Meet the 2018 Professional Woman of Year Finalists

Chantee   Ziemkowski                                                      Alcoa Intalco Works ​

 Chantee is the Reliability Superintendent for the Maintenance Department at Alcoa Intalco Works in Ferndale, Washington. One of the key aspects of Chantee’s work is facilitating the success of others. In her primary role as the Maintenance Department Reliability Superintendent, Chantee coordinates the Maintenance Department work to optimize equipment maintenance plans. Maintenance costs are one of the highest expenses in a facility the age of Intalco, so the Maintenance Department drives the success or failure of the production departments. Optimizing maintenance plans includes assessing the criticality of equipment, evaluating the ways equipment may fail, and formulating plans to prevent or mitigate unacceptable failures. Mechanical Engineering Degree from the University of Washington. Chantee is a working wife and mother of two young ones who still prioritizes the need to be a positive factor in her community. She makes time in her schedule to be a positive influence in the lives of young people through engagement and by example. She does this of her own volition and with the support of her family which is a great example for other young people in our community.                                                                                                                   

Kathy Herndon                                                                   VSH PLLC

Kathy has practiced as a CPA for more than 30 years. Since joining VSH in 1997 as a founding partner, the firm has grown to nearly 50 employees in Whatcom and Skagit County.
She holds many designations, but she won’t boast- they’re all connected to her commitment to excellence and serving clients in their continuous growth and improvement. Most recently Kathy earned the designation of Certified Financial Exit Planner to successfully guide the growing number of baby boomers transitioning their businesses.
Her practice includes a specialty in the development and real estate industry for local and international clients. Kathy has a passion for helping businesses and people in our community grow and thrive. She is a cheerleader both professionally and personally, whether with clients, fellow athletes, the VSH team, or with her family. Kathy and her husband Don have a growing family of five boys, one daughter-law, a soon to be daughter-in-law and one adorable granddaughter.
She was raised in Bellingham and after a short time in the Seattle area returned to raise her family in Bellingham. Kathy is an avid marathoner who has completed over 30 marathons including qualifying and running Boston in 2013. Most recently she ran the London Marathon a few days after the April 15th deadline. Along with spending time with her family she enjoys golfing and skiing.

Colleen Haggerty​
Our TreeHouse

Colleen was born in Bellevue, WA. She grew up in a close family. At 17 years old, Colleen was hit by a car and lost her left leg and nearly lost her right leg too. The culture back then was to support Colleen to heal and then bounce back, not allowing her time to grieve the loss of her leg and lifestyle. Colleen went on to graduate high school with accolades and scholarships, later on attending Western Washington University. Colleen took up skiing, hiking, amputee soccer and a myriad of other physical activities never allowing her appreciated body to slow her down. However, the repression of tragic events steered Colleen into a direction that ultimately defined her professional career. In her late 20's Colleen began to suffer from PTSD due to her accident. This led her to eventually confront the man responsible for the accident causing her to lose her leg. She was prepared to blame him and make him feel terrible for all of the pain and suffering she had been feeling. However, after hearing his side and understanding his story, she was able to see his humanity. This was a pivotal point in Colleen's professional life. Colleen went on to certify as a life coach, and wrote her memoir "A Leg to Stand On, An Amputee's Walk into Motherhood" She worked at Big Brothers /Big Sister. Colleen has also presented a TEDx talk on forgiveness. Colleen is now the executive director of Our Tree House, a non profit organization that helps people through the grieving process. She is responsible for strategic plans and policies as established by the Board of Directors. Duties include: oversight and implementation of all individual giving efforts and Human Resources. 

Abby Franklin ​
Loving Space Preschool

Over the last 25 years Abby has been working with kids and parents, helping create joyful, close knit early childhood experiences for families in Whatcom County. Abby is hard working and kind. There is almost no turn over in staff at her school which is hard to accomplish in this industry. She has teachers that have been with her for 23, 20 18 years etc. Once teachers join the group they stay. The parents are valued members of this community and the children never want to leave. This says so much about the way Abby runs her business. Abby Franklin moved every two or three years as a child, growing up all over our country. This experience shaped who she is and the work she wants to do. Roots, connection and community have always been really important to her. When she finally landed in Bellingham she knew she was home. Abby always wanted to work with children and to create a place where they would be seen and heard, valued and delighted in. In 1993 Loving Space School was born. Abby works hard to make sure every person who enters her school feel valued and special. Over the years Abby and her staff have worked with nearly 2,000 children in Whatcom County. Often these kids will come back to visit, they always say the place looks so small but Abby reminds them they are just so big. The kids remember the way the school smells, "like popcorn and melting crayons" and they remember the way they felt when they walked into school.

Heidi Ludeman​
Ludeman Capital Management

Heidi graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Norwegian. She began her career at a small financial services company working in Operations and then Compliance, while acquiring her securities licenses. In 2008, she made a career move to a mid-sized financial services company, Russell Investments, and gained experience in corporate culture. In 2014, Heidi and her husband/business partner, Jonathan, acquired Ludeman Capital Management, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser (“RIA”). She serves as President of the firm overseeing Operations, Compliance, Marketing, and Trading. As a mentor and coach for YMCA’s Girls on the Run, she helps build confidence and self-esteem in 3rd-5th grade girls through running and the achievement of a 5k at the end of each season. Also as a board member of Run Like a Girl, she helps organize a unique 10k/half-marathon and pre-race dinner/auction, providing funds to the YMCA for Girls on the Run participant scholarships in Whatcom County. As President of the board for Sons of Norway LEL Educational Foundation, she fundraises and helps organize an annual crab feed to provide scholarships and awards to students interested in furthering their education and pursuing a greater understanding of their Norwegian heritage.

Ariana Newman​
Bija Chocolates

Ariana did her undergraduate work at Montana State University graduating with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration. Graduating from the Honors Program and Named the Political Science Department’s Most Outstanding Graduate her plan was to pursue a Law Degree in Human Rights. Her path took a twist and became interested in the power of products to create positive change. She was lucky to get an entry level marketing job at Flora, a Natural Products Company in Lynden, WA while pursuing an MBA at the evening professional program at WWU. In her time at Flora she was fortunate enough to gain experience running campaigns, managing reps and lines of products under the Flora umbrella. Her experience led her to Barlean’s where she spent a majority of time as the Brand Manager. 2 years ago, she joined her husband to continue to develop BIJA, a direct trade organic chocolate company, based in Bellingham WA. Bija works with three women owned cooperatives in two countries (Dominican Republic and Peru) providing organic certification and community development. So far BIJA has partnered with over 75 women directly. In Bellingham BIJA has partnered with organizations like Girls on the Run, Lydia Place and others to support women and girls, conducive to the mission of BIJA. BIJA chocolate can be found all over Bellingham so we are often found doing art walks, supporting fundraisers and community celebrations for Haggen, The Community Food Co-ops, The Greenhouse, Paper Dream, Elizabeth Station, Whole Foods and others.

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