University of Southern Indiana

Ten Phenomenal Women recognized

Ten Phenomenal Women recognized

3/30/2011 | University Communications
Ten women were honored on March 29 at the 2011 Phenomenal Women of USI and Community Recognition Ceremony, sponsored by University of Southern Indiana's Multicultural Center, Old National Bank, and the American Association of University Women. The ceremony marked the 10th anniversary of the Phenomenal Women awards.

Phenomenal Women recognizes 10 women in seven categories: USI undergraduate student, USI graduate student, USI alumni, USI faculty, USI administrative staff, USI support staff, and community-at-large.

The 2011 Phenomenal Women:

Koryn Heeke is a USI senior graduating with honors in May with a degree in public relations and advertising. Heeke is an intramural supervisor, and president of the Student Ambassadors. Heeke was named the Intramural Supervisor of the Year in 2010 and the Recreation, Fitness, and Wellness Employee of the Year in 2009. She is a member of the Honors Program, holding a 4.0 grade point average, and the Louis and Anne G. Harpole Presidential Scholar. In the community , Heeke serves as a volleyball coach at Perry Heights Middle School and volunteers for American Cancer Relay for Life.

Lauren West is a USI student pursuing a journalism degree. She is the Standards chair of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, a student ambassador, AMIGO, and campus lifeguard. West has been a member of the USI cheer team, and is a correspondent for The Crescent International Magazine. As a member of Gamma Phi Beta, West and her sisters support Camp Fire USA, building caring, confident youth and future leaders, and P.A.A.W.S., a no-kill animal rescue organization in Newburgh, Indiana. West supports her church community by serving Sundays in the children's ministry program at Christian Fellowship Church.

Jessica Hopkins is a graduate student at USI, pursuing a Master of Science degree in elementary education. She is an elementary school teacher for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and active in Delta Sigma Theta. Hopkins has served in leadership capacities for the Evansville alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and has been an integral part of chapter undertakings such as Delta GEMS, which serve as a role model group for young girls.

Daniela Vidal is the coordinator of the USI Engineering Department's Advanced Manufacturing and an instructor in the Engineering Department at USI. In 2003, she and other community leaders created HOLA (Hospitality and Outreach for Latin Americans), the first non-profit organization focused on the Hispanic population. HOLA's mission is to enhance appreciation of cultural diversity and to promote the successful inclusion of this community. Vidal was involved in the creation of the Juan Diego Latino Center, where outreach services such as English classes, life skills class, and health clinics are offered to the Latino community. She is a member of the Folk Dance Group aimed at promoting and understanding cultural values and serves on the Legal Aid Society Board of Directors. She's been involved in numerous initiatives in the Evansville community including serving on the Small Business Development advisory board from 2007 to 2009, the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) implementation team, and the USI Big Read program steering committee. She was voted one of the top five "Women of Influence" by Evansville Women magazine in 2010 and a 2009 Celebration of Leadership "Individual Leadership "Neighborhood & Community" award recipient.

Janet Johnson is the assistant director of USI's Career Services and Placement. She assists students in developing the necessary skills to succeed, both socially and professionally. A certified etiquette trainer, Johnson regularly presents dining and communication programs to students at USI, Ivy Tech, and elementary students through the Mt. Vernon School District Girl Power program. She serves on the board of Family Matters in Posey County, a United Way organization dedicated to improving the lives of families and children in Posey County and chairs the RiverBend Coalition organized to promote and accentuate Mt. Vernon's riverfront and downtown area.

Suzanne Schroeder is an administrative associate in Academic Skills at USI. She communicates with students worldwide with different native languages and varied degrees of English proficiencies. Her mild manner puts students and their families at ease. Schroeder's interaction with these incoming students is one of the first opportunities USI has to make a positive impression. She treats everyone she encounters with patience and kindness and displays a willingness to help others regardless of the challenges or differences.

Danyelle Granger graduated from USI with a master's degree in public administration. She is a foundation program officer at Old National Bank, where she manages a charitable giving program that donates nearly $1 million each year to organizations in three states and assists in diversity initiatives. Granger spearheaded the development and implementation of the company's first associate resource group, the African American Leadership Group, dedicated to promoting cultural awareness, professional development, and community service among all associates. She has served on the YWCA Board of Directors for four years and chairs the Hallmark Committee, working to eliminate racism and empower women. She is a mayoral appointee to the Evansville Chapter of the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of African American Males, a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Evansville, and was recently elected to the Evansville Area Human Resources Association Board of Directors. Granger was featured in the Evansville Business Journal as an "Up and Comer" in the community.

Tanya Cook is a LPN at the Evansville State Hospital and co-pastors with Bethesda Ministries International, Inc., along with her husband, Darrell Cook, Sr. She served in the US Army, has been a missionary for over 10 years to London, Jamaica, and Africa, and volunteers with the Evansville Rescue Mission, House of Bread and Peace, and the Salvation Army. Cook is in the process of authoring her first book, "Pages of the Heart."

Johnna Denning has dedicated her career to helping vulnerable populations. She currently works for Keep Evansville Beautiful. In the past, Denning worked for United Neighborhoods of Evansville establishing programs for inner city neighborhoods including grants to youth for neighborhood clean up. She held early literacy workshops for low-income families at EVSC schools, Oakland City Public Library, and the Gibson County Jail. She worked with Dr. Iris Phillips, associate professor of social work at USI, to develop the Center for Social Justice at the University of Southern Indiana. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Posey County Community Foundation, the Tri-State Food Bank, and Willowtree. She is president of Drug-Free Communities of Posey County. Denning helps with the soup kitchen at St. Matthew's Church and assisted in developing an after school art program. Denning graduated with a degree in social work from USI and obtained a master's degree from the University of Evansville.

Maura Robinson, a successful business owner and local community leader, is the founder of MG Robinson Inc., a consulting and training firm. She has developed curriculums to implement diversity training for businesses, and she has helped create policies and procedures in the areas of minority awareness in recruiting, hiring, and coaching employees. The company sponsors programs such as L.E.A.R.N. (Life Educational Awareness Resource Network), an initiative to encourage schools and communities to jointly work for students' achievement. She is a co-founder of HOLA (Hospitality and Outreach for Latin Americans), the first non-profit organization in Evansville focused on the Hispanic population. She was named an ATHENA Award Finalist in 2008 and 2009. Other honors include the Willie Effie Thomas Award, the Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Gibson Award, and the Phi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor. Her work and activities were developed with the purpose of creating awareness of cultural diversity and bringing out the positive impact of these differences to obtain a better overall community.

Held at USI during Women's History Month, Phenomenal Women awards honor and celebrate women from all walks of life who have made contributions to diversity in the USI and Evansville communities. Through the annual recognition of these contributions, the Phenomenal Women program hopes to inspire others to embrace and promote diversity within their own lives. Pamela Hopson, director of the USI Multicultural Center, was the emcee for the award ceremony.
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