2019 Pioneers

Carol Hollenshead

Carol Hollenshead

Carol Hollenshead spent her entire career at the University of Michigan, serving at the Institute of Gerontology, the Nursing School, and the Office of Vice President for Research. Her passion for advocating for women, representing women, counseling women, and cheerleading for women took her to a seemingly predestined mission when she was named Director of the Center for the Education of Women.

Hollenshead died November 17, 2018. As director of CEW, she touched the lives of countless women at the University through counseling, scholarships, advocacy and research. She was a steady hand guiding CEW from its original role into a more pivotal place in the campus community.

She had two children, and balanced parenting with a power career that an inspiration and a model to the women who followed her. Her own experiences and her sense of simple justice lead her to press university administrators for enlightened leave and tenure policies in support of working mothers.

Her connection to MI-ACE began in 1994 and continued until her retirement in 2016.  During that time, her thoughtful and persistent leadership pushed us to do more for more women in higher education.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

As Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer is committed to solving problems for Michiganders across the state. Under her leadership, that means expanding access to affordable health care, improving education and skills training, respecting working families, cleaning up Michigan’s drinking water, and fixing the roads.

During her time in the Michigan Legislature, Whitmer negotiated an increase in the minimum wage with a cost-of-living adjustment, and because of that bipartisan work, the minimum wage went up for the fourth time in 2018. As Senate Democratic leader, she brought workers, labor unions, and businesses together to fight anti-worker legislation.

Whitmer taught at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, and, in 2016, she stepped up to serve as Ingham County prosecutor; in that role, she established a new Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, sped up the rehabilitation of non-violent first-time offenders, and asked the Michigan State Police to investigate the integrity of the county’s evidence room. Whitmer is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Michigan State University College of Law.


2018 Pioneers

Cora Anderson

Cora Anderson

Charline Rainey White

Charline Rainey White

Announced at the 2018 annual conference on June 4, the 2018 Public Policy Pioneers were Cora Reynolds Anderson (1882-1950) and Charline Rainey White (1920–1959).

Anderson was Michigan’s first woman and first Native American state representative. The House of Representatives office building in Lansing bears her name. She actively supported prohibition, ran an anti-tuberculosis campaign in L’Anse and worked to bring the first public health nurse to Baraga County.

In 1950, Charline White became the first African American woman  elected to the Michigan House of Representatives.  Representative White ran and served as a Democrat for the district representing the city of Detroit. She graduated from Cass Technical High School and later studied at Poro College and Wayne State University.


2017 Pioneers

Debbie Dingell

Debbie Dingell

Lenore Romney

Lenore Romney

Announced at the 2017 annual conference on June 6, the 2017 Public Policy Pioneers were U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell and Lenore Romney (posthumously).

Dingell represents the 12th District of Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before election to Congress, she was chair of Wayne State University Board of Governors. For more than 30 years, Dingell served General Motors Corp. as president of the GM Foundation and senior executive for public affairs.

Lenore Romney was first lady of Michigan (Gov. George Romney, 1963-69). Romney was a popular speaker, a pro-choice advocate and supporter of women’s rights. She ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate at the urging of state party leaders.

2016 Pioneers

Public Policy Pioneers: Joan Bauer and Cora Mae Brown (posthumously)

2015 Pioneers

Click here to read about 2015 Public Policy Pioneers: Chief Justice Mary Stallings Coleman, Margaret “Ranny” Towsley Riecker, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Kathleen Wilbur.

2014 Pioneers

Click here to read about 2014 Public Policy Pioneers: Lana Pollack and Alma Wheeler Smith.

2013 Inaugural Pioneers

Two Michigan pioneers were recognized for their efforts to help more women advance in politics.

Helen Milliken and Elly Peterson were honored posthumously June 3, 2013, during the Michigan ACE (American College on Education) Women’s Network conference. The association is Michigan’s largest professional development group for women who work in higher education.

This honor is appropriate in 2013 as recognizing these pioneers follows the 40th anniversary of Title IX legislation and the 50th anniversary of the Federal Equal Pay Act. This begins a new tradition for the Michigan ACE Women’s Network, honoring women who advanced public policy at the state or national levels.

Milliken, who died in 2012 at age 89, fought for women’s rights and was a proponent of the environment during her tenure in Lansing when her husband, William Milliken, served as senator and later governor. She was also a tireless advocate for the arts.

Peterson died in 2008 at age 94. She was known as “mother of the moderates” and served as secretary of Michigan’s Republican Party and later was active in the Republican National Committee. Her advocacy helped open doors for women in politics.