Around the Region • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Around the Region

Learn about people, companies making difference at work and in their communities


Brandon Underwood
Brandon Underwood

Brandon Underwood of St. John recently passed the exam to earn his certified public accountant designation. Underwood, a staff accountant for almost four years at McMahon and Associates in Munster, is a graduate of Purdue University Calumet.

Emily Vargo, a certified public accountant, joined McMahon & Associates CPA PC in Munster on May 1.


Teachers Credit Union recently promoted Brandon Hearne to manager of its Gary service center at 3730 Grant St. Hearne joined TCU in 2016. He started as a relationship representative and manager trainee.

Merrillville-based Centier Bank named Troy Kafka market president for the greater Indianapolis area.

Christopher Murphy, chairman and CEO of South Bend-based 1st Source Bank, recently was elected to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

First Midwest Bancorp Inc. named Doug Rose executive vice president and chief human resources officer.

BMO Harris Bank recently appointed new regional presidents for its Midwest market. New executives include: Chris Michalski, regional president, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana; Bernard Narine, regional president, Chicago south region; Tony Tintinalli, regional president, Chicago north region; and Steven Zandpour, head of U.S. retail specialty sales.

Benjamin Bochnowski, president and CEO of Peoples Bank in Munster, was appointed to the board of directors of the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions.


Indiana American Water named Matthew Prine president of Indiana American Water and Michigan American Water.

The Northwest Indiana Business RoundTable recently named its 2019 executive board of directors. Jim Jorgensen, an attorney with Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP, joins the board as the association’s legal counsel. Other executive board members include: chairman, Don Bull, NIPSCO; vice chairman, Joseph Lampert, ArcelorMittal, Indiana Harbor; treasurer, Tim Ross, Franciscan Health; secretary, Dewey Pearman, Construction Advancement Foundation; executive director, Andrea Pearman, NWIBRT.

NiSource Inc., parent company of Merrillville-based NIPSCO, announced April 15 that Kevin Kabat was elected chairman of the company’s board of directors. Kabat has been a member of the NiSource board since 2015. He serves on the company's audit, nominating and governance, and compensation committees. During his career, Kabat served in numerous executive roles, including CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp from April 2007 to November 2015. He serves as a director of Unum Group and is chairman of the board and a member of its human capital and governance committees. In 2016, Kabat became the lead independent director of E*Trade Financial Corp and is a member of its bank board, and its compensation and governance committees.

Pulse Technology, a provider of business technology services and office furniture with operations in Northwest Indiana, was among 23 companies recognized during the 29th annual Awards for Business Excellence. The awards, presented by the Daily Herald Business Ledger, a Chicago-area business newspaper, recognizes companies for their achievements, growth and community involvement. Pulse Technology was recognized in the family business category.

Leo Correa, CEO Community Healthcare System’s St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, and Jeff Williams, general manager Marcus Allard Rental in Highland, were recognized as the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s business persons of the year.


Jacklyn Graniczny, partner and design director of Sublime Homes in St. John, was named among Professional Builder magazine’s national list of 40 Under 40 rising stars for 2019 in the home building industry.

Economic Development

Michael Riehle
Michael Riehle

Jenilee Haynes Peterson economic development manager at the Economic Development Corp. Michigan City, Ind. Peterson replaces Katie Eaton, who left the post to become president of the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce in November.

Michael Riehle recently was named president of chamber services for the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership. Riehle has spent 26 years in the financial services industry most recently in banking as a commercial lender. The partnership was launched in February when the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce and the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corp. announced the organizations would move into a shared location but continue operating as separate entities with separate boards of directors.


Lawrence Hamer
Lawrence Hamer
Ivy Tech Community College named Linda Calvin vice president for information technology.
Linda Calvin

The office of Gov. Eric Holcomb recently named members of the volunteer Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission. The commission has been tasked with delivering its recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly before the 2021 legislative session. Members from Northwest and North Central Indiana include Jená Bellezza of Gary, chief operating officer of the Indiana Parenting Institute. Denise Seger of Granger, chief human resource officer for Concord Community Schools in Elkhart, was named to an advisory council to the commission.

Sheila Brillson Matias recently was named executive director of the Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest. She joined PNW in October 2018 and serves as executive director of the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest.

Lisa Goodnight, a 25-year member of the Purdue University Northwest faculty, has joined the senior leadership team as vice chancellor of institutional advancement.

Ivy Tech Community College named Linda Calvin vice president for information technology. She takes over for Matt Etchison, who became the college’s chief information technology officer in December.

Goodwill LEADS Inc. named David Plesac director of its Excel learning center in Hammond and Theresa Knipe director of its Excel center in Gary.

Mark Budnik, the Paul H. Brandt Professor of Engineering and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Valparaiso University, was presented with a National Outstanding Teaching Medal from the American Society of Engineering Education.

The Purdue University Board of Trustees approved the official naming of the Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building, which is under construction on Purdue University Northwest’s Hammond campus. The 68,000-square-foot building project broke ground in July 2018 and is set to open in fall 2020. Nelson taught at the university for 29 years and left an $8 million gift to PNW from his estate, according to college officials. Nelson died in July 2017.

Lawrence Hamer has been named dean of the college of business at Purdue University Northwest. He most recently served as a professor of marketing at DePaul University in Chicago. His appointment is effective July 1.


Adam Norman
Adam Norman

Kimberly Barkman was appointed agricultural education program manager of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

AgriNovus Indiana, the state’s initiative to promote and accelerate the agbioscience growth, added two new members to its board of directors: Gene Miles, president and CEO, First Farmers Bank & Trust, and Melissa Proffitt, partner-in-charge of client relations and chair of the food and agribusiness group and energy group, Ice Miller LLP.

