@530 on Main Podcast Guests
Our incredible podcast guests have contributed a lot of insight into digital and physical experiences. Learn more about the unique voices we have welcomed to the podcast studio.
Cultivating A World Of Learning
Dr. Brent Comer
Superintendent, Mitchell Community Schools
Dr. Brent Comer is a lifelong “Hoosier” with a professional career that spans over 26 years working in rural Indiana school districts. His teaching career began at Jennings County High School and has held school administration roles at both the elementary and secondary levels. He served as the Assistant Superintendent of Mitchell Community Schools, before becoming their current Superintendent for the past three years. As Superintendent of Mitchell Community Schools, Dr. Comer’s current role allows him to be a part of a team of leaders that is redefining educational opportunities for students.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Ball State University, a master’s degree in educational administration from Indiana University Southeast, and an Ed.S. and Ph.D. from Indiana State University in educational leadership. Dr. Comer currently serves on a variety of Lawrence and Scott County based boards as well as Indiana University’s School of Nursing Advisory Board. He is also the founder of GKG Consulting.
He is the proud husband of Pam and father of 19-year-old twins, Grant a freshman at Purdue University majoring in Ag Business, and Kenley a freshman at Ball State University majoring in Elementary Education, and 12-year-old Gabby.
The Art of Experience
Artistic Director, School of Ballet Indiana & Ballet Indiana
Kerri Lambert is the Artistic Director of the School of Ballet Indiana and Ballet Indiana. She received her M.F.A in Dance from the University of Oklahoma, where she performed with Oklahoma Festival Ballet and OU Opera Theatre, and was the recipient of awards for choreography and contributions to the arts. She performed soloist and principal roles with Gainesville Ballet, Bighouse Dance Theatre, Anton del Calizon’s Fusion Flamenco, and as a guest artist. She studied the art of dance pedagogy under the direction of Diane Callahan and Mary Margaret Holt, and attended the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Teacher Training Seminar 2012 and 2013. Kerri’s certifications include all three levels of Progressing Ballet Technique, Progressing Contemporary Technique, and Vinyasa Yoga. Kerri coaches classical works and has produced and choreographed evening-length story ballets and concerts of contemporary dance. Before relocating to Indiana with her husband and young son, Kerri was Director of the USC Dance Conservatory and Instructor in the USC Dance Program, where she taught ballet technique, dance history, and anatomy for dancers.
A Vault Of Experiences
President, First Bank
Nikki Roser is a 20+ year veteran at First Bank, is a CPA and earned her MBA from the University of Southern Indiana. She started in 2002 as the company’s Internal Auditor and has held management responsibilities in several areas. In March 2019, she was appointed the bank’s sixth (and first female) President and in 2022, she became President & CEO. As a Board Member of Ferrell Hospital and Pekin Insurance, plus member of the University of Southern Indiana Accounting Circle, Nikki enjoys putting her knowledge and experience to work in the community. She is most passionate about helping others grow to their fullest potential. Partnering with clients and watching their businesses thrive and prosper is her greatest joy.
Unsung Heroes with Jarvis Jointer
Owner and Founder of JQOL
Jarvis Jointer, PE, is the founder of JQOL, an engineering firm offering site & civil, structural, multimodal, and transportation engineering along with construction administration, survey, and sustainability services. An Indianapolis native and Purdue alumnus, Jarvis spent his career in various engineering and business development roles before starting JQOL – Quality of Life, in 2019. Jarvis is a member of several professional associations including the Purdue University Admissions Advisory Committee, Community Action of Greater Indianapolis (CAGI) Executive Board, Indiana Water Environmental Association (IWEA) Young Professionals Committee Chair, and the Carmel Local Improvement Bond Bank Board Vice Chair. Jarvis enjoys spending time with his twins and their new dog, watching Purdue sports, and discovering new ways to “Improve Quality of Life through Engineering.”
Nutrition For The Soul
CEO & President, Plank Nutrition Bar
Nicole Burk is the President, Founder and CEO of Plank Nutrition Bar. What started as a passion project quickly took on a life of its own the more Nicole found herself wanting to serve not just the community, but nationwide with great opportunities for nutrition products and health services that improve the lives of many.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations/Advertising with minors in Business Management and Television/Radio. Nicole is also a certified Nutrition and Health Coach and Life Coach. Her professional background is in senior leadership, leadership development, sales and marketing and engineering.
She enjoys spending her time giving back to the community as a CASA for Vanderburgh County and serving as a coach and division president at Newburgh Youth Soccer. Any chance she gets she is with her husband Addison Burk, kiddos Noah and Anderson or her fur babies Gus and Sullivan. They enjoy traveling anywhere and everywhere together, which they do often due to their children’s sports activities. When Nicole takes time for herself you will find her at Yoga 101, a concert, traveling, meditating, or reading a book. Her overall passion is watching people reach their full potential.
On the shoulders of giants with Jeremy Kubicek
Executive Chairman of GiANT, CEO, International Speaker, and Author
Jeremie Kubicek is a powerful communicator, serial entrepreneur and content builder. He creates content used by some of the largest companies around the globe found in the books he has authored: The 100X Leader, 5 Voices, 5 Gears and the National Bestseller, Making Your Leadership Come Alive.
Jeremie is the Executive Chairman of GiANT, a company that certifies coaches and consultants that serve companies and their employees. Jeremie has started over 20 companies while living in Oklahoma City, Moscow, Atlanta and London.
Jeremie began his career fresh out of college, by starting the Moscow Economic School and a marketing consulting business in Moscow, Russia with a group of colleagues. After moving back to the US, Jeremie began a successful role as VP, Marketing with a family company in distribution. After the company sold, Jeremie went to work for the venture capital firm that bought them helping assimilate the roll up of companies around the United States. During this time, Jeremie co-developed multiple e-commerce businesses as well.
