Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame to induct new honorees

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The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame will be hosting their annual Awards Dinner and Induction Ceremony tonight at the Kellogg Center and Conference Center in East Lansing.

The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame is located in the Yonker’s home wing of the Meridian Mall. Photo by Ashley Fernandez.

After 34 years of being located at the Cooley-Haze House in downtown Lansing, the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame relocated to the Meridian Mall in Okemos in late April.

“When looking for new locations, somebody brought up the concept of the mall,” said Caitlyn Perry Dial, executive director of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. “It had all of the things that we wanted, a lot of traffic, great parking, ADA accessible. When we asked them if they would want our museum here, they said absolutely, yes!”

Ten women are being inducted into the 34th class in the Hall of Fame. There will be five historical honorees, including those who are no longer living, and five contemporary honorees, including those who are living.

The contemporary inductees include: American Legion NUWARINE Post 535, Mary Kay Henry, Bernice Morton, Ph.D., Professor Rosemary Sarri and Elizabeth Wetzel. The historical inductees include: Ella Mae Backus (1863-1938), Clara Bryant Ford (1866-1950), Elizabeth Denison Forth (c.1790-1866), Verna Grehek Mize (1913-2013) and Rosie the Riveter.

“They really symbolize the spirit of the Michigan woman,” said Dial. “That you can do anything and you can be anything.”

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with a cocktail hour, giving attendees the chance to socialize with the inductees and shop in the Hall of Fame gift shop. At 6 p.m. dinner will be served and the ceremony will follow at 7 p.m.

At the dinner, the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame will announce their upcoming merge with the Michigan Women’s Foundation. The Michigan Women’s Foundation has reach all across Michigan, with offices in Grand Rapids and Detroit.

“We will be their Lansing presence,” said Dial. “It is a big deal for us and for Michigan’s women and girls, too.”

The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame maintains displays on past inductees. This display features the 2016 historical honorees. Photo by Ashley Fernandez.

In 2016, Lou Anna K. Simon, the president of Michigan State University, was among the contemporary honorees inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“The event is a humbling experience to be recognized among those who have done so much,” said Simon. “Each person, in her own right, has made a very special impact on those around her. The event is a celebration of the collective talent, strength and accomplishments of extraordinary women.”

One Michigan man is also recognized each year at the ceremony. The Phillip A. Hart award is given to an outstanding Michigan man who exemplifies support for women’s rights and for equal rights.

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. will be this year’s Phillip A. Hart recipient. He will be receiving the award for his “Yes Means Yes” bill that he reintroduced into the senate. This bill will add the requirement for children who are learning about sexual education to also learn about affirmative consent – that “yes” must be said every time.

Over 300 people are expected to be in attendance. Attendees are typically supporters of the inductees, past honorees and members of the museum.

“We have a lot of people coming from out of city,” said Susan Ward, office manager at the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. “In fact, we have two people coming from out of state for one of our historical inductees. They are coming from Minnesota… to honor Verna Mize.”  

The event is sponsored by groups from around the state, including: Michigan State University’s James Madison College, the Truscott Rossman group, the Law Offices of Brandt & Dehncke, and Hitch Holdings, Inc.  

Click here for more information regarding this year’s honorees.

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