When building a list that recognizes women “who have risen to the highest levels of business, the arts, and community and public service in central Indiana,” it would be virtually impossible not to include the talented, determined alumnae, faculty, and staff from Ball State University.

Accordingly, Indianapolis Business Journal’s (IBJ) 2021 “Women of Influence” program—which each year recognizes a group of successful women, both in the public and private sectors, to reveal the triumphs and challenges that have shaped their careers—has strong Cardinal ties.

This year’s “Women of Influence” class, which was announced Oct. 27, includes two Ball State graduates, as well as the leader of the University’s Athletics Department.

Among those recognized as a 2021 Women of Influence were alumnae Kelli Lawrence, ’01, and Frances Lee Watson, ’76, and Beth Goetz, Ball State’s director of athletics.

Kelli Lawrence

Ms. Lawrence is CEO of Onyx+East. She has played a key role in the development, construction, and asset management of over 3,500 residential units valued at more than $650 million. She is an experienced residential development executive with strong design, product development, construction, asset management, marketing, financial analysis, and business development expertise.

In her first two years at Onyx+East, Ms. Lawrence more than doubled the number of employees and significantly expanded their product lines and markets. She also led the development of Alloy Homes, a line of detached homes focused on attainability that serves as a unique housing solution for both urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Ms. Lawrence gives back to the community in a myriad of ways. She formerly served as chair of the Ball State Alumni Council. She has also served on the board for the Chair of the Riley Society, the Urban Land Institute, and at the Ronald McDonald House, providing meals for families during their hospital stays. Meanwhile, the Community+ program through Onyx+East offers open house events with food trucks, petting zoos, and other fun games for neighborhood families.

Ms. Lawrence graduated with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development from Ball State University, majoring in Economics. Subsequently, she achieved a Master of Business Administration from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, majoring in Marketing. Her accomplishments have been recognized in various media outlets, including Indianapolis Woman Magazine and multiple IU Kelley School of Business publications. She was also the recipient of the Ball State Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Alumni Award. Ms. Lawrence is also a proud mother and wife, and her family is vital to her career success.

Frances Lee Watson

Ms. Watson is a clinical professor of Law at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where she is also director of the Wrongful Conviction Clinic. The clinic is a founding member of the Innocence Network, “a coalition of about 70 independent innocence organizations across the United States and 12 other countries.”

According to her IBJ profile:

With the assistance of clinic students, she helps represent clients in Indiana prisons claiming actual innocence or wrongful conviction. The clinic also focuses on reform and system change. “I am proud of the five exonerees I represented, sometimes as co-counsel, who are now recognized on the National Registry of Exonerations: Larry Mayes, Darryl Pinkins, Roosevelt Glenn, William Barnhouse and Andy Royer,” she said. Watson, the clients and clinic students “become a legal team fighting a litigation battle for freedom and justice,” she said. “I am proud to say that the Wrongful Conviction Clinic stays in the fight. The clients appreciate that we believe in their innocence, win or lose.”

Ms. Watson serves on a number of boards. She is an advisory member of the Marion County Criminal Justice Planning Council, serves on the Forensic Science Advisory Board at IUPUI, and is involved with the Children’s Policy and Law Initiative. Ms. Watson also serves on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Ms. Watson studied social work and criminal justice at Ball State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1976. She then earned her Juris Doctor degree at Indiana University in 1980.

Beth Goetz

Ms. Goetz was hired as Ball State’s director of athletics in 2018. Since then, she has been instrumental in the University’s continued rise in athletic prominence, both on and off the field.

In fact, over the past academic year, Ball State student-athletes across all sports programs achieved their best academic performances in the University’s history. Competitively this past year, Ball State had its best showing in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Reese Trophy (men’s sports) standings in eight years, and its best Jacoby Trophy (women’s sports) finish in more than a decade. These standings are determined by collective competitive success for all men’s and women’s sports programs.

Ms. Goetz also led the creation of a five-year strategic plan for Ball State Athletics, and she was instrumental to the completion of the University’s $15 million Scheumann Family Indoor Practice Facility, which was financed entirely with private donations.

In July, the NCAA announced that Ms. Goetz was named vice chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee for the 2021-22 academic year; she will take over as chair in 2022-23.

Prior to arriving at Ball State, Ms. Goetz held leadership roles in the athletics divisions at the University of Connecticut, University of Minnesota, Butler University, and University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she was head coach of the women’s soccer team.

In college, Ms. Goetz was an accomplished Division I student-athlete, playing soccer at Clemson University and earning All-America recognition at Brevard College (N.C.), where she was inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Ms. Goetz earned an associate of arts from Brevard in 1994 and a bachelor of arts from Clemson in 1996. She received her master’s degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2000.

Influential Cardinals

Previous IBJ “Women of Influence” selections with Ball State ties include alumnae Myra Borshoff Cook (2011), Angela Dabney (2012), Donna Oklak (2014), Sonja McClelland (2015), Jenelle Smagala (2015), Cindy Adams (2016), Cynthia Booth (2016), Ann Colussi Dee (2016), Julie K. Griffith (2016), Deana R. Haworth (2018), Danelle Miller (2018), Danielle Shockey (2018), Alison Bell (2020), and Patricia Gamble-Moore (2020).

Ball State faculty, staff, and friends to earn “Women of Influence” recognition have included: Alexandra Jackiw, a member of Ball State’s Property Management Advisory Board (2015); former Architecture professor Donna Sink (2016); Jennifer Bott, former Bryan Dean of the Miller College of Business (2017); and Susana Rivera-Mills, Ball State’s provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs (2019).

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