After a near tragic accident, Jeremie’s philosophy on life and work was transformed to partner in the creation of GiANT. Over the past 16 years, Jeremie has created many divisions of GiANT and in 2007, he and a group of investors acquired the John Maxwell entities, where the Catalyst Conferences were developed into a National brand along with Leadercast out of the Atlanta based GiANT offices. During that period of time Jeremie helped to successfully launch many programs and book launches with thought leaders such as John Maxwell, Henry Cloud, Mark Sanborn and many others.
In 2013, Jeremie moved to London to partner with Steve Cockram on the expansion of GiANT Worldwide. Since then GiANT has been implementing a 21st Century people development system that truly works. Working with companies in over 14 countries, over 100 GiANT’s are known for their unique style of development and the visual tools and language that spread to over 90% of employee bases.
Coffee for the People
Founder, Joe Brewski Coffee
Nate is just another unemployable college dropout trying to build a plane before it hits the ground. He has four fantastic children and one exceptionally patient and long-suffering wife.
Nate and Kelly moved to Evansville in 2012 picking up children and pets along the way. He spent a number of years working in multifamily housing, then moved into construction project management. Nate told a friend in 2014 that he was going to put nitro coffee in cans. In 2015 Joe Brewski Coffee was born and he began bootlegging cold brew coffee to anyone brave enough to buy. In 2018 Joe got his first wholesale account (which he still maintains today). Joe opened his first location (next to Extend Group) in 2021.
A PHOTOGENIC EXPERIENCE WITH CHRIS BERNEKING
Owner, Chris Berneking Productions
Chris Berneking is the owner of Chris Berneking Productions, a photography and videography studio located in Evansville, Indiana. Chris has owned his own business for over 15 years and has worked in the photography industry since 1995. Chris is a 1995 graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography located in Santa Barbara, CA. After working in the San Francisco area, he moved back to his hometown of Evansville and started his own business. His work covers many aspects of photography and videography including commercial and corporate work, weddings, and portraiture.
Adversity Turns to Youth Racing Education
Executive Director, Off-road Motorsports Youth Foundation (OMYF)
Off-Road Motorsports Youth Foundation (OMYF) is a nonprofit organization and desert race team based in Evansville, IN. OMYF is led by cancer survivor and motorsports enthusiast, Preston Lewis, whose dream is to give youth affected by unfortunate life circumstances the opportunity to learn about and connect with the motorsports industry. Without existing connections to motorsports or deep pockets, most youth never get the opportunity to be involved with motorsports. OMYF is the bridge that connects them with these opportunities. Check out omy-foundation.org.
The Faith in Their Why
Owner, LawMan Tactical & LawMan Security
A deputy sheriff since 2005, Bryan Bishop has worked for the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office since 2001. He is a certified instructor with Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, a certified Taser instructor with Taser International, and lead Active Shooter instructor for the Vanderburgh Co. Sheriffs Department. Bryan also serves as a tactical response instructor to Residential and Commercial Property. Bishop is also assigned full-time to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force as a K9 handler. In 2010, Bryan received a Distinguished Service Medal – the Sheriff’s Office’s third-highest honor – for rescuing an off-duty Warrick County deputy sheriff from the icy Ohio River that January. A resident of Vanderburgh County since 1995, Bryan attended Harrison High School, the University of Southern Indiana, the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Top Dog Police Canine Academy and Indiana Law Enforcement Instructor School.
CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE
CHRISTIAN MOCEK, CFRE
President, Reitz Memorial High School
Christian Mocek is currently the President of Reitz Memorial High School where he is responsible for all facets of the school’s mission, including executing the mission and strategic agenda of the school, promoting the school’s Catholic identity, inviting and acknowledging support from donors and alumni, and maintaining the school’s financial health.
He is a highly creative, motivated, and results-driven development professional with experience in diverse leadership positions in small non-profits, higher education, and faith-based institutions. Passionate about relationships; a diverse skill set including public relations and event management; community-minded and mission-driven. He specializes in Team building & collaboration, volunteer management, event planning, communications and social media, fundraising, as well as public speaking.
The Homeless Experience
Executive Director, Aurora Evansville
Zachary Heronemus, MPA, was appointed Executive Director by the Board of Directors and joined Aurora, Inc. in January 2020. He leads the agency’s strategic direction, serves as the chief development officer, and supports its team of professionals who work to prevent and end homelessness in Evansville and the surrounding community. These efforts include Aurora’s valued rapid-rehousing, re-entry, permanent supportive housing, Housing First, diversion, and homeless street outreach programs.
Zac has spent his professional career in Evansville rooted in public service and has a passion for helping people. Through his experience working in development for United Way, in local government, in community outreach, and prior to Aurora, as Development Director for Tri-State Food Bank. Zac has a proven commitment to public service and is honored to lead Aurora in its mission to end and prevent homelessness. He possesses a strong ability to listen, cultivate relationships, focuses strategically in his work, and is very knowledgeable of our community and the tristate. Zac holds an undergraduate degree from USI in Political Science (’08) as well as a Master of Public Administration (’11) degree from USI.
Zac lives on the eastside of Evansville with his wife of almost 18 years, Megan. They have a 10-year-old son, Jackson, who will soon finish 4th grade at Harper Elementary and a 3-year-old daughter, Madelyn. He enjoys photography, golfing, traveling, camping and fishing with the family. Elected in 2019, Zac currently sits as City Council President of Evansville’s Common Council serving as 3rd Ward City Councilman.
Innovation and the Experiences of Change
- Always seeking opportunities to drive a culture of innovation in my community, region and state.
- Trained in science and medicine.
- Business experiences ranging from sole proprietor to public, traditional to technology, lifestyle to scalable.
- Three decades of volunteerism in support of a stronger community.
- Insatiable Lifelong Learner in search of life’s next lesson.
