2024 Women on the Rise honorees announced • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
2024 Women on the Rise

2024 Women on the Rise honorees announced

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The Leadership Institute and the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest will honor the 2024 Women on the Rise honorees during a reception March 21.

The honorees were announced Feb. 1 and include leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs who are making difference in the Northwest Indiana business community.

“Celebrating women and their powerful accomplishments is a way to call out exemplary leaders who through innovation, effort and a dose of moxie, change our communities. Research shows that companies and organizations with more women in leadership positions achieve greater success than those without,” said Sheila Matias, executive director of the Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest, in a press release. “Recognizing their contributions honors these women and serves to share varied leadership models with other women and girls who can find motivation and encouragement from these truly inspiring women.”

The honorees are:

  • Samantha Bean, Valparaiso – Director of marketing and communications, Porter County Community Foundation
  • Felicia Blakely, Michigan City – Executive pastor, president and founder, Diamonds & Pearls Mentorship for Girls and High Praise Outreach Ministries
  • Whitney Bradshaw, Michigan City – Curator, Lubeznik Center for the Arts
  • Julie Dessauer, Knox – Owner and operator, Papa Farm Pizza
  • Sara E. DeYoung, Lake Village – Executive director, Jasper County Economic Development Organization
  • Emmani Ellis, Merrillville – COO, IronWorkz Corp., and CEO, No Limit Living LLC
  • Liliana Franco López, Michigan City – Operations director, Economic Development Corp. Michigan City
  • Kylee Fraze Norman, La Porte – Partner, CLH, CPAs & Consultants
  • Amy Fry, Ph.D, RN, Hammond and Westville – Dean, College of Nursing, Purdue University Northwest
  • Nicky Ali Jackson, Hammond and Westville – Professor of criminal justice and executive director of the Center for Justice and Post-Exoneration Assistance, Purdue University Northwest
  • Gretchen Kalk-Castro, Michigan City – Partner, CLH, CPAs & Consultants
  • Beverly Mack-Martin, Michigan City – Founder and director of development, The Midwest Minority Consortium for Alternative Energy Solutions
  • Joellen Matzat, North Judson – Co-owner and operator, Lewellen Blooms
  • Imani Mayo, Crown Point – Director of Aging Services, Northwest Indiana Community Action
  • Melissa Mitchell, Valparaiso – CEO, HealthLinc Inc.
  • Meg Piercy, Munster – Owner, MegMade
  • Faith Spencer, Gary – Founder and CEO, IronWorkz Corp.
  • Jacqueline Thomas, La Porte – President, South Shore Public Relations
  • Darien Thompson, Hammond and Westville – Director of student success and urban engagement, Purdue University Northwest
  • Catisha Toney, Merrillville – President and CEO, Coates Inc.
  • Becca Tuholski, La Porte – Local food access coordinator, NWI Food Council
  • Shannon Walker, La Porte – Vice president, Unity Foundation of La Porte County
  • Jen Yednak, Chesterton – Owner and cake designer, Jen’s Gourmet Cakes
  • Gianna Zyla, Portage – Manager, asset and risk management, NiSource

“We believe it is important to recognize these Women on the Rise because many times the accomplishments of the ‘everyday’ woman get overlooked,” said Mekisha Richardson, assistant director of the Leadership Institute at PNW. “It’s vital that we use our platform to showcase the wonderful contributions of women across our Region from various backgrounds and walks of life.”

The reception will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 21 at the James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activities Complex on Purdue University Northwest’s campus in Westville. Tickets are $30.

Find profiles of the honorees here.

Caption: The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest and the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest announced the 2024 Northwest Indiana Women on the Rise honorees.


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