Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor

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Nominations Sought for 2022 Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor

Nominations are being accepted through January 31, 2022.

In recognition of the achievements and contributions by women of the greater Brighton area, nominations are being accepted through January 31, 2022, of potential candidates for induction into the Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor.

Nominations are sought of qualified candidates that have achieved prominence or significantly contributed to the Brighton community while having lived, worked or been affiliated with the area for an extended period of time.  Honorees have demonstrated distinctive accomplishments in the candidate’s chosen field of endeavor, professional or otherwise that are of an enduring nature to the social, cultural, economic, or political well-being of the community, state or nation.  These honorees have given service or made commitments which have significantly advanced the status of women in society and exhibit qualities of character and personal ideals which serve as a positive influence on youth and as a model for other women.

Kathleen M. Bardens philanthropic and business acumen have touched many since moving to Brighton in 1984. In 1985, Kathleen was an original member of the Brighton Area Schools Education (BASE) Foundation and served as the second Chair of the Board. She was on the Board of Directors for Old Kent Bank/Fifth Third Bank from 1989-1997, serving on the loan, audit and personnel committees in addition to her role on Comerica Bank’s Ann Arbor Region Advisory Board. Kathleen’s 1975-2005 career as President of the Ann Arbor Credit Bureau encompassed offices in Howell, Adrian, Hillsdale, Saginaw, and Jackson. Her roles as the first female Chair of the Board for the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, one of the first two female members of the Ann Arbor Kiwanis Club, and Chair of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce all occurred during her residency in Brighton. Kathleen was a Board Member of the Boy Scouts of America Great Sauk Trail Council, a Troop Leader of Brighton’s Boy Scout Troop 385 from 2005-2010, and led troop backpacking 50-100 mile treks as the only female (and oldest participant). From 2010-2013, Kathleen served as a Board Member for Love, Inc. facilitating connections between member churches and clients. Since 2014, she has served on the Work Skills Foundation Board, Chair in 2014, 2020, and 2021, and was instrumental in obtaining a donated building in Howell to provide services in that community. An active volunteer at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital, she served as Co-Chair of the 2017 Circus Soirée Ball that raised more than $150,000 for Emergency Services and continues her role on the Steering Committee for this health care fundraiser. In 2017, Kathleen was a weekly mentor to a female fifth-grade student via Reaching Higher, and she has served as a LACASA Board Member since 2020 working with the Building Project to expand their facilities. Kathleen is an active member of 100 Women Who Care,  Cleary University’s Helen’s Circle, and served as Treasurer from 2010-2017 of the Trapper’s Cove Homeowners’ Association.  Kathleen holds a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.


Therese K. Cremonte, P.E.M. has been the Livingston County Emergency Manager since 2016, the first woman to hold this position, and was honored in 2018 as the Michigan Professional Emergency Manager of the Year. Since 2015, Therese has been Chair of the Regional One Homeland Security Planning Board and is the current President of the Michigan Emergency Management Association (MEMA). As Director, her department is focused on the safety of citizens through information, planning, and preparation for all emergency events and potential hazards.  During her tenure, she has overseen response to the December, 2016, 53-car accident that closed I-96 for more than 12 hours and the March, 2017, week-long power outage of the entire County, orchestrating shelter and access to public safety needs.  Therese implemented the first public alert system for the County and has coordinated activation of the Emergency Operation Center and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment to necessary personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Michigan State Police (MSP) trooper from 198-2016, Therese rose to the rank of Lieutenant, and retired from the MSP as Assistant Post Commander of the Lansing Post: their first female command officer. As the first person in her family to attend and obtain a college degree, Therese holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Ferris State University and is a graduate of the Michigan State University’s School of Staff and Command program.  She taught D.A.R.E. in Livingston County Schools for two years, instructs Incident Command System training for local response agencies, and presents to local groups on safety, preparedness, and Emergency Management.


Ellen Lafferty and her family have lived in Brighton since 1981 and was employed as a special education teacher for Brighton Area School’s (BAS) Maltby Middle/Intermediate School from 2000-2014. Active in the Brighton Education Association (BEA), Ellen was a long-term representative on the bargaining team and two term President from 2010-2014. Her leadership was key to crafting fair, open, and equitable decisions as BAS faced deep statewide funding cuts and subsequent staff layoffs.  As a leader for the Girl Scouts of America, Ellen established the first Girl Scout Troop at St. Patrick’s School in 1988. Since 2018, Ellen has actively participated in the creation of and chairing the League of Women Voters of Ann Arbor, Brighton/Howell Unit while making the organization a vital presence in Livingston County.  Current activities of the League that Ellen has led include registration of local students to become engaged voters, hosting public candidate/informational forums, publishing online/printed voter guides listing candidates’ views on vital issues, and working with the Livingston County Complete Count Committee to emphasize the importance of completing the 2020 Census.  Ellen fosters the non-partisan focus of the League of Woman Voters and encourages member participation and investment for ongoing viability. Ellen earned a Bachelors in Special Education/Elementary Science from Eastern Michigan University and a Masters in Learning Disabilities from Madonna University. She currently volunteers at the music venue The Ark in Ann Arbor.


