6th Annual International Women's Day

This year in honor of our 6th Annual International Women’s Day celebration, we are honoring three extraordinary women in our community. For more information regarding International Women’s Day and this year’s #ChoosetoChallenge theme, click the link below


Humanitarian of the Year -Ragan Savara

Ragan Savara (she/her) offers free nonprofit capacity services to Kalamazoo nonprofits through her work at ONEplace@kpl. Prior to joining ONEplace, she spent eleven years as an attorney specializing in housing and consumer rights law.

Women in Business-Nicole R. Triplett

Owner of Kalamazoo Counseling connection Est. 2012, located downtown Kalamazoo, MI. Private practice, I received Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University, with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy. I work with children, adolescents, adults and families and have experience working with delinquent and abused children in a psychiatric setting alongside of medical and psychiatric doctors. Service Kalamazoo Public/Alternative Schools facilitating groups focusing on anger management and conflict resolution. I have completed evidence-based training in Motivational Interviewing as well as DBT for substance abuse.


Founder of Black Wall Street Kalamazoo, and the Kalamazoo Black Business Expo. Black Wall Street Kalamazoo (BWSK) is focused on the African American Community within Kalamazoo County, generational wealth building. BWSK is the areas Black Business Directory, highlighting and lifting the African American entrepreneur. The primary focus of BWSK is to provide a safe platform to exclusively increase the lifespan of the Black dollar. The guiding principles of BWSK are to access and aid in advocating for equal lending and banking practices, the primary to ownership and generational wealth. Business Education, acumen, economics and collaboration are consistently fostered in our endeavors. We have consulted with multiple entrepreneurship support organization including community development, economic development, private and public agencies to give guidance on best ways to impact the minority business community: United Way of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Truth Racial Healing and Reconciliation, South West Michigan First (SWMF), the City of Kalamazoo, City of Battle Creek, Chase Bank, LISC, Can-Do Kitchen, Black Arts and Cultural Center, Big Brothers Big sisters of America, Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, Greater Kalamazoo Business Resource Network, SBA, WMU School of Business, SCORE and others. Invited to speak directly with the governor to express the state of Black Business in Kalamazoo during the worst economic crisis our generation may ever seen. We have provided direct input to both to state Democratic and Republican representatives on legislation framing how to insure equitable disbursement of COVID relief funds. We provided strategy to South West Michigan First and assisted in directly ensuring 30% of the Michigan Restart grant funding was distributed to marginalized businesses in Kalamazoo. Our efforts have also resulted in an increase in access to entrepreneurship support resources and organizations. It is imperative to leverage our individual platforms, our voices, networks, and programming to build thriving Black Businesses. In a short 3 year period of time we have developed a proven track record of supporting and resourcing Black business owners.


The Roche’ Collection, “Wine For The Culture”, A boutique Urban winery. A contemporary, delicious and luxury wine collection. Enjoy your relaxing everyday moments with our wines which are equally worthy to celebrate success and glamour! Formulated with the modern wine drinker in mind. Roche’ is the taste that people desire and the varietals wine lovers enjoy. Twine Urban Winery by The Roche’ collection is located in the Washington Square neighborhood situated a mile from the downtown area. By all known accounts Nicole is the first Black female winemaker in Michigan.

Women in Excellence -Patrese Griffin

Patrese Griffin is a lifelong Kalamazoo resident who is dedicated to taking Kalamazoo to a higher level for all.  She is a committed community activist who has over 16 years experience in property management, specifically managing single family, conventional, senior housing, subsidized housing, and housing for those with mental disabilities.

For the last 3 years, Patrese has facilitated successes as a housing advocate. She researched and created a process that resulted in funding for housing application assistance, and helped to place families into housing.  She has also been instrumental in writing equitable housing policies that increase housing choices and options for all residents of Kalamazoo.

Patrese also serves in many other capacities, including: Board Vice-Chair of the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo (SPK) organizing committee member, member of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Law and Separation Design Teams, member of Vibrant Kalamazoo Board, member of the ISAAC Housing Task Force, Co-Chair of the Allocation and Accountability Team for Continuum of Care, Chair of Housing Resources Incorporated’s (HRI) Housing Equity Advisory Committee, and member of the Southwest Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative Community Development subcommittee. She also volunteers with the United Way and Michigan United; and also does equity, cultural awareness, and evaluation training for various non-profit organizations.

Patrese is a graduate of Hackett Catholic Central High School and has taken Business Management courses at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.  Patrese resides on the Northside of Kalamazoo, and is married to artist/activist/community organizer Ed Genesis. They are parents to one adult son, and a son and daughter who are enrolled in Kalamazoo Public Schools.

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