Professional advancement • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Professional advancement

Businesses, organizations share news about new hires, promotions, accolades


Joel Cooper was promoted to partner at Munster-based McMahon & Associates CPAs.

Kruggel Lawton CPAs will welcome three new partners and 11 professionals on June 1 when Portage, Michigan-based Cole Gavlas becomes its sixth location. Cole Gavlas partners Jeffrey Cole, Dan Gavlas and Jason Martin will bring the team to 19 partners.

Angela Grothaus and Lisa Human were promoted to director roles at Michigan City-based CLH, CPAs & Consultants. Jordan Sheets, Victor Hernandez and Ryan Cetnar are new staff accountants, and CPA Gary Bushue joined the firm as a senior client adviser.


Hammond-based FiberX won the top prize in the Producer-Led Innovation Challenge, courtesy of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance.


Wightman hired Nandita Mishra to lead its education team.


Benjamin Schmitt was appointed the senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Finward Bancorp and its subsidiary, Peoples Bank.

West Lafayette-based Purdue Federal Credit Union received a 2024 Best award from WalletHub. John Newman was hired as the bank’s new vice president of enterprise risk management and general counsel.

Merrillville-based Centier Bank promoted Mike McKean to assistant vice president, loan operations officer and hired Brian O’Meara as senior vice president, chief marketing officer. Linda Davidson was promoted to vice president, director of compliance. Janet Gary, longtime Centier Bank employee, was promoted to officer of the bank. Molly Hershenhouse joined the bank’s marketing department as the lending and credit card business line manager. Emilie Hunt joined Centier Financial Partners, the bank’s investments and fiduciary services department, as assistant vice president, trust officer. Gina Boersma and Michael Rebey, both of Crown Point, and Barbra Hall of Valparaiso were monthly and quarterly $1,000 drawing winners of the Billinero savings account. The bank also received the Community Lender Silver Award and the 3rd Party Lender Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Indiana district office.

John Thurston was appointed corporate banking executive and senior vice president of corporate banking at Evansville-based Old National Bank.

Michigan City-based Horizon Bank hired David Pendley as its divisional president of mortgage banking.

Goshen-based Interra Credit Union hired Madison Olsen as a preferred services specialist. Three employees were honored with the President’s Award: Jason Golden, senior vice president, agribusiness lender; Nicole Henschen, assistant vice president, manager retail branch; and Brad Hochstedler, assistant vice president, senior software engineer lead.

American Banker named PNC Financial Services Group’s Bill Demchak its Banker of the Year.

Commercial real estate

Latitude Commercial expanded its team by appointing Chris Marshall as property manager and Ken Turner as associate broker.


Michigan City-based Tonn and Blank Construction promoted four employees: Kyle Harris to project manager; Adam Schwalm to senior project manager; April Brown to director of continuous improvement; and Jessica Taylor to senior real estate manager.

Larson-Danielson was awarded the 2024 Outstanding Concrete Project of the Year Award from the Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association for its Ironworks Plaza Improvements and Riverwalk Extension project in Mishawaka. Clarence Gehrke was promoted to general superintendent. Heather Brown is the new controller, assuming financial responsibilities of CFO Patti O’Brien, who is retiring this spring. Davin Kibbe is the new warehouse manager.

Economic development

The Merrillville-based Crossroads Chamber appointed new board members: John Jordan, CertaPro Painters of Northwest Indiana, as chairman of the board; Katie Holderby, Purdue Northwest, as chairman elect; Bethany Crose, McMahon & Associates, as treasurer; Patty Stovall, Hasse Construction, as secretary; and Jennifer Doffin, Centier Bank, as immediate past chairman.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission was selected to host a fellow as part of the Economic Recovery Corps Fellowship program. The cities of Gary and Michigan City also received fellowships.

The National Electrical Contractors Association of Northern Indiana recently gifted a yearlong Michigan City Chamber of Commerce membership to Selah Brooks, owner of Phenomenal Photo Booth Co.

