Region’s most influential women honored
By Maria Amante email@example.com/648-3072 May 31, 2012 8:56PM
Melissa Strayer, Influential Women of Northwest Indiana.
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:20AM
MERRILLVILLE — More than 100 women were nominated for awards in the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana celebration ceremony Thursday night marking triumphs in the workplace.
Awards were given in 11 categories, including business, tourism, law, construction and economic development, and honored two overall winners — Up-and-Coming Influential Woman and Influential Woman of the Year.
“I couldn’t have done this without my family,” said Melissa Strayer with Kvaerner North American Construction, winner of the Up-and-Coming Influential Women award, one of the night’s top honors. “I was shocked (to be nominated). Construction’s a hard business, and I could not get there without my support teams.”
Chareice White, corporate director of community relations for Majestic Star Casino and president of the Barden Gary Foundation, won the Influential Woman of the Year award.
Jill Ritchie of U.S. Steel was named Community Leader of the Year.
Fair Oaks Farms, with women comprising 90 percent of its workforce, was honored as Empowering Business of the Year.
“It’s nice to see women in our city be recognized for their accomplishments,” said Kathy Ireland, a Valparaiso resident who attended the program.
“It’s nice to be recognized as successful women.”
All the nominees are strong in their field and the community, said Ryan Riverside, director of public relations at Diversified Marketing Strategies, an event organizer.
“They were chosen not just because they’re strong women, but because of what they do to influence other women,” Riverside said.
More than 550 people attended, and more than one-third of those people were men, Riverside said. Comparatively, he said, only 15 men attended the event’s inaugural celebration in 2011.
Lou Martinez of United Way said the nominees are allies and partners in business and in the community.
“This ceremony is appreciated and needed,” he said. “So many qualified women do great things in Northwest Indiana.”