The Power of the Wish
Advancement Officer, Make a Wish (Ohio, Kentucky, & Indiana)
Maria is an Evansville native and a proud alumna of Memorial High School and Butler University. She has a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications with a focus on Public Relations. During her time at Butler, she realized her deep passion for non-profit work and especially missions that support youth. When she graduated from Butler, she started her first role at Memorial as their Director of Advancement, supporting them in all fundraising efforts along with alumni relations. After three years at Memorial, she moved to Indianapolis and joined the Make-A-Wish team as an Advancement Officer, where she is approaching her one-year work anniversary. In Maria’s free time she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.
Executive Director, Granted
Susan has been Executive Director of Granted since 2015 and has been in the nonprofit world since 1985. An Evansville native, she is married to Rob, who is affectionately known by Granted children as the Wish Dude. She has two grown children, three amazing grandsons, and two crazy boxers. She enjoys spending time with family, watching Chiefs football, and traveling – mostly to the ocean.
Her quote to live by is “Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”
Susan’s biggest goals are to give joy and hope to those she serves when there usually isn’t much to be found, and to build an organization to carry on serving our area’s sick children for generations to come.
VP Bowen Engineering, Granted Board Member
The Value of Relationships
Director of Business Development, AP Engineering & Consulting
Matt Hadley grew up in Greenwood, Indiana where he attended Center Grove Schools. He attended IUPUI prior to a career in Sales and Banking and Finance.
He enjoys vacations, reading, podcasts, bike rides with his kids, playing golf, and volunteering his time.
Matt’s community outreach and mission is to improve human welfare and build lasting relationships that make an impact. He believes that when others are intentionally invested in their communities it creates a positive influence on everyone. In Matt’s opinion: Success is measured by how he treats people and how others define his brand. Success to me is defined by the relationships I build and the impact and influence I make in the community by serving others.
More about Matt
He is a member of several Professional Organizations including Synergize Legacy Member, NAIOP, SMPS, Young Professionals of Central Indiana, Columbia Club Indianapolis, Emerging Leaders Steering Committee United Way of Central Indiana, Advisory Board Best Buddies Indiana and was recently accepted to Leadership United with United Way
What is your “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”? To share stories with 1 million people in my lifetime. Add value to every connection I make and leave every relationship better than I found it.
Matt has coined a phrase:
“Relationships are the most valuable asset we have” and you might find him out in the community serving others, building authentic relationships, and making an impact by connecting people through stories and the hashtag “SelfieswithMatt”. “Leaving a Legacy is more important than Leaving anything materialistic.”
Most impactful quote?
“People may not remember what you say, people may not remember what you do, but people will always remember how you make them feel” – Maya Angelou
Teamwork and Collaborations
Administrator, Vanderburgh County Health Department
Joe Gries has worked within county government for nearly 25 years. His career started in the Knight Township Assessor’s office. In 2005 Joe became the Chief Deputy Auditor supervising the county’s finances and payroll departments. Joe was elected Vanderburgh County Auditor in 2010 and 2014. In 2016 Joe joined the Vanderburgh County Health Department as the Administrator and has worked closely with our Health Officer, Board of Health, and staff to continue to improve the public health services provided to our community. Since working for the health department Joe has helped the department to become accredited by the National Public Health Accreditation Board. He has help to increase funding for local public health programs, and worked with numerous local organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community of Caring
Executive Director, United Caring Services
Jason Emmerson has been the Executive Director of United Caring Services since October 2015. He is a graduate of F.J. Reitz High School, Indiana University Kelley School of Business with a B.S. in Marketing, Eden Theological Seminary with a Master’s in Divinity, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a Master’s in Public Policy Administration and a Nonprofit Management and Leadership Certificate. He has earned additional certificates in Executive Nonprofit Leadership from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU and Fund Raising Leadership from the IUPUI Fund Raising School.
Jason has twenty years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience. He is very active in the community working with the Commission on Homelessness, Evansville Mental Health Commission, and the Evansville Promise Zone. He serves as a board member with the Council of Health and Human Services Ministry (CHHSM), ECHO Community Healthcare, and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Evansville. Jason also volunteers with the Evansville Trails Coalition, Junior Achievement, Habitat, and SMILE. He is a member at Bethlehem UCC, a proud uncle, enjoys running, and has a 10-year-old cat named Claire.
Supporting Local Sports Programs
President, Tri-State Hot Stove League
- President of the Tri-State Hot Stove League/Chairman of the Night of Memories
- Senior Fair and Responsible Banking Advisor, Old National Bank
- Board Member and Scholarship Chair for the Kyle L. Parker Memorial Scholarship
- 2003 Graduate of the University of Southern Indiana
- Married with two children, both heavily involved in soccer
Supporting Local Youth Sports Programs
Baseball Head Coach, University of Southern Indiana
Tracy Archuleta has led the Screaming Eagles to two NCAA Division II national championships in his 15 years at the helm. He also has been recognized as the Division II ABCA National Coach of the Year twice (2010, 2014); th ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year five times (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018) and the GLVC Coach of the Year twice (2011, 2014) since taking over the program in 2007. He also is the winningest coach in the history of the program with 506 victories in 15 years.
The Music Experience in Evansville
Editor, The Notes Will Carry Me Home
Joshua Britton is the author of Tadpoles, a collection of twelve short stories, and editor of The Notes Will Carry Me Home, an anthology of writings on music, and has published fiction and non-fiction in numerous journals including Tethered by Letters, The Bombay Review, Cobalt Review, The Journal of the International Trombone Association, and The Tarantino Chronicles (see full list at www.joshua-britton.com). As a tenor and bass trombonist, Joshua has performed with many ensembles including Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Kentucky Bowling Green, Louisville Orchestra, Shepard Brass, River Brass, Tidewater Winds, Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, and Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. In 2019, at the North American Brass Band Association in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Joshua won first place in the Technical Solo Division. Joshua earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Roberts Wesleyan College and a Master’s in Trombone performance from Florida State University. A father of two, Joshua is a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, spaghetti westerns, novelist Philip Roth, and red-headed horn players.
