Ten women were honored on March 22 at the 2012 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.
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 2012 Phenomenal Women are listed here:
Molly Hahn is a USI undergraduate student pursuing a degree in elementary education. She is a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority where she held the PACE (Personal and Chapter Enrichment) position and was recently elected to the executive board as financial vice president. She is also involved with the College Mentor for Kids program as a “Big Buddy” and vice president and general manager for the third grade. Over spring break in 2011, Hahn traveled to Jamaica to work in an orphanage as part of a social work program. She is a member of the Student Alumni Association and 2012 Homecoming Court.
Kaitlyn Websteris a USI undergraduate student pursuing a degree in English education. As president of the Student Housing Association, she spearheaded efforts to create a weekend visitation policy. She has contributed to the College Mentor for Kids program for the past three years and serves on the executive board of the Spanish Club. In addition, Webster is an AMIGO (student orientation leader), secretary of the Student Alumni Association, and a member of the 2012 Homecoming Court. She was the recipient of the Sherianne Standley Scholarship and Emerging Leader Award at the USI Leadership Banquet in 2011. She was recently named a recipient of the USA Funds Scholarship from College Mentors for Kids.
Grisel Barajas is a graduate student at USI. She is a counselor at Catholic Charities of Evansville, a non-profit organization that offers outreach and counseling services to those in need. She is the only certified bilingual psychologist in the Evansville area. She also teaches classes in financial management for Latinos in the Evansville community. Barajas is involved with leading CAJE (Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment) at Nativity Catholic Church. She is actively involved with EDUCA (Empowering Individuals through Education) as an English tutor and as a volunteer with the USI Multicultural Center. As an undergraduate, she was an AMIGO (student orientation leader), a member of the Spanish Club, and a member of the Hispanic Student Union/Latinos Unidos (HSU/LU).
Amie McKibban joined the faculty at USI in 2009 as an assistant professor in psychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 2000 and master’s degree in experimental psychology in 2002 from Emporia State University. After graduating, she worked as a program coordinator for a county wide teen pregnancy prevention program. In 2003, she taught for a year at USI as a visiting instructor in psychology. McKibban earned her PhD in 2005 from the Community Psychology Doctoral Program at Wichita State University. Her research on happiness was published in aPsychological Sciencearticle “Is happiness having what you want or wanting what you have.” She is responsible for creating and leading Safe Zone workshops at USI, which educate people about issues specific to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Cynthia Brinker is vice president for Government and University Relations at USI. She previously served the university as director of Human Resources, assistant vice president of Business Affairs, and associate vice president for Business Administration. Prior to coming to USI, Brinker served as director of personnel for Hyatt Hotel Corporation. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePauw University and participated in the DePauw University International Program in Freiburg, Germany in 1972, and the Instituto de Allende in San Miguel, Mexico, in 1974. Brinker has been involved with numerous professional organizations including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Evansville Human Resource Association (EHRA), Indiana Society for Human Resource Management, and the College and University Personnel Association (CUPA). She has also been involved with Keep Evansville Beautiful, the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana, Girls Scouts of Southwest Indiana, Evansville Dance Theatre, Junior League of Evansville, Easter Seals, and was involved with the Evansville Greenway Project.
Mary Alice Weigand is an administrative associate to the dean of students at USI. She began her 24-year career at USI as the call-in telephone operator in 1988. She later held positions in the USI Bookstore and the Business Office, and served as senior secretary in the University Division and senior secretary for the assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. She earned an associate’s degree in communications from USI in 1997. Weigand is active in St. Paul United Methodist Church, as the assistant treasurer and secretary. She also participates in a singing group, The Trinity III, which performs during church services and in nursing homes. She has two grown daughters and four grandchildren.
Kendra Vanzo is executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Old National Bank. She is a member of the bank’s Executive Leadership Group and works closely with their Diversity and Work Life team. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois and an MBA from USI, while simultaneously continuing her leadership role at ONB. She has completed the Indiana Executive Program through the Kelley School of Business, and earned her Senior Professional Human Resources certification. She also assisted with the interviewing and hiring of Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s staff. Vanzo serves as a board member for the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, the March of Dimes- Southwest Division, and Tales for Scales. She volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters and donates time and expertise as a consultant on human resources issues for several non-profit organizations in the community.
Genevieve B. Bootzhas been a generous donor to USI for many years. Her legacy of community service and philanthropy go back decades. She adopted the Fulton Square unit of the Boys and Girls Club and has been instrumental in helping the organization grow programs and provide educational opportunity for kids. She is a supporter of the Evansville YWCA Young Women of Promise Scholarship Program at Bosse High School. At the YWCA, Bootz also helped with a shelter renovation and provided scholarships for at-risk girls. She served as president of the Vanderburgh County PTA Council and through that involvement, encouraged the development of a metropolitan school district, now known as the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. Other organizations she has helped include Easter Seals, the League of Women Voters, Evansville ARC, the Boys and Girls Club, and New Harmony Theatre.
Sheila Huff is known for her lifelong achievements in education and social justice. She was a teacher at Bosse High School for 22 years before becoming an assistant principal at Glenwood Leadership Academy. She was later appointed principal of Bosse High School. Huff was named Outstanding Educator of the Year by theEvansville Courier & Press, the Black Women’s Task Force, and the University of Evansville. She serves on the boards of Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare and the Evansville YWCA.
Erika Taylor has been CEO of the Evansville YWCA since October 2011. She was appointed to serve on the Evansville, Vanderburgh Board of Zoning Appeals and Area Plan Commission by Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel and was appointed to the Evansville Vanderburgh Human Relations Commission by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. Taylor was recently featured as a guest lecturer at the University of Evansville Andiron Lecture Series on the topic of the YWCA’s role in eliminating racism and empowering women. She is a longtime member of the Junior League of Evansville, where she served as president from 2008-09, and chaired or co-chaired several projects receiving Leadership Evansville awards. She has served on the boards of St. Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children, Evansville Bar Association, Ark Crisis Child Care Center, St. Vincent’s Day Care Center, USI Society for the Arts and Humanities, Friends of Mental Health, Leadership Evansville, and WNIN. Taylor is also involved with Lincoln Elementary School, Make a Wish Foundation, Carver Community Organization, Evansville African American History Museum, and Joshua Academy. She was awarded the 2006 Community Volunteer of the Year Award from the Junior League of Evansville and was honored in the 2010 “20 under 40” awards presented by the Evansville Business Journal.
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.
Photo Credit: USI Photography Services
Left to right back row--Kaitlyn M. Webster, Molly Hahn, Mary Alice Weigand, Cynthia Brinker, Kendra Vanzo, Erika Taylor. Left to right front row--Grisel Barajas, Amie R. Mckibban, Genevieve B. Bootz, Sheila Huff.