YWCA announces 2009 Salute to Women award recipients

LAFAYETTE, IN (January 30, 2009) – The YWCA Greater Lafayette will showcase the achievements and contributions of seven local women at the annual YWCA Salute to Women Banquet on Tuesday, March 3rd at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms in West Lafayette.

The banquet also will include a reception, cash bar, dinner, and entertainment. Doors will open and the banquet reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m.

YWCA Salute to Women Award

YWCA Salute to Women Award

This year’s honorees are:

  • Woman of Innovation (woman under 40): Karah Rawlings
  • Women of Distinction: Jean Andres, Peg Dunkle, Zenephia E. Evans, JoAnn Rita Miller, Sandra Pearlman
  • Woman of Wisdom: Linda S. Cohen

Award recipients were selected based on outstanding and inspirational achievement in volunteer and/or professional roles, community involvement, and leadership/role modeling qualities.

The 2009 Salute to Women Banquet is presented by Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union. Honoree Sponsors include Lafayette Savings Bank, Faith Hope and Love Cancer Center, Lafayette Bank and Trust Company, St. Elizabeth Regional Health, and State Farm Insurance Companies.

About the Banquet

Tickets for the banquet are $50 each. Full tables of eight can be purchased for $400. The reservation deadline is February 24. Call 765-742-0075 or visit www.ywca.org/lafayette/salute for more information.

History of Salute to Women

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Salute to Women awards program. The first Salute to Women awards dinner was held on March 15, 1974. During its first two and a half decades, the Salute to Women program was coordinated by several local women’s organizations – the Lafayette Women’s Political Caucus, the Purdue Women’s Caucus, the American Association of University Women, Lafayette Business and Professional Women, the Lafayette Altrusa Club, the Association for Women in Communications, the American Business Women’s Association, the Association of Women Business Owners, and the YWCA Greater Lafayette. The YWCA became the sole sponsoring organization in 2000.

After the 2009 awards are presented, 249 women will have received Salute to Women awards.

About the YWCA Greater Lafayette

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the YWCA Greater Lafayette, a nonprofit social service agency and a United Way partner. The local YWCA serves six area counties with a domestic violence program and women’s shelter and serves 23 counties with a women’s cancer program that facilitates free mammograms and Pap tests for uninsured and under-insured women. The YWCA also operates an after-school program and offers health and wellness classes and activities, including aquatics and dance. Learn about the YWCA at www.ywca.org/lafayette.

About the Honorees

A problem solver, Karah Rawlings doesn’t shy away from difficult work. While a student at Purdue in the late 1990s, she became involved with Cary Home for Children as an adolescent care worker. She has served on the Friends of Cary Home Board, and she filled the role of interim executive director from March to September 2006. During that time she secured grant funding to refurnish all of the residents’ rooms with basic necessities – new beds, dressers, desks, and linens. Currently she is the coordinator for the Drug-Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County. She led the successful effort to apply for a $660,000 grant to evaluate high-risk drinking among 18- to 25-year-olds. As a founding member of the board of directors of the Dog Park Association of Greater Lafayette, Karah was a key player in the effort that established a permanent dog park serving more than 200 members. As a delegate to the National Council for the Girl Scouts, she represents Central Indiana members when voting on national policy and constitution issues. Her love of music led her to join the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering Board of Directors, and she is currently treasurer. Recently the Youth Leadership Institute in San Francisco invited her to serve as a consultant trainer for their “Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol” curriculum.

Jean Andres is an advocate for educating children in any and all ways possible. Jean holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in library science. She was the head of Tippecanoe County Public Library’s youth department for more than nine years. While there, she arranged a variety of programs to expose children to cultural diversity, so they could see the world without barriers and limits. She also volunteered at the West Lafayette Public Library and served on the board of the Friends of the West Lafayette Public Library. In 1994 she was hired as the first coordinator of the local Kids First Disability Awareness Puppet program, which promotes dialog about and comfort with differences. The program also stresses to children that we are alike in more ways than we are different. Jean continues to volunteer as a puppeteer and in other roles. She has served the League of Women Voters at the local and state levels. In 2007-2008, she headed the committee to re-study the state juvenile justice position. For 10 years she was a member of the Tippecanoe Child Care Commission. Jean also buys books, writes grants, and helps raise funds for the Book Cycle program, which provides books to at-risk children in eight childcare centers throughout the county.

