2021 JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame Laureates Announced

Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana and Old National Bank announced the 2021 Junior Achievement Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame Laureatesat a press conference on Sept. 14, at Ivy Tech Community College.

The announcement was made by Ivy Tech Community College President Daniela Vidal, who served as co-chair of this year’s Laureate Selection Committee.

The Laureates will be inducted into the JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame and presented a crystal award symbolizing the spirit of free enterprise at a celebration breakfast Thursday, Dec. 2, at 8 a.m. at the Old National Events Plaza.

Those being inducted include the 2021 Active Laureates Harold Calloway and Susan Hardwick; and the 2021 Historical Laureates Willard Carpenter and Walter Koch.

“I am honored to be hosting and co-chairing the 2021 JA Evansville Business Hall of Fame class and selection process,” Vidal said. “We had an incredible list of nominees, which made the selection process very challenging. But the laureates that came up on top are exciting and deserving, and they showcase the caliber of talent and leadership we have in this community.

Individuals are nominated for their outstanding civic and business contributions to the southwestern Indiana area and recognized for their business excellence, vision, innovations, inspiring leadership, courageous thinking, and community service.

Vidal said this Junior Achievement recognition is very important. “One thing that struck me during the selection process is the amount of trail blazers and hugely impactful individuals, both recent and historical, that have sprung from Evansville,” she said. “In many cases, most people are not aware of the size of their impact, which is why the JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame is important to do.

“It really helps to highlight and bring forward these incredible stories that really build pride and inspire our up-and-coming leaders of what is possible,” Vidal said.

Companies who would like to join JA at the 2021 Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame may purchase a table or tickets by contacting Tim Young at 812.425.8152 or timothy.young@ja.org.

Biographical Information on the Laureates:

Harold Calloway: State Farm Agent

Harold Calloway is an example of a man achieving great success from humble beginnings through hard work and perseverance. He is a great role model for all young people. Calloway was raised in rural Mississippi at the height of the civil rights movement where he worked on the family farm. Calloway moved to Evansville after earning a bachelor’s degree in history in 1968 from Lane College in Jackson, TN. After serving in Vietnam rising to platoon leader, he returned to Evansville and earned his master’s degree in education from USI. Calloway worked for Evansville’s Department of Public Welfare and as director of the Head Start Community Action Program prior to joining USI in 1973 as the director of financial aid, the first African American administrator at the University.  In 1982, he was recruited by State Farm to open an agency in Evansville. He took them up on the offer two years later. In a 2020 EVV Business Magazine article, Calloway said he had concerns that an African American couldn’t sell insurance to white people. However, about 70 percent of his business came from white people, showing how his perseverance overcame any racial bias. “Part of my mission has been to let people know that if you got your stuff together, if you hold yourself like you’re supposed to, and if you back up the product with the company you recommend, people don’t care what color you are when it comes down to that,” he says. “The good thing I found out in this business is we have a good town.”  Calloway was one of the top agents in the state and the top African American agent in the states for years. Calloway has served as a church deacon, and as director of the Welborn Baptist and USI Foundations.  When Calloway retired from State Farm in October 2019 after 34 years, it marked the first time since he was five that he didn’t hold a job. Calloway hopes to give more time to church service and counsel young men in the community. He hopes his life story will inspire others, especially those of color, to go into business to accomplish their dreams.