The Music Experience in Evansville
Founder, Bird Brain Publishing
John William McMullen is a writer, philosophy professor, historian, theologian, and clinical chaplain. He loves literature, cinema, music, and the arts. His love for music began early in his life and his interests are as varies as Bach, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky to Bruckner, Messiaen, and Glass. He is the author of several books, including The Last Blackrobe of Indiana and the Potawatomi Trail of Death; Poor Souls; Eugene & the Haunted Train Bridge; and The Miracle of Stalag 8A – Beauty Beyond the Horror: Olivier Messiaen and the Quartet for the End of Time. McMullen resides in Evansville, Indiana, with his wife Mary Grace Bernardin McMullen.
The Music Experience in Evansville
John Michael O’Leary
Contributor, The Notes Will Take Me Home
John Michael O’Leary is a writer, musician, and storyteller in Evansville, Indiana. He is a graduate of Harrison High School and U of E; he is a 30-plus-years member of Toastmasters International and Past president of the Catholic Education Foundation. He is currently involved with Veterans For Peace and is a network member with CAJE (Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment). John Michael is married to Sharon and they have three daughters. His essay “Choir Boy at Large” is published in “The Notes Will Carry Me Home,” an anthology of writings on music published by Bird Brain Publishing and edited by Joshua Britton.
The Wesselman Woods Experience
Robin Johnston Deem
Executive Director, Wesselman Woods
Robin Johnston-Deem is a lifelong area resident who has a passion for the full spectrum of health & wellness. She graduated from the Evansville Day School & the University of Southern Indiana. Previous jobs include real estate management (Valley Management); Health & Wellness Director (ECHO Community Healthcare); Director of Marketing & Advertising (ECHO Community Healthcare). Robin has 3 grown children and became a grandmother earlier this month! She serves on various community boards and committees. In her spare time, she loves to travel, explore the great outdoors, engage in physical activity (hike, bike, kayak, camp, cook, practice yoga, garden, SCUBA dive, read, play tennis, etc), and spend time with cherished friends & family.
The Necessity of Human Connection
Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Indiana
My passion for leading a youth-serving organization stems from my experience obtaining my elementary education degree. I could see the stark contrast between children who had safe nurturing relationships and those who didn’t. Helping connect adults with the children who could beneﬁt the most and seeing the positive outcomes of those relationships inspires and motivates me.
Outside of my professional role, I am passionate about my faith, my family, and sports. Being a Cowboys fan and a weekend golfer keeps me humble.
The Evolving Higher Education Experience
24th President, University of Evansville
Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz began his service at UE in July of 2018. A tax attorney, Pietruszkiewicz worked as a trial lawyer in the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and as an attorney/advisor for the United States Department of Education. In 2000, he entered the world of higher education as an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law and in 2001, joined the law faculty at the LSU Law Center in Baton Rouge, later serving as vice chancellor for business and financial affairs at LSU. Beginning in 2012, Pietruszkiewicz served for six years as Dean of the Stetson University College of Law in Tampa Bay, Florida.
More about Christopher
Under Pietruszkiewicz’s leadership, UE has undertaken and completed a strategic planning process that drew from the experience and perspectives of individuals from across the entire campus. This process has resulted in a five-year strategic plan that will guide the institution toward an ultimate goal of Admission 3000: having an enrollment of 3,000 undergraduate students. Additionally, the University has launched an entirely new branding platform, complete with new logos and updated mascot, as well as sharing the stories of students who make dramatic impact on our communities.
Pietruszkiewicz has been closely involved with development efforts ahead of the launch of a comprehensive campaign that will seek to raise funds to support the Admission 3000 goal, as well as several other key initiatives. The first of these was the roll-out of a new state-of-the-art Wellness and Recreation Center on the corner of Weinbach and Walnut to replace the University’s current Student Fitness Center.
Pietruszkiewicz has become involved in his new community of Evansville, Indiana. He is a member of several community boards, including the Economic Development Coalition of Southwestern Indiana, and Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Pietruszkiewicz is also a proud participant in the American Heart Association’s Leaders with Heart initiative – look for a “Leaders with Heart” caricature of Prez P – as he is affectionately known on campus – in the Evansville community.
Pietruszkiewicz has been involved in the educational conversation at the state and national level, and represents the University of Evansville as an active member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and University (NAICU), Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI), and National Association of Schools and & Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC). He is also a member of the Missouri Valley Conference Presidents Council.
Pietruszkiewicz earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Scranton, his Juris Doctor from Loyola University School of Law, and his Master of Laws (Tax) from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.
He is married to Siobhan Pietruszkiewicz, a graduate of Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Spanish. She is a licensed clinical social worker with a master’s degree in social work from the Virginia Commonwealth University. Her experience in social work has focused on workforce development and the child welfare system, working both in clinical settings and as a researcher, grant writer, program evaluator, and instructor, focusing on at-risk children and their families. They have two sons, Ryan (13) and John (9), who attend Good Shephard Catholic School in Evansville.
Serving the Community
Program and Community Engagement Officer, Welborn Baptist Foundation
Andrea is Program and Community Engagement Officer for the Welborn Baptist Foundation which serves fourteen counties in the Tri-State region to cultivate communities that flourish. She oversees the Foundation’s Healthy Eating & Active Living Community Impact area focused on supporting policy, systems, and environmental changes. In 2013, Andrea was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for her leadership with the CDC Community Transformation Grant awarded to Southwest Indiana. She is a proud member of the Healthy Communities Partnership, the Evansville Trails Coalition’s Board of Directors, and the WNIN Community Advisory Board. Andrea also serves as adjunct faculty with the University of Southern Indiana’s College of Nursing and Health Professions. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2008, Andrea held the role of Director of Public Health for Prevent Blindness America. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her master’s degree in public health from Indiana University. Andrea lives in Evansville with her husband Andrew and their three children where she enjoys serving as “Coach Dre” for her daughters’ soccer teams.
