“Thriving Petoskey” was born in 2016 with a lofty ideal: what if we could improve the human condition in Northern Michigan by promoting, educating, and encouraging businesses to do better? Could we convene and grow a group of business leaders who feel passionately about all their stakeholders—owners, employees, customers, suppliers, community, and environment? What can we accomplish if our businesses have a deeply ingrained purpose, beyond making a profit?

Many of our core ideas came from B Corp and B Lab, Nathan Havey, Conscious Capitalism, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. But we always tailor them to fit the specific and unique needs of Petoskey—our community and our home.

Meet the Committee

The Thriving Petoskey Committee is composed of a small group of volunteers with varying skillsets and backgrounds. What connects us is a passion for community betterment and dedication to our mission, and we work closely with Petoskey Chamber staff in everything we do.

Ashley Antonishen, Co-Chair

Ashley is the current North Central Michigan College Athletic Director, Petoskey Youth Soccer Association Director of Coaching & Player Development, a Connecting Women in Business Committee Member, and 2020 Graduate of Leadership Little Traverse. She attended Northland College in Ashland, WI for Biology & Secondary Education, minor in Coaching, and received her master’s degree in Education from Elmira College.

“Growing up in Petoskey granted me many privileges; privileges that I didn’t fully appreciate until I left the area for college and to start my professional career. I joined the Thriving Petoskey Committee because, after living in three different states and returning home to build my family, I cherish the values and beliefs of what it means to part of this community. Nowhere else have I been part of a community that does so much for one another, that is just built into our way of life – and I believe in educating and improving upon this greatness. I hope by being part of Thriving Petoskey I can help bring recognition to what wonderful things the people and businesses are already doing, as well as inspire, challenge, and motivate others to be a meaningful part of protecting people, our planet, and profits in harmony.”

Jessyca Stoepker, Co-Chair

Jessyca currently works as the Building Resilient Communities Coordinator for Groundwork Center in addition to creating her own LLC for nonprofit and small business development. She is also an Executive Team Member of Thrive 45 Young Professionals, Chair of the Emmet County Public Transit Work Group, and 2020 Graduate of Leadership Little Traverse. She has extensive experience working in the nonprofit and human services sector and has held positions at a regional food bank, a YMCA, a county health department, and a hospital system downstate. She attended Grand Valley State University for Health Communications, Writing minor, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Global Studies and Community Development from Fort Hays State.

“Being part of Thriving Petoskey is being part of a global movement for sustainable development. I am passionate about alleviating the many injustices we face today—from food insecurity and chronic diseases, to economic inequality, racial violence, accessibility, and climate change. It’s impossible for me to focus on just one issue because they are all interconnected. Changing underlying systems is the most effective way to solve our problems, and those systems begin at the local level.”

Ashley Whitney

Ashley is an experienced insurance professional and the president of Harbor Brenn Insurance Agencies. She is skilled in Employment Practices Liability, Risk Management, Life Insurance, Business, and Property & Casualty Insurance. Highly involved in the community, she is the past Board Chair of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce and YMCA of Northern Michigan, and has been the president of the Rotary Club of Petoskey since 2017. She attended Smith College for a BA in Government and received her MBA focused in General Business from Capella University.

“I’m super passionate about Northern Michigan, Thriving Petoskey and all things ‘Up North.’ At Harbor Brenn, focusing on stakeholder management the last few years has allowed our team to become even more involved in the community, increasing engagement and job satisfaction. My only regret was that we didn’t do it sooner!”

Lindsey Walker

Lindsey currently holds a position in Market Development, Commercial Accounts and Recycling Outreach at Emmet County Recycling. She is also an elected official in her hometown of Petoskey, having been elected to City Council in November 2018. She holds a master’s degree in International Development and Management from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

“I’ve been with Emmet County Recycling since 2007. With a passion for the environment and love of Michigan, I’m honored to work with the best hub n’ spoke rural recycling program in the state. My perseverance has led to consistent relationships with markets for many hard-to-recycle materials. I also oversee the commercial recycling and commercial food scrap collection and composting program, and I work on feedstock development, bulk compost sales, and all things organic. I’m involved in recycling on the state level, connecting other public recycling programs with new market opportunities and sharing my experience across the country.”

Brian Bates

Brian Bates is the co-owner of Bear Creek Organic Farm with his wife, Anne. They are first-generation farmers, the only 100% USDA Certified Organic farm in Petoskey, and the only B Corp Certified Farm in Michigan. Anne and Brian sit on numerous boards and committees to serve their community, including the Crooked Tree Arts Center Board of Directors, the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Thriving Petoskey Committee, and the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference Planning Committee. Brian is also an Emmet County Planning Commissioner and a 2019 graduate of Leadership Little Traverse.

“We are not content with the status quo. We push the envelope in every way on our farm, from sustainability to resiliency—we are committed to shifting the paradigm through our actions as producers, beekeepers, responsible stewards of the land, and business owners. We value honest work, transparency in business, and the power of local economies.”

Sharon Schappacher

Sharon is Chapter Chair and volunteer mentor of SCORE Tip of the Mitt, providing free advice, counseling, and workshops for area small businesses. She was a CPA with Peat Marwick in Cleveland, Ohio, worked in hotel construction and management with International Lodging, Inc., and managed various other businesses including restaurants, billboards, and rental properties. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Petoskey and a recipient of the Petoskey Chamber’s 2020 Athena Award, which celebrates the women in leadership roles throughout the community. She personally helped raise over $200,000 for YMCA of Northern Michigan through her themed dinners and sponsorship work.

“I’m really excited to bring my experience in hospitality to the Thriving Petoskey Committee. Petoskey’s hospitality sector is a huge part of our local economy and it’s important that we understand how it works in harmony with the Conscious Business Movement. I’m also a lifelong volunteer and believe a sense of community is important to preserve.”

Emily Boehm

Emily is currently the Program Services Manager for Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity, a marketing specialist for Gabriel Farms, a board member for Thrive 45 Young Professionals, a member of the Petoskey Sunrise Rotary, and a 2020 Graduate of Leadership Little Traverse. She attended Grand Valley State University for Hospitality Management.

“I moved to Petoskey after graduating from Grand Valley to begin my career in hospitality sales at Courtyard Marriott. I soon started volunteering and supporting small businesses, and then I was accepted into the 2020 cohort of Leadership Little Traverse. My time with LLT inspired me to become more involved in initiatives to better the community, and that’s what brought me to Thriving Petoskey. I’m passionate about housing, agriculture, small business marketing, and human services, and I want to make a difference any way I can. When I’m not working you’ll find me on a sailboat, on a ski hill, enjoying one of the many nature preserves, or taking care of my sheep, ducks, and gardens on my hobby farm.”