👏 Five women making an impact in Ann Arbor

Eileen Spring. (Food Gatherers)

Good morning!

A day after International Women’s Day, I’d like to highlight some women who have been making a major impact locally. Whether it be through nonprofit work, lending their eye and skills to some of the coolest spaces in town or simple acts of kindness, here are five women who have left their mark on the community in more ways than one.

Eileen Spring

President and CEO of Food Gatherers, Spring was named United Way of Washtenaw County’s Woman of the Year for her work in alleviating hunger when the pandemic caused local need to skyrocket. “We have never seen anything like it,” Spring said in October.

“There was a drastic increase in people needing help, and at the same time, the pandemic forced us to completely rethink every aspect of our service model.”

Eileen Spring and Food Gatherers staff member hauling boxes packed by volunteers on Feb. 3, 2019 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Spring oversaw the distribution of a record-breaking 7.8 million pounds of food from June 2019 to June 2020 -- that’s equivalent to 6.5 million meals for food insecure members in the community.

Lisa Sauve

If you’ve spent time in the downtown area, it’s likely you’ve come across Sauve’s work. She co-founded Synecdoche Design Studio with partner Adam Smith while they were studying at University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

The pair has left their mark on restaurants, bars, offices and more throughout town, including Spencer, YORK, Nightcap, Ann Arbor Pharmacy and Duo Security’s offices.

Lisa Sauve, CEO and Principal of Synecdoche Design Studio in Ann Arbor. (Abby Rose Photo)

Sauve was recently named to Forbes’ Next 1000 list, joining other ambitious young entrepreneurs with “infinite drive and hustle.”

🎥 Watch my interview with Sauve at Synecdoche’s headquarters

Ariah Schugat

Schugat has been making an impact in the city’s homeless community by handing out free phone charging kits during the pandemic. Having experienced homelessness firsthand, Schugat knows that one’s cellphone is their lifeline.

Ariah Schugat has been handing out free phone charging kits to individuals experiencing homelessness in Ann Arbor. (Ariah Schugat)

Her Kyndness Packs have received the support of an anonymous donor and the Delonis Center, and there are currently over 300 kits in circulation.

“There’s really no reason to not help people,” she told A4 last month. “It’s the easiest thing in the world. I think being kind to each other is a gift.”

Ji Hye Kim

The owner of Miss Kim has been lifting other chefs during the pandemic by holding pop-up events in her Kerrytown eatery.

The pop-ups include a weekly menu that fuse her Korean cuisine with that of other chefs -- from Moroccan dishes with Detroit’s Saffron De Twah to current comfort food brunches that just kicked off with Lala’s chef Allie Lyttle, who Kim met when they were line cooks at Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

Self-taught chef and owner Ji Hye Kim stands outside her Kerrytown restaurant (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

“You know, we are a resourceful, resilient and creative bunch, we are gonna find ways to be creative together,” Kim wrote this month.

Melinda Szabelski

Cruelty and rescue supervisor at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, Szabelski was one of 14 people in the United States recently recognized by the Humane Society as a “local hero” for her work in shutting down puppy mills and uncovering cases of animal cruelty in the area.

Humane Society of Huron Valley cruelty and rescue supervisor Melinda Szabelski, was name done of 14 "local heroes" by the Humane Society of the United States Stop Puppy Mills Campaign. (Humane Society of Huron Valley)

“We are grateful for people like Melinda, with courage and compassion, who are protecting our most vulnerable and helping chip away at this terrible industry,” said HSHV CEO and President Tanya Hilgendorf.

Do you know a woman who is a local changemaker? Submit her name for A4′s upcoming series during Women’s History Month.

Have a great rest of the week (and enjoy this beautiful stretch of weather). ☀️

- Meredith (@meredith_A4)

🗨 Have something to share? Write me anytime at mbruckner@wdiv.com.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.