROW is to provide business services for loan clients. She works closely with each client to cultivate relationships and ensure their current and future business success as well as assisting them through the microloan process.
Jessica Kuster, Program Assistant
Jessica is a recent graduate of Cornerstone University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in international business and Spanish. Throughout her college years she was involved in Enactus and the cheer team, studied abroad in both Dubai and Spain and was president of Ritmos, a Hispanic culture organization. In her free time, Jess enjoys crafting along with exploring new cities and is always up for trying unique coffee shops.
Karen Benson, Business Development Officer, West Michigan Lakeshore
Karen is originally from the Detroit area and has been in West Michigan since 1985. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Cornerstone University.
Karen has extensive experience in economic and business development as the Executive Director of the Northwest Economic and Industrial Development Corporation, Economic Development Director with ACI/The Chamber in Grand Haven, Vice President of Business Development at Grand Haven Bank, Business Development Manager at Muskegon Area First, Director of Innovation Services with The Right Place in Grand Rapids, and most recently Director of Educational Partnerships with Olivet Nazarene University’s Graduate Studies here in Michigan.
Past certifications include Certified Economic Development Professional and Certified Small Business Development Counselor. Her experience includes grant writing, small business counseling for the SBDC network and SBA 504 Loan Portfolio management for 16+ years. She thrives on developing strategic partnerships, collaborating and facilitating conversations and projects among regional partners, and connecting people and organizations to key resources, which will be extremely beneficial to GROW clients on the lakeshore and beyond.
Annie Trupke, Administrative Assistant
Friendly, fun, dedicated, and motivated, Annie loves to help people win. She’s a team player who’s always eager to learn. She enjoys responsibility and believes that her administrative and customer care experience are a perfect match for the many aspects of her role at GROW.
Annie is an avid reader with an extensive personal library of business, leadership, and personal development titles. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her 6 brothers.