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GoTopeka » Training & Events » Third Annual Women of Influence Award

Third Annual Women of Influence Award

Recognizing Women in Our Community

Couldn’t make it to the reception, you can watch it here!

Congratulations to all that were nominated and congratulations to our six winners.

  • Carol Bradbury – Community Service
  • Pam McComas – Education
  • Angel Zimmerman – Mentorship
  • Barbara Ebert – Outstanding Entreprenership
  • Christie Appelhanz – Rising Star
  • Joan Wagnon – Woman of Achievement.

The keynote speaker was Priti Lakhani, executive physician at Cerner Corp.

When Priti Lakhani was seven, she immigrated to the rural town of Tecumseh, Kansas from one of the most populous cities in the world, Mumbai.  Serious culture shock ensued. She graduated from Shawnee Heights, and Washburn where she was a proud member of the Honor Society (Nonoso), as well The Biology Club.   She tried to obtain her MRS degree, but her then boyfriend, Mark Manna, wouldn’t comply.  Dejected, she chose to go to medical school.  After finishing, she moved to New York City to do her residency at NYU. Small town girl in a big city dreams helped her cultivate her city girl roots and live out her Carrie Bradshaw fantasy, (excepting the stilettos, after all, she is a podiatrist).   Eight years after she began, she was granted her MRS degree, when Mark finally agreed to marry her.

She moved back to Kansas, donned her rose colored glasses and began her practice.  Serious culture shock ensued.  Working in Topeka was very unlike working in New York, especially for a woman of color.  She quickly realized she wanted to affect change on a larger scale.  The challenges she faced encouraged her to return to school to obtain a Master’s in Healthcare Management at Harvard. While in Boston, she served as a Clinical Advisor to a medical start up at MIT, worked with NFL quarterbacks, wrote an award winning paper on the virtues of pizza, began a maternal fetal mortality decrease project in East Africa, and became fast friends with her 23 global physician class mates.  During those transformative cosmopolitan years, she traveled viewing healthcare in all its wonder and disparities.  Her epiphany came in a Massai village in sub-Saharan Africa as she was holding a baby she helped to deliver:  to change the world she needed to do more than see patients.  She now works for Cerner, a global healthcare company, advising major worldwide hospital corporations on everything from strategy, financials, governance and her personal favorite, patient experience and safety.  This is her goal now; exponential impact on patient care.  In her free time, Priti enjoys music (especially rap), piloting a Cessna, annoying her ever patient husband, dancing in the living room with her 13 year old son, and questioning the status quo.

Past Award Winners:


Community Service – Glenda DuBoise
Education – Joanna Lassley
Mentorship – Cindy Barry
Outstanding Entrepreneur – Diana Ramirez
Rising Star – Sarah Fizell
Woman of Achievement – Amanda Kiefer


Community Service – Anita Wolgast
Education – Dr. Beryl New
Mentorship – Justice Marla Lukert
Outstanding Entrepreneur – Martha Piland
Rising Star – Stephanie Heston
Woman of Achievement – Dr. Brenda Dietrich

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