Every day across the region, women are working tireless to make a difference in our community and they deserve to be recognized for it. Thankfully there was a chance to do so on Thursday night as Diversified Marketing Strategies, Inc. hosted their 6th Annual Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards.
The awards honored over 20 deserving women and organizations across 11 industries that have made a positive impact on Northwest Indiana while raising over $80,000 for local charities.
The Influential Women awards started six years ago in order to put a spotlight on the hardworking women who don’t always get the chance to be recognized. Andrea Pearman, Creative Commander of Diversified Marketing Strategies, Inc., created the concept and it has continued to become a incredible ceremony ever since.
“This was really a grassroots program when it started six years ago, and there’s nothing like this in Northwest Indiana,” Pearman stated. “The awards are voted on by public and then our alumni come together to choose an Up & Coming and Influential winners in each category - so it’s truly an award that’s awarded by and for these women who are at the top of their field. We had over 200 nominations and that shows how many incredible women are out there, and when we get together we can really make a difference. That’s why we love to do this.”
The true meaning of the awards wasn’t lost on anyone - a ceremony that recognizees successful women across the board is still, somehow, uncommon. Erica Dombey, President of the Regional Development Company and a 2012 award recipient was emcee for the nightn and noted that the awards are incredibly important because it creates a sense of inclusion and celebration amongst a group that deserve the attention.
“There are lot of industries that are recognized tonight that are still underrepresented as far as women are concerned. I think that having something like this for those women is incredible essential,” Dombey explained. “The phrase ‘Girls Club’, doesn’t exist because of the still-prevalent and non-inclusive ‘Boys Club’. There are award ceremonies all of the time where men hand out awards to each other regularly and we needed to have something like that. This is the chance to have a night for us - it’s like the Oscars for women in Northwest Indiana. It’s truly an honor to be involved with something so trailblazing.”
Over a hundred women were finalists within the 11 categories, and all were honored to be recognized for what they do best.
Jennifer Sanders, Manager of the Northwest Indiana Breast Care Center at Methodist Hospitals, was a finalist in the Influential in Healthcare category of the night and was, like the rest, flattered to be noted by her peers.
“I’m a little bit nervous and shocked to be a finalist because there are so many women in this community, and this field, that deserve to be recognized,” Sanders stated. “I’m truly honored and humbled to get this recognition and that someone felt that I should be included. This night is phenomenal, though. This really keeps us engaged and lets us see all of these other women in different fields, and the fact that we get to come together to celebrate is incredible.”
The awards ceremony flew by, but the winners all proudly walked up to accept their gorgeous handmade award from Pearman - and some even with tears in their eyes. By receiving their award 2016’s winners are now inducted into an incredible group of alumni of past award winners and will be able to give the honor to another woman next year.
After the ceremony the winners got their much deserved congratulations from their fellow finalists, along with coworkers and friends. Kris Falzone, Associate Vice Chancellor of Marketing at Purdue Northwest, has been nominated twice in the Marketing and Media category but took home the trophy on Thursday.
“Winning tonight is a wonderful surprise and I’m really humbled. I especially didn’t expect it because the Marketing and Media category is filled with so many experienced and amazing women,” Falzone stated. “I’ve been a part of this event for a very long time but I’m so happy to see how it’s grown and how much they’ve given back to women’s charities in the area. It’s a win-win-win all around for local organizations and people who are doing great things. It’s a high energy event and one everyone proud of to have in our community.”
2016 Influential Women Award Winners
Influential - Anita Marie Kozlowski - Screw Conveyor Corporation
Up & Coming - Kathy Neary - Ivy Tech Community College
Influential - Teresa Iaquinta - Matrix North American Construction
Up & Coming - Jessica Vargas - Holladay Properties
Influential - Lori Tubbs - Commercial Advantage, Inc.
Up & Coming - Lorri Feldt - Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center
Influential - Dr. Marsha King - University of Saint Francis
Up & Coming - Dr. Karen Bishop Morris - Purdue University Northwest
Influential - Karen Candiano - Eley-Graham Financial Advisory Services, Inc.
Up & Coming - Lauren Trumbo - St. Catherine Hospital
Influential - Merrilee Frey - Lake County Coroner’s Office
Up & Coming - Maria D’Ambrose - Newton County Board of Commissioners
Influential - Lori Postma - Franciscan Alliance, Inc.
Up & Coming - Julie Bombacino - Real Food Blends
Influential - Leane English Cerven - NorthWest Indiana Bancorp/Peoples Bank
Up & Coming - Dana Zivkovich - Zivokvich Law Offices LLC
Influential - Kris Falzone - Purdue University Northwest
Up & Coming - Kristin Johnson - SecurMAR LLC
Influential - Dr. Sharron Hightower-Liggins - Continuum of Care Network of NWI, Inc.
Up & Coming - Mackenna Schon - United Way of Porter County
Influential - Polly Rossi - Meeting Achievements
Up & Coming - Lydia Ramos - Hammond Horseshoe Casino
2016 Community Leader of the Year – Sue Reed, Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce
2016 Overall Up & Coming Woman of the Year – Kristin Johnson, SecurMAR LLC
2016 Overall Influential Woman of the Year – Leane Cerven, Northwest Indiana Bancorp/Peoples Bank
2016 Empowering Business of the Year – Strack & Van Til
2016 Supporter of the Year – Ed Kasza, The Little Guys Home Technology
2016 Torch Award – Ellen DeMartinis, Opportunity Enterprises, Inc.
For more information on the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards, visit www.nwiwomen.com.