The Journal Gazette
Friday, May 13, 2022 1:00 am

3 receive the Champions of Change award

Given to those who empower women

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

A community foundation executive, a financial officer and a local educator received 2022 Champions of Change Awards on Thursday from the Women's Network of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Alison Gerardot, Jeanné Wickens and Jeff Roberts were named winners during a luncheon at Camp Red Cedar. Champions of Change Awards recognize individuals with “unwavering passion and commitment” who mentor and empower women in Allen County.

Gerardot, chief impact officer at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, received the nonprofit award. She has counseled families and individuals, coached and mentored aspiring female artists and dancers, and been a driving force in creating the GFW Women's Fund, which is dedicated to closing opportunity gaps for women and girls regardless of place, race or identity, a news release said.

She volunteers on the board of Project Ballet and Downtown Improvement District.

Wickens, the corporate category winner, is chief financial officer at Parkview Health. She mentored women throughout her career and, since relocating to Fort Wayne in 2016, has helped recruit others to the city.

Wickens started “Women Who Work Hard Play Hard,” an informal group for professionals to meet regularly. She was on the steering committee for the “Allen County Together” economic development action plan and has been a board member of GFW, Turnstone, Huntington University, United Way of Allen County and others.

Roberts, the education winner, teaches at Fort Wayne Community Schools' New Tech Academy. He is a founder of two nonprofit organizations – 4WARD and the Pave the Path Youth Leadership Program. The organizations provide students mentorship, internships, and networking opportunities.

Roberts has served at FWCS for 21 years and was the district's Teacher of the Year in 2016. He plans to join the staff at the Amp Lab at Electric Works this fall.

“Alison, Jeanné, and Jeff each embody what it means to be a mentor and servant leader,” Meghan Short, director of investor programs at GFW, said. “As mentors, they have inspired women to see themselves differently and reach their full potential.”

The winners were selected from 24 finalists. Nominations were reviewed and scored by a panel of nonprofit, corporate and education leaders from outside Allen County.

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