Press release by Purdue University Northwest:

HAMMOND and WESTVILLE, Ind. – The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest proudly announces the graduates of the Leadership Northwest Indiana (LNI) program.

This premium leadership program, facilitated by a team that includes professors from the Purdue Northwest College of Business, as well as leadership practitioners, meets once a month for eight months. A 360 assessment and custom coaching are program highlights. The facilitation team provides research-based leadership content and skill-building for effective leadership in the workplace and in life.

“We are simply delighted at the level of progress and growth exhibited by this year’s LNI graduates,” said Mekisha Richardson, assistant director of the Leadership Institute at Purdue University Northwest.

“Watching our LNI participants grow during our eight months together is really inspiring. They learn to strengthen their ’leadership muscle‘ while adding useful skills to their toolbox to make them more authentic and effective leaders,” said Sheila Matias, executive director of the Leadership institute at Purdue Northwest. “We are really proud of the time and effort they have put in on their personal and professional development.”

Members of the 2022-23 LNI cohort received certificates on May 11. The graduates include:

  • Jillian Ashley, Michigan City Police Department, Captain
  • Katherine Balkema, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake Michigan Coastal Program Grant Specialist
  • Amanda Benik, Hammond Group, Inc., Environmental Health and Safety Director
  • Andrew B. Bennett, Precision Maintenance Solutions, Chief of Operations
  • Dean Botts, Hammond Group, Inc., Plant Manager
  • Eric A. Bowman, Heartland Wellness Center, Community Relations Director
  • Daniel Bruhn, Purdue University Northwest, Executive Director of Client Services
  • Rocio “CC” Copado Payne, Family Focus, Inc., Executive Director
  • Marty Corley, Michigan City Police Department, Chief of Operations
  • Lisa Derico, Hammond Group, Inc., Human Resources Director
  • Netta Doughty, Syde by Syde Changes LLC, Owner
  • Orlando A. Drummond, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, Director of Program Quality
  • Chantelle Johnson, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Community Relations Consultant
  • John Kennedy, American Structurepoint, Inc., Business Development Director
  • Amanda Lahners, La Porte County Health Department, Administrator
  • Daniel Leensvaart, Summers Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, General Manager
  • Daniel Loosemore, Hammond Group, Inc., Plant Manager
  • Scott Parsons, Purdue University Northwest, Senior Director of Facilities & Grounds
  • Iris Sanchez, Purdue University Northwest, Director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives
  • Kaitlyn Schultz, General Insurance Services, Personal Lines Service Manager
  • Jimmy Scott, Summers Plumbing Heating & Cooling, General Manager
  • Sean Steele, United Way Northwest Indiana, Development Director
  • Lisa Taylor, Tonn and Blank Construction, LLC, Controller
  • Monique Thomas, LaPorte County Government Offices, Interim HR Director
  • Ryan vanWaardenburg, Tonn & Blank Construction, LLC, Project Manager
  • Cesar Villicana, Dutch Farms, Distribution Center Manager
  • Leah Wareyko, Dutch Farms, Senior Accounts Receivable Manager
  • Julie Wendorf, Crown Point Community Library, Director
  • Alan Whipps, 1st Source Bank, Banking Center Manager

Applications are now open for the 2023-24 Leadership Northwest Indiana program. The program begins in September 2023 and runs through May 2024. Participants will meet for eight monthly, in-person sessions.

More information can be found online at or by reaching out to the Leadership Institute at

The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest

The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest (PNW) is the hub of leadership development in Northwest Indiana. We present dynamic research-based leadership development programs for businesses, area professionals, and youth leaders from the university and across our regional community. For more information about the Leadership Institute, visit