At Counterpart, we enjoy presenting the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award, which recognizes the volunteer service and leadership of one special woman in our community.  The Nominee must volunteer at a policy-making level in the Tri-Cities Area, demonstrate outstanding achievement in her profession, maintain high personal and professional ethics and leadership, reside or work in the Tri-Cities Area. The award also recognizes candidate’s efforts to support and encourage other women to reach their own potential and her sensitivity to the role of women in today’s society.

The 2016 recipient of the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award is Christine Wright.

President Barb Dryer crowns WOTY Christine Wright for the day. Grand Haven Tribune photo by Becky Vargo.

Chris is a Spring Lake resident.  She worked at Agility Health for 28 years as a clinician, teacher, leader, key manager, Chief Operations Officer, and Business Development Officer.  She is currently with Spectrum Health.

Her co-workers at Agility Health repeatedly championed her commitment to patients, employees, and clients.  They described her as fun and having a positive energy that was contagious to others on the team.  She is an outside-the-box thinker with an open mind.  She inspires, leads by example, and has the highest standard of professional conduct and personal integrity.  She is highly regarded and respected by all who have had the pleasure of working with or learning from her.

A close friend who wrote to the nominating committee told us, “From the moment I met her, I knew that Chris was a special woman.  As she gained experience, strength and hope in her own journey, she reached out and raised up countless people who were hurting.  I can truly say that if it weren’t for Chris’ constant support, I would not be the woman, mother, and wife that I am today.”

Chris has always put her three children first.  When her eldest daughter gave birth to a son that she could not care for herself, Chris and her husband Bob stepped in and have been the primary care givers for their grandson for almost 9 years.  Chris and Bob courageously shared their story at the 2012 Beacon of Hope event. They shared the ways their own family has been impacted by abuse.  Together, they are providing a loving and stable home for a smart, active, and well-adjusted little boy.  Starting over in a parenting role in her 50s has not been an easy task for Chris, but she has embraced the opportunity to yet again put others first with grace and resolve.

As busy as she is with family and with her highly demanding career, she never misses an opportunity to volunteer her time with organizations that put others first.  Chris has been a tireless advocate for Center for Women in Transition for over ten years, most recently serving on the board of directors.  She dedicates her time, passion and expertise to the Center, an organization that offers women a hand up and out of abusive situations.  This is just one of the countless causes that Chris has supported over the years.  From soccer coach to church volunteer to PTA president to 100 Women Who Care, the list of community contributions is mind boggling.  She is in constant motion and nearly all of that motion is focused on helping others to be the best they can be.

Congratulations, Chris!


  • 2016 Christine Wright
  • 2015 (award not given)
  • 2014 (award not given)
  • 2013 (award not given)
  • 2012 Kaye Nedderman
  • 2011 Cindy Anderson
  • 2010 Gail Ringelberg
  • 2009 Donaylle Rogers 
  • 2008  Lisa Luckey
  • 2007  Renee Freeman-Risher
  • 2006  Lynne Sherwood
  • 2005  Bobbi Jones Sabine
  • 2004  Shirley Lemon
  • 2003  Lynne Kinkema
  • 2002  Susan Jonas
  • 2001  Barbara Johnson
  • 2000  (award not given)
  • 1999  Kellie Oom
  • 1998  Tami Harvey
  • 1997  Sheila McNally
  • 1996  Connie Farell
  • 1995  Barbara Dean
  • 1994  Victoria Verplank
  • 1993  Karen Benson
  • 1992  Thelma Soerhyde
  • 1991  Marilyn Sherwood
  • 1990  Mary Creason
  • 1989  Dottie Johnson
  • 1988  Nancy Rieske Hanenburg
  • 1987  Carol Bedford
  • 1986  Marianne VanEenenaam
  • 1985  Carol DeBlaey
  • 1984  Eleanor Andrews
  • 1983  Edie Swart
  • 1982  Marge Boon
  • 1981  Eunice Bareham
  • 1980  Doris VanDam

Note: Due to organizational restructuring, Counterpart did not accept nominations for the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

We’re accepting nominations for the 2017 Woman of the Year now! To nominate a deserving woman, download the nomination form and submit it along with a letter of support. Questions? Please contact Chairperson Wendy Schweifler at 616-566-1437 or