The Peggy Hobbs Award


2017 Peggy Hobbs winner, Denita Washington (right) with the awards namesake Peggy Hobbs (left)

Denita Washington Honored with Peggy Hobbs Award

Denita Washington, an academic specialist at Indiana Tech has been honored with YWCA Northeast Indiana’s 2017 Peggy Hobbs Award. In addition to her work at Indiana Tech, Washington created Fort Wayne Girlz Rock and the Makeover Conference dedicated to empowering at-risk girls and their mothers. Denita is an outstanding leader who works tirelessly to promote awareness of diversity issues, empower women, volunteerism and self-development.

Every year since 1977, YWCA Northeast Indiana has honored a community volunteer who embodies the passion, commitment, and dedication of Peggy Hobbs. Peggy, a long-time advocate of YWCA Northeast Indiana continues to support our mission of empowering women and eliminating racism. The recipient of this award must demonstrate dedication to volunteerism and promote diversity awareness and personal development.


Other 2017 Peggy Hobbs Award nominees include: Joni Kuhn, Julie Curran, Denita Washington, Dottie Davis, Melanie T. Hall, Judy Roy



Past Peggy Hobbs Award-Winners include:

2016 - Faith Van Gilder (Asher Agency)
Faith is a voice for women, girls, the elderly and the disadvantaged both at home and around the world. She currently serves on the boards of Friends of Cedar Creek, Northeast Indiana Public Radio, Fort Wayne Advertising Federation, Friends of the Parks of Allen County, Creative Women of the World, and Wellspring Interfaith Social Services. She is also the Advocacy Cooinator for Indiana for the National Peace Corps Association, and a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Task Force for Allen County.

• 2015 – Sue Ehinger (Parkview Health)
Born and raised in the Allen County area, Sue Ehinger has been an incredible leader not only for Parkview Health, but also within our community and state. As a high school senior, Sue's parents were told by her guidance counselor that she was "not college material.” Sue and her parents did not allow this one woman to keep her from achieving her dreams. She went on to earn a Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, and Ph.D. In 2014, Sue assumed the role of Chief Experience Officer for Parkview Health, being responsible for Human Resources and more than 9,000 employees. Sue was a champion for a Parkview Health physician's office practice on the Southeast side of Fort Wayne for the medically underserved and a vital part of championing the expanding presence of Parkview Hospital in the Lakeside area to ensure the continued provision of care in that area. At Parkview Health, Sue has established the organization's first diversity and inclusion department and was a strong influence in Parkview Health adding same sex partner benefits. Sue is dedicated to making the Northeast Indiana region healthier and a better place to live, work, and grow. She works tirelessly with the Rescue Mission, Early Childhood Alliance, and many other organizations in our community. Sue is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.

• 2014 – Marsha Smiley (Community Volunteer)
Marsha Smiley is a literacy activist and has volunteered for 10 years with Project Reads. She volunteers for International Women’s Day and Bahai’I Race Unity Day activities. For 11 years, Smiley has worked part-time at the Boys and Girls Club with refugee youths from Burma, Africa, parts of Mexico, and South America. In 1997, she founded Spirit Flight, giving her knowledge and time to create youth workshops that interweave virtues and values with Black History. In 2013, she wrote an article titled “The History of Fort Wayne’s Early Colored Women’s Club”, and most recently presented it at the YWCA Diversity Dialogue series. Her nominator, Mary Jo Hardiman, says, “Whether working with children, young women, or seasoned women, [Marsha Smiley] is a cheerleader for women and women’s issues.”

• 2013 – Katrina Kay (American Heart Association)
Katrina Kay has dedicated herself to the heart health of all women. Beginning as a participant in the American Heart Association's pilot program, BetterU, Katrina was able better her own heart health. The program was so impactful to Katrina that she is now the lead coach of the program. Through her increased involvement and leadership, the American Heart Association has delivered information on heart health to minority churches where the message is especially important: high blood pressure is a genetic predisposition in the African American community and diabetes is especially prevalent in the Hispanic community. Also under her leadership, the Go Red Luncheon raised almost $100,000 and was used as a platform to share the fun and benefits of living a heart healthy lifestyle. Her nominator, Mary Pat Leonard, describes Katrina as a "passionate advocate" who "not only talks the talk, but walks the walk when it comes to improving women's lives."

• 2012 – Jennifer Manning (Catherine Kasper Place and Community Harvest Food Bank)
Jennifer Manning began working with Catherine Kasper Place (CKP) in their refugee garden project in 2011. There she embodied every portion of YWCA Northeast Indiana’s mission of empowering women and eliminating racism: In recognizing the hard work of her CKP clients from Burma, Haiti, Darfur, and other places around the world, she suggested the hiring of these immigrants to her full-time employer. Additionally, in working with CKP’s Fresh Food Initiative, Jennifer has joined her clients – women who are widowed with children, stay-at-home moms, and women struggling to survive in a foreign land with little communication skills – in fields and farm markets, in classrooms and on field trips, learning as much as she is teaching. Taking Burmese language classes on her own time and eagerly accepting leadership roles, she frequently and modestly downplays her time, compassion, and extraordinary work. Her nominator, Holly Chaille, says that, “If there were a Purple Heart award [for volunteering], Jennifer Manning would be over-qualified.”

• 2011 – Carol Durham (Fort Wayne Women’s Bureau)
As one of the Founding Mothers of the Women’s Bureau over 30 years ago, Carol Durham not only helped shape the organization as it began, but she served on its Board into the next decade to ensure its continued progress. She consistently questions the barriers posed to particular client groups and generates discussions on how to reach different groups in the community. In addition to her work with the Women’s Bureau, she was instrumental in the development of the Women’s Studies Program at IPFW and recently was involved in a pastoral mission to a girl’s orphanage in Romania. Carol incorporates her feminist philosophy in her everyday live: she never stops questioning and continually engages others in the conversations that matter in the lives of women around the world. Her nominator, Patricia Van Leuven, says that Carol “never stops giving and helping.”

• 2010 – Rita Bennett-Sheirbon (Erin’s House for Grieving Children)
Renowned for her sense of community, responsibility, commitment to diversity, and compassion, Rita Bennett-Sheirbon has become a valued resource at Erin’s House for the three years that she has been working there. Using her personal experiences and a personal touch, she displays an exceptional ability to connect with her individual clients and goes above and beyond to service the diversity in our community. Rita’s cumulative volunteer experiences spans 20 years and seven diverse organizations and has represented agencies’ ideal aspirations for volunteer recruitment. Rita says, “Through acts of kindness, I was taught that we are all responsible for one another in this world.”

• 2009 – Kim Christmon (Various financial literacy programs throughout the community)
Kim Christmon is an advocate for local volunteerism, community involvement, and outreach to Fort Wayne’s faith-based community. She continues to be an advocate for local community and nonprofit organizations, including the Fort Wayne Urban League, Unity Performing Arts, YWCA Northeast Indiana, Southside Opportunities Services, and the 21st Century Scholar Program, just to name a few. She strives to make improvements to the financial literacy of our community, ensuring that resources from tutoring to school supplies are made available to students, teachers, parents, and administrators in our community – anything to make learning about basic money management a positive experience for them. Her nominator, Rosa Wheeler, describes Kim’s philosophy as, “Mentoring is wonderful to receive, but far more beneficial to give.”