Two civic organizations devoted to improving life in Northwest Indiana announced Saturday they have merged.
The Quality of Life Council, founded 20 years ago by leaders of the region's institutions of higher learning, and the One Region: One Vision initiative, launched five years ago by The Times Media Co., have become One Region: One Vision for Northwest Indiana's Quality of Life.
J. Guadalupe Valtierra, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College, and Bill Masterson Jr., publisher of The Times, will serve as co-chairmen of the newly formed group.
"There are many great and necessary initiatives that have evolved from these two movements, and having the opportunity to join efforts is a bold statement to the growing ideal of regionalism that will continue to propel us forward," Valtierra said.
The action oriented group will continue 13 programs developed by the One Region initiative. These range from a regional healthcare council to a mayors' roundtable to revitalization of the region's urban core.
The quarterly discussion of issues impacting Northwest Indiana held by the Quality of Life Council will continue under the guidance of a program committee.
"As a board member of the Quality of Life Council and founder of the One Region: One Vision movement, I have had the opportunity to see how a combined effort could be a powerful force to move the region forward in a positive manner," Masterson said. "I am very excited about the collaborative effort and ready to get to work."
Leigh Morris, chairman of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, and a member of the organizing committee, said the goal of the new group is "to build alliances, set direction, press for action and forge inroads binding communities together to assure Northwest Indiana has a healthy environment, thriving economy and social equity to achieve an unequaled quality of life."
The organization will be governed by a 15-member executive committee. Those who served on boards of the former groups will also make up an advisory council.
Officers include Masterson, Valtierra, Barb Young, secretary; David Bochnowski, treasurer; Morris, research committee chairman and Kris Krouse, program committee chairman.
Other executive committee members are Mike Finissi, Mark Maassel, Danita Johnson Hughes, Lou Martinez, Mayor John Costas, Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson, Bill Joiner, Barbara Eason Watkins and Bill Nangle.
Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler presided over the nearly year long discussions leading to the merger.
Valtierra, speaking on behalf of the area's higher education leaders, summed up the resultant merger saying "This is an exciting time for northwest Indiana; our future holds bright promise and unbridled potential."