VALPARAISO | Leadership Northwest Indiana celebrates their 33 Class. LNI's mission is to increase the awareness and understanding of issues pertinent to the betterment of Northwest Indiana among a diverse group of community leaders.
This year's class includes:
Niquelle Allen – Gary Corporation Counsel, City of Gary, has evolved academically, professionally and creatively over the last fifteen years. As an attorney, mediator, and entrepreneur. Prior to her municipal journey, Ms. Allen was Of Counsel at Fleming Stage, in house Counsel at Eli Lilly and Company and as an Associate at Ice Miller. In 2006, Ms. Allen was awarded the Up & Coming Lawyer Award by Indiana Lawyer publication. She attended Vanderbilt Univ. Law School and is a proud alumnus of Tennessee State Univ., magna cum laude B.S. in political science. Ms. Allen owns Butterfly Consignment, an upscale ladies’ boutique, in Indianapolis. Niquelle also has a passion for helping other female entrepreneurs and was featured in the book "Single. Women. Entrepreneurs." In 2011 she was selected as a finalist for the Indy's Best and Brightest Award.
Debbie Anselm - Valparaiso is the Porter County General Manager for The Times Media Company. Active in the community, Debbie serves on the boards of the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and Porter Starke Community Foundation. She was a founding member of Engaging Northwest Indiana Women in Business. Debbie currently serves as the President of the Iota Chapter of Kappa, Kappa, Kappa. Debbie also holds a BS in Public Affairs from Indiana University. She and her husband Scott have 3 children, Alissa, Zach and Emma.
Sara Ash - Merrillville is the Student Conduct Administrator at Purdue University Calumet. She holds a M.A. in Adult and Higher Education from the University of South Dakota as well as a B.A. in English with a writing minor from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Sara’s past positions include being a Residence Life Coordinator at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and a Hall Director at the University of South Dakota. Sara has served as the Indiana State Representative for the Association of Student Conduct Administrators in the past.
Deborah Bachmann – Hammond is the Assistant Director of Campus Life at Purdue University Calumet which oversees new student orientation, student activities, student organizations and co-curricular transcripts. She is active in Kappa Kappa Kappa – Gamma Nu Chapter and volunteers with several organizations within the Hammond area. She has earned a Certificate in Professional Supervision as well as her A.S. in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. She expects to earn her B.S. degree in the spring of 2014 from Purdue University Calumet. She is married and has two children.
Emily Banas – Munster is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at Indiana University Northwest. Emily manages local, regional, national, and international media relations and is spokesperson for the campus and the IU School of Medicine-Northwest. Prior to becoming a Hoosier, Emily worked in Chicago at Hill & Knowlton, an international full service public relations consultancy, creating and implementing national education and visibility campaigns for health, financial, not-for-profit, and retail clients. Emily graduated with honors from University of Missouri School of Journalism completing four communication internships, including one in London.
Allyson Baughman - Chesterton is the Director of Marketing for the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce. After earning a bachelor's degree in Folklore (with a minor in Ethnomusicology, no less!) from Indiana University, she tended the left side of her brain with an M.B.A. from Valparaiso University. During free time from her Chamber gig, Allyson is a moderately adventurous cook, freelance book editor, and, most importantly, devoted wife and mother.
Wade Breitzke – Valparaiso is the president of 27 Entertainment and We Create Media. His creativity and ongoing passion for production has landed his companies as leaders in both the video production (TV spots, short commercials, and motion graphic projects) and wedding industries (Film, DJ, Lighting). Wade was recently named Indiana's Young Entrepreneur of the Year as well as awarded the Golden Excellence in Media. He earned his degree from Purdue University North Central in 2009 and is married to a beautiful young lady named Cambria and has a daughter named Nicole Olivia.
Jesús Cervera - Crown Point holds an MBA from Purdue University along with a Bachelors of Accountancy. He is employed by 1st Source Bank as an Assistant Vice President with responsibilities in managing the Portage market which entails banking center staff, consumer and business clients while executing business development strategies in market growth and community presence. Jesús has over 14 years of banking experience. He volunteers time to local non-profits and has a passion for community initiatives. Jesús is married to Linda and they have a beautiful 2 year old daughter Abygail Reese.
Thomas Corey - Crown Point is the Assistant Superintendent of Lake Station Community Schools in Lake Station. Culver Community School Corporation previously employed Tom where he started as the High School Assistant Principal then later becoming the Middle School Principal. He earned his BA in Political Science in 1995, Teaching Certification in 1997, and MA in School Administration in 2003. Tom is currently working towards his PhD. in School Administration and his goal is to complete the degree by the spring of 2014.
