Wendy Dant Chesser named 2024 IU Southeast Distinguished Alumnus

16th April 2024

Jeffersonville native, Wendy Dant Chesser, has been awarded the honor of IU Southeast Distinguished Alumni. An award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. in the IU Southeast Library as part of the annual statewide IU Day. Chesser received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Indiana University Southeast in 1991.  The ceremony is open to the public.

Wendy Dant Chesser

In October 2023, Chesser joined the River Ridge Development Authority (RRDA) after working as a Chamber executive for nearly 20 years.  Driven by a strong desire to implement change that establishes stronger economic growth, a better educated and better-paid workforce, and a structure of advocacy within the State of Indiana, Chesser is recognized as a community leader within her community, helping to maximize opportunities and overcome challenges. 

The River Ridge Commerce Center has become one of the nation’s premier business and industrial parks.  Located on 6,000 acres along the Ohio River in Southern Indiana, River Ridge is an economic driver for the entire region, attracting top-tier employers and well-paying jobs to the community.  Chesser’s role as Chief Director, Corporate Strategy & External Affairs is to ensure that the business environment within Indiana and the greater region is conducive to River Ridge replacing the economic loss suffered when the US Army closed its operations at the site.  And the RRDA team is well on its way to recovery, with 2023’s economic output from the park exceeding $2.89 billion and supporting nearly 12,000 jobs.

Chesser returned to her home area in 2012 to serve as President and CEO of 1si, the area Chamber of Commerce and state-recognized local economic development organization for Clark, Floyd, and Scott counties.  Before her move home, she served as President of Cornerstone Alliance, a similar organization in Southwest Michigan, and she worked in various aspects of economic development with the State of Indiana, finishing her government career as Deputy Executive Director for Program Operations of the Indiana Department of Commerce. 

Chesser is a present or past member of several professional organizations, including the International Economic Development Council and economic development associations in both Indiana and Michigan. She currently serves as Legislative Committee Chair and Past Chair for the Indiana Economic Development Association.  Locally, she has served on the Boards for the Kentucky Derby Festival, the Louisville Zoo Foundation, Ivy Tech-Sellersburg Trustees, Louisville’s Regional Airlift Development, and the YMCA of Greater Louisville. 

Chesser was named one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers of 2015 by Consultant Connect. The Indiana Economic Development Association awarded her the “Economic Development Professional of the Next Half-Century” in June, 2018.  And in 2016, her Indiana peers named her the “Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year.”  In both 2022 and 2023, the Indianapolis Business Journal named Chesser one of the “Indiana 250,” recognizing her as one of the most influential business leaders in the state.

In addition to Chesser, six additional IU Southeast alumni will be recognized with the Alumni Award of Excellence. Those being recognized include Greg Roberts, representing the School of Arts & Letters; Tirza Howard, School of Business; Nashiea Edmiston, School of Education; Katherine Sellers, School of Natural Sciences; Charlotte Ipsan, School of Nursing, and Ideisha Bellamy, representing the School of Social Sciences.

“It’s truly inspiring to see the remarkable achievements of the IU Southeast alumni award recipients and the profound impact they’ve had on their communities, professions, and alma mater,” said Megan Hicks, director of alumni relations and campus events. “Each recipient embodies the spirit of excellence and dedication, demonstrating a commitment to making a difference in the world around them.”

IU Southeast Alumni Award of Excellence

Greg Roberts

Greg Roberts is a seasoned academic and dedicated community leader with a rich tapestry of experience. With nearly three decades of experience as an academic advisor and educator, Roberts has provided invaluable guidance and support to countless students on their educational journeys.

Greg Roberts

In addition to his academic role, Roberts is deeply involved in community service, serving as President of the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association. His commitment to fostering a sense of unity and improving the quality of life for residents has earned him several awards, including the Mayor’s Leadership Award.

Within the academic realm, Robert’s leadership extends to his positions as Assistant to the Dean in the School of Arts and Letters and Manager of Interdisciplinary Programs. In these roles, he has championed collaboration and innovation, shaping programs that prepare students for the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Roberts’ dedication to education, community, and interdisciplinary collaboration underscores his commitment to making a positive impact wherever he goes.

