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.