Professional advancement • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Professional advancement

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


CPA Cody Newport was promoted to partner at Kruggel Lawton CPAs. He joined the firm in 2015 and is based in the Goshen office. Kevin Kruggel retired last fall after 41 years of service to the company. The firm also promoted 17 other employees in 2023. Promotions in its Goshen office include: CPA Jeannine Honderich, senior manager; CPA Jess Keaton, manager; CPA Aaron Lambert, senior staff accountant; and CPA Phil Shenk, a senior manager. In the Elkhart office: CPA Cambria Comer, senior staff accountant; Erin Sessa, senior staff accountant; CPA Pete Skevington, manager. In the South Bend office: CPA Allison James, senior manager, working with the nonprofit team on audit, review and compilation engagements; Nick Muller, senior staff accountant; Kyleigh Otwinowski, senior staff accountant; Cheri Pickard, senior staff accountant; CPA Juliana Romano, manager; CPA Sara Ross, senior manager; CPA Alex Trippel, senior staff accountant; and CPA Lucas Vervynckt, manager. In the St. Joseph, Michigan, office: Jeremy Tolsma, a senior staff accountant; and Yubi Zapata, a senior staff accountant.


Bob Falk, president and CEO of Purdue Federal Credit Union, received the Indiana Credit Union League’s 2023 Professional Achievement Award.

Noe Najera was hired as the new Michiana market president at Notre Dame Federal Credit Union.

Joel Mikolich was named the leader of a new equipment finance division at Michigan City-based Horizon Bank.

Munster-based Peoples Bank received the Explore Everyday community award from the Cedar Lake Redevelopment Commission.

Norman Lowery was named president and CEO of the First Financial Foundation.

Brian Rook was named vice president, senior talent performance lead of Goshen-based Interra Credit Union. Tim Yoder, board chairman, received the 2023 Leadership Achievement Award from the Indiana Credit Union League. Paulina Mayagoitia-Duenas was named branch manager for Interra’s College Green office in Goshen. Shelley Pulaski was named vice president, business lender.

Merrillville-based Centier Bank was ranked “Best Bank to Work For” in Indiana and No. 10 in the U.S. by American Banker. Skyler Balmer was promoted to business resiliency officer in the enterprise risk management division. Steven Swingler was hired as an investment executive in the bank’s wealth investment department, Centier Investment Services. Dean Niepokoj was named a mortgage loan officer in the bank’s Schererville east office in Crown Point.

Carrie Goldfeder joined Evansville-based Old National Bank as chief credit officer based in the bank’s Chicago office.

Billinero, a prize-linked savings account, selected Heather Brunker of Valparaiso, as the quarterly $1,000 winner, and Heaven Van Kley of Demotte, as the monthly $1,000 drawing winner.

Economic development

The Valparaiso-based Regional Development Co. elected Matt Saltanovitz, Indiana Economic Development Corp., as chair; Steve Kring, Horizon Bank, as vice chair; Mike Riehle, La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, as treasurer; Rex Richards, Valparaiso Economic Development Corp., as secretary; and Mike Schneider, Wintrust Bank, as past chair. Anthony Sindone of Purdue University Northwest, Anne Taylor of the city of Hammond and Mark Oganovich of Old National Bank were named to the RDC’s board of directors. Dan Duncan and Ron Knestrict of Peoples Bank were inducted into the RDC’s Millionaires Club. Tim Warner of Centier Bank and Bill Gertner of Horizon Bank received the 2023 Lenders of the Year award. Laura Holesapple of Centier Bank received Person of the Year award. Centier Bank received the Bank of the Year award.

Michael O’Leary was promoted to executive vice president of Lee & Associates of Illinois.

Martin Mechtenberg joined the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership as director of entrepreneur ecosystems. He most recently served as the economic empowerment specialist in the city of South Bend. Antjuan Finch, an AmeriCorps Fellow, will spend the next year as a data specialist. Alayna Wort, an enFocus Fellow, is assisting with READI grant distribution.


Indiana University Northwest received funding from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to promote student equity. IUN also unveiled its new STEM Center.

The Rev. Robert Dowd was elected 18th president of the University of Notre Dame. Karen Kennedy, senior adviser in the office of the executive vice president, was appointed associate vice president for residential life in the division of student affairs, effective spring 2024. The University of Notre Dame was awarded a federal development grant and a Tech Hub designation.

Chris Holford was appointed chancellor of Purdue University Northwest.

Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford helped curate the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Six community leaders joined the Indiana University South Bend advisory board for three-year terms: Levon Johnson, president and CEO of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce; Laurie Nafziger, president and CEO of Oaklawn Psychiatric Center; Liliana Quintero, executive director of the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition; Justus Zimmerman, executive director of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra; Shelli Alexander, regional president of 1st Source Bank; and Cathy Stone, director of education for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Valparaiso University and University of Chicago Medicine launched a new student training program.

Butler University, gener8tor and TechPoint launched an EdTech accelerator.


Jason Coin was named Merrillville’s firefighter of the year. Jesus Solis Jr. was named Merrillville’s police officer of the year.

Isaac Torres of Goshen, founder and president of InterCambio Express Inc., will serve on the board of trustees of Indiana University until July 1, 2026. Tom Navarre of Valparaiso, vice president of Family Express Corp.; and Nivas Vijay of South Bend, senior project manager and COO at Heartland Environmental Associates Inc., and principal/COO with Seratech Drilling & Exploration, will serve on the Underground Storage Tank Financial Assurance Board until Sept. 30, 2025. Jacqueline Barton of South Bend, founder and president of Specialized Staffing Solutions, was named to the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet until Dec. 31, 2025.

