2023 Distinguished Volunteers

Congratulations to the 2023 National Philanthropy Day Distinguished Volunteers!

Rukayya Ahsan-McTier photo

Rukayya Ahsan-McTier
Nominated by Forgotten Harvest
Rukayya Ahsan-McTier is a long-term monthly donor to Forgotten Harvest and a recipient of our inaugural donor loyalty pin collection. Rukayya has become even more involved by coming weekly to write notes to fellow Forgotten Harvest supporters as part of our Thank You Crew. We are so thankful to know Rukayya and for all that she continues to make possible for our community. We are so lucky to have her as a Forgotten Harvester!

Denise Anton David photo

Denise Anton David
Nominated by Cranbrook Educational Community 
A long-time volunteer, board member, and supporter of Cranbrook Educational Community. Most recently, she served as vice-chair of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Art and Art Museum. She co-led the board while the chair took a one-year leave of absence and steered the board through a restructuring. She leads with “yes”, isn’t afraid to ask smart and tough questions, and sets a great example to other members through her time and financial commitments. She is a great thought partner and we value her insight, spirit, and commitment.

Tina Battle photo

Tina Battle
Nominated by Alzheimer's Association
Tina Battle is the superwoman of fundraising volunteers. Anything that I ask of my committee - Tina is the first to respond with an excited YES and usually within a few minutes.
Tina has participated and volunteered with the Alzheimer's Association since since 2005.
  • She has raised over $67,000* since 2012 for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event.
  • In 2021 and 2022 I was a top 5 fundraiser for the Detroit Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
  • 2021, 2022, and 2023 – Detroit Walk to End Alzheimer’s Planning Committee
  • 2022 and 2023 – The Longest Day Committee Chair
  • $2004 raised for the Longest Day event in 2023
  • Joined as an Advocacy volunteer in 2023
Tina exemplifies what is means to be a volunteer and is growing in all Pilars of the Alzheimer's Association. Her energy and dedication to the cause are unmatched.
Her volunteering and fundraising fuel the mission of the Alzheimer's Association to see a world without dementia.
These funds directly contribute to:
  • 24/7 HelpLine in over 200 languages run by master's level clinicians
  • In person and virtual support groups
  • Educational programs
  • Over 900 global scientific studies to end Alzheimer's in 2023
  • Advocacy efforts to create a Dementia Unit in the Michigan State legislature

Dr Latoya Brown photo

Dr. LaToya Brown
Nominated by Focus: HOPE
Dr. LaToya Brown’s caring and giving nature is evident in both her work as a Doctor of Nursing Practice where her focus is helping the geriatric population in assisted living communities and with her volunteer time she donates to Focus: HOPE delivering monthly food boxes to low-income seniors who are homebound.

Nancy Columbo photo

Nancy Columbo
Nominated by Leader Dogs for the Blind
Nancy is currently raising her 30th future Leader Dog puppy with her husband Paul. Her deep knowledge and expertise distinguish her as an expert raiser. Nancy is very active in supporting numerous Leader Dog events for decades. When Leader Dog piloted a new breed several years ago, she and Paul raised Lincoln, a male Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She has also housed a male breeding dog who sired many working guide dogs for Leader Dog. She did this while simultaneously continuing to raise puppies. Nancy's longstanding contribution to Leader Dog is remarkable, inspiring and has provided tremendous support for people who are blind or visually impaired. We honor her commitment and dedication.

Kiki and Colin Connery photo

Kiki and Colin Connery
Nominated by Autism Alliance of Michigan
Soon after their son Charles' autism diagnoses, Kiki and Colin have been devoted to raising awareness and critical funds for AAoM. Since joining our Autism Hero Walk committee, they have helped transform this event to the largest gathering of the autism community in Michigan. Thank you Colin and Kiki!!!

