2021 Influential Women list announced

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – KPC Media Group, Inc. has announced the 2021 Influential Women list.

The list celebrates “amazing women in our communities who have overcome barriers defied social norms and blazed trails for future generations,” according to KCP’s website. This year’s group includes leaders from multiple backgrounds: finance, art, public service, higher education, events, marketing and more.

On Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. the public is invited to a free live chat with the women. To register, click here.

The 2021 Influential Women list:

Amanda Shepard, COO – Fort Wayne Museum of Art

Amanda leads alongside FWMoA CEO, Charles Shepard. She is a vital part of the organization’s staff and development of the team. She also develops strategic plans and policies that shape the organization. In her free time, Amanda is Board Chair for Saint John’s the Baptist Catholic Church, plays volleyball, and raises two children.

Andie Hines-Lagemann, Founder – Tidewater Coaching

Andie is a fearless entrepreneur. She started a nonprofit for female entrepreneurs, Own Your Success, which focuses on giving women a space to collaborate, learn and grow in business without fear of judgement. She also founded Tidewater Coaching where she is an Emotional Intelligence provider and coach. In her free time, Andie volunteers at various local nonprofit organizations and enjoys promoting local businesses and their owners.

Churubusco Chamber of Commerce Executive Board

That’s right. The ENTIRE CCoC Executive Board has been selected as an “Influential Woman.” This board is comprised entirely of women who are making a splash in Churubusco. Through volunteering at nonprofits, hosting events and holding educational seminars, their grassroots community involvement approach is quickly increasing chamber membership and influence. These board members are out there “beating the pavement” to make their community a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Councilwoman Sharon Tucker – Fort Wayne Common Council

Sharon Tucker was elected to represent the 1st District on the Allen County Council in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018. While on County Council, she was the only female, African American, and Democrat serving at the time. In 2019, she ran for the 6th District on the Fort Wayne Common Council and won, making her mark as the first African American woman to hold this seat.

In just the last 2 years on council, Councilwoman Tucker has already made a lasting impact on not just the district she represents, but also the entire City. She has championed legislation for public safety, launched a startup program, PASE (Project Activate SouthEast), to provide workshops and a business pitch competition to entrepreneurs looking to locate in southeast Fort Wayne, and attracted business, retail, and housing developments to the area. She is a tireless advocate for her neighbors and the community.

Juanita Ray, Owner – el Azteca Mexican Restaurant

Juanita has been the owner of el Azteca and a community servant for 47 years. The oldest of 14 children, Juanita began working at the age of 12 as a migrant worker with her parents. She later worked at St. Joseph Hospital in accounting, where her love of business was first sparked. In 1973, she opened el Azteca. She uses her position to give back to those around her by donating food and gift certificates to various organizations, including schools and churches. She has been donating to Most Precious Blood Catholic Church’s Fun Fest since the early 1980’s. She has also been known to give her employees cash advances and cover shifts for anyone who is out doing community volunteer work. Juanita’s story, kindness and work ethic have been inspiring people for decades.

Kristin Marcuccilli, EVP and COO – STAR Financial Bank

Kristin M. Marcuccilli is currently Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of STAR Financial Bank and is responsible for information technology, bank operations, digital banking, information security and project management. Aside from her long-time-service in numerous community, civic and government organizations, she’s a founding member of Touchdown for Kids, an organization benefiting Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Aside from her long-time-service in numerous community, civic and government organizations, she’s a founding member of Touchdown for Kids, an organization benefiting Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

Governor Eric Holcomb appointed her to the Indiana’s Economic Relief and Recovery Team, a taskforce to plan, administer and account for federal relief funds the state receives from the CARES Act during the pandemic.

Kristin also serves as a mentor to a female entrepreneur, Sarah, in Fort Wayne.

Rebecca Essig, Assistant Professor of Engineering – Purdue Fort Wayne

In a male-dominated field, Rebecca is an outstanding educator who has worked to encourage the next generation of engineers. Her high performance in the classroom has been rewarded multiple times at the college and university levels. Outside of the classroom, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to service throughout the university and into the community. All of her service activities are centered around sharing her passion for engineering with K-12 students and increasing diversity within the engineering student body and workforce. At PFW she volunteers for the FIRST Lego League, Future Cities Competition, and Sci-TEC Academy (all engineering outreach K-12 programs). She serves as the faculty mentor for three PFW student organizations, and she also spends countless hours helping other educators improve their classroom and student interactions.

Additionally, she has regularly demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion by participating in Safe Zone training and the United Front Initiative. She believes the engineering discipline can’t truly reach its potential until a diverse group of voices are present at the table.

Shanna Bradley, Founder and Doula – Journey Birth and Wellness

Shanna has a passion for helping those in need. While working with a refugee birth ministry outside Atlanta, she discovered how her passion for birth and working with refugees could be combined to help people in her home town. She started Journey Birth and Wellness to provide free doulas to women in the 46806 (highest infant and maternal mortality) and to foreign born women. She has trained Burmese, Latina and black doulas to serve this population.

Sherrie Berghoff, Owner – One Purpose Marketing

Sherri has an extensive background in the healthcare industry and is passionate about making a difference for the seniors in her community. Sherri is currently focused on growing her FOUR businesses from the ground up: One Purpose Senior Healthcare, One Purpose Senior Services, OPS Adventures (non-for-profit), and One Purpose Marketing. Before getting into the healthcare industry, Sherri successfully ran her family automotive business for 15 years all while homeschooling her children! In 1997 she won the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Business of the Year Award for said business. She has also been active in over half a dozen community organizations over the years. Her passion for supporting seniors in the community is not only evident in her many years working in the healthcare industry but also the time she has dedicated to supporting outside organizations that directly impact the lives of seniors.

Susan R. Ralston, Owner – Jacob Insurance Service

Susan has held the same job since her junior year of high school. This was over 40 years ago. Several years ago she had the opportunity to become full owner of the business and has continued to work on building out a local business, dominated by males, to be the most successful it has been. With the 75th anniversary of Jacob Insurance Service happening last year, Susan has been a part of over half of this journey. As a more than 20 year volunteer in 4-H, she won the Friends of 4-H Award l, the highest honor given to volunteers. Jacob Insurance Service has had a number of awards given to it for its success as a small independent insurance agency. Susan also is an active member of the Kiwanis Club in Angola, a board member of the Council on Aging, and serves on the scholarship committee for the Community Foundation.

Tee Cook, Owner – All in 1 Cakes and Events

Tee Cook is a business owner with a heart for her community. When she isn’t running All-in-1 Cakes and events, she is teaching free CPR classes to youth groups or hosting various support groups for members of the community. She is a civil rights pioneer in Fort Wayne. She is opening an education center where people can go to learn about careers and how to get a better job. She was the first person to host a black business vendor event (“Events in Color”), and she travels the US talking about black women’s rights and mental health.

Virginia Richardson, Owner – Tilde Multimedia Firm

Virginia got started In Washington D.C., where she helped launch the first BET Soul Train Awards. After soaking up many other marketing and promotional experiences, she moved back to Fort Wayne to start her business, TILDE. She works relentlessly to provide her customers with a full range of digital marketing, web development, search engine marketing, and event promotion. Through this work ethic, she has saved organizations from ruin and helped them thrive.

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