An assortment of hats was spotted Wednesday morning at the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Hatta Girl, a celebration of local women. From fedoras to berets, the hats were as diverse as the women wearing them. Tea was enjoyed from ornate china cups, and guests listened to inspirational messages from four amazing women. The heartfelt messages were as warm as the tea as the panelist discussed the art of juggling life as a modern-day woman.
Beth Luncsford, Marketing Director of Duneland Chamber of Commerce, said that today was about women and the many responsibilities, roles, and duties that they juggle.
“We wanted to talk to women about how many hats we wear,” Luncsford said. “It’s about how to balance and celebrate how much we do. It’s a good chance to get together and give each other a pat on the back and say we’re all doing a good job.”
When Dr. Nicky Ali Jackson of Purdue University Northwest came up with the idea to do a tea a few years ago, Hatta Girl was born. She recognized that many women are involved in a lot of different things and figure out a way to manage them all. She explained that the panelists were diverse, offering a wealth of knowledge.
“I thought it would be good to get together and talk about the challenges we face and how to overcome those challenges,” Dr. Jackson said.
President of Chamber of Commerce, Maura Durham, said that Dr. Jackson was passionate about putting this event together. According to Durham, Hatta Girl welcomed 130 guests this year.
“The event grew legs very quickly,” Durham said.
Durham acknowledged that Hatta Girl is a great way for women to learn from one another’s journeys. Hatta Girl also gives the Chamber of Commerce a different way to connect to people and businesses.
“I hope [everyone] leaves inspired, motivated, and ready to give an ‘atta girl’ to the next woman in your life that crosses your path,” Durham said during her introduction. “I am a mom, a sister, a friend, a boss, a leader, a divorcee, a lover, and a fighter. I’m not afraid to take off old hats and try on new ones. Things change, expectations change, and life changes. Our paths in life lead us in different directions. Some we choose and some are chosen for us. Some of us take the road less traveled and some of us are blazing our own trails.”
Speakers at the event included Dr. Ginger Bolinger, superintendent of Duneland School Corporation, Carol Podolak, partner of B. Nutty peanut butter and Impcat Promotions Group, Mary Lou Carney, author of over twenty books and creator of three magazines for young people, and Patricia Paulson, owner of the UPS Store in Chesterton. During her speech, Dr. Bolinger noted that she was in attendance last year as a guest and left in awe by all of the wonderful people and powerful energy.
“I wear many hats. Sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it's a challenge,” Dr. Bolinger said. “I’m inspired by my mother, who I’m still learning from her today and she is 82 years old. She taught me to persevere in times of difficulties, support others, even if I need more support, and to love the life I was given and be grateful every day."
Hatta Girl was a hit with beautiful speeches and an overall message of positivity. For more information about the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, please visit