Ann and David Conrad photo

Ann and David Conrad
Nominated by Ascension Providence Foundation
Ann and David Conrad have dedicated their time and financial resources to support the mission of Ascension Providence Foundation. They have both served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, with Ann’s tenure lasting over 20 years. In 2022, the Conrads led an initiative to enhance the culture of philanthropy and strengthen associate and board member engagement in fundraising for Ascension Providence Hospital.

Tim Crawford photo

Tim Crawford
"Committed (to our mission)"
Nominated by Ascension Providence Rochester Foundation
Tim Crawford is President of The Crawford Insurance Group, established in 2001. Tim has over 10 years of giving to the Ascension Providence Rochester Foundation and joined the board of directors in 2023. He has dedicated his time, finances and resources to further the Ascension mission within the Rochester community, including chairing numerous events.

Carolyn Crowe photo

Carolyn Crowe
"Super Star"
Nominated by Leader Dogs for the Blind
Carolyn began volunteering with Leader Dogs for the Blind 29 years ago. She has raised 33 future Leader Dog puppies and is currently raising puppy number 34. Carolyn was asked to be a Puppy Counselor in 1995 in the Port Huron area and has been a counselor ever since supporting and guiding other raisers in her community. In addition to being a Puppy Raiser and Puppy Counselor, Carolyn also serves on the Puppy Raiser Advisory Committee, and as an On Campus Volunteer as a Puppy Raiser Visit Assistant. Carolyn even designed and built her house to be conducive to raising future Leader Dog puppies. Carolyn's skilled ability to raise future Leader Dogs for the Blind has impacted the lives of people who are blind, and her work has furthered the Leader Dog mission in countless ways.

Kathie Davis photo

Kathie Davis
Nominated by Leader Dogs for the Blind
Kathie Davis has advocated for Leader Dog for over a decade in multiple capacities and roles. Serving initially as volunteer non-trustee on the HR Committee with her HR expertise. Kathie was then nominated to the board of Trustees in 2011. Kathie served as Vice Chair of the Board from 2019 to 2021 and has been Board Chair since November of 2021. Kathie currently chairs our Ethics Committee. She regularly introduces new people and audiences to the Leader Dog mission and attends donor and supporter events. Her constant dedication to serving people who are blind has advanced the Leader Dog mission.

Dr Matthew Denenberg photo

Dr. Matthew Denenberg
Nominated by North Star Reach
Dr. Denenberg serves as Chair and Chief of Pediatrics, Beaumont Children’s, Corewell Health and Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. He is currently the chair of the North Star Reach Board of Directors and has led North Star Reach as the organization transitions from COVID. His guidance and leadership have led to significant growth in governance and philanthropic giving for North Star Reach. Thanks to his service, North Star Reach is well-positioned to support children with serious medical conditions at camp for many years to come. He is passionate about the mission and vision and thanks to his passion and perseverance, ensured North Star Reach is well-positioned for success.

Ron Deneweth photo

Ron Deneweth
Nominated by YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit
Volunteering for over two decades, Ron Deneweth of Deneweth Vittiglio & Sassak has led the Y’s annual giving campaign in raising over $ 20 million to serve deserving children and families throughout Metro Detroit. If you ask Ron why he serves on the board he will tell you it is a privilege and an honor to give back.

Steve Ebben photo

Steve Ebben
Nominated by Judson Center
Since joining the Board in 2006, Steve Ebben has dedicated himself to furthering Judson Center’s mission through his strategic acumen, thoughtful insights, servant leadership and personal philanthropy. As Judson Center’s Immediate Past Board Chair, Steve remains steadfast in his commitment to introducing others to our work and our mission of serving over 13,000 children, adults and families annually.

Dondra Elie photo

Dondra Elie
Nominated by Cranbrook Schools
Dondra has a magical way of bringing Cranbrook families together from all divisions. She has worked tirelessly to build school spirit and connect students and their parents through large events, intimate community gatherings, and parent group meetings. She is fiercely loyal, mission driven, and strategic. Her interest in creating meaningful experiences at Cranbrook will have a real and lasting impact.