The Necessity of Sharing Experiences
Chairman at Mayor’s Latino Advisory Board
Abraham is passionate about Community Integration. From the moment he moved to the Tri-State area, Abraham has worked to help the local Latino community and bring mutual respect and understanding. He is also the Director of Latino Ministry at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, the Founder at Latino and American Center, Editor-in-chief of El Infomador Latino, and the Owner at La Campirana.
Learning From Challenging Times
Chancellor, Ivy Tech Community College Evansville Campus
Daniela Vidal began her tenure as Chancellor of the Ivy Tech Community College Evansville Campus on March 16, 2020. She came to Ivy Tech from the position of vice president of operations at Vidal Plastics.
Prior to her work at Vidal Plastics, Daniela served for more than 10 years in a variety of roles at the University of Southern Indiana. Her last role was as director of Opportunity Development, which housed the Center for Applied Research, Eagle Innovations Accelerator and Tech Commercialization, Resource Development, USI @ Innovation Pointe and the I-69 Innovation Corridor initiative.
More about Daniela
Previously, she was coordinator of the Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Supervision degree programs and Engineering instructor, at USI. Vidal has also served as a consultant and trainer in the fields of operational excellence, new product introduction and leadership.
She has also served in a variety of roles at Procter & Gamble Latin America, Mead Johnson, GE Plastics and Berry Plastics. She holds a chemical engineering degree from Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela, and a Master of Business Administration from USI.
Vidal is active in the community serving on several boards including the YMCA of Southwest Indiana, Reitz Memorial High School, The International Center, Talent 2025 Education track Advisory Board, the Southwest Indiana Chamber and the Regional Economic Development coalition. Most notably, she is a founding member and past president of HOLA. She has been involved in advocacy for the Latino community since 2001 and has taken that passion to both the local and state level.
She has been recognized for her leadership and community involvement through such honors as being named an JLA’s Top 20 Women in Business, Athena Award finalist, Leadership Evansville award, Top Five Most Influential Women in Evansville, Sydney Berger Community Award, and YWCA 100 Years 100 Women.
In addition to cultural awareness and advancing the Latino community, Vidal is also very passionate about economic and workforce development in our region. A few of the projects Vidal has been involved in include:
- Growth Alliance Innovation & Entrepreneurship Committee Chair
- Rural Indiana Technology Commercialization Initiative (RITCI)
- Led region in application for Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership initiative
- I-69 Innovation Corridor leadership team and steering committee; this included the Brainpower and Innovation & Entrepreneurship task forces.
“I am committed to fully leveraging my experience, cultural background and passion to make Ivy Tech a beacon of hope for our community.” – Daniela Vidal
Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Evansville
A Chicago native, Ron Ryan moved to the area 21 years ago. With a vivid background in education and coaching, Ron has a true passion for our community’s youth. Combined, Ron has over 35 years’ experience in coaching, coordinating, directing and managing students and various personnel. His education includes University of Illinois at Chicago (Bachelor of Science in Kinesoliogy), Chicago State University (Master of Science in Physical Education), St. Xavier University and Governor’s State University where he received his Masters of Arts in Educational Administration.
Ron is very active in the community having served on the United Way Planning Committee, served as United Way Agency Directors Chair, is a member on the Evansville Sports Corporation Board and serves on the Board of the Indiana Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Southern. Ron is also a former two-year United Way Board Member, a 2013 recipient of the Indiana Outstanding Club Professional Award designated by the Boys & Girls Club of America and the 2018 Boys & Girls Clubs of America Midwest Region Horizon Award winner.
Connectivity & Community Experiences
Lorie Ann Van Hook
Executive Director, Evansville Trails Coalition
Lorie serves as the Executive Director for the Evansville Trails Coalition (ETC) in Evansville, Indiana and describes herself first as an advocate and life-long volunteer. Her passion for our community is communicated through her personal and professional advocacy work. Through partnership and collaboration, Lorie promotes ETC’s mission to connect people and places, to promote active lifestyles and to advocate for the development of multi-use trails. She does this by serving to bridge the gap between community members and our municipal offices and through the positive initiatives that bring focus to the importance of a connected trails network system in and throughout our city.
More about Lorie
As an only child born in Evansville, Lorie had the opportunity to live in many places such as Massachusetts, Florida, Virginia, New York and Puerto Rico, where she spent much of her time in the summer with her mother, hiking and volunteering to pick up litter within parks. This experience gave Lorie the opportunity to learn about other community cultures and exposed her to wonderful city infrastructure amenities. Lorie returned to Evansville as a young woman and met her husband James and raised her three children here. Lorie is a proud University of Evansville, Double-Ace, with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and a Master of Science in Public Service Administration.
Lorie’s background in higher education administration provided many opportunities to build relationships with students that shared their desire to see alternative methods of moving around developed in Evansville. This fortified her personal passion to improve Evansville and to get involved at the local level, leading to a volunteer position serving as the Co-Chair of the Environmental, Conservation and Trails Committee with the Westside Improvement Association.
Seeking to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Evansville area, Lorie’s goal is to grow the coalition of trailblazers in Evansville and to help build awareness and support of the Evansville area trails network system. This includes our bicycle and pedestrian routes for the benefit of our young, old, and community members with disabilities. Providing a means for active transportation for all community members is vital to our overall quality of life and improves our health, and overall wellness. Trails can support the people who live in our neighborhoods, have a positive impact on economic growth, and impact how we use our greenspace as an alternative transportation option—improving our sense of community culture within the region.
Lorie loves hiking, biking, and kayaking and spending time with her family. She has dedicated much of her personal time serving local, state and national nonprofit improvement and trails organizations, such as the Westside Improvement Association, The Friends of Woodmere Dog Park, Urban Seeds, The Greenways Foundation of Indiana, and The American Discovery Trail. Volunteering has been a part of Lorie’s life since childhood and she encourages others to find a way to make a difference in their communities through volunteering.
