College’s “Women of Distinction” Honored
Campus News

The Franklin College Office of Diversity & Inclusion recently announced the recipients of its annual Women of Distinction Awards in celebration of National Women’s History Month. The announcement marks the fifth year the college has celebrated women who have achieved, overcome and blazed a trail for other women through their professional leadership, volunteer efforts and civic and campus involvement.

Each year, members of the Franklin College community are invited to submit nominations to honor women in each of the four categories: students, alumni, faculty/staff and community members. The nominees are then judged by a panel and a winner is selected in each category. All nominees received a certificate and a ‘Women of Distinction’ leather portfolio, while the winners were honored with a plaque. Due to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, the annual awards breakfast scheduled earlier this month had to be cancelled.

Kerry Prather, President of Franklin College, said that while our community and our world are facing unprecedented times due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever to celebrate one another and to recognize the leadership and strength of those around us. “Pausing for a moment in the midst of current events to give thanks for the many contributions of these women helps us all to reflect not only on their achievements, but perhaps on how we can each rise in this time of uncertainty to be leaders in our own circles. I wish we could have honored these accomplished women in person as they deserve, but they should know that our appreciation for their leadership is not diminished by our physical separation.”

Terri Roberts-Leonard, director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and organizer of the event, announced the awards via social media. Listed below are the winners in each category, followed by the fellow nominees:

Student: Samantha Loyd, daughter of Ms. Jessica McIntosh of Indianapolis. Loyd excels as a leader in the classroom and has held many leadership positions on campus, including official mentor of the Launch program, a member of Student Congress, a member of the Black Student Union and a volunteer in Religious Life. One of her nominations stated: “She wants to see other people succeed, rather than feeling in constant competition with them. She celebrates other women when they have even small victories. Samantha is a loyal friend to anyone who needs one, which is itself a commitment to making her part of the world better.”

Fellow student nominees included: Kinsley Castro, daughter of Cameron Crocker and Jon Douglas of Franklin and Maya McCloud, daughter of Damon and Amy McCloud of Kokomo.

Alumna: Erin Davis of Franklin. A 2004 alumna of Franklin College, Davis has motivated others in various ways. Several years ago she began the “Love More” project to combat messages of hate that she was seeing around the community. She printed yard signs and sold them at cost, but once the idea caught on she began selling “Love More” signs, stickers and T-shirts for a profit and donating the funds to various charities, such as KIC-IT, Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County and Gleaners Food Bank of Indianapolis. She has also motivated women by giving them a voice through her local political campaign for city council. While she ultimately did not win the seat on the council, she did win the support of many in the community. Davis is one of the co-founders of People for a Progressive Franklin, a group started by Franklin women who want to center equality and respect in local government. Her nominator stated: “Much of Erin’s free time is spent investing in her community, seeking to make it a better place for all – through leading and attending community meetings, volunteering time and resources to local agencies and supporting initiatives of equality at her alma mater, Franklin College.”

Fellow alumnae nominees included: Alexis Beed, of Indianapolis, a 2018 graduate of the college. She is a teacher in the Greenwood School Corporation; Tina Jobe-Gross of Franklin, a 1990 graduate of the college. She is the Chief Financial Officer for Franklin Community Schools; Emily Pierce, of Shelbyville, a 2019 graduate of the college. She is employed by Girls, Inc. in Franklin; and Sara Smith-Robbins, Ph.D., of Bloomington, a 1996 graduate of the college. She is the Director of Emerging Technologies at Kelley Executive Partners, as well as a member of the marketing faculty at the Kelley School of Business.

Faculty/Staff: Mary Johnston, of Franklin, is the assistant athletic director and head volleyball coach at Franklin College. In her nomination it was stated: “Mary Johnston is always eager to help serve in campus-wide initiatives meant to support the health and overall wellness of all students. She shows up and is present and supportive, which is huge. She is also committed to fundraising so that no student has to “pay to play,” which uplifts women and girls from all socioeconomic backgrounds.” Johnston also serves on the college’s President’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion and directs volleyball camps for the community during the summer.

Fellow faculty/staff nominees included: Allison Fetter-Harrott, Ph.D., of Indianapolis, associate professor of political science; Andrea Gash, of Franklin, assistant director of annual giving and special projects in the office of development and alumni engagement; and Sara Kinder, MSW, LSW, of Franklin, counselor in the Campus Life counseling center.

Community Member: Susan Crisafulli, Ph.D., of Franklin. One of Crisafulli’s nominator’s referred to her as “a light for countless women, not only on campus, but also in the community.” Crisafulli is an associate professor of English at Franklin College. In addition to working full time, she spends countless hours serving her community by establishing and running a non-profit, the Imagination Library of Johnson County, that provides free books to children each month. Crisafulli also serves as a troop leader for Girl Scouts, dedicating time and effort in shaping the leadership and independence skills of many young women. Crisafulli is also the membership/volunteer coordinator for the board of directors of Friends of the Library, which supports the Johnson County Public Library system, and she serves on the board of Franklin Education Connection.

Fellow community member nominees included: LeShon Gray, of Franklin, Instructional Designer at IngenioRx and Michelle Waugh Dahl, of Franklin, founder of Michelle’s Little Free Pantry.

The public celebration of women’s history in the United States began in 1978 as “Women’s History Week.”  In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to a month and March was declared Women’s History Month.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 317.738.8185.


POSTED Mar 27, 2020