AWARD HONOREES/ HOST 2018

Dr. Nita Landry, known as “Dr. Nita,” is a co-host on the Emmy Award-winning talk show The Doctors and a practicing Board- certified OB/GYN. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Dillard University then obtained her M.D. from the University of South Alabama, where she graduated in the top quartile of her class. After completing her OB/GYN residency at the University of Louisville, Dr. Nita became a locum tenens physician (traveling doctor). Her work as a “traveling doctor” has taken her to inner cities, rural towns, and Indian reservations from Alaska to New York and Minnesota to Texas. As a result, she has gained a wealth of knowledge and insight into the health issues most important to women from all walks of life across America.

Dr. Nita finds joy in inventing fun and innovative new ways to deliver vital health information to the women who need it, especially those who are young, vulnerable, and underserved. Dr. Nita is a published author who has served as a medical expert for the United Nations Foundation, The Dr. Phil Show, CBS National News, Hallmark Home and Family, Access Hollywood Live and Essence Now talk show (Essence Magazine). Additionally, Dr. Nita has served as a contributor for Self Magazine and Pregnancy Magazine, and her medical insight has been quoted in publications such as Cosmopolitan Magazine, People Magazine, Shape Magazine, Readers Digest, and The Atlantic.
Community service is an intricate part of Dr. Nita’s mission. For example, as an undergraduate student Dr. Nita completed over a thousand hours of community service, and while in medical school she was an intern for the The Center for Healthy Communities- an organization dedicated to eliminating health disparities. She has also volunteered at battered women’s shelters, coordinated college scholarship programs, organized neighborhood cleanups and food drives, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, and volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of America. As a native of Louisiana, Dr. Nita loves Cajun food. She also enjoys listening to live music, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her friends and family.

Tanja Babich anchors ABC 7 Chicago’s Eyewitness News in the Morning from 4:30 AM until 7 AM. She first joined the station as a general assignment reporter and contributing anchor in January, 2014 and was promoted to morning news anchor in September, 2016. Babich brings a wealth of morning news experience to Chicago viewers. She is a skilled reporter who is just as comfortable covering breaking news out in the community as she is anchoring 2 1/2 hours of news behind the anchor desk. Before coming to Eyewitness News, Babich anchored Syracuse, New York’s top-rated morning newscast on WYSR-TV for nearly three years. Prior to that, she juggled morning news reporting with hosting the market’s only weekday morning talk show, which highlighted community events, people and trends.

Career highlights include covering Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. in New York and Philadelphia and the Chicago area residents who traveled to see the Pope, reporting in Washington D.C. from President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and breaking news that affected labor unions across New York State in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. After graduating from Cornell University, Babich originally interviewed to become an intelligence officer. A public speaking engagement captured the attention of a city official who then suggested a career in broadcasting. A few weeks later, she applied and was accepted to Northwestern University’s prestigious journalism program. Babich has a Master’s Degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government from Cornell University. The daughter of a Chilean mother and Serbian father, Babich is fluent in French and speaks conversational Spanish and Serbian. She recently volunteered to take a courageous flight with the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds, an experience she says she’ll never forget, but may not replicate. Babich admits to being an avid yoga practitioner, a terrible dancer and a lover of food and wine. She is a native of Toronto, Canada. Babich is a proud mother who loves living in Chicago with her two daughters.

“THE WORD CAN’T HAS NEVER EXISTED FOR ME” says Dara Levy, who in 1985 was one of a handful of female members at the male dominated Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Her life got derailed when her husband lost his battle with colon cancer. A widow with 2 young daughters, Dara persevered and in 2009 she reinvented herself and opened a high-end med spa. She trademarked her dermaplaning treatment DERMAFLASH and made it the foundation of all services offered at the spa. After selling 6,000 DERMAFLASH treatments in 5 years, Dara realized an at-home dermaplaning solution did not exist…
And DERMAFLASH was born!

Katlin Smith is the founder and CEO of Simple Mills, a Chicago-based company at the forefront of a clean food movement that is shaping the next generation of natural foods. Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, Smith launched Simple Mills in 2013 to provide a cleaner alternative to the natural baking mixes then on the market. Today, despite a crowded market space with long-established competitors, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 fastest-growing natural baking mix and cracker brand. Additionally, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 natural baking mix, the #1 natural cracker, and #2 natural cookie brand by dollar sales, according to SPINS syndicated data.

