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Indiana Commission for Women

ICW > Initiatives > Torchbearer Awards Torchbearer Awards

2016 Torchbearer Awards Logo

2016 Torchbearer Awards Ceremony

The Indiana Commission for Women (ICW) honored the recipients of the 2016 Torchbearer Awards September 21, 2016, at its annual Ceremony held at the Indiana Historical Society. This year’s Torchbearer Awards Ceremony also celebrated ICW's Twentieth Anniversary and was recognized as a Legacy Project by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

The Torchbearer Awards ceremony recognizes women of Indiana who have been pioneers throughout their lives or who have stepped forward as leaders by breaking down barriers. These women are beacons of light and their stories of courage, perseverance, and compassion create a lasting legacy and inspiration for us all. This year’s Torchbearer recipients are:

  • Dr. Linda Bennett, Evansville
  • Tina Cardarelli, Westfield
  • Susan Hardwick, Newburg
  • Ann Manion, South Bend
  • Kelly McBride, Indianapolis
  • Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, Indianapolis
  • Julie Rizzo, St. John
  • Kitty Rose, South Bend
  • Helen Seirp, Vincennes

In addition, Tina Cardarelli received the Keeper of the Light Award, which is given to a woman who is an unsung heroine who has quietly and persistently worked to better her community. Dr. Linda Bennett received the Trailblazer Award, which is given to a woman in recognition of her pioneering contributions that have "blazed a trail" for other Hoosier women. Susan Hardwick received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her significant and fundamental contributions to moving Indiana women forward. The Lifetime Achievement Award signifies that Hardwick’s contributions have had a lasting impact on Indiana and have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to women's progress in society.

About the Awards

Torchbearers are the State of Indiana’s most prestigious recognition of women in Indiana. They are women who have stepped forward as leaders by breaking down barriers to women’s full participation. These women become lasting legacies for us all by overcoming immense challenges with courage, perseverance and compassion.

Recipients will be selected from a pool of nominated candidates who have overcome obstacles, made extraordinary contributions or been pioneers throughout their lives. Selection will be based on the recipients’ demonstrated achievement in the areas of their professional careers, community leadership and/or public service. Recipients must be living at the time of their nomination. Nominations will be evaluated with attention given to those women who have shown courage and perseverance, have been pioneers, have removed barriers and/or have made a considerable impact to the advancement of women in Indiana.

The Torchbearer Award recipients are selected by a panel of previous Torchbearer Award recipients. These women, referred to as the Council of Judges, represent diverse geographic regions and professional backgrounds and make their decision based on nominations received from the public.  Nominated women are scored based on several criteria and must receive a unanimous decision in order to be selected.

History of the Torchbearer Awards

The Torchbearer Awards were created by the Indiana Commission for Women (ICW) to recognize Hoosier women who have overcome or removed barriers to equality or whose achievements have contributed to making our state a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.  Recipients are women who have been pioneers in their industries, have inspirational stories that set the standard for other women, have faced tough choices, demonstrated character and have made significant contributions to their communities and/or to the State of Indiana. To learn more about past Torchbearer Award recipients, visit:

Past Recipients

Disclaimer: All decisions made by the Council of Judges are final. Selection of torchbearers should not be considered an endorsement of or promotion by the Indiana Commission for Women. Comments and opinions expressed are strictly those of the recipients and not those of the Indiana Commission for Women, the State of Indiana or its partners and supporters. The Indiana Commission for Women does not assume any legal liability of or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the nomination packet.