Western Leadership

Back to Western Homepage

Region Leadership


Past Presidents

2018-19 Kari Sherry
2017-18 April Hulst View Bio
April Hulst is a partner at Chase Bylenga Hulst, PLLC, where she specializes in bankruptcy, estate planning, probate and general civil litigation. She received her undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and her law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law. Prior to joining Chase & Bylenga, April practiced in Chicago and managed a local office for a multi-state bankruptcy firm. She is licensed in both Michigan and Illinois.

April is the President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan Western Region for this current year. She is a member of the Local Rules Committee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan, the Federal Bar Association of Western Michigan and Debtors Bar of West Michigan. Last year April and her partner Carol Chase were recognized as a finalist for Top Women Owned Businesses of West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. She resides in Forest Hills with her husband and two children.
2016-17 Lindsay Canan
2015-16 Amanda Narvaes View Bio
Amanda P. Narvaes is a trial attorney with Drew, Cooper & Anding P.C. in Grand Rapids. She represents business owners in complex commercial litigation and individuals in consumer protection cases. Amanda has served the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan’s Western Region Board since 2011, and was its President during the 2015-2016 year. She currently serves as the Regional Representative for the Western Region. Ms. Narvaes also serves on the Western Region committee charged with planning the annual Women Lawyers vs. Judges Softball Game, which raises thousands of dollars every year for the YWCA West Central Michigan. Amanda is also active with the Grand Rapids Bar Association, serving on its CLE Committee. In 2016, Amanda was awarded an inaugural “3 in 10 Award” at the Grand Rapids Bar Association Annual Meeting. In 2017, she was recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as an “Up and Coming Lawyer.” In her free time, Ms. Narvaes enjoys biking, running, and spending time with her husband and three-year old daughter.
2014-15 Kelly Brushaber View Bio
Kelly Brushaber serves as Legal Division Corporate Counsel at Alticor Inc., parent company of Amway Corp., in the Grand Rapids area. She handles a variety of commercial transactional matters, focusing on corporate sponsorships, celebrity endorsements, and material purchase contracts.

During the past decade, Kelly has served in various leadership roles as the President, Vice President and Regional Representative of the Western Region of Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She currently serves as a Director-At-Large and Regional Development Committee Co-Chair of the WLAM State Board of Directors.

In connection with WLAM, Kelly participated in State committees on Membership, Annual Meeting, and Leadership Development and Awards. Kelly’s passion, however, has been her work with the Regional committee which implements the Women Lawyers vs. Judges Charity Softball Game, an annual summer event which raises over $20K each year for the benefit of the YWCA West Central Michigan. Kelly’s charitable support also includes volunteer service and donations for the Humane Society of West Michigan, Best Friends Animal Society, and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Past honors include the 2014 WLAM Regional Leadership Award and recognition as a 2009 Woman of Achievement at the YWCA TRIBUTE! Awards ceremony.

In her spare time, Kelly serves as a Deacon, Sunday school teacher and active member at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids. Last but certainly not least, Kelly enjoys her most important role as mother, social planner, and chauffeur for her 14-year-old daughter, Dayle.
2013-14 Kimberly Large
2012-13 Linda Jo Carron View Bio
Linda Jo Carron began her legal career as a Legal Assistant at Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett, LLP in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While working full time at Varnum, Linda Jo Carron enrolled at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan and obtained her bachelor’s degree in 2003.

Later that year, Linda Jo entered law school at Michigan State University-College of Law. While at MSU, Linda Jo received top honors for oral and written presentations in the MSU Moot Court Class Competition and was active in other Moot Court competitions, including the ABA National Appellate Competition and the New York University Immigration Competition where she was named second best oralist and her team won second best brief honors. Linda Jo also participated in the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute at MSU.

Linda Jo has completed law clerkships with Circuit Judge James R. Redford and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan.

Upon graduating, Linda Jo obtained employment with Knape & Vogt Manufacturing Company, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based manufacturer of metal sliding systems, home organization systems, and office ergonomic products, as their only in house Corporate Attorney and in 2012 was promoted to KV’s General Counsel. In April 2013, Linda Jo completed her MBA at Western Michigan University – Haworth College of Business, and in 2014 began teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Davenport University.

