Leader of Leaders – 2021 Winners
Leader of Leaders Award
The Leader of Leaders Awards are intended to identify outstanding Alumni Association members with impressive achievements personally, professionally, and/or in their public lives. Three winners are chosen each year because of their exemplary leadership contributions specifically to this region.
PERSONAL LEADERSHIP: Valiena Allison
Valiena Allison, LOXXVII –
- President, Vertex Adventures LC
- President, Allison Family Foundation
- Executive Board, Secretary, Junior Achievement of SE Michigan
- Chairman of Advisory Board, Troy Community Foundation
- President/Secretary, Telford Ridge HomeownersAssociation
- Vice-President, Marriott’s Summit Watch Condominium Owners Association
- Board Member, Oakland University Economics Board of Advisors
- Retired Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Experi-Metal Inc.
Valiena A. Allison is a highly qualified Chief Executive Officer and philanthropist with over 30 years of manufacturing, leadership, and managerial expertise. AstheformerChairman of the Board and CEO of Experi-MetalInc., a full-service sheet metal component and assembly manufacturing company, Valiena worked diligently to expand the company’s presence globally, successfully leveraging its traditional Automotive business capabilities in the Aerospace, Military, Homeland Security, and Alternative Energy markets. Hired as a receptionist in 1988 and fueled by her passion for excellence, Valiena rose through the ranks to make Experi-Metal Inc. (EMI) a world-class manufacturer and the ‘go-to’ manufacturing solution for some of the best and most demanding companies in the world until she sold the company on August 1, 2016.
Allison received the 2015 Champion of the New Economy Award sponsored by Junior Achievement, DBusiness Magazine, and WJR News/Talk Radio 760 to recognize executives who drive growth in highly competitive industries in the region. Allison is the recipient of numerous personal awards, including the entrepreneur of Distinctionissued by Corp! Magazine.
Valiena is an active philanthropist-both globally and locally. In 2020, the Allison Family Foundation built a new library for the Ntungamo Primary School and Orphanage near Bwindi, Uganda. It also constructed a comprehensive water harvesting and filtration system to provide clean drinking water for the surrounding village. School uniforms, books and supplies were delivered in December 2020 to allow the 500+ students in one of Africa’s poorest areas to reach their full potential.
Valiena is a graduate of Oakland University, earning undergraduate degrees in Marketing, Economics, and Spanish, and later an MBA in Finance and Accounting. She also completed Advanced GraduateStudies in World Economics, Manufacturing, and Shakespeare at Oxford University in England. Valiena enjoys travel, yoga, wine-tasting and helping others realize and reach their personal and professional life goals.
PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP: Kris Ray
Kris Ray, LOXXVI –
NFP Industry Technical Leader- Plante Moran
As the technical leader of the firm’s not-for-profit practice, I’m responsible for the industry’s technical quality control, which means I develop and provide training for our NFP staff and clients. I work with many nonprofits in our local area and throughout the county, ranging from small groups to complex organizations.
For the almost 20 years I’ve been with the firm, my greatest accomplishments are the many relationships I’ve developed — with clients and with colleagues. The culture here is the number one reason I joined the firm, and it’s why I’ve stayed. Having long-term relationships with our clients has been really important to me and has allowed me to become a better advisor to them.
I belong to the AICPA, ICPAS, and the MICPA where I’m a member of the NFP Task Force, and I’m the treasurer of the board for the Ruth Ellis Center. I received my B.A. from Loyola University and my M.S. in accounting from Eastern Michigan University.
I’m an avid lifelong Detroit Tigers fan. In the summer, I spend a lot of time outdoors hiking and camping.
PUBLIC LEADERSHIP: Cheryl Boodram
Cheryl Boodram, LOXXX-
Cheryl Boodram was named Executive Vice President of Sales and CMO at Chief Financial Credit Union, a medium-sized credit union headquartered in Southeast Michigan, in September 2020. She began her career at Chief Financial as a part-time teller in 2010 and, during her advancement, led the Indirect Lending Team to more than double the department revenue. Boodram eventually moved on to establish the Marketing Department and is now forming a formal Sales Department.
While working full-time as part of the team that organically grew the Credit Union’s asset size by more than $90 million, Boodram earned a BS in Business Administration from Oakland University. She continued at OU, graduating at the top of her class with an MBA with concentrations in Marketing and Business Analytics. A passionate student of leadership, she has graduated from Leadership Greater Rochester and Leadership Oakland. Boodram was honored to be selected as a member of the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 in 2018 and was a recipient of the MichBusiness Transformative Leader Award in 2019.
During her Chief Financial tenure, Boodram has formalized and advanced marketing strategies and tactics to achieve and exceed product adoption, revenue, profitability, and budgetary objectives. She transformed a failing call center to become one of the credit union’s highest producing teams, redesigning the department to include overall and individual performance metrics, tiered positions, employee growth paths, and formalized training plans. Her love for technology and innovation proved instrumental to the credit union in the COVID pandemic as she helped orchestrate the transition of many teams to remote work for the first time. Chief Financial maintained exceptional service levels despite the over 300% increase in call and online volume.
Boodram has worked tirelessly to create and achieve the organizational mission of empowering financial success and inspiring creative philanthropy; she has developed multiple programs that allow Credit Union members and business partners to give back to their communities by performing everyday transactions. Her formalized Community Engagement strategy and the partnerships she has fostered with multiple Oakland County organizations have increased employee evangelism and member advocacy.
Her passion for applying the struggles she has overcome and the privileges she has been afforded to help open doors for those that find them unfairly and unjustly closed shines through in her community commitments. Boodram serves as Treasurer of the GM Modern Housing Neighborhood Board of Directors and has a board member on the Leadership Oakland, Dutton Farm and Pontiac Community Foundation Board of Directors.
PINNACLE AWARD: Leigh-Anne Stafford
Leigh-Anne Stafford, LOXXV –
Leigh-Anne Stafford is the recently appointed Oakland County Director of Health and Human Services, where she oversees the Health Division, MSU Extension Office, and Neighborhood and Housing Development Division. Previously, Leigh-Anne was the Health Officer for the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD). As the Health Officer, she was responsible for more than 40 public health programs and initiatives serving a population over 1.2 million people. Since early 2020, Leigh-Anne has led the Health Division’s response to COVID-19, coordinating with health systems, emergency management, and other partners; issuing public health orders to prevent the spread of the virus; and investing in technology that has allowed OCHD to be more effective in its response.
Also, under her leadership, OCHD has been implementing a strategic plan that focuses on health equity, strengthening community partnerships, increasing data use, and embracing a Public Health 3.0 approach. Leigh-Anne has worked to align agency initiatives with community partners and address complex health issues, including the development of Oakland County’s health improvement initiative known as Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland (ECHO). Leigh-Anne has ushered in a historic partnership between Honor Community Health and OCHD, with the Federally Qualified Health Center now having office locations in both of OCHD’s buildings in Pontiac and Southfield.
Leigh-Anne began her career in public health at Oakland County Health Division 21 years ago as an Environmental Health Sanitarian. From there she worked in multiple units across the Health Division, including Emergency Preparedness, Planning and Evaluation, and Administrative Services. She has led major technology projects for the Division, including the creation of E-Health, a custom environmental health data management system, and a communicable disease reporting portal. She also teaches at the University of Michigan-Flint on health information technology.
Leigh-Anne has a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from Eastern Kentucky University.