As a child, Kelley Baker always saw herself as a police officer. And why not? That’s what her father was, and she wanted to follow in his footsteps. Later, she found out law enforcement wasn’t a career path most girls followed. Baker, who went on to become a correctional officer and a TSA screener, delivered the keynote address during the 2018 N.E.W. (Nontraditional Employment Opportunities for Women) conference on October 10 at the A. K. Smith Career Center in Michigan City. Eighth-grade girls from eight middle schools across LaPorte County attended the conference, which was sponsored by the LaPorte County Career and Technical Education program. Today, Kelley Baker is the Director of Skills USA Indiana, a professional organization serving students from across the state pursing 130 different Career and Technical Education fields. Following Baker’s keynote, the girls took part in roundtable discussions led by professional women from across the region. Special guests leading the roundtables included women from LaPorte County EMS, LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office, LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, Edward Jones Financial, Larson-Danielson, New York Blower, Purdue Northwest, NIPSCO, Michigan City Police, Michigan City Dental, Steel Cities Steel, Sullair, Westville Correctional Facility, Michigan City Area Schools, Reins of Life, the Springfield Fire Department, and several others. The conference concluded with an afternoon of hands-on “try it” activities in career fields in which women are traditionally underrepresented. These sessions gave girls an opportunity to try their hand welding, machining, firefighting, electronics, and more. Funding and support for the conference was made possible by the Michigan City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan City Commission for Women, Women in Leadership of LaPorte County, Ann Taylor Outlet, and Garwood Orchards.