Peg Dunkle’s work shows her concern for fairness, social justice, and addressing the needs of the under-served. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s in education. Her career has spanned many areas, with a focus on leadership. She has served as executive director of Hanna Community Center, executive director of the Tippecanoe County Council on Aging, and project manager for Lafayette Community Development. Currently she is a lecturer and assistant director of the Professional Writing Program in Purdue University’s Department of English. In 1994 she became the first female president of the Lafayette Noon Optimists. She has served on the Lafayette Human Relations Commission since 1997. She combined her devotion to both the university and the community when she brought together the three local Human Relations Commissions with a Purdue English class for a community diversity awareness campaign, with funding from the Purdue Office of Engagement. While serving the county council on aging, she developed programs and partnerships that tripled client services at the Senior Center, and she launched a successful capital campaign to renovate the Jenks Rest building. She worked with area agencies to implement the Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program, serving over 100 households during its first year.

With a doctorate degree in cell and developmental biology, Zenephia E. Evans is the director of multicultural science programs and associate director of the Science Diversity Office in the Purdue University College of Science. She also chairs the Purdue University Black Caucus of Faculty and Staff. She was the first African-American woman to serve as convener for the Council on the Status of Women at Purdue and the first African American to serve as president of the Lafayette Daybreak Rotary Club. Beyond these roles, Zenephia is a “mother” to countless students who rely on her to help them through personal life struggles. She has served as credit counselor, care giver, mentor, role model, and life counselor to many in need, whether they were going through abuse, financial difficulties, or health problems. With the Rotary Club, she enjoys organizing members to prepare and serve meals twice a month at Lafayette Urban Ministry. She previously helped organize a program to feed local people who are homeless, soliciting churches to serve a lunch each Sunday from a downtown Lafayette church. She volunteers as a lector, Eucharistic and hospitality minister, and a server at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center. She has chaired the golf outing and Penny Harvest campaign for Family Services Inc.

JoAnn Rita Miller is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in family and women’s issues, and since 1984, she has made it her mission to bring her knowledge and research to our local neighborhoods and individuals. She is associate dean for interdisciplinary programs and engagement in the Purdue University College of Liberal Arts and holds her doctorate in sociology. Recently she wrote the grant for the local “Weed and Seed” project, which brings $1 million over five years to Lafayette for programs that weed out crime, gang activity, drug abuse, and elements of violence and plant the seeds for social services, neighborhood restoration, and other preventative strategies to vitalize neighborhoods and families. She also wrote an “Assets for Independence” grant that was awarded last year to United Way of Greater Lafayette, to allow local families to save for their first homes and let individuals save to enter Ivy Tech education programs. Domestic abuse is one of her areas of scholarly expertise. She has helped the YWCA on domestic violence protocols and has worked on preventing batterers from re-offending. She is now president-elect of an international association, The Society for the Study of Social Problems, and will focus her presidential address next year on the work we can do in our communities to treasure and preserve what we have and celebrate what we can become.

A former homemaker and medical technologist, Sandra Pearlman has served a multitude of local organizations for many years, contributing leadership skills and financial support. Few Ivy Tech students know that she gave the community a piece of land that was vital to the growth of the college. Another quietly accomplished contribution was her gift of a building to the Legal Aid Corporation of Tippecanoe County. Sandra has served as president of many groups, including Legal Aid, Friends of Downtown, the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Hadassah, Temple Israel Sisterhood, and Chi Omega Alumnae. Other groups she has served in various capacities include the Kathryn Weil Center Board, Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra Foundation Board, Tippecanoe County Historical Association Board, United Way of Greater Lafayette Board, United Way Allocations and Special Gifts Committee, Vision 20/20, Downtown Business Center Board, West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission, YWCA Greater Lafayette Board of Directors, and the steering committee for the cultural plan for Lafayette and West Lafayette. She was instrumental in developing “Dining with the Legends of Lafayette,” a Tippecanoe County Historical Association fund-raising event that has helped with Fowler House restoration. At this event, actors portray local historical figures.

Linda S. Cohen has championed the validity of nonprofit service throughout her life. Often she serves as a spokesperson, articulating her passion and support for a cause or mission. In 1974, Linda was the first woman to serve as president of Temple Israel, opening new possibilities for women locally. She also was a leader in the Temple Israel Sisterhood. While treasurer, she started a fund-raising art auction that has continued for 34 years. Linda recently helped complete the Greater Lafayette portion of the Planned Parenthood Tapestry Campaign and has been named to the Planned Parenthood of Indiana Board of Directors. Her leadership and support were vital in the success of the campaign to relocate and furnish Planned Parenthood’s new local health clinic, which served 5,556 patients from a multi-county area in 2006. Over the years she has contributed her leadership qualities to many agencies, including the YWCA Board of Directors, the YWCA Foundation Board, and the boards of the Hanna Community Center, Family Services, Thomas Duncan Hall, and the Community and Family Resource Center. She was a West Lafayette City Council member for two years and also served on the West Lafayette Strategic Plan Committee, the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Foundation, and Vision 20/20.

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