MERRILLVILLE | Women who give back to the community and positively impact Northwest Indiana through their careers in business, nonprofit organizations and political fields were honored Thursday.
Some 550 guests at the second annual Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Banquet at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza celebrated the achievements of the 90 Northwest Indiana women nominated for the awards. An Influential Woman of the Year Award and an Up-and-Coming Woman of the Year Award were presented in 11 categories.
New this year was the Empowering Business of the Year award, which was presented to Fair Oaks Farm in Winamac.
The award honors a business that steadily employs and supports women through fair business practices, said Andrea Pearman, president of Diversified Marketing Strategies in Crown Point and the program’s founder.
Other finalists in this category included LaPorte Savings Bank, NiSource, Community Healthcare System, First National Bank of Valparaiso and Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
Proceeds from the event will help empower women and children, Pearman said. Four nonprofit charities affiliated with the Lake Area United Way and the United Way of Porter County were selected to receive funds raised during the awards banquet.
The organizations include the Visiting Nurses Association of Porter County; the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana; Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Gary; and Housing Opportunities Inc. of Valparaiso.
Creating opportunities in the workplace for the next generation of women is another focus of the program, Pearman said.
“Our Influential Women alumni are passionate about passing the leadership torch to a new generation. Our goal next year is to sponsor a scholarship for young women for a post-secondary education,” she said.
“We want to bring up our next generation of girls to become strong, influential women and stay in the area," she said.