During her time at KV, Linda Jo was also involved with the local community. She is former Chairperson of the Corporate Counsel Section of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, former Chairperson of the Kent District Library Fund Development Board, a former member of the Davenport University - Maine College of Business Advisory Board, former J-Board Member at the Van Andel Institute, past President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan-Western Region, and was actively involved with her church’s youth group.

In 2015, Linda Jo left the Grand Rapids, Michigan area to take a position as Senior Counsel, Americas at Hyster-Yale Group, Inc. located in Greenville, North Carolina and in early 2016 was promoted to Associate General Counsel, Americas.

In addition to her position at HYG, Linda Jo is an Executive Sponsor of the HYG Women’s Network and is a Member of the Regional Council at the Food Bank for Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Linda Jo enjoys community involvement, the performing arts, sports, traveling, reading, cooking/baking, walking her dogs, biking, water sports, and other outdoor activities.
2011-12 Linsey Gleason View Bio
Linsey joined Varnum LLP in 2008 and has been a partner since January of 2015. Her legal practice includes estate and tax planning, trust administration, elder law, and special needs planning. She is passionate about counseling her clients and helping them to identify and achieve their immediate and long-term estate planning and philanthropic goals. Linsey has been named a Michigan Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine each year since 2013, and was an ATHENA Young Professional Award finalist in 2013 and 2015. In 2015 she earned credentials as a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® and in 2017 she was awarded the 3-in-10 Award by the Grand Rapids Bar Association.

Linsey currently serves on the Grand Rapids Public Museum Foundation Board of Trustees and the Holland Home Foundation Board. In addition to being a past President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan – Western Region, she is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Senior Neighbors, Inc. and the former Chair of the Probate and Estate Planning section of the Grand Rapids Bar Association. She is also a proud graduate of the Leadership Grand Rapids Class of 2013 and one of Grand Rapids Community Foundation's 100 New Philanthropists.

Linsey enjoys living, working and playing in Grand Rapids, but loves to adventure to a new destination whenever possible.
2010-11 Nikole Canute View Bio
Nikole Canute is a member of Mika Meyers PLC, a full service firm in Grand Rapids. Nikole specializes in labor and employment law, employment litigation, energy litigation, civil litigation, fraud investigation and litigation and securities litigation. She is very skilled in handling employment investigations, electronic discovery and matters involving computer forensic investigations. Nikole also specializes in energy matters, including condemnation. Her experience includes working with local municipal authorities and law enforcement during pre-condemnation activities; condemning property and/or obtaining pre-condemnation access to properties for survey purposes and handling administrative agency proceedings. Nikole is very involved in the Grand Rapids community. She serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for Family Promise of Grand Rapids, a non-profit organization focused on assisting homeless families in West Michigan. Additionally, for several years, she has been involved in the planning of the annual Women Lawyers v. Judges Softball Game, which raises funds each year for the YWCA of West Central Michigan, and is currently chairing the event planning committee. In past years, Nikole has been an officer of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and spent several years on the Board of Directors for the WLAM, Western Region, which selected her as its 2013 “Outstanding Member of the Year.” In addition, she was selected for inclusion in the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Michigan Super Lawyers Rising Stars in employment law and was elected as a 2013 Up & Coming Lawyer by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
2009-10 Kathlene Sheridan
2008-09 Danielle Hall
2007-08 Julie Wagner (Dykstra)
2006-07 Ann E. Liefer
2005-06 Tania A. Hricik DeVries View Bio
Tania Hricik DeVries Graduated from The University of Michigan, and then Indiana University School of Law. She practiced law for 7 years out of law school, and then went to Fifth Third Bank Trust department. Currently serves as Vice President, Wealth and Investment Advisors Group, Huntington National Bank. She is married with 2 children, and is living in Grand Rapids, MI.
2004-05 Rachel Urquhart View Bio
Rachel Urquhart has been privileged to work with and be mentored by attorneys at three amazing firms: Varnum LLP in Grand Rapids, and MBTLaw (now Cozen O’Connor) and Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Chicago. However, her heart has always been in her work at non-profits: first as Executive Director of the ARC Kent County, an advocacy organization for individuals with Development Disabilities, and then as in-house counsel for Argonne National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center working to answer the biggest questions facing humanity, from how to obtain affordable clean energy to protecting ourselves and our environment. Through Argonne, Rachel spent a year appointment with the Department of Energy as Deputy Director of the Laboratory Operations Board, a collaboration of DOE and National Laboratory Leadership to improve efficiencies in the seventeen DOE research and national security laboratories.
Rachel is a graduate of Michigan State University and Chicago-Kent College of Law. Rachel recently returned to Michigan as Senior Counsel, Labor and Employment at Meijer to be closer to family. Rachel hopes to re-engage with the strong leaders she met through WLAM to create a responsive and responsible government, including health care for all, gun control, and strong public education. She is enjoying skiing and kayaking through Michigan’s forests and rivers and introducing her daughter to this beautiful state.
2003-04 Jennifer A. Puplava View Bio
Jennifer A. Puplava has been involved with Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (Western Region) since 1998. She has served on the board and was an officer. In 2008, Jennifer was selected as Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (Western Region)’s Outstanding Member. Jennifer is a member of Mika Meyers in Grand Rapids, and practices primarily in the areas of intellectual property law and technology law. She helps clients protect their trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property, and she assists clients with the negotiation, drafting and enforcement of, and compliance with, related agreements, policies, terms and conditions and other documents. She counsels clients regarding a wide range of technology law issues, including the acquisition and maintenance of domain names, cybersquatting, the protection of privacy and of confidential and proprietary information, the determination of appropriate security standards, addressing security breaches and the development, licensing, and acquisition of technology solutions. She represents clients in related commercial litigation in federal and state courts, and she prepares and prosecutes trademark applications and handles opposition/cancellation proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.

