MUSKEGON – The creator of an online network for female veterans to connect and reduce the rate of military suicide has won the Lakeshore 2021 Innovator of the Year award, presented by the Muskegon Innovation Hub of the Grand Valley State University.
Zaneta Adams, President and Founder of WINC: For All Women Veterans, was named one of five finalists at a ceremony July 29 at the Hub.
In 2017, Adams created the Military Sisterhood Initiative, an online networking platform / app for female veterans across the country. She took that idea and partnered with WINC with Challenge America to create a network of over 5,000 women from around the world who connect and share survival stories.
“WINC was founded to bring women together so that we can connect with each other, honor female veterans and encourage and empower them,” she said. “We want to bring women back to where they were before military service or even better than where they were. “
Adams said she was honored to receive the award and was committed to her work because she was a former disabled woman herself. Adams was injured during a training exercise in 2005 while training in South Carolina to travel to Iraq. Doctors said she would never walk again, but after two years of rehabilitation she proved them wrong.
“I was almost a statistic,” she told the crowd. “But I decided not to kill myself because the female veterans took me out of this. And, as innovators, we question ourselves, but I had people around me to push me and encourage me to keep going. “
Adams was recognized as a Veterans Affairs Pioneer in 2021 for her work in this area. She also founded the Veteran Women Appreciation Day which takes place June 12 each year in Michigan.
She pointed out that there are over 44,000 female veterans in Michigan and over 2 million nationwide.
The other finalists for the award were:
Jill Batka and Curtis Chambers – Dynamic Conveyor Corporation
Curtis Chambers noted a lack of lightweight portable conveyors available to service injection molders like his Pliant Plastics Corporation. So, he designed a modular plastic conveyor loosely inspired by Legos. DynaCon grew up under Jill Batka, one of Chambers’ three daughters who owns Dynamic. Dynamic has designed a new range of easy-to-clean conveyors specifically for food processing and packaging. The DynaClean line of sanitary conveyors have a simple design allowing easy access to internal components. DynaClean Conveyors offer the food industry a range of customized plastic conveyors that are environmentally friendly, easy to clean, and save time and money. A range of specialized conveyors was introduced in early 2020.
Beth Beaman – Playhouse at White Lake
The White Lake Playhouse has used inventive methods to stay connected and relevant over the past year or so. In order to continue offering new content in the midst of the pandemic, The Playhouse traded its live and in-person summer theater festival to become a three-camera film production house. With just a four-week deadline, general manager Beth Beaman decided not to cancel the beloved summer season, but instead to rotate and engage in virtual dialogue with the audience, while putting the displaced artists to work. Additionally, the White Lake Youth Theater Council was formed to help support year-round arts education programming at the Playhouse. The White Lake Youth Theater Council aims to cultivate a compassionate community, leadership and life skills through arts education at The Playhouse. This program is open to all high school students in the region and honors inclusiveness and business skills for the next generation of artistic leaders.
Michael Hyacinthe – Wimage, LLC
Michael Hyacinthe founded Wimage, LLC in 2014 after creating the Wimage App, an educational app that allows children to type words to create pictures and turn their ideas into a visual story. Wimage means “from words to images”. Wimage’s goal is to transform children from passive consumers of digital content to that of creative content producers. Studies show that low-income students and students of color are more likely to be passive consumers, and students learn best when they use technology to create their own content, rather than just consuming content. In cooperation with the Kent District Library, Wimage, LLC has also created a live educational broadcast that engages children through visual storytelling and vocabulary building, meeting the unique needs of students, educators and parents during the pandemic.
Brent Raeth – CatchMark Technologies
CatchMark Technologies was founded in 2013 with the goal of providing professional technology services to small and medium-sized businesses in Western Michigan. The CatchMark Gives Back program was created to encourage CatchMark teammates to use their skills, expertise and company resources to improve the communities of which they are a part. Over the past year, CatchMark has donated to several high school athletic programs, provided computers to local robotics teams, donated “Causeway Cams” to the White Lake Chamber of Commerce, and provided free technology services. to several struggling churches and organizations. In August 2020, public schools in the Montague area contacted CatchMark Technologies to help them find a solution to a hearing issue caused by COVID restrictions set by the MHSAA and the State of Michigan. The restrictions only allowed two fans per player to watch a sporting event live and in person. CatchMark offered to purchase equipment and help broadcast a live stream at all home sporting events.
For more information, visit gvsu.edu/mihub.