Ivy Tech’s Michelle Simmons honored with WBC Elizabeth Foster Award

Jan Bailey a finalist for Trailblazing Woman distinction

WBC President Patty Pavey presents award to Ivy Tech's Michelle Simmons

WBC President Patty Pavey presents award to Ivy Tech’s Michelle Simmons

KOKOMO, Ind. — Michelle Simmons, president of Ivy Tech Community College’s Kokomo Campus, was honored with a top award last week at the Greater Kokomo Chamber Women’s Business Council’s first Legacy Gala. Expected to be an annual event, the gala celebrated women’s achievements and contributions to community and society.

Ivy Tech’s Jan Bailey, program manager for the Kokomo Region’s Youth CareerConnect Grant, Integrated Technology Education Program, was a finalist for the WBC’s Trailblazing Woman of 2015 Award. They were among women honored March 12 during a festive banquet at PASTArrific’s Bel Air Events attended by more than 150 local business women and men.

A night of reflection, celebration, and inspiration, the Legacy Gala was designed to celebrate women’s legacy and contributions and to honored six local professional women who are making a difference in the Howard County community.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of two awards: the Elizabeth Foster Award, an honor designated for a Howard County professional woman helping women in the community reach their full potential named for 19th century Kokomo founder Elizabeth Foster, and the Trailblazing Woman of 2015 Award, given to a Howard County professional woman creating new opportunities, breaking boundaries, and setting an example for women in the Greater Kokomo community.

The Elizabeth Foster Award went to Simmons with two other finalists also honored – Sherry Rahl of Project Access and Peggy Baugher of BMO Harris Bank. The Trailblazing Woman Award went to Jo Brooke of Solutions Day Spa; Angela Martino of Martino’s Italian Villa was also a finalist along with Ivy Tech’s Bailey.

In the packet of information nominating Simmons for the Elizabeth Foster Award, the recently appointed Kokomo Campus president was described as “the kind of leader that those who work under her aspire to be” and “a woman in charge, not a woman-pretending-to-be-a-man in charge.” Employees and peers with whom she has worked cited Simmons’ inspiration, support and mentoring as fundamental to their success, calling her ”creative,” “collaborative,” “very professional,” “very supportive,” “a strong leader” and “a good team builder.”

Those nominating Bailey for the Trailblazing Woman Award noted the many “glass ceilings” she has broken in a career intertwined with male-dominated business and industry positions but more importantly the “glass ceilings” she works to break for other women through expanding opportunities in male-dominated jobs. Her current role with the Youth CareerConnect Grant is a prime example as she helps young women obtain skills needed to succeed in the advanced manufacturing industry.

In addition to the awards presentation, Indiana University Kokomo Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke gave a passionate and eloquent keynote speech encouraging both men and women to work together to support and empower each other in both their professional and personal lives. She gave examples of the inequalities between men and women in the workplace over the years, reflecting on societal changes but also stressing awareness of challenges still faced today. Chancellor Sciame-Giesecke challenged each guest to take risks and seek out new opportunities without fear. The audience responded with a standing ovation, only further encompassing the environment that the Women’s Business Council set out to create for this event.

“The mission of the Women’s Business Council is to connect, mentor, and develop professional women in our business community by empowering them through educational and networking opportunities,” explains Alliance & Chamber Operations Manager Karen McCoy. “This wonderful event not only celebrated strong women who are living that mission, but also showcased how fortunate we are to have so many of them in our community! The Chamber is so grateful for them, and we greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Women’s Business Council both in hosting this wonderful event and in the many great things they do for our business community.”

For more information on the Greater Kokomo Women’s Business Council and the Chamber of Commerce, visit http://www.GreaterKokomo.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/WomensBusinessCouncilGreaterKokomo.

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About Ivy Tech Kokomo Region

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties and includes campuses or instructional sites in the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, and Rochester. Ivy Tech serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association. For more information, visit www.ivytech.edu.
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