In addition to Jennifer’s busy practice, she is very active in the community and has been recognized for her efforts. Jennifer was selected as a member of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Class of 2016 “Women in the Law.” She is listed in Best Lawyers of America and was named a “Rising Star” by Michigan Super Lawyers in 2008. In addition, Jennifer is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. Some of her many community activities include: Trivalent Group Board of Directors, Cascade Community Foundation Board of Directors, Cascade Downtown Development Authority Board, Humane Society of West Michigan, International Trademark Association, American Intellectual Property Law Association, Grand Rapids Bar Association, State Bar Association and American Bar Association.

Jennifer received her law degree from Indiana University School of Law in 1998 (cum laude) and her undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College (magna cum laude) in 1995.
2002-03 Elizabeth A. Jamieson
2001-02 Elizabeth Welch Lykins View Bio
Elizabeth has her own law practice focused upon labor and employment law, representing primarily small to mid-size companies and non-profit organizations as well as executives with employment agreements. She received her law degree from Ohio State University after attending Penn State University for her undergraduate degree. After law school, she practiced labor/employment law at Greenebaum Doll & McDonald in Louisville, Kentucky prior to returning home to Grand Rapids and joining Miller Johnson. She started her own practice in 2004. Elizabeth currently serves as a Trustee of the Steelcase Foundation, a Trustee of the East Grand Rapids Public School Board (currently Vice President), and as a Board Member of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters (she is the Past President). She is a past board member for the Grand Rapids Bar Association as well as several other West Michigan-area nonprofit organizations and a 2004 graduate of Leadership Grand Rapids. Elizabeth devotes much of her time to public education advocacy in Michigan. Beyond serving as a Trustee and Vice President on the East Grand Rapids Public School Board, she works with leaders across the state to engage parents and train them to be advocates for public schools. Elizabeth is also deeply involved in Michigan’s progressive community, working to recruit and support excellent candidates. In 2009, Elizabeth was honored as one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Business Leaders and received the Women Lawyers Association – Western Michigan’s Outstanding Member Award. Elizabeth resides in East Grand Rapids with her husband and four children (with one attending the Air Force Academy, one attending the University of Denver, and the other two in high school).
2000-01 Jennifer L. Jordan View Bio
Jennifer L. Jordan is an employment lawyer and human resources executive who advises clients on issues including employment law, human resources, non-profit governance, board development, strategic planning, corporate compliance, and risk management.

