Muskegon County Networking Event Honors Young Leaders in the Community


The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce celebrated community leaders during the eighth annual Future 15 Event hosted at the popular beachfront grill, The Deck, near Pere Marquette (contributed photo).

Lance Klemple and Aaron Petersen, Contributing Writers

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its community leaders in style with the eighth annual Future 15 Event hosted at the popular beachfront grill, The Deck, near Pere Marquette. Each of the selected 15 young leaders demonstrates a unique skillset honoring the betterment of Muskegon’s community.

“It’s a very amazing honor,” said Samantha Jonas, Assistant County Prosecutor and President of the Greater Muskegon Junior Chamber International. “I have been [In Muskegon] since 2016, and every year I have watched each class and thought ‘Hey, those are really amazing people. I want to be as great as them one day.’, and now I get to join the elite, so I’m very happy.”

An event beginning in 2013, the MLCC has had roughly over 1,000 entries within Muskegon County to be nominated into this prestigious honor. Of those entries, 120 nominees have been selected to represent the community. Out of the 120 nominees, the previous year’s Future 15 members select the upcoming Future 15 leaders.

“I believe because I’m a very inclusive person who cares deeply about the citizens of our county,” said Tonya Pell, the 4-H Coordinator for Michigan State University’s Muskegon Extension Office, explaining what it means to be a representative of the community in Muskegon. “I believe that making the county the greatest it can be is making sure that all people and all voices can be heard.”

Nominees span from a diverse array of industries within Muskegon, from church pastors to local restauranters, to school representatives and faculty members. One of MCC’s own received a Future 15 award, Jamar Ragland, an Early College Advisor. “What brought me to Muskegon was to be a college advisor. With AmeriCorps, our vision, our goal that’s still alive, is for 60% of Michigan’s residents to have at least a 2-year degree by 2025,” said Ragland. “That whole initiative, my focus in education, is to build up that number as close to 60% as possible and I am doing that now with the Early College program.”

During the award ceremony Emily Morgenstern, Communications Manager, was taken back by the surprise of a 16th award not previously listed. Due to her upstanding work in making so many events possible in Muskegon, she was formally recognized and given an honorary award for her dedication to the community. “I was in total shock,” said Morgenstern. “I was super thankful. Chamber members aren’t allowed to be nominated for Future 15, so they just wanted to let me be recognized.”

As summer begins to fade into the fall season, students can look to our Future 15 leaders for inspiration, knowing that no matter what you decide to do in life, to participate in our community is what makes us the rising leaders of our generation.