By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch was the featured speaker at the inaugural LeadHERship luncheon hosted by the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce and The North Webster Tippecanoe Township Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 16.
Approximately 135 women entrepreneurs attended the event, held at the Owl’s Nest in North Webster. The event was an opportunity for the women to network and celebrate their success.
Crouch spoke about how growing up she was not very confident, especially since she was often the tallest in her class. “My father taught me an extremely important lesson,” she told the crowd. “If I could accept those differences and imperfections in me, than I could accept them in others.”
She spoke of how she was raised to believe in the equity of the opportunity, yet to be there when someone else was down on their luck. “We’re strong women… We gain confidence in partnering together,” she said.
She lost her first election running for county auditor for Vanderburg County. She said she learned there is no failure, just hiccups. So she ran again for county auditor and won.
“I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason… We all have a purpose in life,” she said. During her tenure as county auditor, her office received its first clean bill of health in decades from the state board of accounts. She then went on to serve as a county commissioner before joining the Indiana House of Representatives.
Crouch told the crowd all she wanted to do participate in local government, but she was blessed to become a state representative and then state auditor. “I’ve been asked to do those things for a reason,” she said.
“I have to remind myself, I’m here for a blink of an eye,” she said. “How we impact others will determine our legacy.”
As part of her responsibilities, Crouch chairs the Lt. Gov.’s Roundtable on Mental health. She explained she asked for this additional responsibility because she wanted to focus on mental health issues, especially since the country has been dealing with the pandemic for two years.
“The cost to families, to businesses, I’ve been talking to school superintendents, school counselors, mental health issues have been exacerbated,” Crouch said. “Before COVID 1 out of 5 Hoosiers struggled with a mental health issue. It’s important that we work at all levels that we address mental health issues.”
In closing Crouch thanked those in attendance “for making my day and my week. It’s women who are making things happen in Indiana.”
She also encouraged those in the room to run for public office, noting only 24 % of the general assembly is women. Crouch said, “With more women in office, we’ll have better policy decisions.”
Angie Racolta, owner of the RGroup real estate, one of the sponsors for the event, highlighted the many businesses in Syracuse that are owned by women. “It definitely helps to realize we have all these great leaders in town,” she said.
The other major sponsor for the luncheon was The Lynn Reecer Group.
Renea Salyer, executive director of the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce, told the crowd she had been wanting to do a leadership event on the northern part of the county for a while. She hope this inaugural event would continue to grow moving forward.
Salyer explained she is working on a leadership organization certification through Indiana Tech. As part of the program, she is working on a leadership plan. She challenged those in the room to do the same for their business.