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NIPSCO honors Lake Area United Way CEO as ‘luminary’ leader
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NIPSCO honors Lake Area United Way CEO as ‘luminary’ leader

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MERRILLVILLE — As president and CEO of Lake Area United Way, Lisa Daugherty has been hailed as someone who listens and motivates her team. She has been praised for breaking the traditional Community Chest mold and “taking United Way into the 21st Century … helping real people meet real needs.”

NIPSCO also thinks highly of Daugherty, presenting her with its Luminary Award for community leadership. She was among five honorees at the eighth annual NIPSCO Luminary Awards program Thursday at the utility company’s headquarters.

Joining Daugherty as 2019 honorees are:

  • Education: Ivy Tech Community College, Valparaiso Campus, Energy Technology Program
  • Public safety: Lake Station Fire Department
  • Environmental stewardship: NICHES Land Trust
  • Economic development: NewAllen Alliance

“You make me want to work harder,” Daugherty said in her acceptance speech, citing vision, commitment and focus.

“I’m honored,” Daugherty said, “But I really see this as an award for the work our organization is doing in the community. We’re doing things that are really innovative and groundbreaking.”

Daugherty cited a family network of community-based organizations that LAUW has coordinated. Network representatives meet regularly to share ideas on duplication of services and unmet needs.

Under Daugherty’s direction, LAUW explores needs in the community, then goes back to its member agencies to support how they are meeting those needs.

Lake Station Fire Chief Chuck Fazekas said his department’s award “feels good to get the recognition.”

In recent years, the fire department has worked with NIPSCO on safety issues, including recent flooding.

“We have more to do, but we’re able to put the pieces together for public safety,” said Fazekas, whose department has 58 members, including volunteer and part-time staff, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Earlier this year, Lake Station restored its ambulance service.

Mike Jones, an adjunct professor and retired chair of the Energy Technology Program at Ivy Tech, explained the program offers one- and two-year degrees in such areas as power plant, natural gas and renewable energies.

“It’s a wonderful program for the students,” Jones said, noting that successful graduates are guaranteed applications to employers such as NIPSCO and South Bend-based Indiana Michigan Electric. “There are jobs available and these are good-paying jobs.”

Chancellor Aco Sikoski reported that NIPSCO has hired half of the program’s 100 graduates.

NewAllen Alliance is a grouping of seven communities in Allen County to promote economic development in rural areas.

Based in Lafayette, NICHES Land Trust operates in 13 counties to preserve and restore the environment.

"Their stories are inspiring and uplifting,” NIPSCO president Violet Sistovaris said of the 2019 honorees.

The awards program also featured the presentation of a $140,000 check from NIPSCO employees to conclude their 2019 Charity of Choice campaign.

NIPSCO workers chose to support organizations supporting seniors. The recipients are: Aging & In-Home Services of Fort Wayne; Alzheimer’s Association of Northwest Indiana; Area Five Agency of Aging & Community Service; LaGrange County Council on Aging; Meals of Wheels of Northwest Indiana; Noble County; Council of Aging; Porter County Aging & Community Services; REAL Services of South Bend; and White County Council on Aging.

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