Bryce Carden of Members Source Credit Union and Benjamin Tomera of Tomera Media Production joined the Highland Griffith Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.


Indiana University Northwest Chancellor Ken Iwama joined the board of directors for One Region. Dr. Ellen Szarleta was the primary author of the 2023 Indiana Civic Health Index report.

Dan White, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Valparaiso University, was named the recipient of the Michael V. Carano Teacher Excellence Award from the IPC Education Foundation. Martin Buinicki was appointed the next Richard P. Baepler Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. Senior student Matthew Yee accepted a position with the U.S. Coast Guard Band.

Mason Burdan and Joshua Mola of Hanover Central Middle School in Cedar Lake won the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Indiana’s First Congressional District.

Gary-based Computer Skills and Training Center and the Center of Workforce Innovations launched an adult learning center in Gary.

La Porte County Career and Technical Education launched a program in smart manufacturing.

Purdue University Northwest was affirmed by the Higher Learning Commission as a doctoral-granting institution. PNW received a $7,158,034 grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to advance decarbonization of the steelmaking electric arc furnace. Amy Fry was named dean of the College of Nursing. Purdue University Northwest named Thomas McDermott, Diane Kavadias-Schneider and Jeff Strack to its 2024 Alumni Hall of Fame class.

Jennifer Newsome Martin is the next director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. She will succeed O. Carter Snead, the Charles E. Rice Professor of Law, who will conclude 12 years of service in the role June 30.

Gary Community School Corp. STEM Coach Anna Swope was a presenter at the Center for Excellence in Leadership of Learning’s STEM Cadree Educator Preparation Programs Forum in Indianapolis.


Performance Plus, a commercial janitorial contractor, promoted Jason Kendera to director of operations for locations in Gary, Michigan City, South Bend and Indianapolis.


Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed two mayors to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board: Jon Costas, mayor of Valparaiso, until May 31, 2026, and Eddie Melton, mayor of Gary, until May 31, 2028. Frances Vega-Steele, of Portage, associate vice chancellor of student affairs for Ivy Tech Community College Northwest, and Carol Slager, of Schererville, founder of Inkwell Healthy Lifestyles, were reappointed to the governor’s Commission on Supplier Diversity until Nov. 30, 2027. Jessica Witherspoon, of Valparaiso, WIOA partner navigator with the state of Indiana, was appointed to the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities until Dec. 31, 2026. Jennifer Diaz, of South Bend, representing INSOURCE, and Marc Ruiz, of Hebron, were appointed to the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Commission until Dec. 31, 2026.

Jennifer Thum was promoted to soil conservation director for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Stanley Thompson Jr., Christopher Trotter-Borrelli, Roberto Espinosa and Thomas Sarsfield joined the Merrillville Police Department.

Health care

Munster-based Community Healthcare System was named a Best Place to Work in IT by Computerworld, and opened its new Munster Immediate Care Center, which also is home to its Occupational Health Clinic.

The new Franciscan Health Crown Point hospital opened Jan. 28. Franciscan Health Cancer Center Rensselaer was approved as a clinical research site. Family medicine Dr. Kimberland Anderson moved to the Franciscan Physician Network Family Medicine St. John office at 8345 Wicker Ave. Dr. Sheryl Christy, a cardiologist, joined the Franciscan Physician Network in Crown Point.

The Franciscan Alliance acquired the Franciscan Beacon Hospital in La Porte.

Valparaiso-based Northwest Health earned accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for its internal medicine residency program. Dr. James Leonard was named CEO of Northwest Health – Porter. Northwest Health – La Porte recently honored two caregivers: Rachel Faucher, earned the DAISY award for exceptional nursing, and Ashley Hall, a certified nursing assistant, the PETALS award for outstanding support professionals. Dr. Navleen Gill joined Northwest Medical Group’s maternal-fetal clinic in Valparaiso. Northwest Health’s Valparaiso urgent care reopened in December.

Plum Creek Surgery Center plans to open in Munster in the fall at the Lake Business Center.

