Connecting & advancing women in business throughout Northwest Indiana
including Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, Pulaski, and Starke counties.





Jo Ann K. Collins
President/ Licensed Interior Designer – Montage’ Interiors, Inc.

Address:  429 Wessex Rd., Vaparaiso, IN 46385
Phone:  (219) 947-3947
Work Email:

JoAnn is an award-winning Interior Designer with Montage’ Interiors, Inc. which she founded in 1988.  She has been “Blending Personality with Style” through one of a kind interior design and décor for Commercial, Residential, Healthcare, Hospitality, and Marine Interiors, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your project needs of any size.

*  Lead Designer & President
*  Project Development & Sales
*  Space Planning
*  Color Scheme Development
*  Budgeting
*  Scheduling
*  Project Management
*  Purchasing & Procurement
*  Business Communications
*  Marketing & Branding

Education, Certification, Licenses: B.A. Purdue University, 1981

Purdue University Calumet, 1998 Entrepreneurship Program

Additional Activities and Memberships:
1988-2018, Munster Chamber of Commerce; Past Board Member; Volunteer of the Year 2015; Beautification Award 2014

2016, Influential Women of NWI, Finalist

1999-2008, The Executive’s Council, 2006-07 Board Member

1993-1995, Board Member Tradewinds ADA Compliance Committee; Founder Universal Housing Project

Personal Information:
2016, Influential Women Finalist
2015, Volunteer of the Year Award, Munster Chamber of Chamber of Commerce
Named, “One of the Best Office Interior Design Firms,” NWI Business Quarterly
Published Healthcare Project, NWI First Inter-Actional Alzheimer’s Unit
Published Residential Project,
“Lake Michigan Shore Magazine

JoAnn is married to her best friend and favorite Architect, Bob Collins.  They enjoy sunshine,  anything to do with being on the water, and cheering on the Boilermakers!

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Silva Devarj
Devarj Design Agency, Owner

Address:  13 Lincolnway, Suite 208, Valparaiso, IN  46383
Phone:  219-476-0600
Work Email:

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Jennifer Doffin
AVP & Branch Manager, Centier Bank

Address:  8310 Broadway, Merrillville, IN 46410
Phone:  (219) 769-4231 ext 4501
Work Email:

Jennifer is an experienced banker with 15+ years in the industry.  Her current role includes managing Centier’s south Lake County branch network, with a focus on business development and small business banking.

Jennifer is a past board member of ‘e’ Engaging NWI Business Women.

Jennifer is also active in the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce where she serves on the board of directors.  She is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Northwest Indiana, a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Indianapolis Chapter, and a member of Tri Kappa.

Jennifer received her B.S. in Business Management from Valparaiso University.  Jennifer is married to Jeff and they have three energetic daughters.

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Melanie Dunajeski
Partner, Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP

Address:  101 E. 90th Drive, Suite B, Merrillville, IN 46410
Phone:  (219) 769-3300
Work Email:

Melanie is a lawyer with 32 years experience. She concentrates her practice in business and employment related matters, civil litigation, and insurance disputes.

Proud Founding Member of “e”.

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Christina Fickel
Host- Board of Directors Better Choices Better Lives

Address: Chesterton, IN 46304

Phone Number: 219-309-7634



Current Employment Information:
As CEO of Better Choices Better Lives, we have a proven track record of enhancing lives for almost two decades. We market for the largest online wellness shopping club in North America. Due to their one of a kind business model which delivers over 450 consumer goods directly to the customers’ door, we help families save time and money all while getting an American made, fresher, environmentally friendly, nature based product.

We are experiencing tremendous growth because of this unique business model created over 30 years ago. It combines the best aspects of several industries; unique and exclusive consumer goods, e-commerce shopping, and just-in-time manufacturing.

Education, Certification, Licenses:
University of Evansville
Bachelors in Physical Therapy
Physical Therapy/Therapist, Magna Cum Laude
NDT Certified
Started business 16 years ago

Professional Organizations:
Community Director for the Chesterton- Porter Rotary Club, Fellowship board for St Paul

Business Sector:
Other Health and Wellness

Areas of Interest:
Networking, Education, Workshops, Regional Projects, Non Profit

Special Skills or Qualifications:
Problem solving – developing business systems to manage over 1700 customers based on their needs

Leadership/Collaboration- event leader for a Rotary fundraiser which brings in over $15,000

Strong work ethic in all areas of my life

Referral Information:
I’m looking forward to learning from other successful women and sharing ideas.

