MERRILLVILLE - The Northwest Indiana’s Influential Women award winners have been announced. The award honored 24 women from 12 different industry categories including arts, business and education. 

The award winners were selected from a group of over 150 finalists, from a pool of 300 individuals that were nominated by their peers. 

 “This event recognizing women in Northwest Indiana has grown every year for good reason; we are realizing the need to lift each other up, to celebrate our successes, to be proud of ourselves and the work we do. The sisterhood in the Region has grown so strong that we created a partner organization, Northwest Indiana Influential Women’s Association, to continue to nurture these bonds and talents,” said Board President Erica Dombey. “NIIWA provides educational programing for businesswomen, from human resources to leadership to management skills and more. It’s amazing to see how we all have learned from each other through these programs.”

Additional awards were given for Empowering Business of the Year, Community Leader of the Year and Supporter of the Year. 

The 2019 Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Award Winners are:

Overall Influential Woman of the Year

• Kimberly Blaesing, owner, Tiger Plumbing

Overall Up & Coming Woman of the Year

• Vicki Urbanik, auditor, Porter County


• Up & Coming: Leta Sena-Lopez, director of bands, Kahler Middle School

• Influential Woman: Michelle Golden of Books, Brushes & Bands for Education


• Up & Coming: Natalie Krivas, purchasing manager, AM Stabilizers Corp.

• Influential Woman: Lisa Preston, owner, St. John Animal Clinic 


• Up & Coming: Patty Stovall, property development manager, Hasse Construction 

• Influential Woman: Tannaz Javadi, senior research engineer, ArcelorMittal

Economic Development/Government 

• Up & Coming: Katie Hall, director, Crossroads CASA

• Influential Woman: Jennifer Gadzala, special projects coordinator, Town of Chesterton


• Up & Coming: Uzoma Obidike, founder, She Leads Beautifully

• Influential Woman: MaryAnn Chapko, principal, Eisenhower Elementary


• Up & Coming: Candice Kouros Logue, vice president/banking center manager, Peoples Bank 

• Influential Woman: Kathy Ireland is the vice president / wealth services with Wintrust Bank


• Up & Coming: Brittany Owen, family nurse practitioner, Winfield Family Medicine

• Influential Woman: Sister Marlene Shapley, vice president of mission integration, Franciscan Alliance


• Up & Coming: Nicole Keith, senior associate attorney, Kreig DeVault LLP

• Influential Woman: America McAlpin, attorney, Austgen Kuiper Jasaitis / probate commissioner, Lake Superior Court


• Up & Coming: Jen Soffin, founder, The IN Coast 

• Influential Woman: Marie Forszt, vice president of marketing and corporate communications, Community Healthcare System


• Up & Coming: Michelle Novak, community liaison, Tradewinds Services

• Influential Woman: Nupur Arora, director of business administration, FoodBank of Northwest Indiana, Inc.

Service & Tourism 

• Up & Coming: Natalie Johnson, executive director, Save the Dunes 

• Influential Woman: Nicole Caylor, president/owner, Aftermath Cidery & Winery/Running Vines Winery


• Up & Coming: Michele Murday, Northwest Indiana branch manager, EnviroForensics

• Influential Woman: Megan Glaros, meteorologist, CBS Chicago 

Supporter of the Year Award 

• Cynthia Warner-Lowe of Hammond Adult Education 

Community Leader of the Year Award 

• Andrea Graciano, victim advocate, Hobart Police 

Empowering Business of the Year

• Jay Marie Salon and Spa