Andrew Fortunato photo

Andrew Fortunato
Nominated by CARE of Southeastern Michigan
Andrew continually goes above and beyond for CARE. He supports all of our events, donating his time at every turn. Andrew always has a smile on his face and is always eager to meet and support our staff. Andrew donated a whole year of his time to selflessly work a Jack of Spades raffle, every Monday evening!

Patty and Mike French photo

Patty and Mike French
Nominated by Leader Dogs for the Blind
This powerful volunteer couple have raised 3 Leader Dogs together and individually served in a myriad of capacities for the organization. Mike as a Downtown Rochester Client Guide, In for Training Counselor, Puppy Pick Up Specialist, Leader Dog Rehome Overnight Volunteer, Special Event Chair and Storage Coordinator.
Patty as an Assistant in Volunteer Engagement, Breeding and Litter Assistant, Customer Service Specialist in Client Services, and Docent Downtown Rochester Client Guide, In for Training Counselor and Leader Dog Rehome Overnight volunteer. This wonderful, dedicated couple represent the very best of Leader Dog volunteerism and service to people who are blind or visually impaired. They are incredible testament to the power of volunteerism in action. We are so grateful for their dedicated service.

Cameron Frost photo

Cameron Frost
Nominated by Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan

Cameron R. Frost is Vice President of Business Services for Edw. C. Levy Co. Cameron brings over 25 years of IT systems, consulting, and manufacturing experience in multiple industries. Cameron has also been an avid supporter of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan for numerous years and now serves on the Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan Advisory Board.

Andy Gawel photo

Andy Gawel
Nominated by Focus: HOPE
Andy’s completed nearly 100 hours of volunteer work with Focus: HOPE. Whether packing boxes on the line or making deliveries to homebound participants, he’s continued to support Focus: HOPE’s mission. When asked, “why do you volunteer with us?” Andy said, “why not?” On behalf of the Volunteer 
Department, I’d like to shine a light on Andy Gawel as a distinguished volunteer.

Shane Gianino photo

Shane Gianino
Nominated by Connor Creek Life Solutions
Shane is truly an exceptional volunteer whose heart for youth, community, and philanthropy shines brilliantly through his dedicated efforts. At our organization, Shane plays a pivotal role as the driving force behind a transformative youth development program that focuses on empowering underprivileged children. His commitment to mentoring and providing life skills has not only offered these youngsters a sense of hope but has also significantly contributed to their mental health, wellness, and overall success.
Nominated by Neway Works
Shane’s selflessness and dedication know no bounds. His decision to invest not only his time but also his 
personal finances and even his own 401k into his youth development program is a testament to his commitment and belief in its mission. This level of sacrifice showcases Shane’s genuine dedication to fueling the hopes and dreams of these children, even at personal expense!
Nominated by Clintondale Community Schools
Shane Gianino, an exceptional volunteer, selflessly fuels children’s dreams through his nonprofit’s youth mentoring program, Project Transformation. His unwavering dedication has transformed children’s lives, empowering young minds to reach their full potential. Shane’s sacrifices demonstrate his genuine commitment to the cause, making him a true inspiration, a man on a mission of impact and philanthropy. His empathy, perseverance, and passion have made him remarkably effective in guiding 
and uplifting the at-risk children he serves.

Tony Hollamon photo

Tony Hollamon
Nominated by Vista Maria 
Tony’s leadership, generosity, and ability to inspire others make him an unstoppable advocate for vulnerable youth and families. As a dedicated board volunteer, he’s invaluable to our fundraising 
events and board engagement efforts. During a critical staffing crisis, Tony and Epitec aided our HR department in establishing a robust recruitment arm, ensuring we had ample staff to serve children in need. His pro-bono support exemplifies the value of volunteerism and the importance of empowering others.