Building Positive Community Experiences
Development Director, Evansville Zoological Society and Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden
Jennifer Evans is currently the Development Director for the Evansville Zoological Society and Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. Evans has over 22 years leading community-based projects for non-profits, city, state and federal programs. Prior to the zoo, she worked as the Alumni and Community Engagement Director for Leadership Evansville. Her career and civic involvement has produced a path of public service, community engagement, and activating initiatives, groups and individuals toward improving the quality of life in the Evansville, Indiana region. Recent results of Evans’ collaborative work includes the:
- Kinney Family Penguins of Patagonia…opening this summer!
- Mickey’s Kingdom Evansville Riverfront Playground
- Evansville Promise Zone Planning Team – Working to organize, plan and submit the federal application to HUD
- North Main Street Mural
- Jacobsville Neighborhood Quality of Life Plan and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program
- Evansville Streets Alive!
- North Main Complete Street Project
- Young Leaders United Benefit Dodgeball Battle
The Youth First Experience
Joyful Fundraiser, Youth First, Inc.
Julie is an accomplished marketing and communications strategist who leads a growth-oriented development team at Youth First, an Indiana-based nonprofit committed to strengthening kids and families with mental health supports and coping skills.
- Lives in Evansville, IN; born in Houston, TX. Stops along the way have included CA, PA, KS & OH
- Happily married to Mike since 2017, raising their beautifully blended brood: Mitchell (19), Baylee (10), Bennett (8) & Brenna (3)
- Volunteers with Evansville Area Fundraising Council, Tri-State Texas A&M Club, Corpus Christi Booster Club
- Named 20 Under 40 Leader, Rotary Club of Evansville, 2020
- Graduated Cum Laude from Texas A&M University, BBA in Marketing, 2005
- Her life motto is “choose joy”; in her spare time she’s a runner, traveler, college hockey fan & joy enthusiast
- Career experience includes Anchor, FLANDERS, SWIN Chamber, and Ford Motor Co.
Improving Our Communities
Lynn Miller Pease
Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Everyone
Lynn has a passion for diversity, servant leadership, and the collaborative process. As Chief Executive Officer of Leadership Everyone, Inc., she develops servant leaders to transform communities with the support of her board of directors, staff, alumni, and volunteers. Lynn has more than 22 years of experience in facilitation, leadership development, civic engagement, and visioning for strategic action.
More about Lynn
Lynn’s ability to attract diverse stakeholders to this process—giving all people a voice—has led to more creative, sustainable solutions for community transformation.
For example, Lynn led Leadership Everyone, in partnership with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, in the design and implementation of the Evansville VOICE community visioning process. The data gathered and visions captured from VOICE have been, and continue to be, used to plan long-term goals and direction for the entire Tri-state area. This has ensured that our citizens’ hopes and dreams for the community have real impact into the future. In 2019, VOICE expanded into a five-county area, using the process to create a shared vision for the entire region and leverage new and pooled resources to grow regional assets, employment, and development.
As the 2010 recipient of the Sydney and Sadelle Berger Community Service Award, Lynn was recognized as “a tireless community advocate who promotes fairness, inclusion and respect for all.” Lynn was also honored as the recipient of the 2011 ATHENA Award and named one of the Evansville YWCA’s “100 Women in 100 Years.”
In 2015, Lynn was recognized for her innovative community impact by both the Indiana Leadership Association and the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. Most recently, her community visioning efforts received the National Excellence in Innovation Award from the Association of Leadership Programs, (2017).
Owner, Matt Wagner Design
Matt Wagner is a designer and letterpress printer who has worked in the industry since 1995. He began my career at Krieger Ragsdale and Co, Inc. in the pre-press department and went on to co-found Semisans, Inc (a design firm) and Dyspepsidisc (a record label) with longtime friend and collaborator Aaron Tanner (Melodic Virtue). He is now operating Matt Wagner Design, a multi-disciplinary design studio where he continues to design for local and international companies and not-for-profit institutions. Matt has won numerous ADDY awards and had his work featured in many international design magazines, books, and traveling exhibitions. He is very active in the Evansville community where he serves on many committees. Matt serves as Vice President of the Evansville Design Group, is on the Ivy Tech Community College Visual Communications Advisory Committee, the Henderson County High School Career & Technical Education Advisory Committee, and mentors students whenever he can.
The Importance of Change and Strong Foundations
Process Improvement Manager, MetroNet
Jean Reising is a current resident of Mount Vernon where she lives with her husband, Brian, and step-son, Christopher. She graduated from New Harmony High and decided to stay in the area after graduation. Jean currently works in Evansville as a Process Improvement Manager for a high-speed internet company, MetroNet. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Evansville. She enjoys process improvement and project management, is currently a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, and will be completing her Black Belt certification by the end of May. Jean is also pursuing a PMP certification (Project Management Professional) and hopes to have that completed by December 2020.
In addition, Jean volunteers for Carver Community Organization where she serves on the Board of Directors. She is a current member of Leadership Everyone where she also serves on the Board of Directors. Jean is a member of Altrusa International. In addition, Jean has been leading a project to construct a garden in the front lawn of the CK Newsome Center for several years.
The Evolution of Air Travel Experience
Executive Director, Evansville Regional Airport
Nate Hahn, a proud graduate of Purdue University’s top-rated national aviation program and a native of Indiana, serves as the executive director at Evansville Regional Airport.
Nate started his aviation career in Midland, Texas in 2005, prior to joining Evansville Regional Airport as director of operations and maintenance in 2011. During Nate’s tenure as EVV’s ops director, he was recognized for his leadership in the airport’s runway relocation project, which was completed safely, under budget and one-year ahead of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) deadline. Nate was a driving force in EVV’s terminal modernization project that concluded in December 2018. And, effective January 1, 2019, Nate assumed his current role as EVV’s executive director.
More about Nate
Passionate about community and regional economic development, Nate currently serves on the Growth Alliance of Greater Evansville Board of Directors and is an active board member at the Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce, where he serves on various committees and was named “Young Professional of the Year” in 2018.
