Influential Women of NWI Honored

NWI Times  •  By Rob Earnshaw, Times Correspondent
 
   

HOBART │Women who are a positive influence in local businesses, industries and communities were recognized with a celebration on Thursday.

Professionals from 11 industries were nominated for The Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Banquet at Avalon Manor. A 17-member steering committee chose 90 finalists from 172 applications. Two women were awarded in each of the 11 industries – one each in the categories "Influential and "Up and Coming."

Industry categories are business, construction, economic development, education, finance, government, healthcare, law, media/marketing, nonprofit and service/tourism.

St. Catherine Hospital CEO Jo Ann Birdzell won in the Influential category for healthcare and also was chosen for the overall Influential Woman award.

Superior Construction Co. Inc. Safety Coordinator Tricia Hanrath won the Up and Coming award in the construction category and also was the overall winner of the Up and Coming award.

Other winners included Brandi Anstine, of Lakeshore Public Media, as Up and Coming in the marketing/media category.

“It means a lot to be nominated for such a prestigious award in a field with several talented women,” she said. “I think all the women nominated tonight are well deserving. Women overall have come a long way in the professional world and it’s really important to recognize all the strides we’ve made.”

O’Merrial Butchee, director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest, won the Influential award in the education category.

“It’s something that should be cherished and it’s another comment to let our students know that they can achieve academically and be recognized beyond the sports arena,” she said.

Recognition also went to Cal Bellamy for Supporter of the Year, NIPSCO for Empowering Business of the Year and Denise Dillard, of Methodist Hospitals, who won the Community Service Award.

“It’s not about your work or something you have to do, it’s a community I live in and I just take ownership that, if I’m not doing it, who will?” Dillard said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Awards were presented by Danita Johnson-Hughes, executive director of Edgewater Systems, and Karen Lauerman, director of marketing and communication, Northwest Indiana Forum. Each are previous winners of the awards banquet.

“The reason we do this is because it’s not just women honoring their peers, it’s the organizations and the companies that they work for and recognizing the talents, skills and abilities of women in business, industry and nonprofits,” Lauerman said.

Influential Women organizer Andre Pearman said the event is about recognizing women who are established in their industry, as well as rising stars who are newer to their respective fields but are making an impact.

“There is such a diverse group of deserving women in Northwest Indiana, and our committee works very hard to select the best and brightest,” she said.

Women recognized at the The Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Banquet

Business

Kimberly Broader, manager, NIPSCO business office

Construction

Melissa Neff, president, Mechanical Concepts

Economic Development

Dawn Collins, broker/owner, Century 21 Executive Realty

Education

O’Merrial Butchee, director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center

Finance

Rachel Saxon, president/senior trust officer, Horizon Bank

Government

State Sen. Earline Rogers

Healthcare

Jo Ann Birdzell, CEO, St. Catherine Hospital

Law

Sean Kenyon, attorney, Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP

Marketing/Media

Chelsea Whittington, communication director, city of Gary

Nonprofit

Maggie Spartz, asset developer, Unity Foundation of LaPorte County

Service/Tourism

Lorelei Weimer, director of tourism, Indiana Dunes Tourism.

Up and Coming Women Winners

Business

Theresa Valade, president/CEO, Success Trek Inc.

Construction

Tricia Hanrath, safety coordinator, Superior Construction Co. Inc.

Economic Development

Tina Rogers, president, Karnerblue Era, LLC

Education

Regina Biddings-Muro, interim vice chancellor for advancement, Purdue University Calumet

Finance

Jocelyn Hibshman, COO, Lakeside Wealth Management Group

Government

Commissioner Nancy Adams, Porter County Board of Commissioners

Healthcare

Cynthia Thompson, patient care services Hammond director, Franciscan Physician Hospital

Law

Dana Rifai, attorney, Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP

Marketing/Media

Brandi Anstine, marketing & special events director, Lakeshore Public Television & Radio

Nonprofit

Monique Ruiz, administrator, Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

Service/Tourism

Allyson Baughman, marketing director, Duneland Chamber of Commerce