Sue Jeffers and Richard Lord photo

Sue Jeffers and Richard Lord
Nominated by Cass Community Social Services 

For more than ten years, Sue Jeffers and Richard Lord have been committed volunteers at Cass Community Social Services (CCSS). They’ve demonstrated their support by participating in Trading Places, a program where items are sorted and sold at our monthly rummage sale to community members, many of whom are looking for items to furnish their new homes. Sue and Richard were instrumental in bringing a church group to campus, which inspired one of its members to make a significant gift. Their backgrounds in accounting and environment have led them to provide funding for our greenhouse, sustainability institute, and Tiny Homes Initiative, as well as develop plans for a neighborhood grocery store. They also connected CCSS to Rollins College. It is because of this introduction that CCSS now has a robust internship program for students interested in human services.

Michael Klieman photo

Michael Klieman

Nominated by Oakland University


Michael Klieman is an incredible alumni and community partner who saw the neglected 1928 Gate Lodge of Oakland University and decided to change it. He gathered volunteers and staged fundraisers to preserve the historic building for the future.

Tim and Laura Kowalski photo

Tim and Laura Kowalski
Nominated by Judson Center

Tim and Laura Kowalski have been volunteering with Judson Center since December 2016. From assistance in the Holiday Wish Room, to a diverse range of tasks at our signature events like our annual golf outing and galas, they are willing to do whatever it takes and whatever is asked of them, always with enthusiasm and grace. There’s no task this dynamic volunteer duo can’t mount!

Remia Lovell photo

Remia Lovell

Nominated by Macomb Community College


A big heart in a small package, Remia Lovell’s sense of humor and generous spirit are contagious. Her service and dedication to the Macomb Community College Foundation’s Comedy & Cocktails steering committee has helped raise close to a half-million dollars to benefit the college’s arts and cultural programs since the gala’s inception in 2014. We are so fortunate to have her on our team!

Jim Maier photo

Jim Maier
Nominated by Avalon Healing Center 
As a Volunteer First Responder, Jim responds to hospitals in Wayne County to provide crisis intervention, emotional support, and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking during his on-call shifts. Jim is empathetic, trauma informed, and dedicated to the work. He’s worked directly with several survivors over the years and has made positive impacts toward their healing journey.

Renee Manzella photo

Renee Manzella
Nominated by Leader Dogs for the Blind 
Renee has been a dedicated Leader Dog volunteer for close to 16 years. She has served in critical roles such as Canine Support Assistant, Instructor Support, Summer Experience Activity Assistant and blindfold guide. The Leader Dog training team honor her steadfast support and care of future Leader Dogs in training stating how much it helps their work. Renee demonstrates significant personal commitment to the work and mission of Leader Dog with great generosity of spirit. She is a true team player and ambassador for Leader Dog. Her work has a tremendous impact upon Leader Dog instructors, future Leader Dogs and ultimately Leader Dog clients.

Lois McEntyre photo

Lois McEntyre
Nominated by Schoolcraft College Foundation 
Lois McEntyre is Past President and a Schoolcraft College Foundation Board of Governors member. She is a results-driven volunteer passionate about people and nonprofit board leadership. Her willingness to engage people and get to know them has brought a new level of synergy to the Foundation. She was instrumental in the second phase of the Foundation’s Vision 2025 Campaign, creating life-changing opportunities for students. Under Lois’ guidance, the Campaign reached its original goal of $10M and extended its stretch goal to $18M by 2025. On behalf of a grateful Foundation, thank you, Lois!

Jane McKee photo

Jane McKee
Nominated by Cranbrook House & Gardens
Jane McKee has been a Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary member since 1979 and is one of the organization’s longest-standing volunteers. She volunteers hundreds of hours in the gardens every year and managed the Sunken Garden perennial beds for more than 30 years. Jane continues to inspire countless members and visitors with her profound wisdom, enduring kindness, and remarkable spirit.

