Inaugural Recipients of Woman of Impact Award Announced


ANN ARBOR, MI, March 15, 2017 – The Joyce Ivy Foundation today announced the inaugural recipients of the Women of Impact award. Given for the first time in 2017, the award recognizes the achievements of rising female leaders who have demonstrated professional talent and a commitment to improving their communities.

The 2017 Women of Impact award recipients are Veronika Scott, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Empowerment Plan, of Detroit, Michigan; Linzie Venegas, Vice President, Ideal Group, of Detroit, Michigan; Tiffany Brown, Communications Director, Mission Flint Office, of Flint, Michigan; and Allyson Carpenter, an alumna of the Joyce Ivy Summer Scholars program, Truman Scholar, and President of the Student Government at Howard University in Washington, D.C..

“We are delighted to be honoring these impressive women,” said Emily Taylor, a member of the Joyce Ivy Board of Directors and Women of Impact selection committee. “Our goal with the Women of Impact award is to highlight the impact women can have in their professions and community—even at an early stage in their careers. Our inaugural recipients have deep commitments to social impact and show a tremendous range in their engagements. They are creative, entrepreneurial, and care about mentoring younger women.”

Veronika Scott built The Empowerment Plan around a single idea: to design a coat specifically for the homeless. The coat is self- heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. That idea has now transformed into a system of empowerment in which homeless women are paid to learn how to produce coats for people living on the streets, giving them an opportunity to earn money, find a place to live, and gain back their independence. Scott is the youngest recipient of the JFK New Frontier Award from Harvard University. She received an IDEA Gold Award from the Industrial Design Society of America, was named one of the 2015 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, and was recognized as regional Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. The Empowerment Plan story has been told all over the world and shared at events such as the Forbes 400 Philanthropy Summit.

Linzie Venegas is the Vice President at Ideal Group, where she oversees marketing, finance and human resources. Located in Southwest Detroit, The Ideal Group is an innovative manufacturing company founded by Frank Venegas in 1979 that operates seven different companies with over 450 employees. Linzie Venegas actively works with various community organizations including Detroit Cristo Rey High School, Holy Redeemer Elementary School and Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. Venegas is a board member at Southwest Detroit Business Association, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and the Cranbrook Institute of Science. She is also an instructor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business Digital Excellence Program where she teaches small business owners the fundamentals of digital marketing to help grow their businesses. Venegas was selected for the DBusiness 30 in Their Thirties and Crain’s Women to Watch. ​

Tiffany Brown is communications director of the Mission Flint Office established by Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) to support the City of Flint in response to the Flint water crisis. Brown also serves as public information officer for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and previously served as public information officer for the Michigan State Police and as deputy press secretary for Governor Jennifer M. Granholm (D-MI). A native of Flint, Brown is a long-time mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteers with local city food banks and Habitat For Humanity. She holds a master’s degree in communications from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint. Brown is the recipient of numerous professional excellence awards and has been honored for her service to the community. She is a frequent guest speaker, sharing her personal story of triumph after overcoming her face-to-face encounter with violence and thriving in one of the most violent cities in the nation.

Allyson Carpenter was selected as a Joyce Ivy Summer Scholar in 2012 and profiled in the Joyce Ivy Alumna Spotlight in 2014. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Carpenter used her Joyce Ivy scholarship to study at Harvard University for the summer. At age 18, Carpenter became the youngest person elected to public office in Washington, D.C., where she served on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. A current senior at Howard University, Carpenter is president of the student government, studied at the University of Oxford as a Luard Morse Scholar, and served on the national planning committee for the 2017 Women’s March. Carpenter is a Truman Scholar and following graduation, she will serve in the White House before attending law school.

“It is an honor to celebrate these rising leaders,” said S. Caroline Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of the Joyce Ivy Foundation. “I know the Joyce Ivy Scholars will be inspired by their work and passion.”

The 2017 Women of Impact recipients will be honored at the 12th annual Summer Scholars Gala on May 6 at the Marriott Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Gala also honors the Joyce Ivy Foundation Leader of the Year, Jocelyn Benson, Chief Executive Officer of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), who will address the group of 2017 Summer Scholars and Gala guests.