Teri Healy
Owner Teri Healy, LLC
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Crystal L Johnson
Treasury Assistant Board of Directors / Attorney Attorney – Law Office of Crystal L. Johnson

Address:  9800 Connecticut Drive, Suite B1-301, Crown Point, IN 46307
Phone:  219-213-6774
Work Email:

Current Employment Information:
Attorney, Law Office of Crystal L. Johnson, LLC

Current Employment Synopsis:
Crystal opened her private law practice and her primary areas of practice are bankruptcy, small business, and tax law.  In addition to owning her practice, she acts as Co-Counsel for Edward A. Williams & Associates, Ltd., a CPA/Law firm in Chicago.

Education, Certification, Licenses:
She graduated from Wilberforce University with a B.S. in Accounting and Valparaiso University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate.

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Amie Kennedy
Treasurer / Board of Directors Swartz Retson – Senior Tax Accountant
Catherine Larson
Enterprise Architecture NiSource
Tammy Lynch
Partner / CPA Swartz Retson & Co.

Title:  Principal/Owner
Phone: (219) 769-3616
Work Email:

Current Employment Synopsis:  Tammy is one of six owners in the accounting firm Swartz, Retson & Co.,P.C. She has been with the firm since 1992.  She is a Certified Public Accountant specializing in tax planning compliance and research for clients of all types (individual, business, tax exempt organizations). Tammy has been a CPA for over 25 years, with the last 23 years in our local Northwest Indiana market with Swartz, Retson & Co., P.C.

Personal Information:  Tammy is a region native with life long ties to both Lake and Porter counties.

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Carolyn McClinton
Communications – Website / Board of Directors Global View Capital Management, Investment Advisor Representative

Title: Global View Capital Management, Investment Advisor Representative
Address: 2646 W. Lincoln Hwy., Suite C Merrillville IN 46410
Phone: (219) 769-8551
Work Email:

Current Employment Information: Carolyn McClinton is an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) with Global View Capital Management. Carolyn has worked in the Insurance industry for over 21 years and in 2005 she became an Investment Advisor Representative because of the changing investment market. As an IAR she is a part of working to construct financially literate businesses and families.   That is why she works with small businesses and individuals, in educating, designing and implementing plans for retirement and insurance needs.

Education, Certifications, and Licenses: She is a licensed Investment Advisor Representative in multiple states across the United States and Insurance Agent in Illinois and Indiana. A graduate of Governors State University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

Previous Employment: Carolyn worked with AT&T, Ameritech, and SBC for a number of years and held a number of managerial positions.

Additional Activities and Memberships: Applying her leadership skills, Carolyn acts as a mentor to others in the Advisory and Insurance industries. Carolyn serves on the Miller Community Fund and “e” Engaging NWI Business Women boards which gives her the ability to make a difference in the community as well as connect with other great people. She has spent time involved in campaign election teams to elect candidates for mayor and council.

Personal Information: She and her husband, Anthony have joined five adult children and a number of grandchildren together.

Advisory services offered through Global View Capital Management, LTD. (GVCM) GVCM is a SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm headquartered at N14W23833 Stone Ridge Drive, Suite 350, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188-1126. Carolyn A McClinton is an Investment Adviser Representative of GVCM which is affiliated with Global View Capital Advisors, LTD. GVCM supervising office 262-650-1030.

Insurance services offered through Global View Capital Insurance, LTD. (GVCI) GVCI is an Insurance Agency headquartered at N14W23833 Stone Ridge Drive, Suite 350, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188-1126. Carolyn A McClinton is an Insurance Agent of GVCI which is affiliated with Global View Capital Advisors, LTD. GVCI supervising office 262-650-1030.



Jennifer McIntosh-Elkins
Co-Founder Torn in Half
Photo of Julie Olthoff
Julie Olthoff
President VIA Marketing

Title:  President
Phone: 219-769-2299
Work Email:

Current Employment Information:
As a full service marketing communications company, VIA Marketing helps generate leads through planning, branding, websites, paid digital and traditional media, non-paid social content and public relations, signs, etc.

