Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS+, CEO of Stevensville, Michigan, distributor CE Competitive Edge, has been selected as recipient of PPAI’s 2021 Woman of Achievement award. Tomasini will be featured in the July issue of PPB and recognized at a Woman Of Achievement celebration during the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference Direct-2-You.

The PPAI Woman of Achievement award recognizes an individual who has led the way in the advancement of women in the industry, exhibited outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to the industry and her community.

“To say that I am extremely honored would truly be an understatement,” says Tomasini. “Receiving an award like this is beyond humbling. This honor truly causes me to reflect on all of the amazing people in my life that have been a source of inspiration and encouragement. I am thankful for all who have been and will be a part of my journey.”

Tomasini has been a trailblazer and a leading voice in the promotional products industry for almost 40 years, and for most of that as the founder and CEO of her own distributorship in Western Michigan. Along with its success, CE Competitive Edge has drawn plenty of praise and recognition. The company has been recognized by PPB magazine as one of the industry’s Greatest Companies To Work For and by Counselor magazine as one of the Best Places To Work. Michigan Women’s Business Council has named the company a Top 50 Women-Owned Business in Michigan and the Michigan Outstanding Women's Business Enterprise of the Year, and named the distributor to its Top 500 Women-Owned Business in the U.S. listing.

“She is respected throughout the industry among suppliers, distributors and service providers and has elevated the promotional products medium through her service,” says Paula Wygonik, president of CE Competitive Edge and Tomasini’s nominator. “She is passionate about the strategic role that branded merchandise and awards play in our global community. To Mary Jo, it has never been simply ‘swag’ but rather a critical part of the marketing mix.”

Wygonik adds, “Mary Jo is liberal with her time and willingness to coach anyone who asks. She shares counsel with distributors and suppliers who count her as a friend and trust her insight. Mary Jo has a character that is rare. She is an authentic soul with calm energy and endless generosity. We could fill a book with her acts of kindness. I am honored to nominate my life's coach and best friend, Mary Jo Tomasini.”

A long-time volunteer and advocate for the promotional products industry, Tomasini has an extensive track record of lending her time and expertise. She has served on several PPAI advisory and action groups, committees and councils, and served on the Association’s Board of Directors in 2014-2019, including a term as board chair in 2017. Tomasini is also active in her regional association, having served on a number of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association’s (MiPPA) committees and volunteer groups. She was inducted into MiPPA’s Hall of Fame in 2020. A member of PPAI’s Government Relations Advisory Council in 2015-2020, Tomasini has met with state and federal legislators numerous times in in Lansing, Michigan, and Washington, D.C., to represent the promotional products industry.

“Mary Jo is kind and smart and selfless,” says Brittany David, MAS, past chair of the PPAI board, and one of the many who supported Tomasini’s nomination. “She is a great listener and great contributor. While serving on the board and serving as chair, she not only contributed to improving our industry but also made an impact on everyone serving on the board and all those she encountered along the way. She not only served on the board, but she also made and continues to make an impact in her regional community and the WLC community both formally and informally.”

Beyond the promotional products industry, Tomasini’s volunteer work in her community has also been extensive. Among her many roles, she has been a member of the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees since 2009—serving as board chair in 2015-2016; and has served on the Lake Michigan College Foundation since 2005 and the Lake Michigan College Alumni Board since 2000. Active with the United Way of Southwest Michigan, she held numerous board positions with the organization in 2008-2015. Tomasini has also been a new business mentor with the Michigan Women’s Business Council since 2002, and a member of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce since 1993.

“No one exemplifies the PPAI Woman of Achievement more than Mary Jo,” says PPAI Interim President Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, CEM. “It is such an honor to be able to recognize her with this award. Her commitment to the Association, the industry, her community and businesswomen everywhere is extraordinary. She deserves all of the accolades.”

Tomasini is the 17th recipient of the award and is preceded by Carol Aastad, MAS; Margaret Custer-Ford, MAS; Margie Price, MAS; Mary Ann Farmer, MAS; Janelle Nevins; Roni Wright, MAS; Jo-an Lantz, MAS; Maribeth Sandford, CAS; Sheri Lennarson, MAS, Teresa Moisant, MAS; Mary Dobsch; Marsha Londe; Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS; Daryll Griffin, MAS; Irene Kogutt, and Paula Shulman, CAS.

Tomasini will be officially recognized on June 21 from 6-7 pm during the Woman of Achievement celebration as part of the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference Direct-2-You, a virtual event, being held June 21-23, 2021.