Coffee & Conversations: The Power of Passion and Persistence

The Power of Passion and Persistence


8:00-9:15 AM

Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne
555 E. Wayne Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Coffee & Conversations is a casual round table opportunity for women in the community to discuss pertinent topics around being a success in the business sphere, public square, or for personal growth and development. 

Event sponsored by Conjure Coffee and IHOP

Psychologist Angela Duckworth said that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls "grit".   This session highlights women who possess not only talent but enough grit to fill the largest beach!  These fearless trendsetters include Amy Lehrman, managing director at Katz, Sapper & Miller; Ciera Balkenbusch, Nitinol Actuators Program Manager at Fort Wayne Metals, and Pastor Antoinette Hilliard at Grace and Glory Encounter Ministries.  Learn how they have overcome common barriers often experienced by women seeking careers in non-traditional roles!

Amy Lehrman is managing director of Katz, Sapper & Miller’s Fort Wayne office. Amy leads the day-to-day efforts for the office and works closely with KSM leadership to help realize the firm’s vision: to be the leading accounting, tax, and consulting firm for closely held, family-owned businesses in northeast Indiana. Whether she’s mentoring staff, advising clients, developing new business, or giving back to her community – all at which she excels – Amy embodies KSM’s mission of inspiring great people to do great things. With more than a decade of experience in public accounting, Amy serves as a trusted advisor to her clients, developing tailored tax planning solutions to help them minimize tax liability and increase efficiencies. In honor of her achievements, Amy was the recipient of a 2019 Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly Forty Under 40 award.


Ciera Balkenbusch, Nitinol Actuators Program Manager at Fort Wayne Metals, believes that talent, collaboration, and hard work are essential to success. Before graduating from Butler University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, and from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, she began her career as an Engineering Intern. She soon became an Engineering Project Manager, Associate Product Manager, and then a Process Engineer, and continued her education by earning both a Master’s in Business Administration and Organizational Leadership from the University of St. Francis. Using her passion for knowledge and leveraging the skills of her teammates, Ciera succeeded in both engineering and commercial roles, and in 2019 became a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Now, as an expert on Nitinol actuators, she leads a team committed to helping customers find new applications for this revolutionary technology.


Since April 2015, Pastor Antoinette Hilliard has been serving together beside her husband (Ken) as the proud pastors of Grace and Glory Encounter Ministries in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She passionately teaches and preaches from the heart of God and is committed to seeing lives changed and the glory released wherever God sends her to minister. In addition to Pastoring, Antoinette is employed with The Lutheran Foundation as First Impression Specialist. It is a joy to share the same common commitment with your employer of transforming lives head to soul by advancing Gospel sharing and promoting mental wellness. Lastly, Antoinette is the proud Mother of three children Jarrell, Jaqual and Tre’Vion. One loving daughter-in-love, Tanika and two beautiful grandchildren, Jariah and Jaydon.