Mario and Maria Moceri photo

Mario and Maria Moceri
Nominated by Ascension Providence Rochester Foundation 
Mario and Maria Moceri operate Blossom Properties for seniors as well as Moceri Custom Homes. Along with his brothers, Mario upholds their parents’ tradition of giving back to the community and fostering a legacy of philanthropy. The Moceris have supported numerous Ascension Providence Rochester Foundation initiatives and are incredible advocates for the community served by Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital.

Ram and Lakshmi Ramanujam photo

Ram and Lakshmi Ramanujam
Nominated by Schoolcraft College Foundation 
“Community Connectors”
Ram and Lakshmi are not only generous supporters but also dedicated and passionate advocates and volunteers when it comes to engaging with their community and the Schoolcraft College Foundation. Their diverse connections within the Indian community locally, nationally, and internationally have forged a model for partnerships that have impacted students through scholarships by making connections with associations, organizations, and individuals who share the values and mission of promoting the importance of community colleges as strategic partners worthy of philanthropic support. On behalf of a grateful Foundation, thank you, Ram and Lakshmi!

Gary and Marlene Schafer photo

Gary and Marlene Schafer
Nominated by Macomb Community College Foundation 
Gary and Marlene Schafer have been invaluable to the Macomb Community College family. Their tireless volunteer efforts as long-standing members of the Macomb Community College Foundation Board, as well as their establishment of an endowed scholarship in their son’s memory, have clearly shown their determined generosity to the college’s programs and students. We are grateful for their dedication, which has made college possible for so many in our community!

Linda Schlesinger_Wagner photo

Linda Schlesinger-Wagner

Nominated by Detroit Historical Society


Linda Schlesinger-Wagner joined our Board of Trustees in 2021. Her passion for our work energized our team because she gladly lends a hand to host events, to introduce us to prospective donors and to

underwrite special initiatives. She’s a staunch advocate for our work and we’re grateful to have her as part of our family.

Sandra Smith and Robert Wilson photo

Sandra Smith and Robert Wilson
Nominated by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
While Sandra Smith and Robert Wilson have found a home at Cranbrook through the Center for Collections and Research, there is no part of Cranbrook’s campus and no Program Area that has not benefited from their expansive understanding of Cranbrook’s potential and steadfast support. They epitomize our volunteers that have embraced and practice our “One Cranbrook” philosophy and goals.

Paul Starr photo

Paul Starr
Nominated by Life Remodeled 
Since 2013, Paul and our 15-member Blight + Beautification Team have been the primary support for the execution of LR’s annual Six Day Project. This group meets throughout the year, plans logistics, preps/repairs thousands of pieces of equipment and has ensured that since 2014, LR has been able to beautify 2,369 Detroit blocks and mobilize 81,978 volunteers.

Peter Van Dyke photo

Peter Van Dyke

Nominated by Wayne State University



As VVK PR+Creative founding partner and CEO, Peter Van Dyke ’03 is a community leader deeply involved in Detroit arts and culture. He chairs the Board of Visitors for the WSU College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. Peter generously created an honorary scholarship for Bob Berg and Georgella Muirhead and the VVK PR+Creative Student Scholarship to support diversity in the next generation of practitioners.

Kim Wines photo

Kim Wines

Nominated by Forgotten Harvest


Kim Wines is a new volunteer at Forgotten Harvest but, it feels like we’ve known her forever! She is part of our Thank You Crew. Week after week, Kim writes notes of gratitude to Forgotten Harvest donors.

These notes express deep appreciation to supporters that help feed the community. Her dependability as a volunteer has made her an easy addition to our Forgotten Harvest family. We feel so fortunate to know Kim!

Dr Jeffrey Zaks photo

Dr. Jeffrey Zaks
Nominated by Ascension Providence Foundation 
“Devoted (leader)”
Dr. Zaks has a personal history of philanthropy at Ascension dating back to 1982. Since then, he has championed physician giving at Ascension Providence Hospital by founding the Caduceus Society, a philanthropic organization of physicians. Above his commitment to creating a culture of philanthropy with his physician colleagues, he has been a board member of the Ascension Providence Foundation since 1990.