Model Feature: Anne Hathaway, President of Hathaway Strategies


“Unassuming” was the word RJE Business Owner Denny Sponsel used to describe Anne Hathaway to me a few weeks ago. As a Stepping Out in Style Chair, Denny was meeting with Anne and myself to ask her to serve as his replacement for 2020. While we stood in the entrance of Hathaway Strategies, located in downtown Indianapolis on Alabama Street, I noticed Anne’s design style was modern and modest, reflective of this adjective. However when we were invited in to her private office, I got a glimpse of a more eclectic Anne. The coffee table in front of the soft furniture was full of snow globes of all sizes. The child in me had to refrain from shaking them up and down they were so much fun. Her office also revealed something else about Anne, that she is a political powerhouse. The walls are covered with dozens of framed photos of herself smiling warmly with congressmen, senators, and presidents, many autographed with personal notes! You can read Anne’s bio and see that she is indeed an accomplished professional having won numerous awards including a recent one where the her alma mater, the University of Illinois, recognized her with the 2019 ACES Career Achievement Award.

Success in business was not what drew Denny and I to seek Anne out for Dress for Success leadership. It was something different. It was her reputation in the community for advocating for women. Along with sponsoring Dress for Success, Anne is president of her college alumni sorority, 4-H House, has just stepped down as the chair for the Julian Center, is the vice chair for NAWBO, is a 500 Circle Member in Pass The Torch For  Women, and runs the Lugar Series, an organization committed to propelling women into politics. When asked why she is so supportive of women’s organizations, she will say that she wants to be the kind of mentor to women that she never had getting into the business world. In college, she majored in interior design, because she was told that there was no place professionally for women in politics. Anne certainly proved that wrong. A small town Illinois girl, who moved to DC, worked in the White House Executive Building, started her own business, she is passionate about giving back, so that women starting out today in the workforce today don’t have the same difficult experiences she had back in the 80s and 90s. Unassuming as ever, Anne continues to strive for equality for women in business and in government. And thankfully for Dress for Success, she said yes to Denny’s request and will serve as the Stepping Out in Style 2020 Executive Leadership Team Chair! Look for her on the runway this year as a model at the event, sporting a combination of unassuming and eclectic style.


Contributor:  Julie Petr, Executive Director, Dress for Success Indianapolis

The 2019 Stepping Out in Style Artist is Anna Afshar


Dress for Success Indianapolis is excited to announce Anna Afshar as the 2019 Stepping Out in Style Featured Artist.

Anna is a Signature Member of Watercolor Society of Indiana and Hoosier Salon and Indiana Artist Club. She currenly has a studio in the Stutz Indianapolis Business and Arts Center where she holds exhibits and teaches classes. Anna has won awards, including “Best of Show”  at the Watercolor Society of Indiana 2015 Annual Juried Exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Learn more about Anna at

SOIS 2018 Photo Recap

2018 SOIS Photo Recap


The photos are in! Click the image below from the Stepping Out In Style Fashion Show, our annual fundraiser, sponsored by PNC. The event was held on October 5th, at JW Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana.

All images were taken by Faith Blackwell. If you see yourself, you can purchase photos here.


Model Feature: Melissa St. John

Be Open to Possibilities

Melissa St. John’s career path as a business owner began with a simple tap on the shoulder.

She was a single mom of a one-year-old and seven-year-old, working at Relocation Strategies when her boss tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she’d like to buy the business. Melissa loved the business model to advocate for clients. She had worked for several other companies and eventually realized that she had gained the experience she needed to run a business from those jobs.

However, the road to becoming a successful business owner started off quite bumpy for Melissa. The day she bought the business was Nov. 1, 2007, which is often cited as the day the Great Recession started. She had emptied her 401k and all of her savings to buy the business despite her mom’s objection. She was eating ramen noodles for dinner nearly every night and was now faced with a business that lost every client because of the recession.

Most people would have let this crisis bring them down but Melissa had the guts to turn it around, and it’s paid off considering the business has grown 1,000% since then. Her team has managed successful relocations, renovations and reconfigurations for various clients and industries. She is beyond proud to have helped companies across Indiana and beyond boost their employee engagement and create more productive workspaces.

When you see Melissa at work or at a local business event, she’ll likely be in bright colors and a skirt. “I like being expressive in what I wear,” she says. “I’m always wearing skirts and high heels because I truly feel like I’m in my own skin and dressing for success.”

What advice does she have for someone who wants to start their own business?

“If you pick a career you love, it will never be work and you’ll get paid for doing what you love,” she says, citing what her dad always told her. “Also, you have to surround yourself with your own personal board of directors, people who have different strengths. Find people who can help your business grow and succeed. Identify your weaknesses or areas you’d prefer not to handle and hire people who excel at those skills. Smart people surround themselves with people who have knowledge that they don’t have,” Melissa explains. This will free your time to do what you are passionate about.