Michael Davidson – Crown Point is a Vice President and Treasury Management Advisor for MB Financial Bank. A Northwest Indiana Native and graduate of Purdue University, he has more than 10 years in the banking industry and has found success in helping middle-market companies maximize cash flow and strengthen risk management processes. Mike is currently a board member for TradeWinds and serves on the Executive Board for St. Mary’s Home & School Association. He lives in Crown Point and is married with two daughters.
Meg DeMakas – Crown Point is President of Reflective Teaching and Family Folklore Foundation in Crown Point, as well as Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Northwest. She is active in the Marquette Park United Methodist Church, currently in charge of the ‘church family album and church home movie’ project. Formerly, she taught school in Hammond, Portage, and Gary. Meg has written and illustrated over ten books, which are available on Amazon.com and Kindle; also she appears pitching her newest books in her Living History persona as Gene Stratton Porter, Hoosier female author.
Nick Dernick - Chesterton is the Manager of Environmental Policy at NiSource. He is a former Environmental Engineer for United States Steel and Judicial Extern for the Honorable Robert Gettleman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Nick has earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Valparaiso University, an MBA from Indiana University Northwest, and a JD from The John Marshall Law School. He also currently sits on the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy Board.
David Dowling – St. John is the Chief of Police for the Schererville, Indiana Police Department. David has been with the Schererville Police Department for 28 years. David has over 13 years of Administrative experience serving in all command level positions. Currently David is serving his second tenure as Chief of Police in Schererville, previously serving from 2005 thru 2008 and reappointed Chief in January of 2012. David serves and has served on many Boards. Currently David serves on the Board of Directors for the Lake County HIDTA and the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. David and his wife Katy remain active in many community events.
Kevin Elkins - Hobart is the Community Relations Coordinator for Franciscan St. Margaret Health’s Behavior Health Department. Kevin has also served Lake County as a Juvenile Probation Officer and he currently is a member of several different committees with the Lake County Juvenile Probation Department. Kevin holds a M.P.A. and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Indiana University Northwest. Kevin is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Sarah Geinosky - Chesterton received her B.A. in Geography from the University of Chicago in 2012 and currently uses her skills with geographic information and map making as a GIS specialist at the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. Originally from Chicago, she relocated to the region and enjoys learning about NWI and its environment.
Cory Good - Valparaiso is a passionate and innovative leader who is the Vice President of Sales for ADP’s Government & Education leading a nationwide sales organization. Cory has held various leadership and sales roles at ADP, spending the last 12 years in Southern CA. Prior to ADP, Cory was SVP for Simmer Capital Mgmt in Phoenix, AZ. Cory graduated from Goshen College with a BA in Business Administration in 1991. Cory was active in church leadership at Friends Community Church in Brea, CA and now co-leads a Jr. High home group at Liberty Bible.
Kenneth Jania – Munster is the Director of Training for the Lake County Electricians Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC), Merrillville, formerly with Sargent Electric Company, East Chicago. He has a BS from Calumet College of St. Joseph in Organization Management. Ken is a member of the Northwest Society of Innovators, the NJATC National Education Committee, and was recognized by United States Department of Labor Director Hilda Solis as a trailblazer and innovator.
Kumara Jayasuriya – Richmond is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Purdue University North Central. Prior to coming to PNC, he was the Dean of Science at Indiana University East in Richmond. He received his PH.D. in mathematics from University of Wisconsin and M.S. in mathematics from Southern Illinois University. His goal is to become a Chancellor at a public university.
Eric Keith – Portage is a Community Development Specialist for SEH of Indiana. Eric holds a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University Northwest and a B.S. in General Studies from Indiana University Northwest. He is currently an assistant coach for the Portage High School Wrestling team and is the Head of Youth Development for Portage Wrestling Club.
Walter Lenckos – Valparaiso holds a Master’s of Science degree in Recreation Administration from Aurora University and a Bachelor of Arts in English Composition from DePauw University. Walter is the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for Porter County. He is a member of the Coastal Advisory Board for the IN Department of Natural Resources, Porter County Purdue Extension Board, Valparaiso Rotary Club, and Chair-Elect for the IN Park and Recreation Assoc. Northern District. Walter and his wife Stephanie enjoy spending time with and raising their twin two year old girls.
