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Torchbearer Awards

Pictured: 2018 Torchbearer Recipients

2018 Torchbearer Awards Recipients

The Indiana Commission for Women (ICW) honored twelve women as Recipients of the 2018 Torchbearer Awards on September 26, 2018, at its annual Ceremony held at the Indiana Historical Society. The Torchbearer Awards recognize women who have made outstanding contributions to their communities, Indiana, or to the nation.

In addition, ICW gave special recognition to four women. Melinda Clark received the Keeper of the Light Award, which is given to a woman who is an unsung heroine and who has quietly and persistently worked to better her community. Ms. Clark is a Nurse Practitioner, Campbellsburg Clinic.

Brenda Gerber-Vincent received the Heart of Indiana Award, which is given to a woman who has opened her heart and mind to the needs of humanity and has demonstrated her commitment to philanthropic service, social change, and the spirit of hope. Ms. Gerber-Vincent co-founded the Carriage House, an organization that assists people in their recovery from mental illness and reintegration into the community.

Major Nila Miller-Cronk was recognized with the Trailblazer Award, which is given to a woman in recognition of her pioneering contributions that have “blazed a trail” for other Hoosier women. Major Miller-Cronk was one of only four female recruits in the Indiana State Police’s 44th Recruit Academy Class and has worked to pave the way for other female police officers.

Dr. Kristina Box received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her significant and fundamental contributions to moving Indiana women forward. The Lifetime Achievement Award signifies that Dr. Box’s contributions have had a lasting impact on Indiana and have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to women's progress in society. In 2017, Dr. Box was appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb as Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health.

Other Recipients include:

  • Judy Brown (Hillsdale), American Legion
  • Tammy Butler Robinson (McCordsville), Engaging Solutions
  • Sarah Demmon (Fishers), Eli Lilly and Company
  • Jennifer Pope Baker (Carmel), Women’s Fund of Central Indiana
  • Rupal Thanawala (Indianapolis), Trident Systems, Inc.
  • Kendra Vanzo (Evansville) Old National Bank
  • Tina Walters (Fort Wayne), Fort Wayne Smallest Winner
  • Donna Zimmerman (Evansville), Ivy Tech Community College

For more information about the upcoming event, contact Kristin Garvey, Executive Director, at (317) 232-6720 or info@icw.in.gov.

What are the Torchbearer Awards

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 and overcoming obstacles. These women have become true beacons of light and their stories of courage, perseverance, and compassion create a lasting legacy and inspiration for all.


On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, we invite you to become a sponsor for the Indiana Commission for Women and this year's Torchbearer Awards! Together, we can raise awareness of the issues affecting women and their families as well as recognize and encourage them to contribute to Indiana’s success. With your sponsorship, ICW can leverage every dollar to continue to move Indiana women forward  and assist women in becoming better connected to opportunities, resources, and services available to them in their communities and throughout Indiana and in becoming more engaged as leaders in resolving challenges that they face. As an ICW supporter of this year’s Torchbearer Awards you will not only be able to help ICW recognize amazing women throughout the state who are doing extraordinary things, but you will also be laying the groundwork for ICW to offer resources and support to communities throughout the state who want to celebrate women's achievements. Click here to learn more.

About the Awards

The Torchbearer Awards were created in 2004 by the Board of Commissioners of the Indiana Commission for Women to identify and recognize contributions made by Indiana women to their community, state, and nation. ICW created the concept of the Torchbearer Awards to honor the many Hoosier women who have overcome or removed barriers to equality or to whose achievements have contributed to making our state a better place in which to live, work and raise a family. The Victory statute atop the Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument was selected to represent the Torchbearer Awards because it is symbolic of the character and achievements of the women honored, and the flame she holds represents the light these Torchbearers have brought to our state and their communities. Torchbearers are Indiana’s most prestigious recognition of women in the state. They are women who have stepped forward as leaders by breaking down barriers to women’s full participation and who have become lasting legacies for us all by overcoming immense challenges with courage, perseverance and compassion.

Recipients are selected from a pool of nominated candidates who have overcome obstacles, made extraordinary contributions or been pioneers throughout their lives and are based on the recipients’ achievement in the areas of their professional careers, community leadership, and/or public service as demonstrated in the nominators' application. Recipients must be living at the time of their nomination. 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

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.

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