Professional advancement • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Professional advancement

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


Michigan City-based CLH, CPAs & Consultants hired Ryan Womack to its administrative team. She is a student at Indiana Wesleyan University.


Steve Carlisle was named Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Wightman’s new president during a board meeting April 9. Tom McKercher will lead its Kalamazoo, Michigan, office. The consulting firm has offices in Plymouth, South Bend and Portage.

Midwest-based Shive-Hattery acquired Tacoma, Washington-based Helix Design Group.


Jana Ledbetter is a new mortgage loan originator at Horizon Bank’s Valparaiso – Lincolnway location. Cindy Kirkham was promoted to assistant vice president, community development operations officer. Ted Roknich was hired as an enterprise risk management manager.

First Financial Bank expanded into Chicago, opening its first headquarters there.

Merrillville-based Centier Bank opened a new banking center in Cedar Lake. Bryan Olund was promoted to vice president, small business banking. Dakita Jones was promoted to vice president of community relations. Lupita Nuñez was named small business banker for the bank’s downtown Valparaiso office. Peter Wilson was promoted to bank officer and small business portfolio manager. Michel Alvarez was promoted to bank officer and is the branch manager in Goshen. Stephanie Kuziela of Chesterton and Heather Hunter of Hebron won Billinero’s monthly $1,000 prize in February and March.

Benjamin Brown, Chris Chatfield and William Berdine are part of 1st Source Bank’s expansion into Northwest Indiana. Brown is located in Lake County in a new loan production office in Crown Point. Chatfield is based in La Porte County, and Berdine will focus on small business development throughout the Region.

Dwayne Powell Jr. was named community development manager and vice president for the Northern Indiana and Michigan regions of Old National Bank.

Jessica Denton joined Goshen-based Interra Credit Union as assistant vice president and manager of mortgage sales – originator.

Michiana native Eric Gerhold is Notre Dame Federal Credit Union’s new chief financial officer.

Commercial real estate

Chicago-based StorSafe acquired a Cedar Lake location.


Alisha Berglund, director of client services at Chicago-based Berglund Construction, was appointed to the board of directors of the Northwest Indiana Forum. Berglund has a location in Chesterton.

Anthony Lara was promoted to estimating manager at La Porte-based Larson-Danielson Construction.

Economic development

Trisan Gaston is the new special projects coordinator at the Economic Development Corp. Michigan City.

Morgan Bruns was hired as the marketing and events coordinator at the Portage-based Northwest Indiana Forum.

Marty Mechtenberg of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership landed a spot in the inaugural cohort of the Make Startups Executive Fellowship Program.

The Michigan City Chamber of Commerce selected Cara Jones its Ambassador of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2024. Jones is a small business banker for Centier Bank.

The Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce named Kim Olesker, former leader of the United Way Porter County, its new leader.

Valparaiso-based Regional Development Co. hired Emma Hutchinson as a social media intern. Hutchinson is a journalism major at Columbia College Chicago.


The Purdue University Northwest board of trustees announced five promotions for faculty members, effective Aug. 12. Those becoming professors include Ricardo Calix, computer information technology; Mohammed Errihani, English; and Meden Isaac-Lam, chemistry. Those becoming associate professors include Amanda Kratovil-Mailhiot, nursing; and Julia Rogers, nursing.

Indiana University Northwest Chancellor Ken Iwama was named the next Indiana University vice president for regional campuses and online education, effective July 1. Cali Topolski, who graduated from Indiana University in 2020, was named the next head volleyball coach at IU South Bend. She takes over from Alison Derdzinski, who left after last season.

Matthew Yee, senior at Valparaiso University, accepted a position with the U.S. Coast Guard Band.

Gifted Hands Academy opened in Hammond.

Paul Bohn, the Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, was named the inaugural director of the new Bioengineering & Life Sciences Initiative. Five faculty members were part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2023 class of fellows: Elizabeth Archie, professor in the department of biological sciences; Peter Burns, the Henry Massman Professor of Civil Engineering in the department of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences and director of Notre Dame’s Center for Sustainable Energy; Nitesh Chawla, the Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society; Patricia Culligan, the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of Engineering and professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences; and Nathan Swenson, professor in the department of biological sciences and the Gillen Director of Notre Dame’s Environmental Research Center.


University of Notre Dame freshman Arda Kurama is Startup South Bend – Elkhart’s new entrepreneurship empowerment intern for summer.

Health care

Justin Kats is the new chief financial officer for Franciscan Health Crown Point and Franciscan Health Michigan City. Dr. Ryan Misek is Franciscan Health Crown Point’s new vice president of medical affairs. Women’s health nurse practitioner Brittany LePard and family nurse practitioner Richard Zimmerman joined the Franciscan Physician Network at the Rensselaer Medical Center. Kathy Tebo, a family nurse practitioner, joined Franciscan Brook Health Center. Franciscan Physician Network welcomed surgeon Thomas Magill in La Porte.