Susan Hardwick: Executive Vice President and CFO of American Water

Susan Hardwick is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of American Water, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. Hardwick joined American Water June 3, 2019 and became Chief Financial Officer on July 1, 2019.  Hardwick has responsibility for all aspects of financial management and strategy, including directing finance strategy, investor relations, treasury, financial planning, internal audit, risk management, supply chain and control functions. Most recently, Hardwick served as EVP and CFO of Vectren Corporation, prior to the sale to CenterPoint Energy, Inc. Vectren delivers natural gas and electricity to more than one million customers in nearly two-thirds of Indiana and about 20 percent of Ohio, and operates a major infrastructure construction business and an energy services company. As Vectren CFO, Hardwick was a member of the executive leadership team responsible for development and execution of business and financial strategy for both the regulated utility businesses as well as the market-based subsidiaries. She also led the development and execution of the company’s regulatory strategy and investor relations, and was responsible for numerous financing transactions, including a total of over $2 billion in long term debt financing.  Notably, Hardwick led the execution of the definitive agreement with CenterPoint Energy for the sale of Vectren for $8.5 billion, the second highest multiple paid for a natural gas distribution company. Hardwick served in leadership positions on a variety of community boards, including St. Mary’s Medical Center, Fifth Third Bank (Southern Indiana), Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science, Evansville Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series, Gilda’s Club of Evansville, and Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, among many others over the course of her career. Appointed by the governor, Hardwick also served two terms as an Arts Commissioner for the state of Indiana. She was recipient of the Athena Award in 2009 by the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Indiana, the Sara B. Davies Leadership Award in 2016 presented by Leadership Evansville, and the Torchbearer Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 presented by the Indiana Commission on Women. Also, in 2016, she was named by the Indianapolis Business Journal as CFO of the Year and received the Mayor’s Arts Award in 2017.  In 2020, she was named CFO of the Year by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Willard Carpenter: Real Estate

Willard Carpenter was our city’s greatest businessman. He received little in the way of formal education but was gifted with natural intelligence.  He simply knew how to make and invest money — he made the bulk of his vast fortune through real estate and partnering with others in non-real estate ventures. Real estate remained Carpenter’s lifelong passion, and at his death, the Evansville Courier called him, “the born king of real estate speculators.” Carpenter first came to Evansville as a dry goods merchant with Carpenter Bros., and owned interest in multiple real estate and business ventures. He was best known for his building and real estate business, Willard Carpenter and Son, Builders and Real Estate. Carpenter also served his community in public office and as a philanthropist. Carpenter served as a member of City Council, the County Commission, and was elected to the Indiana General Assembly as a State Representative. In 1846, he was elected to the board of the Evansville Branch of the State Bank of Indiana (later to become Old National Bank). Carpenter gave both his money and property to benefit charitable causes.  A gift of land from Mr. Carpenter precipitated the construction of the Vanderburgh County Christian Home that served as a shelter for women and children, particularly as a refuge for unwed mothers during their pregnancies, until 1985. Willard Carpenter’s crowning civic achievement would be the establishment of a public library. Willard Library was opened to the public on March 28, 1885 and is today the oldest public library building in the State of Indiana. While Mr. Carpenter would not live to see his dream come to fruition, he left instructions for how his library was to be, and it fit his staunch abolitionist views — it was to be open to all people “regardless of age, race, class, or gender.”

Walter Koch: International Steel

Walter Koch was born in Evansville on Dec. 4, 1904. While attending Central High School, he worked part-time as an office boy at International Steel. Staying with the company after high school, he ultimately worked his way up to chairman of the board. Due in large part to his efforts, International Steel moved up to seventh place among the nation’s steel fabricators. In 1922, Koch met with the late Mayor William H. Dress with a plan to plunge millions of dollars into a shipyard to build ocean vessels in Evansville. The U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships had already approved the project, and contractors were ready to accept Evansville as the site. Because of his tenacity, the shipyard became Evansville’s biggest wartime employer providing nearly 20,000 jobs around the clock. Koch was engaged in the Evansville community and beyond through service on countless boards including Evansville Air Board, Community Fund Campaign, Rotary Club of Evansville, Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company, Early American Life Insurance Company, Indiana Toll Bridge Commission, and National Association of Manufacturers. Koch won the Rotary Civic Award for community achievement in 1947. Furthermore, Koch persuaded an Indianapolis philanthropist to give nearly one half-million dollars to the University of Evansville to help fund the building campaign and was instrumental in convincing Herman Krannert to make a generous donation to the University for which Krannert earned his name on the fine arts building. Koch served as a member of the University of Evansville Board of Trustees for many years. Koch’s greatest community accomplishment was serving as the leader called on to attract the War Industries to Evansville. This became the largest economic boom in the history of our city and area. It brought Evansville out of the Great Depression with the surge of 20,000 new jobs. The products included the newly designed LST (Landing Ship Transport). These vessels are credited with being instrumental in the Allied victory on D Day. Evansville boasts the sole remaining LST here on our riverfront.