The Indiana Department of Child Services named Adam Norman deputy director of the child support bureau.


Andleeb Bangash, cardiologist
Andleeb Bangash
Dr. Tia Dorn, family practice physician
Tia Dorn
Maria Brown, physician
Maria Brown
Dr. Huma Mulk joined Franciscan Physician Network Franklin Health Center
Huma Mulk
Dr. Randall Moore joined Franciscan Alliance
Randall Moore
Stephen Paul, gastroenterologist
Stephen Paul
Stephen Turner
Stephen Turner
Kim Innes promoted at Methodist Hospitals
Kim Innes
Julie Kerns promoted at Methodist Hospitals
Julie Kerns
Dena McCormick by Methodist Hospitals
Dena McCormick

Dr. Kalyani Gopal of Munster was presented a Top 20 Global Women of Excellence 2019 award in March at the seventh International Women's Day Celebration in Chicago. Gopal also is president of the SAFECHR Coalition for Human Rights with offices in Munster and Chicago.

La Porte Hospital recently welcomed Dr. Andleeb Bangash, cardiologist, Dr. Michael Allen, obstetrician/gynecologist, and Dr. Tia Dorn, family practice physician to its medical team.

Franciscan Health recently welcomed new physicians to its staff. Dr. Maria Brown joined Franciscan Physician Network Coolspring Health Center, and Dr. Huma Mulk joined Franciscan Physician Network Franklin Health Center.

Dr. Randall Moore joined Franciscan Alliance as senior vice president and COO for Franciscan Health and Care Solutions. Moore, who was born in Gary and raised in Northwest Indiana, will be responsible for assisting Franciscan Alliance in improving patient experience and satisfaction with care, improve the health of the population Franciscan serves and reduce the cost of care. He will work with all Franciscan divisions to advance the transformation of the health care system from a fee-for-service to a fee-for-value integrated delivery network.

Three nurses at Franciscan Health Michigan City recently were honored by The DAISY Foundation as extraordinary nurses. Palliative care nurse Pollyanna McNeil, behavioral health nurse Leeane Bolton and registered nurse Patty Marsicek were recognized for the work nurses do for patients and families.

Three new members recently were appointed to Porter Regional Hospital’s Board of Trustees: Dr. Stephen Paul, a gastroenterologist based in Valparaiso; Heather Ennis, president & CEO of Northwest Indiana Forum; and Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for finance and administration at Purdue University Northwest.

St. Mary’s Medical Center CEO Janice Ryba was selected the Hobart Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year for 2019.

Methodist Hospitals recently promoted staff executives Kim Innes, Julie Kerns and Dena McCormick to assistant vice president.

Information Technology

Michael Sikora promoted at Chester Inc.
Michael Sikora
David Hood to lead Digital Crossroads at Lake Michigan
David Hood

David Hood was named managing director of operations for the Digital Crossroads at Lake Michigan, the data center under construction in Hammond.

Michael Sikora was promoted to system engineer in the technologies division of Valparaiso-based Chester Inc.


Boston Mutual Life Insurance Co. named Lesley Schafer senior regional sales director. Schafer will oversee the company’s central region, which covers Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and western Pennsylvania.

Healy Group, a South Bend-based employee benefits, financial services, risk management, property and casualty insurance agency, recently named Alicia Webber and Scott Johnson, principals in the firm.


Several companies from Northwest Indiana were named among the Best Places to Work in Indiana for 2019. The list includes: Small Companies (15 to 74 U.S. employees), General Insurance Services, Michigan City; Lakeside Wealth Management, Chesterton; Peepers by PeeperSpecs, Michigan City; Starin Marketing Inc., Chesterton; Large Companies (250 to 999 U.S. employees) Centier Bank, Merrillville; Major Companies (1,000-plus U.S. employees) Edward Jones, statewide (several offices in Northwest Indiana); First Merchants Bank, Muncie (operates locations in Northwest Indiana); Horseshoe Casino, Hammond.

Several Indiana communities, including two in Northern Indiana, are among the 162 Best Small Cities for Business in the country, according to a new ranking released by The Michigan City-La Porte area ranked 83rd on the list. Columbus was third on the list, while the Elkhart-Goshen area was ninth. Other Indiana communities that made the rankings include: Terre Haute, 38; Muncie, 107; Kokomo, 108.5; and Bloomington, 118.

An idea by a group of students from Hobart High School to enhance safety for bicyclists took third place in the second Innovate WithIN pitch competition. The statewide initiative to encourage entrepreneurship is presented by the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Indiana Department of Education and Ball State University. Eleven teams representing high schools from around the state competed April 4 in the final round. LyfePack from Rivet High School in Vincennes took first place for its idea for a tech-integrated, kevlar backpack, which promotes energy efficiency and improves student safety. Hobart High School’s team included students Andrew Romes, Alex Termini and Faith Spencer. Their idea, called RearVue, would improve bicycle safety through a distance measurement sensor, which harnesses LED technology to warn cyclists of approaching vehicles.

The first new office building to be built in downtown South Bend in more than 20 years has secured a major tenant that will occupy most of the space. The law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP signed a 15-year lease to occupy three of the five floors in what will be called the Barnes & Thornburg Building at 201 S. Main St. The building, which is being co-developed by Bald Mountain LLC; Norris Equity Partners and Great Lakes Capital, will take between 12 and 18 months to complete.

Click here to read more from the June-July 2019 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


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