Bandemer, Givan, Crandall, and Washington win 2024 Champions of Change Awards

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Whitney Bandemer, Lisa D. Givan, Stephanie Crandall, and Denita Washington were named the 2024 Champions of Change Award winners by the Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. Women’s Network. The awards, which celebrate those who mentor and empower women in Allen County, were given Wednesday at an awards dinner at Parkview Mirro Event & Conference Center.

“This year’s award recipients truly exemplify servant leadership and have made a profound impact as a mentor within our community,” said Meghan Short, director of investor programs at GFW Inc. “Each winner, through their unique contributions and dedicated efforts, has played a pivotal role in shaping a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in Allen County. Congratulations to our winners and all our nominees, whose efforts continue to enrich our community every day.”

An award was given in each of four categories: corporate, education, public service, and nonprofit.

Whitney Bandemer, the winner in the corporate category, is the Principal of WB Consulting, LLC. Bandemer is a dedicated leader and coach, focusing on enhancing workplace culture and leadership within the community. As a former attorney, she champions women’s advancement in traditionally male-dominated fields. Through tailored coaching and speaking engagements, she creates supportive environments that challenge and elevate women. Bandemer’s expertise extends to organizational architecture and change management. Passionate about nonprofit leadership and governance, Bandemer actively supports women’s initiatives and serves as an ally for underserved populations, including those in poverty and people with disabilities. Her work connects and empowers, driving meaningful change across various sectors.

Lisa D. Givan, the winner in the education category, is the Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Belonging and Senior Diversity Officer at Indiana Tech. Givan is a cultural navigator, inclusion specialist, and transformative leader committed to fostering equity and accessibility in Fort Wayne. Her leadership is evident in her advocacy for equitable opportunities, whether speaking at local events or serving on nonprofit boards. Givan founded a scholarship for Black students at Indiana Tech, promoting inclusivity in academia. A relentless challenger of inequality and bias, especially against women, she received the Distinguished Women Leader Award from the ACE Women’s Network of Indiana. Her impact is also national, as she serves with the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, making substantial strides toward inclusivity.

Stephanie Crandall, the winner in the public service category, is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs with the City of Fort Wayne. Crandall is celebrated for her passionate leadership and advocacy for women in Fort Wayne and Allen County. Her dedication is evident as she balances roles in numerous nonprofit organizations with political campaigns for Fort Wayne City Council and Mayor. She champions women’s empowerment through supportive workplace policies and equitable compensation. In her current position, Crandall provides strategic counsel on government-related matters to advance local legislative and community goals. Her efforts are instrumental in enhancing women’s economic well-being and promoting an inclusive environment where all residents of Fort Wayne can thrive.

Deinta Washington, the winner in the nonprofit category, is the Founder and CEO of Girlz Rock. Washington champions at-risk girls and their mothers through impactful programs focusing on health, financial literacy, and leadership. Notably, her Get Lit for Leadership conference inspires hundreds of students annually. As Chairwoman of the Women’s Fund Young Women & Girls Committee and a dedicated member of various boards, Washington advocates tirelessly for women’s and girls’ empowerment. Her visionary leadership and community initiatives continue to leave a lasting impact on the city. Outside of her commitment to women and girls in our community, Washington is the Adams Township Trustee and Community and Family Manager at Fort Wayne Community Schools.

This year’s winners were selected from a field of 33 finalists. Nominations were submitted online by members of the Allen County community, then were reviewed and scored on a blind basis by a panel of leaders from Allen County.

The Champions of Change Awards are given each year to extraordinary individuals from Allen County who:

  • Demonstrate an unwavering passion and commitment to our community.
  • Are role models making a difference in the lives of others.
  • Have made significant contributions that have inspired women to succeed.
  • Have made Allen County a better place to live, work, and play.

This is the sixth year the Champions of Change Awards have been presented. Past winners are:

  • 2019: Wendy Moyle and John Dortch.
  • 2020: Corinna Ladd and Marty Pastura.
  • 2021: Leslee Hill and Rachel Tobin-Smith.
  • 2022: Alison Gerardot, Jeanné Wickens, and Jeff Roberts.
  • 2023: Flora Barrón, Daniel Boylan, Lori Morgan, and Sharon Pohly.