Three exemplary area leaders were recognized at the 11th Annual Taste of Leadership Oakland event held last week at the San Marino Club, Troy.  Each year, Leadership Oakland honors alumni who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in each of the organization’s areas of focus – personal, professional and public leadership.

“The Leadership Oakland Cornerstone program challenges participants to take their leadership skills and ability in different and higher directions,” said Nancy Maurer, Leadership Oakland Executive Director. “The alumni we honored this year have exceeded expectations in rising to that challenge. Our region is a stronger and better place thanks to their efforts. They are inspirational leaders that we all can learn from.”

This year’s honorees for the Leadership Oakland Leader of Leaders Awards are:

Scott Hiipakka for his Personal Leadership. Whether it is his role in resolving the Flint Water Crisis or as a non-profit volunteer, Scott’s passion for leading and serving others is evident. He was recently asked by senior military leadership of the Michigan National Guard to become a Senior Planner in the Flint response effort, taking leave from his position as a territory account leader at Ethicon. Scott is also an ever-present force at Leadership Oakland, serving as president of his class and participating in numerous committees and board efforts. Several of his Leadership Oakland classmates say “he is committed, compassionate and inspires action – people want to follow Scott’s lead.”

Debra Hendren for her Professional Leadership.  As Director of Community Programs and Outreach for Community Housing Network, Debra is described as being a compassionate and tireless ally for our most vulnerable citizens. Through her passion for serving the homeless, she has worked to increase collaboration among the many agencies serving this population and break down barriers for individuals without permanent IDs. Her efforts captured statewide attention and she was honored with the 2014 Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness Community Champion award.

Janet McPeek for her Public Leadership. The lives of hundreds of at-risk youth have been changed for the better through the efforts of Janet.  As president and CEO of Crossroads for Youth – providing residential, day treatment and community-based services to children and teens – Janet is credited with truly understanding their needs and developing the structure and programs to guide them to a brighter future. She is an active community volunteer and served as a former Leadership Oakland Board President.  Following her retirement this spring, Janet plans to remain active in the community and private practice.