One of Melissa’s passions is giving back to the community. She feels it’s important to help others, paying forward the help she has received throughout her career. Melissa has made many donations to Dress for Success and loves the organization’s mission of helping women advance in their careers. While she’s been attending Stepping Out in Style for 10 years, this is the first year she’ll be a model.

Raising money for the American Heart Association, via the endowment she set up called Legacy of Life, is another cause that is near and dear to Melissa. She consistently advocates for this in honor of her daughter, who passed after open heart surgery from congenital heart defects.

Her reason for giving back is simple: “I feel really blessed,” she says. Melissa can relate to many of the women who work with Dress for Success after being a single mom for nearly 10 years and becoming a business owner while her kids were quite young. For the women who are just starting their career paths or are unsure of what job to pursue, she encourages them to “be open to possibilities, you never know who will tap you on the shoulder.”

Contributor: Jennifer Nelson, Content Specialist at KSGilmore Consulting LLC

Our Sponsors Speak: PNC

PNC bank sponsor Dress for Success Indianapolis Stepping Out in Style Indianapolis


PNC is proud to recognize the tremendous value Dress for Success Indianapolis brings to women in the community re-entering the workforce. As the title sponsor of the annual Stepping Out in Style event for the past seven years, PNC understands that this organization brings many tangible and intangible benefits to young women in Indianapolis. The professional attire for job interviews and the hands-on job search assistance through the Career Development Center provide women around central Indiana the confidence to succeed and navigate her future career path. The impeccable staff and dedicated volunteers help women expand their network and act as an exceptional support team.

We know that many of the women who benefit Dress for Success Indianapolis are mothers who are working hard to transform their lives. PNC understands the many challenges that working mothers face and is dedicated to helping individuals achieve on the job and in their personal lives. We are thrilled that PNC continues to be recognized as one of Working Mother Magazine’s 100 Best Companies. Our commitment to supporting women in business is truly paramount.

PNC has a long-lasting commitment to the community, and it is a pleasure to work with such dedicated organizations like Dress for Success Indianapolis.  It is organizations like Dress for Success that make Indianapolis a wonderful place to live, work, and achieve.

With more than 6 million consumer and small business customers across 19 states and the District of Columbia, the PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. ( is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations. In addition to retail and business banking, PNC provides residential mortgage banking, specialized services for corporations and government entities, and wealth and asset management services.  This size and reach enable us to be a powerful advocate for women in business. More than 1,300 PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates support the achievement of women who own or run companies across our footprint.  Advocates often also play leadership roles in organizations that connect and mentor businesswomen.

Additional examples of our support for women in business, both within our company and in the communities, we serve:

  • Creating growth opportunities for women-owned companies by consciously diversifying our supply base and spending directly with Women Business Enterprises (WBEs).
  • Sponsoring the Women Presidents’ Organization, The Committee of 200, ATHENAPowerLink and other businesswomen’s mentoring programs.
  • Earning the National Association for Female Executives’ ranking among the Top 50 Companies for Executive Women.
  • Providing resources for women in business, including our Insights for Women in Business
  • To read more about our support for women in business or to connect with a PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocate, visit

Model Feature: Angela Smith Jones, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development

Angela Smith Jones, Deputy Mayor Economic Development, Indianapolis



Angela Smith Jones is a woman with a big heart. You can see that by her choice
of favorite movies — An Affair to Remember and When Harry Met Sally. “I am a
true romantic,” she said. Angela is the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the City of Indianapolis.

As a child, Angela wanted to be a Pediatrician. “I believe the reason I wanted to
be a Pediatrician is because at the core, I want to help people. I want to make life
better for people. To me, children are the most vulnerable and to be able to care
for and heal a child would be so rewarding.”

Angela credits her parents for coaching her on life decisions growing up. “Any
goal which I set or had; my parents spoke into my life to ensure that I would be

She treasures her mentors and believes they treasure her. “They reach out to me
on their own accord with words of wisdom and action steps. I, in turn, listen and
act. The key to a mentoring relationship is the mutually vested interest
and respect that the mentor has, along with my respect for the mentor.”

Angela believes having mentors allowed her career to become what it is today.
“My mentors have tough conversations with me. They are not all complimentary
and you’re doing a great job. My mentors push me and give me sound advice.”
She advises women navigating the job search to identify a minimum of two key
mentors. “It should be a mutual relationship where there are synergies, respect
and a basic friendship,” she said. “I would next reflect on the deep passions —
what drives me, what do I really want to do? Look at your strengths and
weaknesses. Then sit down with your mentors and begin to discuss those very
answers. What career options are there for you? What additional networking or
certifications do you need. And always, always know that the answer is not going to be easy to hear and may require shifting some goals and direction.”

Her big heart might be the reason she loves motivating and pouring into others.
“If I am able to be a blessing and share something that would inspire them to be
their best selves and to know that they are okay, to embrace who they are… then
I would be fulfilled.”


Contributor: Ericka Flye, Dress for Success Indianapolis Board Member

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