Originally launched in 2005, the Society of Innovators celebrates the spirit of creativity and ingenuity by discovering, honoring, and saluting innovators from across the seven-county region of Northwest Indiana. Dedicated to the idea that anyone can be an innovator, the Society recognizes that innovation is the key to 21st Century competitiveness.

Three people standing with awards

Society of Innovators Announces 2022 Honorees

The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest has announced winners of the 2022 Innovators Awards. Winners were honored for innovations that provide a new solution, benefit society and create measurable value.

See the Honorees

The Society recognizes exemplary individuals who have made it through the selection process as Inductees into the Society of Innovators. Anyone that lives or works in Northwest Indiana is eligible for consideration.

The Society recognizes exemplary teams and individual team members who have made it through the selection process as Inductees into the Society of Innovators. Teams from an individual company, government unit, not-for-profit agency, or a group of organizations from a specific project are eligible for consideration.

Individual Inductees

  • Erica Rios (Griffith, Ind.) – Police Social Worker, Griffith Police Department
  • Michael Wells (Munster, Ind.) – Director Midwest Region, Cognia™

Advocate for Innovation Inductee

  • Chris White (Munster, Ind.) – President, Eastern Media Group, Lee Enterprises

Team Inductees

  • Albanese Confectionery (Merrillville, Ind.)
    • Team Members: Tess Albanese, Bethany Albanese, Dominique Albanese
  • Cedar Lake Historical Association (Cedar Lake, Ind.) and Hesston Steam Museum (La Porte, Ind.)
    • Team Members: Julie Zasada, Ted Rita, James Kinkaide
  • Michigan City Area Schools (Michigan City, Ind.) and Neo Network Development (Naperville, Ill.)
    • Team Members: Kevin McGuire, Keith Belzowski, Jeff Williamson, Dave Wojcik
  • Pandemic Parenting (Valparaiso, Ind.)
    • Team Members: Amanda Zelechoski, J.D, Ph.D., Lindsay Malloy, Ph.D., Jennifer Valentine, J.D., Victoria Bruick, Carmen Vincent
  • Patchables (Hobart, Ind.)
    • Team Members: Kayla Davis, Isis Fleming, Leandra Kelly, Michael Hathaway

Individual Inductees

  • Ken Barry: Executive Director, City Life Center (Gary, Ind.)
  • Magesh Chandramouli: Associate Professor of Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University Northwest (Hammond and Westville, Ind.)
  • Emily Edwards: Founder, Emily’s Foods / Paradise Icing (Schererville, Ind.)
  • Jamie Fankhauser: Owner, Bun’s Soapbox (Valparaiso, Ind.)
  • Matt Hanson: Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing, Purdue University Northwest (Hammond and Westville, Ind.)
  • Jake Miller: Owner, JEM Custom Shoes (Michigan City, Ind.)
  • Jared Riddle: Professor of English, Department Chair, Ivy Tech Community College (East Chicago, Ind.)
  • Daniel Schultz: Teacher, Hobart High School (Hobart, Ind.)

Team Inductees

  • ArcelorMittal, team led by Richard Clausius (East Chicago, Ind.)
  • Centier Bank, team led by Chris Campbell (Merrillville, Ind.)
  • Economic Development Corporation Michigan City w/ Michigan City Area Schools, team led by Clarence Hulse (Michigan City, Ind.)
  • Tonn and Blank Construction, team led by Jon Gilmore (Michigan City, Ind.)
  • Top Flight Hockey, team lead by Quinton Oster and Dan Mikrut (St. John, Ind.)

Specialty Awards

Society of Innovators Fellows

The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest’s Fellowship program recognizes the significant contributions made by Society of Innovators inductees to Northwest Indiana’s community and economy. Society of Innovators Fellow is a prestigious accomplishment to be held in high regard. Up to five Fellows may be selected each year from among previously inducted Individual and Team Leader honorees.

John H. Davies Lifetime Achievement Award

A Lifetime Achievement Award winner may be selected upon recommendation of the Selection Committee and at the discretion of the Board of Directors. Not only must our Lifetime Achievement Award winner demonstrate significant innovation, but that the work was sustained over a significant amount of time and their success was not limited to just one role, company or sector. We recognize that the community impact of our Lifetime Achievement Award winner will last more than one lifetime, that the impact of our winner will be felt for generations to come.

This award is the Society of Innovators’ highest honor for an individual leader. The award will not be given every year, but rather will be presented as the organization’s Board of Directors identifies deserving candidates. It is open to any individual whose work took place in or significantly impacted the Northwest Indiana region.

The award was renamed to honor John H. Davies who was recognized as the Society’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 2019. As the founder and retired managing director of the Society of Innovators, he successfully led the organization from its inception in 2005 until 2018. Davies was also instrumental in relaunching the South Shore poster series in the late 1990s and worked with the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority Northwest Indiana (SSCVA) to create the Wall of Legends in 2004. A self-proclaimed champion for Northwest Indiana, Davies was one of the first to say that innovation exists in the region. He was responsible for driving a culture of innovation here.

Richard C. Sussman Prize for Team Innovation

One team may be selected annually upon recommendation of the Selection Committee and Board approval, from among Team Inductees to receive the Richard C. Sussman Prize for Team Innovation. The Sussman Prize is dedicated to promoting 21st century innovation in the private, public, not-for-profit and government sectors. The Sussman Prize is to be considered a traveling award and is to be held by the recipient(s) for one year or an equivalent partial year as determined by the Board of Directors.

