Anita Harden

Indianapolis Chapter Member Anita J. Harden – 2017 Girls Inc.

Touchstone Award Honoree!


The Touchstone Awards is an annual event that honors four women who are outstanding leaders in their careers and in community service:  “A Touchstone is a rock used to test the purity of gold,” said Patricia Wachtel, President and CEO of Girls Inc. “The 2017 Touchstone Honorees are women with significant achievements proving they are great role models both for girls and other women. We are proud to recognize these Strong, Smart, and Bold ladies for the great things they have done for our community.”

Indianapolis Chapter founding member Anita J. Harden was one of those honorees.


Anita J. Harden, Interim Executive Director of the Madame Walker Urban Life Center, came to the Walker with more than three decades of operational and leadership experience. She currently oversees their day-to-day operations and participates while contributing to the strategic planning process.  She works closely with the Madame Walker leadership team to create programs and events that preserve the legacy of Madame C.J. Walker through arts, entertainment, cultural education, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement. She is also the President and CEO of Interim Executives, LLC which provides leadership to non-profit organizations during periods of transition.

Ms. Harden began her career as a mental health nurse, and after a brief time teaching at Indiana School of Nursing she spent more than 35 years with Indiana’s Community Health Network. In 2004 after five months as interim during a national search, she became President of Community Hospital East in Indianapolis. Along the way, she earned a solid reputation for building collaborative partnerships, increasing morale while improving processes, and creating enduring programs.  Her parting gift to Community was the establishment of an endowment to benefit mentally ill patients.

As part of its 100th Anniversary Celebration, Indiana University School of Nursing announced the first recipients of the Alumni Legacy Leaders award.  This award recognizes the outstanding contributions of 100 or more than 19,000 living alumni.  She received the Sagamore of the Wabash and was inducted into the Indiana Public Schools Alumni Hall of Fame.  She has been honored by the Center for Leadership Development and Who’s Who in Black Indianapolis.

Ms. Harden graduated from Indiana University’s School of Nursing where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nursing, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She was recently named the chair of The Indiana University School of Nursing’s board of advisors. Ms. Harden is a dedicated community servant and has long been active in the Indianapolis community.

She serves on the boards of Citizens Energy Group, Christian Theological Seminary, The Indianapolis Zoo, and Choices Coordinated Systems of Care, Inc. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.  She is a member of Rotary Indianapolis, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and Light of the World Christian Church.

Ms. Harden is the proud mother of Brian Weir-Harden, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg, who was recently recognized as “Up and Coming Lawyers” by Indiana Lawyer’s “Leadership in Law.”