Nate has further served the region through his executive board leadership at TEDxEvansville and the Purdue Alumni Club of Evansville, as well as through his involvement in Leadership Evansville’s “VOICE” and as the Young Professionals’ conference chairperson.
Nate is a board member of Aviation Indiana. He also serves as Indiana’s state representative for the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), where he holds a certified member accreditation.
Aside from work and serving his community, Nate attends Methodist Temple in Evansville, where he serves on the church council. He loves staying active – golf, hiking, biking, running and disc golf keep him outside during good weather. He is also an avid traveler and explorer of art and history. Nate resides in Evansville with his wife Sara, and their beloved dog Peyton.
Nate looks forward to continued regional partnerships that benefit not only the region’s largest commercial airport – EVV, but also the greater good of the entire tristate area.
Innovations in Technology
Director Business Development, Quarion Technology
Richard is an experienced business professional with over fifteen years in the corporate and commercial finance sector. He currently works for Quarion Technology where he leads sales and marketing efforts with fortune 500 prospects.
Richard is happily married to Amy Clements and has two children. He is a fifth-generation resident of Vanderburgh County, a chronic volunteer, history nerd, and outdoors enthusiast.
The Human Element and Technology
Founder, The Mike Thissen Group
Michael Thissen is the founder of the The Mike Thissen Group; a consulting firm focused on Talent, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. Michael is an expert facilitator in collaboration to maximize potential in project development and implementation.
Michael brings 22+ years of experience in the private, public, and academic sectors and has developed a unique perspective/expertise with organizations such as the University of Southern Indiana (USI), Purdue University, The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), The State of Iowa’s Great Places Initiative, & Marriott International.
More about Mike
Michael has been an award-winning collaborator on teams to tackle large-scale ecosystems and has failed forward. Michael is certified as a public innovator by the Harwood Public Innovation Institute and has been a facilitator with entities such as The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship, USI’s Center for Applied Research and Economic Development, and Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab. Michael’s work also has led to projects and advocacy in economic development, downtown revitalization, and historic preservation.
Michael has served on various boards of directors and trustees and has served as a commissioner on the Indiana Commission on Thriving Communities Thriving State led by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute. He lives in Vanderburgh County with his family and various domestic pets.
Executive Director/Founder, Keep Rolling Campaign
DeAndre Wilson is a Serial Entrepreneur, Culinary Curator, Small Business Owner, and Brand Builder. He strives to share new and exciting content from his brand and businesses that is relatable, engaging, and encouraging for young and future entrepreneurs. DeAndre lives by example to be a change agent by developing more inclusive, and accessible channels for entrepreneurs to get necessary resources, mentoring, and support for long-term success in his community.
More about DeAndre
Along with Chef Jeff, DeAndre is the co-founder and co-owner of Turn Table, LLC, a culinary experience company in Evansville, Indiana, that is regionally recognized for remixing and remastering recipes to create visually enticing cuisine with a distinctive flavor. DeAndre also created a fundraising platform, the Keep Rolling Campaign, to commemorate his father’s life and to help nonprofits and families battling cancer who are indeed of extra financial assistance. Currently, DeAndre is working on a documentary to tell his father’s story and the story of his own health transformation from rolling the 230-pound tracker tire around the City of Evansville. Since launching the Keep Rolling Campaign, DeAndre has transformed mentally and physically, losing over 50 pounds, setting an example as a pillar of health and as a personal fitness trainer at ChamFit. With Merrick Korach, DeAndre’s most recent endeavor and community collaboration is the Bedford Collab Project in the Tepe Park Neighborhood that will work to gather members of the community through culture, cuisine, and conversation.
Experience is a Feeling
Lead Event Coordinator, City Social Events
Leslie Eades owns and operates City Social Events, a craft and heart-driven company that creates and logistically executes event experiences in the community. Leslie is a born and raised Evansvillian who attended the University of Southern Indiana for her undergrad, the University of Evansville for graduate work and started City Social in 2016. Through her personal and professional life, she strives to influence those around her to create an environment where we can love ourselves and utilize our strengths to better the world around us, together. She is a creative dreamer at heart who seeks out challenges as opportunities and while she’s not at the office or an event, you can find her rock climbing, running, obstacle course racing, bear crawling, and in general training for “life”.
What it means to be a Servant Leader
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Shoe Carnival, Inc. (Ret.)
Sean M. Georges, J.D., LL.M., served as In-House Counsel, Secretary to the Board of Directors, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Shoe Carnival, Inc., a publicly-traded national retailer with over 390 stores in 35 states and Puerto Rico, headquartered in Evansville, Indiana.
In 1983, Sean graduated with Distinction (English Honors) from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, where he served as the Vice-Chair of the Brigade Honor Committee. Sean accepted a Commission as a Marine Corps Officer, and while on Active Duty with the Marines, was one of ten Marine Officers selected to attend Law School under the Funded Law Education Program. He earned his Juris Doctorate degree in 1989 from the University of Illinois College of Law, and in 1993 earned a Master of Laws degree from The Judge Advocate General’s School of the Army at the University of Virginia.
More about Sean
During his 13 years on Active Duty as a Marine Corps Officer, Sean served in numerous positions of responsibility with units from North Carolina to Okinawa. As a Marine Judge Advocate, he served as Senior Trial Counsel and Senior Defense Counsel, Special Assistant United States Attorney, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, and as Senior Judge Advocate for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) in the Western Pacific.
Prior to joining Shoe Carnival in 1999, Sean worked as a senior litigation associate at law firms in Evansville, Indiana, with a focus on business, employment, and labor law. He is admitted to practice in courts in Indiana, Illinois, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Sean is a frequent speaker on leadership, employment law, and human resources issues, and serves on non-profit boards in the local community. He is now completing a book on servant leadership and the leadership development journey with his co-author, Dr. John Buford, Ph.D.
