GUEST COMMENTARY: Mastersons left positive impact on entire region

2013-05-21T00:00:00Z 2013-05-21T19:11:11Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Mastersons left positive impact on entire regionBy Mark Maassel nwitimes.com
May 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Into every person’s life will come an individual or two who truly make a difference. The same can be said for Northwest Indiana as a region.

Some individuals are born and raised here, work their entire career and create positive changes throughout that long process. We are truly blessed and cherish such individuals.

And then there are individuals who come into Northwest Indiana from other areas and create positive changes as well.

Today, I would like to reflect on two such individuals, Julie Masterson and her husband Bill, who recently resigned as publisher of The Times.

Julie and Bill were here just a little shy of seven years, a short time in some respects. They are now moving on to Oklahoma to face new challenges and to make positive impacts there.

But in the years we have been privileged to call them neighbors and friends, their passion, commitment, energy and leadership have left us all better than we were.

Julie dived into numerous efforts raising funds to support children who, through abuse or neglect, need to leave their homes at least temporarily. She was instrumental in celebrations of positive new changes in Gary and in issues around women’s health.

Bill, too, quickly became a key part of this region. He accepted a challenge to break down the artificial walls that separate us into so many camps – county lines or business, government, nonprofit, race, religion – and so on. The result was the One Region effort, which has now merged with the Quality of Life Council to promote a shared view of Northwest Indiana.

One Region has also embarked on an effort to assure that actions are taken to address specific issues in our region and to celebrate the great successes that have occurred.

Like Julie, Bill’s passion for children quickly showed. He became deeply engaged with the Boys and Girls Clubs, organizing a multi-year effort to replace the aging club facilities in Gary. The work at the former Tolleston School in Gary is well along. Still, Bill is not finished. Though enough funding has been raised to complete the basic construction, he knows more can be done to provide even better opportunities for the young people in Gary.

I was fortunate to be with him two days before he left Northwest Indiana for his new role. We had to cut our visit short because he had to get to another meeting to try and raise funds for the Club. And knowing Bill, I am sure he was successful.

And all of this was accomplished while also building up The Times and reaching new levels. Specialty magazines were developed. Online media services were created. Special events to bring people together were launched. Printing was expanded rather than eliminated by bringing in work for other organizations. (This stands in stark contrast to the current trend to eliminate printing capabilities within an organization.) And I have not even touched on all the innovations that were implemented. Truly, we can see why Bill was recognized as the Publisher of the Year worldwide in 2012.

But, let me circle back and highlight one of the online media services The Times created. Under Bill's guidance, The Times launched a series of community-based electronic "newspapers." These websites allow local citizens in a community to enter news that is important to them -- school news, sporting news, nonprofit events and so on. Yet another way to bring people together by helping them learn about all that goes on in their communities.

So, what is right with Northwest Indiana includes the great leaders we have in this region. In a short time, Julie and Bill Masterson have lived and used their time in ways that have made Northwest Indiana a stronger community, brought us together, addressed the needs we share and helped us to grow as people.

We are eternally thankful for all you have done Julie, Bill. Go with our best wishes (and a few tears) to meet the exciting opportunities that will be yours.

Mark Maassel is president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum. The opinions are the writer's.

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