Local Women to Watch in 2021

We’ve got our eyes on these fantastic Hoosiers and the exciting projects they have in the works for the coming year.

Around here, we love nothing more than celebrating women and their accomplishments. So we figured we’d round up a list of fabulous local ladies who are poised to do very big things in 2021. But we know this list will only continue to grow, so if you know someone deserving, let us know at editorial@indymaven.com

Here’s to the year ahead! 

Alexis Gillen, Suzanne Pearcy, and Heather Storms: As the co-founders of the Indy Hospitality Coalition, these three amazing women have been working to mobilize their industry as it’s taken so many hits due to the ongoing pandemic—and the fight goes on in 2021. 

Deondra Wardelle: After she left her corporate executive job, Wardell is focused on her own company full-time. Her business utilizes vision boarding as a means to set goals and place individuals on the pathway for continuous improvement. We love that idea so much!

Duchess Adjei: This young marketing professional is making quite a name for herself in Indy. She recently worked with the American Red Cross and was integral in putting together the first multilingual PR campaign surrounding the pandemic for the organization nationwide. She recently moved to Beckman Coulter Life Sciences as the Head of Global Internal Communication and regularly participates in programs like IndyHub’s 1828 class and just announced she will be participating in the FBI’s Citizens Academy.

Ebony Chappel
Ebony Chappel

Ebony Chappel: The Indy Maven contributor is the new president of the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation. The IPCF is “dedicated to raising and managing funds to provide scholarships, journalism awards and paid summer fellowships for deserving journalism students at Indiana colleges and universities.”

India Hui

India Hui: The Executive Director of Thrival Indy, an innovation school within the IPS high school network which exposes students to diverse global perspectives through experiential learning and identity exploration. They typically take their students to Thailand for three months at no cost to the student, opening up opportunities for a broader range of students.

Jackie Rodriguez: As the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Immigrant Welcome Center, Jackie’s work has been integral at elevating the organization’s reach and growing and engaging their audience of donors, volunteers and consumers. 

Karrah A. Herring: In November, Governor Holcomb named Herring the state’s first-ever chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer. She previously served as director of public affairs at the University of Notre Dame. There is much work to be done and we’ll be cheering her on. 

Katie Kirkoff
Katie Kirkoff

Katie Kirkhoff: You definitely want to follow Kirkoff’s work as founder of The Little Timmy Project. What does the grassroots organization do? “Through community based support projects, collaboration, and advocacy, TLTP strives to foster an environment where pregnant birthing persons are provided quality health care, as well as emotional support during and post pregnancy.”

Keisha Gray: City Market has a new leader and we can’t wait to see where she takes the Indy staple in this new era. Stay tuned for a story with Gray coming up on Indy Maven soon so we can all learn what she has planned!

Kelsey Steuer

Kelsey Steuer: As the Indiana Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Steuer’s work has never been more important in our community. She is known for her ability to always be an active advocate for voices who have been silenced or unheard even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult to do so.

Koda Witsken: The local artist has some big projects planned for 2021, including Indy Mural Fest 2021.  

Mali Jeffers Indy Maven
Mali Jeffers

Mali Jeffers: The co-organizer of the #BlackLivesMatter street mural has launched GangGang, a new cultural development for creatives and people of culture. Jeffers and her partner, Alan Bacon, will announce new programs in 2021. 

Sara Hindi Captured at wedding by Tessa Tillett Robbins Photography
Sara Hindi

Sara Hindi: The Community Engagement Coordinator for Exodus Refugee Immigration is an incredible community partner for many organizations who look to serve and embrace the refugee community here. 

Sarah Murrell drinking wine
Sarah Murrell

Sarah Murrell: Looking for a new way to spice up your meals? Check out Murrell’s latest venture: Metal Honey. As her website says, “Yer biscuit’s about to be burnin’.”

Stephannie Bailey

Stephannie Bailey: In a short period of time as the Chief Executive Officer of the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation, Stephannie has made a significant impact on the capabilities for the foundation to support IPS, securing significant financial partnerships for the system and driving initiatives like the IPS Equity Fund

Tabitha Barbour: The Program Director for Indy Pride and has been a driver in the expansion of the organization’s programming (and pivot to virtual!) this past year. She also loves to cook and bake and just recently launch her own online YouTube series about affordable fashion. 

Tamara Winfrey Harris: The author of the award-winning The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women has a new book coming out in 2021, Dear Black Girl: Letters from your Sisters on Stepping into your Power.

Taylor Schaffer
Taylor Schaffer

Taylor Schaffer: Mayor Joe Hogsett’s chief deputy mayor and chief of staff is the first woman to ever hold both positions. We love to see it.