Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award: Gloria Ender
Gloria Ender is a successful business owner with an international customer base, but she is still able to donate time and energy to many causes around southwest Michigan, including being a friend and supporter of Lake Michigan College.
Ender was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. When she was six, her parents brought her brother and five sisters to Michigan in order for their children to have better educational opportunities. After graduating from Saugatuck High School, Ender attended Lake Michigan College, where she studied arts and earned an associate degree with honors.
In 1988, while also working as an elementary bilingual teacher at Sylvester Elementary in Berrien Springs, Ender started Freedom Finishing along with her husband, Erik. Freedom Finishing electro- and powder-coats 100,000 parts a day for businesses that include GM, Ford, Whirlpool, and Herman Miller. Ender became the 100% owner and CEO in 2005. Freedom Finishing is Minority Owned, Woman Owned, Small Business
Woman Owned, Green Certified and ISO Certified.
Ender credits LMC with helping her overcome her lack of confidence in order to be a successful entrepreneur and business person: “Growing up, I thought I was going to be a factory worker like my parents, and here I am owning a factory,” she says.
Ender is a board member for the Southwest Michigan Tri-County Manufacturing Coalition, the Lake Michigan College Foundation, Cornerstone Alliance Women’s Business Center, Business Alliance Support Group, and Berrien Community Foundation. She has served on the LMC Winner’s Circle Benefit Auction Executive Committee since 2004, and frequently donates meals to various causes, including a recent school benefit meal for 32,000.
The Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Gloria Ender in 2017. She also received the Alumni Service Award in 2006.