News From Terre Haute, Indiana


April 20, 2012

First Women of Influence class feted

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — Perseverance is a key component of leadership and something any leader must have to make an intentional difference, an audience honoring the Wabash Valley’s influential women was told Thursday morning.

Eight women honored during the inaugural Wabash Valley Women of Influence breakfast have all exhibited perseverance in their lives — on their way to making a positive difference in their communities.

Keynote speaker Patricia Wachtel, president and CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis, told the 398 attendees she found her purpose through perseverance, first in the banking industry, then through corporate philanthropy, and now through Girls Inc.

“I also learned that leaders lead with the permission of the followers,” Wachtel said. Being in a leadership position does not guarantee positive results. Not every leader has all the answers, so it helps to surround oneself with people who know the things you don’t, she said.

Leaders also have to model the correct behavior for the people they want to inspire, she said. And, it is important to talk to people about the decisions of the organization so they can work within the same framework toward the same goals.

Wachtel said she has found it important to be intentional in fostering the leadership of women for the future. Through Girls Inc., which was originally formed as Girls Clubs of America, the multi-county organization wants all girls to be strong, smart and bold, and that means they must be taught to be healthy, educated and independent women.

The 2012 Women of Influence are:

• Karen Goeller, deputy superintendent of the Vigo County School Corp.

• Susan Guinnip, retired county director with University of Illinois Extension

• Nancy Hunt, Sullivan County Redevelopment Commission and retired from Southwest School Corp.

• Sister Jeanne Knoerle, retired at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College

• Barbara “Boo” Lloyd, owner of Crossroads Café & the Corner Grind

• Joy Sacopulos, community volunteer

• Erika True, women’s soccer coach at Indiana State University

• Sally Zuel, vice president of human resources at Union Hospital

Women of Influence’s mission is to recognize female leaders who have made a difference while growing in their personal development and leaving a positive mark on their community, said committee chair Lisa Johnson.

The committee received 41 nominations, which were distilled down to 27 finalists.

The definition of a woman of influence is a “remarkable leader, a passionate visionary, a fearless persuader. She is an open-minded mentor, a role model, always an encouraging moral example. A woman of influence is a humble innovator who accomplishes excellence while making a positive and irreversible impact on the lives of the people she encounters.”

Johnson said the committee was pleased to receive nominations from several counties because the United Way of the Wabash Valley serves Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties in Indiana and Clark County in Illinois.

Funds raised from Thursday’s breakfast will go to fund Success By 6, a United Way program designed to provide every child with the opportunity to develop basic reading skills so they can enter kindergarten ready to learn.

Presenting sponsors of the inaugural event are GE Aviation, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Tribune-Star, Union Hospital and Vectren. Underwriting sponsors include Duke Energy, Frontier Communications and Jewett Printing.

In addition to Johnson, of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., other committee members are Janet Clark, Dottie King and Dee Reed, all with St. Mary-of-the-Woods College; Christi Fenton, Vigo County School Corp.; Karen Lyles, Vectren; Kristin Marlin, Old National Bank; B.J. Riley, Tribune-Star; and Lori Smith, GE Aviation.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or

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