Roosevelt Haywood III, principle at Haywood and Fleming Associates, will receive the inaugural Edgewater Health Circle of Excellence award during a VIP reception June 1.


Ruhani Sharma opened the restaurant Tandoori in Griffith.

PGA coach Jeff Zurawicz opened Good Ball, an indoor golf simulator and practice facility, in Dyer in February.

Information technology

Diego Anderson is the new executive vice president of broadband at Mishawaka-based Schurz Communications. Brian Lynch retired from the position.

Steve Carender was promoted to director of special funding at Elkhart-based Surf Internet.

Marc Shapiro was named an IT sales executive and Maleeha Mazhar a business development executive for Pulse Technology, which has a Merrillville location.

Jasper-based Matrix Integration promoted Tim Pritchett to vice president of technology and innovation.


David Francisco was appointed to the St. Joseph County Superior Court.

Burke Costanza & Carberry attorney Kayla Davis was named a member of the board of directors for the Valpo Parks Foundation. Attorney Alfredo Estrada is the Indiana State Bar Association Latino Committee Chair for 2024.

Life sciences

Vince Wong is the new president and CEO of BioCrossroads, a statewide initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.


Mark Keen was hired as senior accountant, Tim Barnett and Brad Mills as engineers, Kristen Brier as vice president of integrated planning and sustainable development, and Ian Hirt and Matt Service were brought on to help develop rail and maritime cargo projects at Ports of Indiana.


Merrillville-based Siltworm Inc. promoted Michael Lorenzo to the new position of chief operating officer.

Angela Holt, of Rathburn Tool & Manufacturing, is the new chair of the Indianapolis-based Indiana Manufacturers Association.

Elkhart-based Thor Industries appointed Jeffrey Lorenger to its board of directors. He is the president and CEO of HNI Corp. He replaces Wilson Jones, who retired in December.

The Wakal family opened Wakal Machining, a precision machine shop, in Knox.


Michael Marchese recently launched Michigan City-based Augmented Experts, a new platform that helps businesses with content marketing.


GAF, a roofing company with a plant in Michigan City, donated $50,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of La Porte County’s Great Futures Capital Campaign.

Mariana Reyes, assistant branch manager of Centier Bank’s Elkhart north branch, was recently named Volunteer of the Year by Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana/Elkhart County.

Shannon Walker, vice president of Unity Foundation of La Porte County, graduated from the Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute.

The Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association announced elections to its executive committee: Mary Wright, Horizon Bank, chair; Aida High, NiSource, vice chair; Robert Joseph, ArcelorMittal R&D, secretary; and Erica Dombey, Regional Development Co., treasurer.

Victor Garcia, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, recertified as a Certified Fund Raising Executive. He has earned the designation since 2018.

The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte changed to its name to Health Foundation of La Porte to better reflect the organization’s mission. Eric DeWald is the nonprofit’s next president and CEO to replace founder, Maria Fruth.

Bonnie Johnson is the new associate chief of programs; Lourdes Castellanos is director of marketing; and Christina Cook is agency training director at Valparaiso-based Opportunity Enterprises.


The East Race Market opened in South Bend.

Blast Laundromat opened in the Harvest Square Strip Mall in Gary.

Great Lakes Sports Hub opened in Crown Point, featuring a clubhouse and indoor field.

A new Cricket Wireless store opened in Hobart.

Jet’s Pizza plans to open a location in Hammond.


The annual Pierogi Fest in Whiting will appear on the cover of the 2024 Indiana State Festival Guide, marking a first for a festival in the Region.


NIPSCO hired longtime Michigan City advocate Katie Eaton as public affairs manager.


Dr. Mariah Payne recently opened Agape Family Chiropractic in Munster.

Tiffany Blakemore opened Vitamin T Fitness in Merrillville.

Professional basketball players Jarrod Jones and Lazeric Jones opened D1 Training fitness facility in Merrillville.

Stephanie Hunt opened Sage wellness shop in Chesterton.

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