Breaking attendance records, the JVS ninth annual Trade Secrets dinner celebrated the tenacity and resilience of two women who overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve success in the workplace. A record crowd of 510 enjoyed the JVS event on March 29 at the Troy Marriott that was headlined by Connie Holzer, dealer principal and CEO of Tom Holzer Ford. Kimberly Baker of Novi received JVS’s 2017 Women to Work Award.
Proceeds from Trade Secrets support JVS services that assist women job seekers including the Women to Work Program, which helps women who must find employment to support their families following the unemployment, divorce, disability, or death of their spouse or partner.
“Trade Secrets is all about supporting, empowering and encouraging women,” said Leah Rosenbaum, JVS president and CEO. “We are thrilled Connie headlined the event as her inspiring story parallels the stories of participants in the JVS Women to Work Program who need to re-invent themselves after life-changing events.”
Holzer assumed ownership of the Farmington Hills-based dealership when her husband of 52 years passed away. At the time, the economy was at a low point and she struggled with the decision of whether to keep or sell the business. She worried about her 130 employees and the impact selling the business would have on them and their families.
Holzer kept the business. She mortgaged her home and asked employees to not take raises. They worked as a team to re-build the dealership, which now ranks fourth in the region and 10th in the world.
“Today, Connie is more than a successful businesswoman,” said Rosenbaum. “She is a generous philanthropist who makes people a priority in her life.”
Like Holzer, Kimberly Baker also faced a devastating loss. Her “fairytale life” with a husband and two young sons came crashing down when her husband was suddenly arrested and later imprisoned for white collar crimes. With a high school education and little work experience, Baker’s job opportunities were limited.
On the brink of losing her home, Baker came to JVS for help. She took computer classes and participated in the Women to Work Program, where she found warmth and encouragement.
Baker credits JVS with helping her uncover marketable skills and rebuilding her confidence. With an updated resume and polished interview skills, Baker found a job utilizing her new computer skills and she has since been promoted.
“Thanks to JVS, I now have a job that I love at a great company,” said Baker. “Most importantly, I am relieved and proud that I can provide for my children.”
The Women to Work Program has helped thousands of women like Baker. An information meeting for the next session will be held on April 20 at JVS in Southfield. For details, visit www.jvshumanservices.org/women.
Trade Secrets was chaired by Kristen Gross, of Franklin, and Linda Schlesinger-Wagner, of West Bloomfield, and raised more than $260,000. The monies will provide career counseling, job search training and skills assessment to women job seekers of all ages, experience levels and backgrounds.