2017 Honorees

Honoree and Speaker, The Honorable Debbie Dingell

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell represents Michiganís 12th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she has made it a priority to be a voice for the Midwest on issues that matter most to working families.

A member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Debbie is a leader on efforts to grow manufacturing, improve access to quality affordable health care, support seniors and veterans and protect the Great Lakes. Recognized as one of the 25 hardest-working Members of Congress, Debbie is focused on forging bipartisan solutions that support Michiganís families and economy, including improving long-term care and ushering in the future of the American auto industry.

Before being elected to Congress, Debbie worked in the auto industry for more than three decades, where she was President of the General Motors (GM) Foundation and a senior executive responsible for public affairs. She was also Chairman of the Wayne State University (WSU) Board of Governors, and continues to fight to make education more affordable and accessible in Congress.

ďBreak the SilenceĒ Awardee, Rene Denfeld

Rene is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Enchanted and The Child Finder, as well as numerous essays and articles in publications such as the New York Times. Devoted to helping others, Rene works with sex trafficking victims and innocents in prison. Rene was the Chief Investigator at a public defenderís office and has worked hundreds of cases. In addition to her advocacy work, Rene has been a foster adoptive parent for twenty years, helping traumatized children heal. The child of a difficult history herself, Rene is an accomplished speaker who loves connecting with others. Rene's second novel, The Child Finder, was inspired by her work as well as foster adoptive parenting, and explores themes of survival, resiliency, and prevention. Rene lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is the proud parent of three kids she adopted from foster care.