Jennifer received her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1996, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa in 1990.
1999-00 Lisa A. DeFerrari
1998-99 Margaret Allen
1997-98 Nancy Haynes
1996-97 Anne Frye View Bio
Anne M. Frye is Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary & Compliance Officer for Vertellus. Vertellus manufactures fine and specialty chemicals used in diverse applications, processes and market sectors, including agriculture, life sciences, industrial specialties, nutrition, personal care and plastics. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA). The company employs more than 900 employees worldwide and maintains facilities in the U.S., United Kingdom, India and China.  In addition to legal, corporate governance and compliance, Ms. Frye is responsible for the company’s regulatory management and human resources functions.

Ms. Frye received her juris doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 1992 and a bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, in history in 1989 from Ball State University. Prior to joining Vertellus in 1997, Ms. Frye was a trial attorney at the Bos & Glazier and Buchanan & Bos law firms in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ms. Frye is a member of the board of trustees of Marian University - Indianapolis and is Vice President of the Endowment Board of Storytelling Arts of Indiana. She is a past board chair for Roncalli High School and Peace Learning Center, past president of Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (Western Division), and has served on various other civic and non-profit boards and committees. She and her husband, Ed Frye, have one son and live in Indianapolis, IN.
1995-96 Kristin Vanden Berg
1994-95 Judy Walton
1993-94 Hilary Curtis Arthur View Bio
Hilary Curtis Arthur is Court Administrator/Magistrate for the 63rd District Court, Kent County, Michigan. She has worked as a litigator, as Law Clerk to the Hon. Benjamin F. Gibson (Chief Judge, Western District of Michigan), as Chief Deputy Court Clerk 17th Circuit Court and for the non-profit literacy organization, SLD Read. Ms. Arthur serves on the Boards of the Legal Assistance Center, a community supported nonprofit legal self help center in Kent County, and SLD Read. She is a graduate of Yale University, BA magna cum laude with distinction in history, and the University of Michigan Law School, cum laude.
1992-93 Susan Wilson Keener View Bio
Sue served as president of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan – Western Region in 1992 -3. Sue is a thought and practice leader in innovative approaches to family law throughout our state. Her leadership is transforming how professionals in many fields, including family law, financial advising, counseling and coaching, empower families to survive and thrive in the shadow of divorce.

Sue has been handling family law matters for over 33 years since graduating cum laude from Indiana University School of Law. Her undergraduate degree was earned magna cum laude from DePauw University where she was inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Sue opened her own firm of Keener Law Offices, PLC in 2005. Her current practice focuses on Collaborative divorce, mediation and domestic relations litigation. For years of law practice, Sue worked as a trial lawyer in a wide range of matters, including sophisticated business disputes. She also served as chair of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

There came a time when Sue realized that what really mattered most to her was empowering families to continue healthy parenting and relationships among parents and children even after parents could no longer be married. Her deepest personal and professional commitment is to help them look for the highest and best in themselves and others. Sue found mediation training addressed many of her goals and deepened her knowledge and commitment to peaceful resolutions with Collaborative Divorce Training. Sue is Past-President of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and Past-Chair of its ADR and Family Law sections.
1991-92 Meg Hackett View Bio
Margaret (“Meg”) Hackett has been a member of the Women Lawyer’s Association of Michigan for almost 30 years and served as President of the WLAM Western Region from 1991-1992. She has played in all but a handful of the Western Region’s Annual Judges v. Lawyers Charity Softball Games since 1989.

Meg is a shareholder with the Thrun Law Firm, P.C., which specializes in education law, representing local and intermediate school districts, charter schools, community colleges, and universities throughout the state. Meg's practice is varied and draws upon extensive experience as in-house counsel before joining Thrun.

Meg graduated from the University of Notre Dame (B.A., magna cum laude, 1979) and the University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 1981), after which she was privileged to clerk for the Honorable Cornelia G. Kennedy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Meg is admitted to practice in the State of Michigan and the District of Columbia.