Amy Lopez-Taylor – Hobart is 2nd Vice President Banking Center Manager for Citizens Financial Bank in Merrillville. Amy has more than 12 years experience in the banking industry. During Amy’s banking career she has held several positions in retail banking as well as operations. Amy is currently a board member for Junior Achievement Northwest Indiana and a member of the Financial Stability Alliance. Amy is an avid sports fan and loves the Chicago White Sox. Amy enjoys spending time with her family and friends and bowling. Amy and her husband Dana currently reside in Hobart with their three beautiful children.
Karl Madsen – Munster is President of OpteonGroup, management and supply chain advisory serving diverse businesses. Karl has extensive experience in complex manufacturing, management, and consulting. He developed new products and guided them through the supply chain in small operations and multi-billion dollar operations. He created and implemented plans that increased stakeholder value, and turned around underperforming businesses. Karl has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, and a MBA, with distinction, from DePaul University. He is co-chairman of the Pro Bono Committee for the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the Turnaround Management Assoc.
Jacqueline Moffitt – Munster is the Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Center of Northwest Indiana, a 501c3 organization. The Women's Center serves Lake, Porter and Jasper counties and will soon be opening an office in Gary. Jackie was invited to the White House on behalf of The Women's Center to receive the President's Volunteer Freedom Award. The Women's Center has received the Gold Award and has also been recognized by Focus on the Family. Jackie serves on the Board of Directors. She is married to Mark who is a senior territory manager for NFIB. Jackie is the mother of 3 sons and the grandmother of one.
Kim Newhard – Valparaiso holds a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry from Indiana University. She is the Executive Assistant at Shirley Heinze Land Trust and is pursuing an M.B.A. at PNC. Kim has international work experience in three different countries and is second author on a paper published in the International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation from June 2011. She is interested in the economic development of Northwest Indiana.
Nicole Niemi - Valparaiso is the Director of Media Relations for VU. Previously she worked in Chicago as a public relations consultant and for AAA. Nicole started her career as an editor at West Group and The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor of journalism at Dominican University in River Forest. Nicole has a MS in journalism from the University of Illinois and her BA in communications and French from VU. She volunteers at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and DuPage County Literacy Program and looks forward to becoming an active volunteer in NWI.
Uzoma Oluka - Hammond is the Director of Student Life, Development and Leadership at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest. She attended Indiana University Bloomington where she earned both a Bachelor’s in Telecommunications and a Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Uzoma serves as the marketing committee chair for the Indiana Student Affairs Association Conference. As a student affairs professional, Uzoma is devoted to providing opportunities for students that foster their holistic development. She enjoys her career and is genuinely invested in the lives of students that she serves. Uzoma plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Higher Education Leadership at Indiana State University.
Rhonda Orange - Chesterton is the Branch Manager for FE Moran Fire Protection, Griffith and PT instructor at PNC. Being driven and goal oriented Rhonda has an Associates in Marketing, Bachelors in OLS and MBA all from PNC; as well as NICET certification in Fire Protection and a 2012 Influential Women of NWI nominee. Rhonda has served on the BOD for the LUPUS foundation and volunteers with the Children’s Ministries at Liberty Bible Church. She likes spending time with family and friends and taking motorcycle trips.
Nathan Press - Crown Point is the Social Media Community Manager at Family Express Corporation in Valparaiso. Prior to his work at Family Express, Nathan served in the same position at DirectBuy, Inc. in Merrillville. Nathan's intellectual curiosity led him to receive a B.A. in History and Latin from Valparaiso University and a M.B.A. through University of Phoenix. He serves on the board of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana and works closely with various local organizations in his position with Family Express. Nathan is driven to continue his growth personally and professionally.
Jennifer Randall – Valparaiso is self-employed at InDepth Designs, where she explores multiple mediums, from oil painting to wire sculpting and creative writing. Jennifer is currently passionate about jewelry design. She volunteers daily doing a live morning show for WITW 93.5 lpfm, Valparaiso’s Christian radio station. Jennifer has been involved in numerous community outreach projects such as 500 Turkeys, Feed the Need, Stop the Hush, Grain of Rice Project, and more. Ministry, community outreach and global missions are among her top priorities as she works to combine her creative soul, faith and artistic endeavors with her passion for people. Jennifer received training in the arts at I.A.D.T. Chicago.
Len Reynolds – Schererville is an Operator for Violia North America and a member and current President of Lake County Right to Life. Len is former Site Manager for Midwest Industrial Supply at US Steel and former Chairman of the Christian Coalition of Lake County and Board Member of Leadership Councils of America. Len has a B.S. in Business Management and an A.S. in Paralegal Studies from Southern College. He holds certificates in Leadership Principals and Practices from Purdue University. Len cares about people and is passionate about the need for children to have a loving atmosphere to learn and grow.