Improving the Downtown Evansville Experience
President, Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District (EID)
Josh Armstrong is the President of the Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District (EID). The EID is the largest such business improvement district in Indiana, containing 454 parcels in 110 city blocks. The EID contains three of Evansville’s five largest private employers; annual EID assessments range from $.42 to $63,000.
He also founded and serves as a consultant to the newly-formed Downtown Evansville Community Development Corporation (CDC). The CDC was formed to accelerate real estate development in the Downtown area through acquisition, financing, managing, or other activities of distressed or troubled properties.
More about Josh
Prior to the EID & CDC, Armstrong directed the Southwest Indiana Chamber’s Downtown Alliance, providing business and developer support, creating events, and managing the 2016 Downtown Evansville Master Plan Update Process. Previously, he owned two restaurants in Evansville after having served as a general manager of several Cheesecake Factory restaurants in Los Angeles. He feels his work is guided by a belief that people live their best lives in urban areas allowing a high degree of daily interaction with their fellows, and that his role is to serve the broader region’s growth through precise efforts in Downtown and other urban neighborhoods.
The Downtown Evansville resident is a native of Pasadena, California, and a graduate of UCLA. He has lived in Evansville since 2005. He currently serves as Chair of the Arts Council of Southwest Indiana.
MBA, CPCC, ACC
Born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Amelia received her undergraduate degree from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. From there, she began her career in Louisville, Kentucky where she founded, Socialite Media LLC, a digital marketing firm with a Southern flare—polite and tenacious. During this time, Amelia received her MBA from Bellarmine University.
A week after marrying her husband, Phillip, the couple decided to move to Evansville, Indiana so that Phillip could pursue the career opportunity of a lifetime. It was during this bumpy life transition that Amelia began working with a life coach to reignite her career passion.
More about Amelia
The world of coaching not only perfectly aligned with Amelia’s strengths and values, but it also offered her a more appropriate outlet for her true passion: helping people learn and grow.
Amelia received her coaching training and certification from The Co-Active Training Institute and is an ICF-credential holder.
Amelia is also a Registered Yoga Teacher, and enjoys broadening her cultural horizons through travel, food, reading, podcasts, and the arts.
Experiences that Promote Healing
UX and Visual Designer
Tara Blessinger is a passionate visual designer with a background in healthcare, corporate and news media platforms. She is a visual storyteller driven by a need to understand and influence her audience.
She utilizes abstract and strategic thought, but remains grounded in concrete details. She sees how technology has revolutionized the way people learn and communicate and is passionate about creating visual designs that bring comfort and a welcomed distraction during trying moments in what can sometimes be a sterile environment.
She recognizes relationships between ideas and reality, and forms a method for improving the connections between a person and their experience.
Tara has over 20 years of design experience and has designed for Sony, Mobil Oil, US News & World Report, OneMain, various regional hospitals, Evansville Regional Airport, Koch Family Children’s Museum and Indiana Cardinal.
The Transformation of User Experience
SCADpro Senior Instructor and Design Team Oversight, Savannah College of Art & Design
David’s journey from private sector to arts education has allowed him to be on the forefront of how User Experience Strategy, Design Thinking, and User-Interface Design translate from the boardroom to the classroom. David has built, launched, and taught complete undergraduate and graduate-level programs that combine the most state-of-the-art applications of interactive, gaming, and traditional media. The success of the flagship programs—the Interactive Design (MFA) and User Experience program (Bachelor’s) at Savannah College of Art and Design—led to an opportunity to author a complete Interactive Design and UX curriculum for an online Master of Arts Degree Program at Lindsey Wilson College.
David brings to the classroom more than 30 years of experience improving brand positions and user-experiences for various Fortune 500 companies, healthcare systems, entertainment icons, and higher education/nonprofit organizations. As the owner of an award-winning website design/development company, he has a unique perspective that has allowed him to develop the curriculum for these programs with current technology and real industry issues in mind that leverage both theory and practice.
The Evolution of Commercial Construction
Vice President, Lensing Building Specialties
Matt Theby is Vice President at Lensing Building Special1es. He is responsible for the Architectural Sales division of Lensing, which is comprised of the Company’s commercially focused business units. Prior to joining Lensing in 2009, Matt was Assistant Vice President, Corporate Banking for PNC Bank in Indianapolis, IN. Matt serves the community in a variety of ways, including as Chair-Elect of the United Way of Southwestern Indiana Board, Director – Easterseals Rehabilita1on Center Board, and a member of the Habitat for Humanity Transforming Lives Transforming Neighborhoods campaign, as well as coaching youth sports.
Matt earned a B.A. in Economics from Denison University and an MBA with a concentra1on in Finance from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. Matt and his wife enjoy the hectic pace of raising their four children and are proud to call Evansville home.
Guitar Design & Experiences
Luthier/Owner, Harper Guitars
Jacob Harper (Luthier, designer, musician) founded Harper Guitars in 2013. Jacob took his part-time job of building guitars (2006 to 2013) to the next level by nailing down several distinctive and eye-catching design elements, including signature shapes, scroll, and keystone 3D headstocks.
“I want to create instruments that are sonically superior, extremely comfortable, easy to maintain and become an extension of the artist wielding them, allowing the artist to concentrate on composing and performing.” – Jacob Harper
Converging the Old and the New
Executive Director, American Institute of Architects – Indiana Chapter (AIA Indiana)
Jason Shelley, Hon. AIA currently serves as the American Institute of Architects – Indiana Chapter (AIA Indiana) Executive Director. Born and raised in historic downtown Madison, IN, he received his BS degree in Political Science from Indiana University. Prior to working for AIA Indiana, Jason held various posi8ons including State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Indiana, the largest small-business advocacy organization in the state, Life, and Health Issues Director at the Insurance Institute of Indiana, and Senior Legislative Assistant at the Indiana House of Representatives. Jason has been a registered lobbyist in Indiana since 1997. In his spare time, Jason enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, and attending concerts and auto races.
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