Celebrating the 10th-Annual Influential Women Award Recipients

Celebrating the 10th-Annual Influential Women Award Recipients

Northwest Indiana has many very powerful women that create a big impact on our economy. For over a decade now, a special event titled Influential Women of Northwest Indiana has been committed to recognizing these women for the ways they’ve reshaped our culture and changed the nature of living and working here in our region.

During the organization’s 10th-annual awards banquet, a new group of individuals was welcomed into an elite class of groundbreaking women. Award recipients came from lots of different industries and company types. Each winner has been making a significant effect on their companies and communities. NWIIWA, an association dedicated to advancing women, hosted the banquet to honor these women.

“These award recipients, and all the nominees, have made incredible differences in their fields and communities. They inspire other women, empowering them to dispel gender roles and achieve successes they’d previously only dreamed about. In its tenth year, the Influential Women’s event has touched so many lives and recognized so many outstanding women. I look forward to another decade of growth and outreach to professional women in Northwest Indiana. Together we can achieve great things,” said Erica Dombey, NWIIWA board chair.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said, “Across every Hoosier industry, women are making incredible contributions to the advancement of our state, our communities, and our economy. Evenings like this help shine the spotlight on all of their achievements, and it’s an honor to recognize Indiana’s Influential Women.”

Anne Anderson (left), Director of Economic Development with the City of Hammond, receives the 2021 Overall Up and Coming Woman of the Year award from NWIIWA Executive Director Andrea Pearman (right).

Denise Conlon (right), Public Affairs Manager with NIPSCO, receives the 2021 Overall Influential Woman of the Year award from NWIIWA Executive Director Andrea Pearman (right).









Highlighting Excellence for 10 Years

The first Influential Women banquet was held in 2011, beginning as a grassroots program designed to recognize the accomplishments of women. From that first group of winners grew a remarkably strong professional network of women that began closely keeping in touch regarding opportunities for advancement and growth.

With each new group of inductees, momentum continued to build. By 2018, demand for more professional development and networking opportunities grew so strong that a new association, NWIIWA, was formed to serve as the definitive go-to source for regional support for professional women. Companies began joining the association to help align their employee development goals, which in turn added to the association’s network.

Each year, NWIIWA’s programming and the network of Influential Women alumnae have grown. Now more than ever, women across the region have been leveraging Influential Women resources to enhance their own careers and organizations.


12 Industries Included

During the 2021 awards banquet, there were 27 awards given to individuals and other leaders or organizations that promote the advancement of women. Finalists came from all kinds of different professional backgrounds, including educators, corporate leaders, hospital officials, government officials, nonprofit heads, caregivers, and others. In all, there were 125 finalists selected from a pool of over 300 nominees.

Two winners were announced from 12 different industry categories – one Up-and-Coming winner and one Influential Woman winner. Other special awards were given to the Overall Influential and Up-and-Coming Women of the Year, the Empowering Business of the Year, the Community Leader of the Year, and the Supporter of the Year.


The Overall Winners

The 2021 overall Influential Woman of the Year winner was Denise Conlon, public affairs manager with NIPSCO, and the overall Up-and-Coming Woman of the Year winner was Anne Anderson, director of economic development with the City of Hammond.

Denise Conlon joined NIPSCO with an entry-level position and rose through the ranks. On the way up, she helped advance the company’s diversity and inclusion culture and became active with a local nonprofit. These experiences shaped her current role in public affairs, which gives Conlon the opportunity to work in all areas of the communities NIPSCO serves.

Anne Anderson brings an important perspective to Hammond’s plans for growth, having lived on both U.S. coasts and earning her degree in the South. She uses this national background to help her bring fresh ideas to the table and develop exciting projects for business expansion. Recently, she organized an Artspace feasibility study for the city.


Starting the Next Chapter

With 10 years of established excellence as an organization that works diligently to advance women, the next chapter of Influential Women and NWIIWA begins from a position of strength. With each new challenge they’ve encountered, the group has adapted and continued to make progress for women in the workplace and beyond. This momentum shows no sign of slowing. Influential Women’s next 10 years will certainly be a major catalyst for the next generation of bright, powerful careers in Northwest Indiana.


2021 Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Award Winners

The 2021 Influential Women winners.

Overall Influential Woman of the Year

  • Denise Conlon, Public Affairs Manager, NIPSCO

Overall Up & Coming Woman of the Year

  • Anne Anderson, Director of Economic Development, City of Hammond

Supporter of the Year Award

  • Lisa Kuehl, Commercial Loan Portfolio Manager, Horizon Bank

Community Leader of the Year Award

  • Tammi Davis, Manager of supplier and Workforce Diversity, The Obama Foundation


  • Influential Woman: Pamela Anderson, President/Owner, Color Room Salon & Day Spa
  • Up & Coming: Bridget Covert, Director of Exhibitions, South Shore Arts


  • Influential Woman: Gloria Morris, Enterprise Account Executive, Google
  • Up & Coming: Heather McColly, Director of Career Development, McColly Real Estate


  • Influential Woman: Laura Small, Project Architect, Holladay Properties
  • Up & Coming: Lyndie Walton, Project Manager, Continental Electric

Economic Development/Government

  • Influential Woman: Sarita Titus, Commander of Support Services, Gary Police Department
  • Up & Coming: Laura Shurr Blaney, Porter County Commissioner


  • Influential Woman: Raida Abuizam, PhD, Associate Dean, Purdue University Northwest
  • Up & Coming: Katrina Alexander, High School Teacher, School City of East Chicago


  • Influential Woman: Mary Wright, Vice President, Treasury Management Officer, Horizon Bank
  • Up & Coming: Stephany Leonard, Service Center Manager, Teachers Credit Union


  • Influential Woman: Michelle Resendez, Center of Hope SANE Coordinator, Forensic Nurse Examiner, Franciscan Health Crown Point
  • Up & Coming: Olivia Flaherty, RN, Northwest Health LaPorte Hospital


  • Influential Woman: Tara Worthley, Attorney, Langer and Langer
  • Up & Coming: Tara Tauber, Attorney/Owner, Tauber Law Offices


  • Influential Woman: Jennifer Cosenza, Community Builder/Chief Marketer, Acorn Marketing by Design
  • Up & Coming: Charlotte Liss, Marketing Manager, CARSTAR Liss Auto Body


  • Influential Woman: Prophetess Burgess Peoples, Executive Director, Guaranteed Income Validation Effort (GIVE)
  • Up & Coming: Stephanie Trendowski, Mental Health Ambassador/Professor, Mom Congress

Service & Tourism

  • Influential Woman: Kiki Encarnacion, HR Manager, Hard Rock Casino
  • Up & Coming: Orlee Glazer, Owner, Barre+Beyond


  • Up & Coming: Maureen Carroll, R&D Lab Technician, Monosol


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Category Cover Story, Features