Purdue Northwest announces 2023 Northwest Indiana Women’s Leadership and Innovation Summit


August 2, 2023

The Leadership Institute and Society of Innovators at Purdue University Northwest (PNW) have announced the 2023 Northwest Indiana Women’s Leadership and Innovation Summit.

The annual event brings 260 diverse women leaders together for inspiring presentations and panel-style conversations, with a focus on authentic leadership, innovation knowledge, the power of networking and personal empowerment.

The summit is especially suited to mid-level managers, star contributors and high potential employees who have been identified as outstanding prospects for increased leadership responsibilities, professionals with an interest in personal development and executives seeking to become a more innovative leader.

“Leadership is highly valued for both business and personal success, and strong leadership skills are important now more than ever,” said Sheila Matias, executive director of the Leadership Institute at PNW. “Today’s ever-changing landscape also relies heavily on innovation. The summit will encourage attendees to rethink their commitment to innovation and help them blend their leadership with innovation to foster robust and agile problem-solving at all levels.”

Leadership is highly valued for both business and personal success, and strong leadership skills are important now more than ever.

Sheila Matias, executive director of the Leadership Institute at PNW

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The 2023 Northwest Indiana Women’s Leadership and Innovation Summit will take place on Sept. 14 at the James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activities Complex at PNW’s Westville branch campus, 1401 S. U.S. 421, Westville, IN. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. CST for networking, with programming beginning at 9 a.m. Brunch service will take place at 10:30 a.m., and the event will conclude at approximately 3 p.m.

The summit will feature over 20 speakers, representing a wide variety of business and community leadership roles. The following program emphasizes deep conversations and intentional networking for event attendees.

Meet the Speakers

Featured Speakers

Left to right: Chelsea Whittington, Mary Ann Ahern, Carnessa Carnes, Rachel Clapp-Smith. Ph.D., Amanda D. Zelechoski, J.D., Ph.D., ABPP

  • Emcee: Chelsea Whittington, Founder and CEO, C WHITT PR LLC
  • Mary Ann Ahern, Political Reporter, NBC 5
  • Carnessa Carnes, CarnessaThePoetess
  • Rachel Clapp-Smith. Ph.D., Teddy Jacobi Dean of the College of Business, Academic Director, The Leadership Institute at PNW, Professor of Leadership, Purdue Northwest
  • Amanda D. Zelechoski, J.D., Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychology, Founding Director of Clinical Training, Purdue Northwest

Panel: SHE-Suite Leadership

Left to right: Jane Thomas, Ph.D., Jen Trowbridge, Tiffani Davis

In this post-pandemic era, more senior women are calling it quits. According to McKinsey and Lean In, for every woman stepping into a director-level leadership role, two are choosing to leave. We’ll sit down with corporate leaders to discuss how we might reverse this trend and how rising women leaders can best navigate their own paths to a seat at the She-Suite table.

  • Moderator: Jane Thomas, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior | Assistant Academic Director, the Leadership Institute
  • Jen Trowbridge, President and CEO, Northwest Indiana Community Action
  • Tiffani Davis, VP, Manager of Client Experience, Centier Bank

Panel: She Is an Agent of Change

Left to right: Mekisha Richardson, Charita Lucas, Angie Nelson Deuitch, Faith Spencer, Chareice White

Black women are often underestimated, under-celebrated, and face issues that are often not addressed or even acknowledged. Hear from a group of community change makers who are working to empower the next generation of Black women leaders to visualize their bright futures and potential through discovery, development, innovation and social change in their communities.

  • Moderator: Mekisha Richardson, Assistant Director, Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest
  • Charita Lucas, Executive Director and Founder, Future Cycle Breakers
  • Angie Nelson Deuitch, President and Owner, I&D Squared Consulting
  • Faith Spencer, President and CEO, IronWorkz
  • Chareice White, Regional Business Development Officer, Community Investment Fund of Indiana

Panel: She Changes the Narrative

Left to right: Sheila Matias, Nassim Abdi, Alexandrea Horton, Ph.D., Danita Johnson, Ph.D., Leah Konrady

Despite evidence of the benefits of gender-based representation, women remain heavily underrepresented in many sectors. We’ll sit down with a panel of women writing their own stories of success in traditionally male-dominated industries to discuss how we can build better support systems and engage more women in the fields they represent.

  • Moderator: Sheila Matias, Executive Director, Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest
  • Nassim Abdi, CEO and Co-Founder, StoryBolt
  • Alexandrea Horton, Ph.D., Logistics Account Manager, ArcBest
  • Danita Johnson, Ph.D., President and CEO, Edgewater Health
  • Leah Konrady, CEO, Konrady Plastics


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