Education, Certification, Licenses:
VIA Marketing is a Women Business Enterprise and have been certified since 1998.
Awarded DBE Certification in 2018
Athena Award recipient for 1994 Business Woman of the Year.

Additional Activities and Memberships:
> Proud Founding Member of “e”.

> Fair Haven Rape Crisis Center Board Member since 2016.

> Member of Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce and Valpo Chamber of Commerce

> Second Wind Ltd. member since 1993., Network of agencies and marketing companies across United States and Canada.

> National Federation of Independent Business, member since 1993.

> Trade Winds Pirate, member since 1998.

Personal Information:
Julie served as an Indiana State Representative for District 19 (Crown Point, Winfield, Hobart and parts of Merrillville) from 2014-2018. Married since 1986 to Ron Olthoff a union electrician for Land O’ Frost. They have participated in 8 mission trips to Argentina and 1 to Brazil. Julie sets aside every Thursday night for pottery with an open studio at her home. Yes she has a wheel and a kiln.


Photo of Marya Pleasant
Marya Pleasant
Mediator Heartland Family Mediators

Title:  Mediator, Heartland Family Mediators
Address: 2301 Cline Ave, Suite 204 Schererville IN 46375
Phone: (219) 440-7299
Work Email:

Business Affiliation/Employer Information:
Mediator, Heartland Family Mediators

Bachelors of Science, Dominican University


Professional Organizations:
Indiana Registry of Mediators
Indiana Association of Mediators

Business Sector:  Finance, Legal

Jackie Primos
Owner Wellness & Retreats
Photo of Rachel Randall
Rachel Randall
President / Board of Directors Randall Property Inspections, Inc. / Home Inspector

Job Title: Home Inspector

Address: Valparaiso, IN

Phone Number: (219) 384-3422



Current Employment Information: Rachel is a Home Inspector and the owner of Randall Property Inspections where she inspects homes and educates buyers about the condition of the property. She is also the Construction Coordinator for Phillippe Builders, where she designs and sells new homes and oversees the company’s construction projects throughout Northwest Indiana.

Education, Certification, Licenses: Rachel graduated Magna Cum Laude from the State University of New York at Albany with a Bachelors of Arts in History.

She also holds an Indiana Home Inspectors license, Radon Testing license, and Pest Inspection license.

Previous Employment: Rachel previously worked in sales, sales training, and project management.

Additional Activities and Memberships:
Northwest Indiana Influential Women’s Association – Member and 2018 Finalist

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors – Member

2018 Featured Metal Artist in The Pop-Up, A Valparaiso Art Experience

Personal Information:
Rachel is a native New Yorker who has lived in a variety of places including Wales and Costa Rica. She’s married, and a mother to a human son and a canine daughter.

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Nicole Schmied
Serial Entrepreneur

Address: Crown Point, In
Phone: 219-614-7989

Current Employment Info:
SmartCookie Media, Founder and Mastermind Group Host, Founder
Events That Don’t Suck, Managing Partner

Current Employment Synopsis:
Serial entrepreneur and digital marketer, Nicole Schmied has attracted customers to Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and small businesses for almost two decades. Founder of SmartCookie Media and Partner in Events That Don’t Suck, she provides web, social media marketing, and event strategies with humor, persuasiveness, and profitability. This year she began hosting SmartCookie Mastermind Group for small business owners locally and across the country.

She’s a Friends sitcom fan who has moonlighted as a marketing professor with Trinity Christian College. Her management experiences include software products, as well as construction and financial services in and around over Chicagoland and the Greater Midwest.

But don’t let her fool you, Nicole’s not limited to marketing and quotable 90’s sitcoms; she was the accidental, first place winner at a Lake County Fair Tractor Pull at age 9. (And to her knowledge she remains the only accidental winner since.)

MBA, Indiana University
Bachelors, Business & Communication, Indiana University

Previous Employment:
GreenArrow Email Software, Indiana
DonorPath Software, Chicago
IFF Real Estate/Lending or nonprofits, Chicago
Reese Inc, Indiana
PHH Mortgage, Illinois, Indiana & Michigan Territories
Circle GMC, Indiana

Additional Activities/Memberships:
Board Member/Alumni, The Leadership Institute at Purdue University Northwest
Alumni, The Leadership Institute at Indiana University

Personal Information:
When you can find her sitting still (sort of), she’s often found listening to a podcast while working on home design projects with her husband, Kyle and her newest love — one-year-old son, Luke.

