Women’s Excellence in Leadership Award Presented at Terre Haute Women’s Conference

Women’s Excellence in Leadership Award Presented at Terre Haute Women’s Conference

Terre Haute, Ind. – The Terre Haute Women’s Conference was back on the campus of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for a morning of networking, speakers and a special award presentation. 

After two years of virtual conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce brought the conference back to The Woods. It was first hosted on the campus in March 2019.

Along with three dynamic in-person presentations, Terre Haute Chamber Executive Director Kristin Craig also presented the annual Women’s Excellence in Leadership award to Karen Harding. She serves as the CEO of Chances and Services for Youth, a position she’s held for the past 21 years. 

Terre Haute Living/Joseph C. Garza
Karen Harding, chief executive officer of Chances and Services for Youth, at the CASY front desk on Nov. 24 at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Karen on many different business and community events and initiatives,” explains Craig. “She’s smart, has a great business sense and most importantly, she’s passionate about the mission of CASY and improving our entire community.”

Throughout her career at CASY, Harding has served on several education and quality child care committees. She served as United Way Success by Six co-chair for several years, Early Head Start Advisory Committee member and is currently the United Way Youth Success co-chair. She is also involved with the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce Quality of Life Committee. She is the recipient of the United Way Solomon Award, the Colts Community Quarterback Award, and was recently recognized as one of the Terre Haute Living Women in Business Awards.

“Working with youth and families is very rewarding,” Harding says. “Everyday there is someone or something in our community that will benefit from our resources and interventions. Knowing there is always a need, it is easy to stay motivated.”

She continued, speaking on her work with CASY, “We offer so many programs that reach a wide variety of families. Providing a child a safe, fun learning environment in our out of school program, or seeing the benefits of mentoring with our Big Brothers Big Sisters program is a benefit I see everyday. Our team at Chances And Services for Youth goes over and above what is expected and working with so many passionate women (and COO Brandon Halleck) is like working with a great group of friends.”

Harding is married to David Harding, a Physical Therapist Assistant and they own Harding’s Country Antiques. They have three children Shannon Kerns, civil engineer from New Buffalo, Michigan; Kristy and her husband Chris Unton and two grandchildren Hanna and Mason from Westfield, IN ; and Kayla Harding ,a Junior at ISU studying criminal justice.

This is not the Chamber’s first time honoring women in business. In 2021 Union Health Chief Nursing Officer Rhonda Smith was recognized. In 2020 Union Health General Counsel Amy Hock (formally with First Financial Bank) received the award. 

In the past, the organization presented the nationally recognized ATHENA Leadership Award®. Traditionally this award was presented during the Chamber Annual Meeting in August.

ATHENA Leadership Award® has previously honored several outstanding women in the community, including: Sister Barbara Doherty, Marilyn Pendergast, Beth Tevlin, Sydney Bell, Jeanette Winchester, Becky Buse, Marla Flowers, Claudia Tanoos, Patrece Dayton, Sara Smith, Carol Roesch, Dottie King, Sara Arnett, Rachel Leslie, Barbara “Boo” Lloyd, Bernice Helman, Cheri Bradley and Susan Decker. Amy Hock was the first honoree under the new “Women’s Excellence in Leadership Award”, followed by Rhonda Smith. 

In addition to the presentation for Harding, three speakers took the stage. Touching on the “Unstoppable” theme of the day were Terre Haute native and certified health coach, yoga and Pilates instructor Laura Burdick, Indiana Fever President and COO Dr. Allison Barber and keynote speaker Jennifer Magley, a Speaker, Technical Recruiter, Former Professional Athlete, NCAA Division I Head Coach and mother.

Additional content was available for conference attendees online. Speakers include: Tiffany Baker with 3 Sisters Investments, Maqubè Reese, CEO/founder of Tribe Consulting, Bo Turner with BoCo Collective and Charity Wilkes a Holistic Health Coach. 

The Chamber also highlighted the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute, which is accepting applications for the next cohort. The partnership between the Chamber and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College will host the five-day initiative May 16-20. Deadline for applications is April 22.