The city of Valparaiso named Kevin Cornett as its Good Neighbor recipient for 2023, recognizing his exemplary commitment to the community.

New Lowell State Police Post and Regional Laboratory opened to meet increased demand.

La Porte County Community Corrections partners with St. Louis-based tech company HomeWAV.

The Hobart Police Department received a grant from the Department of Justice’s office of community-oriented policing services Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act program.

Health care

Melissa Mitchell is the new CEO of Valparaiso-based HealthLinc. Mitchell, who has been with HealthLinc since 2008, replaces Beth Wrobel, who is retiring after serving as CEO for 22 years.

Pediatrician Chantal Walker joined the Franciscan Physician Network Coolspring Health Center in Michigan City. Cardiologist Islam Badawy joined Franciscan Physician Network in Crown Point. Family medicine physician Da Hee Mary Lee joined Franciscan Physician Network Schererville Health Center in Crown Point. Nurse practitioner Jennifer Rayner joined Franciscan’s Wheatfield Health Center. Family nurse practitioner Jessica Van Noort joined Franciscan Physician Network at the Cedar Lake Health Center. Gastroenterologist Ahmed Akhter joined Franciscan Physician Network in Crown Point. Family nurse practitioner Tana Kish joined Franciscan Physician Network’s Winfield Health Center. Gastroenterologist Rida Aslam joined Franciscan Physician Network in Crown Point. Obstetrician and gynecologist Perkin Stang joined Franciscan Physician Network Obstetrics & Gynecology Rensselaer. Franciscan Health Crown Point hospitalist Ahmer Festok was presented with the St. Raphael Award from the hospital’s nursing staff.

Franciscan Health Foundation received a $30 million donation from The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation.

Franciscan Health Rensselaer and Appleseed Childhood Education received the Critical Access Hospital Community Partnership Award for their partnership.

John Mastrojohn III is the new president and CEO at Mishawaka-based Center for Hospice Care. He also is president and CEO of the Hospice Foundation, Global Partners in Care and Milton Adult Day Services.

Tracy Lewis, director of Community Advocates of Northern Indiana, received the Elizabeth Jackson Legacy Award serving Black and brown community members in Lake County.

Taylor Green, a nurse practitioner specializing in pediatrics, joined Northwest Medical Group – Pediatrics in La Porte. Northwest Health-Porter and Northwest Health-La Porte received high safety grades from The Leapfrog Group.

Munster-based Community Healthcare System landed the top spot on Forbes magazine’s 2023 list of America’s Best Employers in Indiana. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives recognized Community Healthcare System for excellence in acute and ambulatory services in its 2023 Digital Health Most Wired Survey.

Methodist Hospitals received an “A” grade on the 2023-24 Lown Institute Hospitals Index.

The Duneland Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Optimal Health & Wellness in Chesterton.

Information technology

Kord Kozma was appointed vice president of human resources at Elkhart-based Surf Internet.

Pulse Technology received the 2023 Elite Dealer Award from ENX Magazine/The Week in Imaging. CEO Chip Miceli was named to the West McDonald Co.’s Influencer Circle.


Timothy Emerick was appointed the new managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg’s South Bend and Elkhart offices. John Smarrella is stepping down from the position to focus on his corporate and mergers and acquisitions practice. Barnes & Thornburg relocated their Elkhart office back downtown.

Gary-based Tolbert & Tolbert was one of 22 businesses selected to be part of the “Elevating Hoosier Business” initiative through the Indiana office of the chief equity inclusion and opportunity officer.

Kelley Kronenberg, a Florida-based law firm, is opening a new office at 233 E. 84th Drive in Merrillville.

Alvarez Law, a Northwest Indiana-based law firm with four offices in Indiana and one in Chicago, is moving its Hammond office to 7011 Indianapolis Blvd.

President Joe Biden nominated Judge Cristal Brisco and Judge Gretchen Lund to fill federal judicial vacancies. Both are Valparaiso University graduates.


Brian Burgess was hired as CFO, and Erica Jackson was hired as vice president of finance at Ports of Indiana.


Amy McClellan was promoted to executive vice president, chief customer officer at Byron Center-based SpartanNash.

Steve Raimondi and Adam Slusher are the new market presidents at Midwest-based Munch’s Supply. They will lead operations in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Stephen Ballenger was named the new vice president of operations at Hitachi Global Air Power US’s Michigan City facility. Hitachi acquired General Air Compressors North.

U.S. Steel received Mansfield Certification for advancing diversity.


Caroline Schrenker was named director of operations, and Samantha Bean was named director of marketing and communications for the Porter County Community Foundation.

Marion Collins was named executive director of the Gary-based Crisis Center.

NWI Community Action Agency received a $250,000 federal grant.

Michigan City-based Interfaith Community PADS changed its name to Nest Community Shelter.

Maceo Rainey is the new vice president of social innovation and strategic partnerships at the United Way of Northwest Indiana. Rainey most recently was a college access and opportunity administrator at Purdue University Northwest and president of Indiana TRIO.


Sinjin Smelley, a Chesterton BIGGBY employee, was awarded Barista of the Year. Customers made nominations.

Chipotle Mexican Grill opened its first location in Chesterton.

Blue Chip Casino opened a new restaurant, Lakeside Kitchen.

Vision Boutique is opening its seventh location in Munster.

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