Tirza Howard

Tirza Howard was born and raised in Winchester, KY. She currently resides in Louisville with her two children.

Tirza Howard

Howard earned a bachelor’s degree of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources from Indiana University Southeast. 

Howard worked in Human Resources for 8 years at a local utility company. She is a certified business coach, led company-wide initiatives, facilitated training, handled employee issues, and more. 

Today, Howard is a growing entrepreneur. She’s the Broker/Owner of The Howard Realty Co. The Howard Realty Co assists families with homeownership in the Greater Louisville and Lexington Bluegrass areas. Howard is passionate about educating her clients on the value of real estate and ownership. Her motto is “good business” ensuring she goes above and beyond for every client, every time.  

Nashiea Edmiston

Nashiea Edmiston

Nashiea Edmiston, a distinguished IU Southeast alumna, earned her Bachelor’s in 2016 and was named Teacher of the Year at Pleasant Ridge Elementary in 2023. She has also served as a Cooperating Teacher to numerous IU Southeast Student Teachers, finding it fulfilling and a great way to give back.

Edmiston is set to receive the Regina Oglesby Minority Teacher Scholarship for her pursuit of her Master’s Degree at the end of the month at the Champions for Children event. Edmiston is honored to be recognized with the IU Southeast Alumni of Excellence Award.

Katherine Sellers

Katherine Sellers

Since graduating from IU Southeast in 2009, Dr. Katherine Sellers has gained 15 years of biomedical research experience in oncology, immunology, and neurodegeneration. Currently, she serves as Director of Biology at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, where she leads a team of more than 10 scientists supporting the development of medicines in clinical and preclinical stages.  Before Biohaven, Sellers worked at Rheos Medicines and Agios Pharmaceuticals, where she identified novel targets and led drug discovery programs.

Sellers’  interests lie in leveraging the therapeutic opportunity afforded by dysregulated metabolism in disease and developing assays and biomarkers to advance drug discovery programs. Sellers was trained as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Francis Crick Institute in London after getting her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Louisville. In both positions, she developed expertise focused on translatable models ranging from human patients, mouse models, organoids, and ex vivo tissue slice cultures.

Charlotte Ipsan

Charlotte Ipsan, DNP, RNC, NNP-BC, was named to her current role in July 2022, overseeing operations for all Kentucky Norton Healthcare hospitals.

Charlotte Ipsan

Ipsan previously served as chief administrative officer of Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, from 2012 to 2022. She was instrumental in creating the first women’s and children’s hospital in the Louisville area. She has excelled at implementing a transformational model of comprehensive health care for women, along with expanded pediatric services in conjunction with Norton Children’s.

Ipsan has more than 30 years of experience in maternal/child and pediatric health care. She worked in several roles at Norton Children’s Hospital, Norton Audubon Hospital, and the former Norton Suburban Hospital, including staff nurse; nurse manager, neonatal intensive care unit; and director of women’s services. She was named vice president of Norton Children’s Medical Center, the first pediatric outpatient center of its type in Kentucky, in November 2009, then promoted to system vice president of pediatric services for Norton Healthcare/Norton Children’s Hospital in 2011.

Ideisha Bellamy

Ideisha Bellamy is CEO of Bellamy Business Insights LLC, which helps nonprofits and businesses uncover, refine, and execute strategies that create profound and meaningful change.

Ideisha Bellamy

Before launching her firm in September 2022, Bellamy held pivotal leadership roles in government, healthcare, and nonprofits. She notably served as Chief Operating Officer at Maryhurst and Corporate Compliance Manager for Equian, LLC. In her early career with the KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) she led teams engaged in complex investigations and regulatory oversight of thousands of companies within the Commonwealth. Governor Steve Beshear recognized her talent, appointing her to State Division Director for OIG, overseeing the work of staff in five offices throughout Kentucky.

“The collective achievements of these recipients not only reflect the caliber of education provided by IU Southeast but also serve as a source of pride and inspiration for current and future students,” said Hicks.” These alumni exemplify the university’s mission of excellence and service, leaving a lasting legacy of positive change in their communities and beyond.”

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