Connect H.E.R Week 3 panelists announced: Meet the ‘Finding Opportunity’ speakers

Financial Services

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- It’s time to gear up for Week 3 of Connect H.E.R (helping. empower. relationships), WOTV 4 Women and MassMutual MidMichigan’s free virtual lunch and learn series bringing West Michigan women and professionals together to discuss topics that we can all relate to!

If you’ve joined us for our previous chats on the “Balancing Act” and “Navigating Change”, then you’ll want to join us for an engaging convo on “Finding Opportunity.” Our panel of spectacular West Michigan women will get real on how being intentional, having perseverance and being open to change has led to doors opening and opportunity. So, grab your computers or phones, register for our free virtual event below and we’ll see you on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at noon!


Here’s a look at our upcoming panelists!

Kristen Hartnagel

Kristen Hartnagel is a founding team member and Personal Brand Strategist with Brand Builders Group. She’s a keynote speaker, professional singer, and spiritual breakthrough coach and her favorite way to deliver her message is with keynote concerts.

Having been part of 4 startups, she’s worked with NYT bestselling authors, award-winning talent management agents and celebrities as well as 7-figure influencers.

How we show up to share our gifts and talents really is a spiritual endeavor and Kristen is the master at drawing out your best; helping you shape, build, and scale a business from your personal brand.

Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young

Michelle LaJoye-Young has served Kent County for over 30 years. She has worked for the Sheriff’s Office since 1989 in various roles within Corrections, Patrol, Communications, Support Services and as the Chief Deputy, Undersheriff, and now the Sheriff. 

Michelle has focused on developing a Strategic plan with an eye for ensuring peoples’ needs are being met where and when they have them.  A key component to this is a focus on community outreach, transparency and planning services around the changing needs of our community.  

Michelle’s involvement and outreach extends beyond the Sheriff’s Office. She serves on many boards at the local, state and federal level including The Children’s Advocacy Center, the YWCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley Police Academy Advisory Boards.  She has been appointed to boards by 3 different Governors and has served to advise on 5 separate FBI committees and task forces.  

Her dedication, innovation, and community engagement led her to being recognized as one of Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 2020 Top 50 Influential Women in Business Leaders and Top 200 Business Leaders in West Michigan.  She has been inducted to the Michigan State University Criminal Justice Wall of Fame and in 2018, she was recognized statewide as the Interoperability Person of the Year by the Michigan Governor for her communication involvement and innovation.

Michelle also served in the Army Reserves from 1985 through 1998 where she left as a Captain.  She obtained her Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, a Masters in Public Administration from Western Michigan University, MCOLES certification from Grand Rapids Community College, and graduated from Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.

Michelle LaJoye-Young is a compassionate, driven woman who strives to be a guardian to every person in our community.  She is blessed to be the mother of two wonderful young men and works to lead a balanced, purpose-driven life. 

Morgan Poole

Morgan A. Poole is an upbeat Digital Reporter serving the West Michigan community at WOTV 4 Women and WOODTV8!

Although it’s only been 9 months since she’s made the big move to West Michigan from her hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y., Morgan has already made her mark around town and the office by managing and its social media platforms successfully, creating engaging original content, and building strong relationships with current and former WOTV Crew members. 

Morgan’s passion for the media and entertainment industry began at the age of 7. In 2016, this passion inspired her to create a YouTube channel that surpassed 1 million views and 10,000 subscribers in only one year. She continues to use her channel and other social platforms to inspire digital creators to be fearless in expressing themselves!

In 2019, Morgan graduated from Delaware State University, located in Dover, DE. In addition to receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications, she also received the President’s Academic Award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA for 4 consecutive years. 

Although keeping up with her grades, participating in various on-campus organizations, and working three on-campus jobs were far from easy, wearing multiple hats has helped Morgan establish a solid work ethic!

Before working at WOTV 4 Women and WOODTV8, Morgan was a digital media intern for CBS Interactive and Entertainment Tonight in Los Angeles, CA. With developed specialties in production, audience acquisition, social media, content management, reporting, writing, and editing, her collaboration with various top-tier media entities have resulted in 10,000,000 media impressions, views, and engagements from audiences around the world collectively. She’s grateful for the opportunity to now contribute her skills to West Michigan!

Morgan’s greatest piece of advice to anyone looking to find an opportunity is to let go of fear! 

“Great things never come from comfort zones, so don’t be afraid to put yourself and your dreams out there. Be confident, be persistent, and when it doubt…faith it out! Eventually, you’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be as long as your willing to go for it!

Jenna Arcidiacono

Jenna Arcidiacono’s first job at 14 (in 1988) was slinging chili dogs and root beer floats at Cook’s Drive-In in Kentwood, Michigan. Slowly she began realizing that cooking was more than just a way to pay for her stirrup pants, music cassettes and perms.

 She moved to East Lansing to finish her degree in art and continued to work in restaurants as a part-time job. She managed a vegetarian restaurant until the owner decided to close and tried to pay the staff with hummus. At that point, she should have known what she was in for by working in this unique business. Her next job was at a Korean-Chinese restaurant where she became passionate about the diverse styles of Asian cuisines. She spent time learning from the cooks after hours and ate what they would make for family meals–which are always quite different from what’s on the menu.

After recieving her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Michigan State University, Jenna decided to make a big move– to San Francisco. She wanted to live in a big city and soak in as many styles of cooking as she could. Besides getting into plenty of trouble, she got a job at a 10 table restaurant in North Beach called “L’Osteria del’Forno.” It was run by two Italian women and is still going strong in 2014. Jenna was not educated in true Italian cuisine and was often screamed at in Italian, “How is it possible that you don’t know what bresaola is!!!?”  One day a stranger, named Maurizio, stopped in for an espresso. He was visiting from Milan with his friend and ended up staying a few extra days in San Francisco. Soon after, Maurizio took Jenna on her first trip to Italy and she fell in love with the food and relaxed culture (and of course with Maurizio).  She spoke no Italian–but in the kitchen with her future mother-in-law pointing and giggling sufficed. Soon after, Jenna and Maurizio were married and she lived in northern Italy for three years. Her favorite days were spent at the outdoor markets purchasing local produce, cheese and honey and in the kitchen with Vittoria, her mother-in-law, who taught her how to make gnocchi, bechamel and bread from scratch.

After having two daughters, and working in corporations, Jenna felt it was time to go for the dream of opening her own trattoria. She wanted to serve homemade locally sourced authentic Italian comfort food.  Amore Trattoria Italiana opened in July of 2010 and has been her biggest project to date. 

Amore has won Best New Restaurant 2011, Grand Rapids Magazine; Restaurant of the Year 2012, Grand Rapids American Culinary Federation; Best European 2012, Grand Rapids Magazine and Chef of the Year 2013, The Grand Rapids Press.

 Favorite chef Revue Magazine 5 years in a row 2015-2020. Blessed with many local awards. Featured on Guys Grocery Games on the Food Network in 2017 and Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe in 2020.

Have a question for our panelists? Submit them on WOTV 4 Women’s Facebook Page!

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