Nicholas Rivich – Cedar Lake is the operations manager for Pekron Consulting. He provides Environmental, Health & Safety consulting at their ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor location. In addition Nick manages Pekron’s other accounts which include, SunCoke Energy Indiana Harbor and ArcelorMittel Long Carbon. Nick has received his Associates degree in safety from Columbia Southern University. He expects to receive his B.S. in Safety by early 2014 and then he can sit for his Certified Safety Professional (CSP) exam shortly after. As a husband and father, Nick finds time to spend time with family, manage work, continue his education and enjoy life.
Jennifer Shoup – Rolling Prairie is a Vice President, Regional Sales Manager with Citizens Financial Bank. Jennifer has 25 years of banking experience. During Jennifer’s banking career she has held many positions in retail banking, each position change included increased leadership responsibilities and learning opportunities. Jennifer attended Indiana University, American Institute of Banking and is a graduate of Bank One’s Managerial Supervisory College. Jennifer has held various volunteer positions with community organizations in La Porte County. Jennifer has focused her volunteer activities on helping at her children’s schools.
Josetta Shropshire – Gary is President & CEO of Positive Promotions Ltd. TV…a federally certified 8(a) woman and minority owned small business. Her firm has provided production services to many national agencies including: the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army, the 100 Black Men of America and Tyler Perry Studios. Josetta was born and raised in NWI, and graduated from Michigan State University. At MSU she was a member of the Homecoming Court. After international travels and living many years in Georgia, Josetta relocated back to this area to lend her expertise and insight to help uplift the Gary community.
Adam Sworden – Crown Point is an attorney with Austgen Kuiper & Associates, P.C., and is admitted to practice law in IN and IL. Primary areas of practice are municipal/local government, business transaction, general litigation, and real estate. Adam graduated from Valparaiso Law School in 2011 and received his BS in Community and Regional Planning from Iowa State Univ. in 2005. Adam is an American Institute of Certified Planner with American Planning Assoc. Before beginning his legal career, he worked in residential, commercial and industrial development, along with public planning consulting work. He is a member of the IN and IL Bar, Lake County Bar, IN Chapter of the American Planning Assoc., IN Assoc. of Cities & Towns, and the National Eagle Scout Association.
Mary Thorne – Portage is the Executive Secretary at the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. She previously worked for several Fortune 100 companies in Chicago. Mary serves on the Board of the Porter County Master Gardener Association and the Ladies Auxiliary Portage VFW. She is an avid supporter of both veterans and active duty servicemen and women, organizing fundraisers and care package drives. She is an award-winning amateur nature photographer and is married with two grown sons.
Scott Thunder – Hobart is the Director of Development for Ancilla Systems. He is President of Thunder Media Associates, and provides voice work, radio-thon support and consulting to Christian radio stations nationwide. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Eastern Washington University in 1982. Scott is the former Director of Marketing Operations for Bible League International, and led several international trips for donor development campaigns. He is an award winning writer, having published several short stories. Scott is currently heard Sunday mornings on 90.1 FM WNBI in Chicago.
Kathryn Trout - Chesterton holds a B.S. In Hospitality and Food Management from Ball State University in 2011. Her intern experience at the Chicago Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile in Event Operations furthered her outside education in customer service and public relations which she utilizes everyday as property manager. She is currently employed at 1st American Management Co., Inc. and manages a mixed portfolio of 19 commercial and residential properties. She hopes to eventually get her CPM certification.
Kris Vos – Schererville is in his 19th year as Senior Pastor of Crossroads Church. He graduated from the College of the Ozarks with a degree in Psychology and he received his M.Div. at Calvin Theological Seminary. He started Crossroads with 15 people and currently has 700 people who attend each weekend. He is currently initiating a Parenting Church Cluster in Northwest Indiana with the goal of an urban church plant in the greater Gary, IN region.
Dana Yake – Valparaiso serves as the Director of Marketing and Development for the South Shore Leadership Center and is an Associate with KPM Group. Formerly from Wisconsin, she graduated from Valparaiso University with degrees in Communication Law and International Service. She has previously worked with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & NWI; Valparaiso University and Porter County Family Counseling Center in the fields of marketing, communications and event planning. Dana also serves as secretary for the Porter County Family Counseling Center Board of Directors. She looks forward to continuing to become more involved in her new home, the NWI community.