Simple Mills products are currently distributed in more than 12,000 conventional and natural grocery stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Kroger and Safeway as well as through Amazon and Thrive Market. All products are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers, addressing consumer concerns about food sensitivities and the safety of the food supply chain. The current lineup includes baking mixes, frostings, almond flour crackers, sprouted seed crackers and ready to eat crunchy cookies.

Smith is a former Deloitte Consulting management consultant, winner of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business New Venture Challenge, recipient of the top prize in Chapman University’s California Dreamin’ Business Competition, and a columnist for Inc. magazine.

Dr. Jessica Shepherd is an OB/GYN and women’s health expert as well as the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women’s health forum that focuses on addressing taboo topics in a comfortable setting. Dr. Shepherd is a passionate women’s health advocate that uses her voice to speak on reproductive rights, healthcare disparities and health rights awareness issues. She practices at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX and specializes in Minimally Invasive Gynecology.

She has written in various journals including Women’s Day, Women’s Health, Self, Family Circle, Parents, LifeScript.com, Heart and Soul, Best Health, Essence, and WebMD.

She is also seen regularly as an expert on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Dr. Oz, Steve Harvey, CBS News, and FOX news while also using her voice in various radio programs nationwide such as Doctors Radio, Marilu Henner Show and Tom Joyner.

As an health care expert, she strives to educate women on their bodies and how to address uncomfortable topics and issues. She is a national speaker that sheds light on women’s health issues to encourage women to talk about their concerns. As a minority physician she also uses her experiences to mentor other minority women in their dreams to become involved in healthcare fields. The importance of increasing women and minority physicians is paramount and she uses her platform to help these possibilities move to realities.

Lillian Lazu is the principal of Little Village Academy, a Chicago Public School located in the heart of the Little Village Community. She began her career with Chicago Public Schools 22 years ago as a teacher’s assistant while completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Upon graduating from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, she taught 7th & 8th grade science at Brentano Math & Science Academy. While teaching, she pursued a Master’s Degree in Bilingual Special Education to better understand the academic and social-emotional needs of Diverse Learners and English Language Learners, Looking to have a greater impact on students, she earned a Master’s Degree in School Administration and Supervision from Concordia University.

This led to Ms. Lazu serving as an Assistant Principal at Goudy Elementary School for 6 years. In 2012, Ms. Lazu accepted a principal position at Little Village Academy, where she continues to serve the school and its community. Her educational philosophy is based on her uncompromising belief that all students can learn. Through her guidance, dedicated and passionate staff, parents, and community members, students are empowered to become self-motivated, self-aware and self-advocating individuals preparing them to become lifelong learners.

Diana Palomar joined ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) as Vice President of Community Affairs in 2001. With over twenty-five years’ experience in the area of community affairs and corporate relations, she helps guide the station’s public engagement efforts which includes managing many of its on-air campaigns and media partnerships, executing major community projects and actively engaging news talent in public appearances to support the station’s strong viewer connections. As the face of the station and many times the first point of contact for the public, she serves as a conduit for information into the newsroom. “There are so many great things going on and good people behind them, I love that my role includes helping to get these stories told.”

Every day is slightly different and therefore interesting. Working at ABC 7 has provided some great opportunities not only to work with the news personalities and be part of a unique media community, but also to meet some really interesting people, sometimes even some visiting celebrities! (With the photos to prove it.)

Walking into a room, representing the television station is always an enjoyable experience because of the countless relationships which have been fostered over the years. Her board work also helps to feed her passion for community and includes the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, National Museum of Mexican Art, Metropolitan Family Services and Casa Central. And sometimes her public profile spills over into everyday life, social occasions and weekend errands with the occasional sound of “Hey, how are you?” many times from perfect strangers. Good reason to never look like you just got out of bed when you leave the house.

She feeds her soul through her friendships with diverse groups of women who are strong, accomplished and generous. Another passion is mentoring the many young women whom she has met over the years. Sharing her experiences with other women – work and life lessons learned, professional and personal challenges and struggles, and how to come out okay at the other end – everyone should extend themselves in this way. If it weren’t for her first mentor she would have never gone to college or gotten a degree – the first one in her family to do so. She certainly now appreciates that special gift of encouragement and support from a non-family member which she credits helping get her where she is today. And she pays this forward at every opportunity, encouraging others to do the same.

Born and raised in Chicago, a graduate of the University of Illinois Chicago, the things that make her most happy outside of her family are great meals and wine, movies, dancing, live music and travel any chance she gets.

CORPORATE AWARDS