Meg is a member of the Michigan School Boards Association (MSBA) Council of School Attorneys and currently serves as President on its Board of Directors; the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys; the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA); the American Bar Association (ABA); the Federal Bar Association (FBA); and the Grand Rapids Bar Association (GRBA). Meg is a Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference

Meg lives on a farm and raises pasture-fed livestock and poultry. She enjoys music and participates in the music ministry at her church. She is on the Board of Directors of the YWCA West Central Michigan and is a sustaining member of the Justice Foundation of West Michigan.
1990-91 Janet Baxter
1989-90 Kelly Shadowens
1988-89 Lynn Perry
1987-88 Mary Dinkel* View Bio
Mary Dinkel was President of WLAM Western Region during 1987-1988. She passed away in December 2008 at age 54, after battling breast cancer for seven years. Her obituary states that Mary was smart, independent, irreverent, loving, funny, and caring. After graduating from Western Michigan University, she won an Associated Press award for feature articles written while on the Decatur Illinois Herald and Review staff. She hit a glass ceiling early in journalism and decided to transfer her writing and analytical skills to the legal profession. After graduating from the St. Louis University School of Law she returned to Grand Rapids and was in private practice for 25 years, eventually running a solo practice. Throughout her legal career she was active in the Grand Rapids Bar Association and Women Lawyers Association of Michigan - Western Region.
1986-87 Hon. Sara Smolenski View Bio
Judge Sara Smolenski is a Grand Rapids native. She earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Grand Rapids Junior College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Michigan. In 1982, she earned a Juris Doctorate Degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She was elected to the bench in 1990. She was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as Chief Judge of the 63rd District Court in 1996.

Judge Smolenski has not only earned a reputation among her peers as a distinguished judge, but also is a proven strong community leader spending countless hours outside of the courtroom as a legal advocate, contributor and activist for several non-profit groups and organizations.

In addition to her legal work and community service, Judge Smolenski has established herself as a popular local humorist frequently exhibiting her unique “real life” humor for many organizations.

Judge Smolenski is a strong advocate for education. She believes education improves lives and our community.

Among many community organizations, she has done work with American Cancer Society, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, Kids Food Basket, YWCA, Hospice of Michigan, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Senior Neighbors, and many others.

She is a frequent speaker at community events, educational programs, charitable organizations, and civic and community groups.


She is a member of many professional organizations, including Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Grand Rapids Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, Michigan District Judges Association, as well as the National Association of Women Judges. She has been Chief Judge of the 63rd District Court since 1996, and she was proud to be the President of the Women Lawyers Association of West Michigan from 1986 to 1987. She, for many years, was the Coach of the WLAM softball team in its annual charity softball game with the local judges. She became a Judge in 1990 and she has been the Coach of the Judges’ team for over ten years.

She was extremely honored to receive 2009 WLAM Outstanding Member Award and the 2012 WLAM Jean King Leadership Award.

She wishes to express sincere congratulations to the WLAM organization and all its members on its 100th Anniversary celebration.
1985-86 Patricia Gardner
1984-85 Jean Gorman
1983-84 Diane Wechter
1982-83 Unknown
1981-82 Constance Grzanka View Bio
Ms. Constance Grzanka received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wayne State University, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1970, and her Juris Doctorate degree from Wayne State University Law School in 1977. Her first years of practice were spent with the law firms of Warner, Norcross and Judd, and Smith, Haughey, Rice and Roegge, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ms. Grzanka specialized in appellate law arguing cases and putting pen to paper in legal briefs. She took a position as a Visiting Professor at Grand Valley State University where she taught a variety of classes in the legal field. In 1990, Ms. Grzanka and her husband, Charles Grzanka, began their own law firm in Grand Rapids, where she continued her appellate practice. While practicing law with the firm of Grzanka Grit, Ms. Grzanka was active as a docent for the Grand Rapids Art Museum and a co-founder of RAVE of West Michigan (Resources Against Violent Encounters to Women), a nonprofit organization dedicated to prevention of violence against women and girls through education, awareness and advocacy. Ms. Grzanka served as the president of the Western Region of the Women Lawyers Association from 1981-1982. Currently, Ms. Grzanka is retired, enjoying the outdoors, photography, and writing poetry. Her greatest joy is being a grandmother.