GROW Staff

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.

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.


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.


Danielle Guinsler, Coordinator of Fund Development and Volunteer Support

Danielle has nearly 10 years of experience in fundraising and volunteer management. She has a master’s degree in public service with a concentration in nonprofit administration from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. Previous to joining GROW, Danielle served as Assistant Director, Special Initiatives at Ohio University.

With substantial experience in grant writing, event planning, volunteer support, and community partnerships, Danielle’s focus at GROW is to expand our ability to serve our clients and better impact the West Michigan community.