Colleen Tokai Monroe is a 1982 Brighton High School graduate and an accomplished author who represents Brighton on a global stage. Her 2000 first book “A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree” became an instant holiday classic that was read Christmas morning by the Today Show’s Katie Couric on national TV and garnered attention by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Colleen has authored six additional books with her illustrator husband. Since 2007, Colleen has worked in Special Education for Brighton Area Schools (BAS), helped with the seventh grade transition program at Scranton Middle School, and served as volunteer photographer for several BAS sports teams. Colleen was honored as a Coaching Legend in 2019 for her multi-year service as Head Coach of Scranton Middle School’s Girls Cross Country and Track and Field teams. She is the Howell Farmers Market manager and finds ways to volunteer and give back to the community including several years helping out with Bingo at a local retirement home. Providing inspiration to students through her books and actions, Colleen demonstrates how commitment, dedication and a strong work ethic can make a difference within our community.



Rhonda R. Trask has served as Co-Pastor and Church Ministries Director of Brighton Assembly of God Church since 2009 after previously being the Youth Pastor.   In 2013, Rhonda founded Heart’s CRI Ministries and directs over 200 volunteers to support foster children and foster/adoptive families. In 2017, Rhonda was appointed Chair of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Community and Faith-based Coalition overseeing wraparound services and supports 13,000 Michigan children in foster care and over 11,000 churches seeking to create community business partnerships within Michigan.  Monthly events for state agencies coordinated by Rhonda include adoption-approved families meeting with foster children for potential adoption, and Rhonda has hosted workshops on Human Trafficking in churches and organizations fighting human trafficking throughout the state.  Rhonda earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Telecommunications from Michigan State University, a Madonna University Teaching Certificate in History and English, and a Master’s in Education degree from Wayne State University.  Prior to her position at Brighton Assembly of God Church, Rhonda was a middle school teacher for Farmington Public Schools.

Women’s History Month and Roll of Honor Advisory Council

Mission:  To honor and celebrate the diverse accomplishments of women of the greater Brighton area.

Purpose:  To create an awareness in the general public of women’s contributions and steadfastness as a group inside and outside the home; in the work force; in social movements; in the professions and business; in charitable and cultural institutions; in the arts; in government service; in health care and human services; in education; in athletics and sports; in science, the environment and technology; and in all areas of volunteer work. Women as a group are working for the greater good through their personal strengths, and are inspired and energized by the stories of other women.

To recognize individual women of the greater Brighton area who have made a remarkable or unique contribution or have achieved an accomplishment in the greater Brighton community, the state of Michigan, the nation, or the world.

Affirmed October 2004

Brighton Area Women’s Roll of Honor
Advisory Council

    Jean K. Becker
Nancy Fredenburg
Karen Goss
Carol Griffith
Nancy B. Johnson
Joyce Powers, Chair
Margaret Siford
Elizabeth Walker

The Advisory Council appreciates the Collaboration and Support of:

Brighton Area Historical Society
Brighton Area Schools
Brighton District Library
Brighton Rotary Club
City of Brighton
Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce
Livingston County Daily Press & Argus
Livingston Sunrise Rotary
The Marketeer
Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame
National Women’s History Project

Title IX of the Higher Education Act

Passed by Congress on June 23, 1972, this Act offered new opportunities for women in academics, sports, and the workforce. These past and present Brighton High School athletes represent the excellence and opportunities granted by the phrase:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Athletic Championship Honorees

Brighton High School Girls Cross Country Teams won state titles in 1979, 1980, and 1983 following the early years of Title IX. The 1979 team was the first girls athletic team to win a state title for Brighton.

2003 Brighton Varsity Girls Softball Team won the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division I State Championship with a season record of 43-1. They were also named an All State Academic Team with a 3.25 grade point average.

2011 Brighton Varsity Girls Lacrosse Team won the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division I State Championship with a season record of 15-5-1.

2014 Brighton Varsity Girls Ski Team won the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division I State Championship with 92 points and a season record of 12-0.

2016 Julia Dean won the 2015 Division I Individual State MHSAA Golf Championship and then was chosen as Miss Golf by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association.  Julia is the first Brighton female athlete honored by the Michigan Interscholastic Coaches Association.

2017 Abby Krzywiecki was honored as the 2016 Miss Softball winner by the Michigan Interscholastic Softball Coaches Association, the STATE CHAMOS! Softball Player of the Year, MLive Detroit’s Softball Player of the Year, and a Flosoftball First Team All-American. Abby holds the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s record for hitting 20 home runs in the 2016 season.

The Celebration of Women’s History Month in Brighton


The first Brighton area celebration of women’s accomplishments took place in March 2002. Books, pictures, and posters of notable women were displayed in the Board of Education Room of the Brighton Area Schools. This collection, assembled by School Board Secretary Joyce Powers and Assistant to the Superintendent Sheri Lohmiller, informed, enlightened, and inspired the general public.


In March 2003, the Brighton Chamber of Commerce and downtown merchants joined the celebration by displaying pictures and details about various women of achievement in their business establishments. The Women’s History Advisory council was formed, and seven local women were named to the first Brighton Area Women’s Roll of Honor at Womenfest in the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts. Pictures and biographies of these women were displayed at the Brighton District Library.


Posters for Women’s History Month were supplied to the media centers of all Brighton Area Schools. Teachers in the district have had the opportunity to integrate women’s history into their curriculum.