MC Chamber honors ‘inspiring women’ – and girls

“Be brave. Be bold. Bet big on yourself.”

These were the three pieces of advice Vicki Henn, executive vice president for PNC Financial Services Group, offered to professional women and their supporters last week in a packed Stardust Event Center at Blue Chip Casino Hotel & Spa.

It was the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce’s annual Inspiring Women Luncheon, and this year’s event was extra special. “Because this was our year of celebrating our centennial, we decided to also celebrate 100 women, which we’ve not done in the past,” Chamber President Katie Eaton said. “We typically bring in women and students to hear a keynote speaker give a speech to inspire women. This year, we asked for nominations from the community, and we received a ton. Then, we had a small committee that got together and whittled it down to 100. And they all received awards today.”

Ten girls from Michigan City High School – pegged as role models for their peers – also were honored guests at the event. “It’s important to celebrate the women in Michigan City who do so much for our business community,” Eaton said, “as well as inspire our youth and upcoming leaders in the area to make sure that we continue to build a strong community and strong businesses.”

As Henn spoke, she briefly addressed issues like discrimination, harassment and pay disparity, but focused on empowering her listeners and encouraging them to take charge of their lives. “It’s never been a more exciting time to be a woman,” Henn said.

She included a few statistics, like the fact that women are more likely than men to earn their bachelor’s degrees by age 29. And 1,800 new woman-owned businesses are started in the U.S. each day, many supported by the hundreds of organizations whose sole mission it is to help them succeed.

On the other hand, 80 percent of the lowest-paying jobs in America are held by women, Henn said; as are just one-third of lower- to middle-management roles, one-fourth of senior executive positions, and one in every 20 CEO spots.
“There’s a lot of work for us to do as a society,” she said.

Henn referenced the “boys’ club” and “boys will be boys” mentality, saying, “That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that – as long as it’s not holding anybody back.” As a point of emphasis, she encouraged the women in the room to support one another.

She noted one bad work experience can significantly impact a woman’s career trajectory and asked that women treat each other with respect and kindness. “If we want to be treated well by others, we have to treat each other well, too,” Henn said. “… Lifting up women, supporting women, being in service of other women is some of the best work we can do.”

To thank Henn for traveling from her home in New Jersey to speak, the Chamber made a $500 donation to the charity of her choice – Stepping Stone Shelter for Women.

For the eighth year, PNC Bank was the title sponsor for the event. Table sponsors included Blue Chip, Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, General Insurance Services, Harbour Trust, Horizon Bank, Integrative Flavors, La Porte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Walsh & Kelly, La Porte Hospital, and the law firm of Newby, Lewis, Kaminski & Jones.

Micky Gallas and Carolyn Probasco were Inspiring Women sponsors; and Stephanie Oberlie of Harbor Trust Investment Management was awards sponsor.

100 Inspiring Women

Nora Akins, Lisa Albers, Lindsey Applegate, Megan Applegate, Patti Baxter, Linda Bechinski, Jean Bensz, Janet Bloch, Pat Boy, Susan Branch, Julie Brennan-Krause, Sheila Brillson, Kim Burnette, Jeanne Ann Cannon, Sharon Carnes, Deborah Chubb, Dale Cooper, Annette Corbett, Jane Daley, Cheryl Daurer, Ashley Dickinson, Kathy Dennis, Amy Dietz, Barbara Eason-Watkins, Katie Eaton, Theresa Edwards, Jo Ann Engquist, Kylee Fraze Norman, Maria Fruth, Micky Gallas, Nancy Gettinger, Stephanie Gordon, Hannah Hammond-Hagman, Linda Hardesty, Patricia Gruse Harris, Madeleine Hayes, Vicki Henn, Kay Hill, Anne Hollingsworth, Linda Hough, Kristina Jacobucci, Cara Jones, Diana Kabelin Corley, Betsy Kabelin Parkison, Gretchen Kalk-Castro, Anna Kent, Kim Kniola, Betsy Kohn, Robin Kohn, Monica Komasinski, Leah Konrady, Karri Krumnow, Lori Lake, Kathleen Lang, Amber Lapaich-Stalbrink,Brandi Lewis, Kim Martin, Naoko Mazany, Agnes Meer, Nicole Messacar, Linda Milzarek, Erin Mooneyhan, Angie Nelson-Deuitch, Jill Nygren, Stephanie Oberlie, Dorothy Germain Palmer, Kris Pate, Cynthia Patterson, Kristen Patterson, Debbie Pedzinski, Audra Peterson, Bobbi Petru, Georgeann Quealy, Diane Reed, Cynthia Roberts, June Ruby, Ellen Sharpe, Kelly Shikany, Amy Shinn, Michelle Shirk, Sherri Silcox, Candice Silvas, Linda Simmons, Andrea Smith, Sandy Smith, Maggi Spartz, Brenda Temple, Peggy Thomas, Sonshine Troche, Paula Trout, Suzy Vance, Deb Varnak, Jane Wall, Nila Williams, Andrea Wolfinsohn, Kathy Workman, Julie Wozniak, Sharon Wright,Sharon Ziething, Dawn Zigler

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