The award was created to honor the late Richard C. Sussman PhD, former chairman for the Society of Innovators and head of the Research Laboratory at ArcelorMittal East Chicago. Sussman is credited for pushing creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship as critical elements to remain competitive. This award builds on his legacy for a stronger Northwest Indiana.

“Richard would be please beyond words that the Society has chosen to name its top team award after him,” said Pamela Sussman. “He was a modern-day renaissance man. Richard received many awards for his professional expertise in metals, especially steel, and also for his leadership in community and charitable organizations. Of these, dearest to his heart was the Society of Innovators, which he chaired for many years, and its annual presentation of awards to Northwest Indiana leaders in creative thinking and execution. Our children, grandchildren, and I very much appreciate this fitting tribute to him, along with the thoughtfulness and care that has gone into the innovative design of his namesake award.”

Chanute Wings

All inductees into the Society have earned their innovation wings. The Chanute Wings lapel pin was created to honor the path-breaking glider flights on our lakeshore by Octave Chanute and his team who helped the Wright Brothers “get off the ground” seven years later.

Past Award Winners

Gerald I. Lamkin Fellow Award (2005-2017)

  • Dr. Teresa A. Eineman
  • Norman-David P. Fischer
  • Chris Mahlman
  • Michael A. Schrage
  • Chenn Q. Zhiou, Ph.D.
  • Sandra Chimon-Rogers, Ph.D.
  • Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins, Ph.D.
  • Jon Groth
  • Elizabeth Lynn, Ph.D.
  • Mayor Joseph Stahura
  • Chancellor Thomas L. Keon
  • Erin Argyilan, Ph.D.
  • Marilyn Brunk
  • Tom Clark
  • Joseph Coar
  • Joseph Ferrandino, Ph.D.
  • Don Galbreath
  • Scott Albanese
  • Robert Colangelo
  • William E. Nangle
  • Robert Palumbo
  • Neeti Parashar, Ph.D.
  • Roger Pradhan, Ph.D.
  • Julie Bombacino
  • Mike Falk
  • Nina Fonstein, Ph.D.
  • Lisa Hopp, Ph.D.
  • Don Keller
  • Stewart G. McMillan
  • Dr. Neal H. Haskell
  • Gus Olympidis
  • Pearl Prince
  • Olga Petryszn
  • Dr. Eugene S. Smotkin
  • Gregg A. VanDusseldorp Sr.
  • Janet Brown, Ph.D., R.N.
  • Mayor Jon Costas
  • Angela Hambling
  • Robert E. Johnson III
  • Julie Rizzo
  • Congressman Peter J. Visclosky
  • P. Scott Bening
  • Ralph W. Braun
  • Howard Cohen, Ph.D.
  • Robert F. Forney, Jr.
  • Tom Sourlis
  • Ernest Talarico, Ph.D.
  • Frank Brummett
  • T. Clifford Fleming
  • Mark Kime
  • John “Jack” Moreland
  • Mike Sanders
  • Patrick A. Wilkins
  • Richard Bender
  • Lee Botts
  • Sarah H. Givens
  • Alan Harre, Ph.D.
  • Dr. Peter C. Kesling, D.D.S.
  • Robert Steingass
  • Shirley Caylor
  • Roman Dziarski, Ph.D.
  • Bill Keith
  • Johnny Mathis, Jr.
  • Ivan Nesch, Ph.D.
  • Emerson Spartz
  • Robert Cornwell, M.D.
  • Arie Donkersloot, Sr.
  • Gayle Faukner-Kosalko
  • Brandon Griffin
  • Daniel Hayes
  • Greg Ludkovsky, Ph.D.
  • Christopher Klocek
  • Richard L. Marrell
  • Mark Spencer
  • Penny Yelkovac
  • Chenn Zhou, Ph.D.

The Chanute Prize for Team Innovation (2007-2017)

Up to two co-recipients were selected annually from among the Society’s award winners to receive the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation. The Chanute Prize was dedicated to promoting 21st century innovation in the private, public, not-for-profit and government sectors. It honored the path-breaking glider flights on our lakeshore by Octave Chanute and his team who helped the Wright Brothers “get off the ground” seven years later.

  • Hammond Group, Inc. (HGI)
  • Grand Calumet River Partners in Restoration
  • The Green Abilities Team from The Arc Northwest Indiana
  • IU Health La Porte Hospital
  • BP Whiting Refinery Modernization Project
  • PCL Alverno
  • Kemin/Lambert Spearmint Team
  • The Chicago “DODO” Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • CIVS, Purdue University Northwest
  • ArcelorMittal Global R&D Center
  • IVDiagnostics
  • “Exploration Earth: Mission Ocean” at Purdue University Northwest
  • Dage-MTI
  • ArcelorMittal Global R&D Center
  • Fair Oaks Farms
  • Community Healthcare System
  • Sister of Saint Francis, Northern Indiana Region
  • Team Hammond Robotics by Bemcor

The Leonardo da Vinci Award for Team Innovation (2014-2017)

Originally recognized as the Accelerating Greatness Award for Team Innovation.

  • Arconic Power and Propulsion, La Porte Team
  • Plate Accelerated Cooling Team, ACCtec Team
  • ArcelorMittal Global R&D Center
  • Urschel Laboratories, Inc.
  • Edgewater Behavioral Health, Rapid Access Center
  • Methodist Hospitals, Northlake Campus
  • The James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility
  • Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA)

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