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Becky Seim
Hosting / Board of Directors Mary Kay – Sr. Sales Director
Lorena Solorzano
The Beauty Lounge LLC / Owner

Address:  225 Aberdeen Drive Suite B2-3, Valparaiso, IN 46385
Phone:  219-286-3678

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Candice Villagrana
Secretary / Board of Directors SVP, Old Plank Trail Community Bank

Title: Senior Vice President in Commercial Banking 
Address:  3256 Ridge Road, Lansing IL  60438
Phone:  (708) 390-2725
Work Email:

Current Employment Synopsis:  Candice has 11 years of commercial banking experience with success in developing new business, financial risk management, and financial analysis.

Her team specializes in loans to small and mid-size businesses and customizes packages based on the business’s needs. Also, her team offers a full suite of banking products including cash management and wealth management.

Education, Certifications, and Licenses:  Candice graduated Magna Cum Laude from Augustana College with BA’s in Economics and Business (Finance) and a minor in Accounting.

Personal Information:  My husband, Memo, and I have a three-year old daughter, Olivia and one-year old daughter, Emilia.

Photo of Julie Walczak
Julie Walczak
Salesforce Success Director

Address: Crown Point, IN

Phone Number: (773) 255-7556



Current Employment Information:
As a Success Manager, Julie works with multiple customers in the Insurance/Wealth Management area focused on their success with the platform.

Education, Certification, Licenses:
BBA Management Information Systems
Salesforce Certifications: Salesforce Administrator, Salesforce Advanced Administrator, App Development, Sales Consultant, Service Consultant

Additional Activities and Memberships:
OMS National
Arthur Andersen Business Consulting

Photo of Laura Weldon
Laura Weldon
REALTOR® Century 21 Affiliated

Current Employment Information:
Real Estate Broker. Licensed in Indiana and Illinois.

Current Employment Synopsis:
Relocating here to Northwest Indiana a couple of years ago-I was given a clean slate and an opportunity to choose a career that I had always had an interest in, but couldn’t pursue earlier. I love working with people and being part of such an important time of their lives. I have been though the home selling/buying process many times myself, so I understand the process and will give 110% to making it a smooth one for my clients.
I have a strong customer service and business background having spent 20+ years (10 years as owner) helping both retail and wholesale clients with their landscape material needs.
Relocating here to Northwest Indiana, I decided to pursue a real estate career, which was always in the back of my mind.

Personal Information:
In addition to my passion for real estate (including decorating), I love fashion. You could say my desire for things to look pulled together and on trend has spilled over to fashion too!
I am an avid runner, finishing quite a few half marathons. I love to bike, read, knit and bake.
I have been married almost 30 years and we have 3 grown children. We also have a dog, Chloe, who is an important part of our family

Photo of Julie Zasada
Julie Zasada
Executive Director

Address: Cedar Lake, IN
Phone: 219-390-9423

Current Employment Info:
Executive Director, Cedar Lake Historical Association
Marriage Preparation Coordinator, St. John the Evangelist Parish

Current Employment Synopsis:
As the Executive Director of the Cedar Lake Historical Association, Julie works diligently to ensure CLHA fulfills its mission of providing an escape to the past for visitors through unique programs and special events at their history museum on the shores of Cedar Lake, Indiana.

Julie received a B.S. in Business Administration from University of St. Francis (Joliet, IL) and is currently enrolled in South Shore Leadership Center’s Leadership Northwest Indiana.

Previous Employment:
Julie worked in Human Resources positions with Johnson & Johnson and United Airlines, Freshman Admissions for her alma mater, and has been a Mary Kay consultant for 20 years.

Additional Activities/Memberships:
Julie is a board member and/or advisor to several local nonprofits: Retrouvaille of NWI, Couple to Couple League of NWI, Parents as Teachers, Miscarriage Mothers & Others, NWI Breastfeeding Coalition and Catholic Professionals of IL.

Personal Information:
Julie and her husband are IL transplants and have been raising their family in Northwest Indiana for over 16 years. Julie homeschools their 5 children (pre-school through high school). Her husband is particularly thankful that Julie is able to indulge her passion for home renovation through historic preservation efforts at the CLHA Museum as opposed to their own home!