Eric DeWald was named CEO of Health Foundation of La Porte following the announcement of Maria Fruth’s retirement. Erica Boyd, Jackie Dermody, Amanda Fowler, Stacey Garcelon, Abby Hinch, Bill Harmon, Steve Hobby, Harry Holtcamp, Julia Kanestrom, Erica Kanney, Emily Yiannias, Sally Riffer and Tammy Rosebaum graduated from the foundation’s Nonprofit Leadership Academy.

Valparaiso-based HealthLinc received funding from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration – Division of Mental Health and Addiction for a behavioral health residency program.

Interim CEO Simon Ratliff was named the new leader of Northwest Health’s La Porte and Starke County hospitals. Neurologist Asia Filatov joined the practice of Dr. Richard Strawsburg at Northwest Medical Group – Neurology in Valparaiso. Andrea Back is director of quality and patient experience champion, and Jenica Sutherland was named chief nursing officer at Northwest Health – La Porte and Northwest Health – Starke. Gena DeMuth is Northwest Health – Porter’s chief nursing officer. Justin Pendilla earned a Daisy Award for exceptional nursing at Northwest Health – La Porte.

Dr. Aaron Ruter, of Lakeshore Bone and Joint Institute based in Chesterton, participated in a panel discussion about surgical techniques for nerve surgery, repair and reconstruction at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons conference in February.

Vital View Technologies CEO Ray Fraser raised $5.5 million last year to seek FDA clearance in 2025 for a congestive heart failure monitoring platform.

HealthLinc celebrated the grand opening of its new Michigan City health center April 2.

NorthShore Health Centers will expand to four new communities this year, including Gary, which opened in March; Crown Point, which was scheduled to open May 1; and Michigan City and East Chicago on June 28.

UChicago Medicine celebrated a ribbon cutting at its new Crown Point facility April 25.

Information technology

Dennis Trinkle, Indianapolis-based TechPoint’s senior vice president of talent, strategy and partnerships, received the Internet 2.0 Conference Outstanding Leadership Award in March at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Members of Pulse Technology’s President’s Club earned a trip to Hawaii in February. Top-performing employees from Indiana who attended include Pat Allendorf, Joelle Christie, Greg Fox, Matt Jessen, Jen Kirka, Nancy Mathena, Sandy Weiand and Dan Zimmerman. President Chip Miceli and his wife, Terry, accompanied them. Kouren Stepp was hired as an IT engineer. Precious Bonner was hired as a business development executive in the company’s Merrillville headquarters.


Several Region professionals were named to Super Lawyers’ list of the top 50 lawyers in Indiana, including Robert Dignam, O’Neill McFadden & Willett, Schererville; Steven Langer, Langer & Langer, Valparaiso; and Barry Rooth, Theodoras & Rooth, Merrillville.


Ports of Indiana hired Doug Kowalski as general counsel and promoted Julie Petree to director of project delivery.

Kevin Beasley was promoted to division director at EQ United’s logistics division, which has three locations in Elkhart.


Corporate attorney Robert Lucas is Hammond Group Inc.’s next president and CEO. He replaces Terry Murphy, who will continue his role on the board of directors. Anir Chakraborty was named director of sales for Asia-Pacific region, and Ashley Tobin is the new North American sales manager.


Luc Zromkoski joined the team at Opportunity Enterprises as senior director of business operations; Kate Ramirez was named the new vocational education director; and Julie McKean was promoted to chief compliance officer.

Bruce Lindner, executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services, retired from the nonprofit after 17 years.

The Gary-based Urban League of Northwest Indiana received a $1 million grant from the Indiana Department of Education.

The Porter County Community Foundation appointed six new board members: Dean Cobble with GW Berkheimer; Jung Lee with Indiana Beverage; Lauren Kroeger with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans; John Montgomery with Blox Digital; Rachel Stoner with East Porter County School District; and Kari Zehner with Kittredge & Zehner CPA.


Island Fusion Caribbean restaurant opened in downtown South Bend.

Katie Rose Boutique opened a second location in Crown Point.

Ruff Luxury Inn at the Dunes opened in Chesterton.

Strack & Van Til stores in Porter County will start selling Do Goodies gourmet popcorn, a mission of Valparaiso-based Opportunity Enterprises.


Around the Clock Ambulance CEO Alex Dunlap III accepted an invitation to join the 2024 Chicago cohort of the Inner City Capital Connections program.

South Bend International Airport Vice President of Operations Patrick Mac Carthaigh was awarded the distinction of Accredited Airport Executive by the American Association of Airport Executives.


Christine Livingston was named president and CEO of Indiana Dunes Tourism after longtime executive director Lorelei Weimer left the organization.

Jason Taylor is the new superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Park in Porter.

Sarah Reed was named interim director of Purdue Northwest’s Gabis Arboretum after Stephanie Blackstock stepped down.

The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra renewed Music Director Carolyn Watson’s contract through the 2026-2027 season.


Vince Parisi was named president and chief operating officer of NIPSCO after a few weeks as interim leader. He replaces Mike Hooper, who left for an opportunity at another Midwest utility.

John McAvoy was appointed to NiSource’s board of directors after Aristides Candris stepped down.

Share your news! Email your company’s business news updates to for consideration in an upcoming Around the Region column.

Read more stories from the current issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.


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