Farms, Factories, and Faces
Born and raised in the Midwest, Kelsey Timmerman understands manufacturing and farming, which he examines internationally in his books “Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes” and “Where Am I Eating? An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy.” The latter is Evansville’s 2016 One Book, One Community selection. Evansville Living caught up with the author, who will speak at 7 p.m., Sept. 21 at the Old National Events Plaza.
How did your upbringing shape who you are today and the work you do?
Technically I was born a Hoosier, raised a Buckeye, and have lived in Muncie, Indiana, since 2007. I grew up surrounded by farmers and fields. Homeruns landed in cornfields. The high school I went to had a drive your tractor to school day. My dad grew up helping his father on the family farm. In many ways I was raised by farmers and those who do manual labor. These are individuals the economy might not always value, but I learned from their work ethic, wisdom, and dignity. I learned early on to appreciate what they did and how they did it. I think my upbringing really shaped what I’ve focused much of my work on — putting a face and giving voice to those who produce many of the things in our lives that we take for granted.
What do you plan to talk about in September?
Whether in my books, on stage, or with the nonprofit I cofounded, The Facing Project, my mission is always the same: connect people through stories to strengthen community. I’ll share how I got into this traipsing around the world thing, and then stories of farmers near and far, and how we are connected to them. Once I make this connection, I’ll talk about how I’ve sought to act as a responsible consumer, global, and local citizen. Every single issue I write about — poverty, hunger, slavery — takes place on some level in our own communities. I’ll point the audience to ways they can get involved in the Evansville community to combat these issues.
Almost lost behind the stacks of projects covering her desk, Christina Hager shoulders an enormous responsibility. As the executive director of the Evansville Civic Theatre, she must act as a sort of curator for its treasured legacy while propelling it full-force into contemporary performance and on into the future.
She doesn’t look worried. She looks confident and excited.
Now located at the corner of Fulton and Columbia, ECT has been at the cultural heart of the city since it was founded as the People’s Players back in 1925. Its popularity swelled and shrank a few times over the years, then enjoyed resurgence in the decades leading to the millennium while it was in the capable hands of acclaimed director Dick Engbers. Although it continued to offer high-quality entertainment, the theater faltered a bit after his retirement; ticket sales began to slow, the facility showed its age, patrons drifted away, and the vibrancy began to dim.
Enter Hager, stage left.
In the year since she came on board, attendance has increased, there have been improvements to the physical structure, and the offerings have expanded in scope. In June, after several years relying on guest directors, the organization announced it had hired a new artistic director, Kevin Roach.
In addition to its Main Stage productions, ECT partners with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana to offer experimental “Black Box” theater in its Underground series. Its NEXTWAVE program provides theater classes for children, teens, and adults, and the hands-on experience of participating in a live production.
This season’s offerings include “Peter and the Star Catcher,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and“Crimes of the Heart,” on the Main Stage. The Underground includes “The Conversation About the Keys,” and “The Nether.”
Why did you decide to join ECT, and what was your prior experience?
I started as a grant writer with the Girl Scouts and became development director. Then I worked several years with Tales and Scales, a non-profit group promoting “music telling” and conducting programs for kids. We received Kennedy Center honors, but funding was an ongoing issue and it was difficult for the organization to operate on its own. I helped to transition it into a program at the Evansville Philharmonic.
The experience at Tales and Scales was a little bit similar to the situation ECT was facing, and when I first learned they were seeking an executive director, I did not apply. I said I’d have to be crazy to do that again. But the board members were passionate and determined, and that convinced me. If you’ve got a good board of directors, you’ve got something to work with.
What are some of the physical challenges, and what improvements are in the works?
We have a four-phase renovation project underway. We’re currently making structural repairs to the south side of the building and repainting. We’ll tackle the east side next; work there will include replacing doors and repainting that wall.
We were fortunate that we got our box office remodeled thanks to a Boy Scout who handled it for his Eagle Scout project. Another item high on the to-do list is the ladies restroom. It’s upstairs and there is no elevator, making it inaccessible for some people. So come hell or high water, we’re going to address that.
We’ve had the opportunity to make an offer on the property next door, so in the near future we should be able to expand and offer more parking. There is long-range talk of a whole new facility and we’ll continue that discussion, but in my mind it makes no sense to allow this place to fall down around our ears while we’re talking.
What’s the advantage of having both an artistic director and an executive director?
Dick Engbers was able to handle both areas. He was probably the most influential person in the history of ECT next to its founder Frances Golden. But it is the rare individual who can do that.
If you have to be concerned with things like fundraising, ticket sales, and the cost of repairs, it starts to affect your ability to be creative. If an executive director handles the administrative aspects, the artistic director is free to concentrate on production. He doesn’t have to worry about how to pay the light bill; he just thinks of how to make the magic on stage.
We’re really excited to have Kevin Roach come in as artistic director; he’s been a guest director in the past. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. He seems to be the perfect complement to the other staff.
How would you describe the Main Stage and the Underground?
The Main Stage productions are more traditional theater and are the most popular. Plays on the Main Stage run for six performances, and musicals run for eight performances. The Underground features are lesser-known, more edgy plays that generally run for just four performances. Sometimes the audience is sparse.
We did a lot of promotion of the Underground last season and the series really started building some momentum. “Bug” got a phenomenal response; that show was standing room only all four performances. We plan to build on that.
For tickets and more information about the Evansville Civic Theatre, call 812-425-2800 or visit evansvillecivictheatre.org.
For Newt Crenshaw, vice president of oncology at Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, helping people has been the passion driving his career.
The Newburgh, Indiana, native and Castle High School graduate studied economics and mathematics at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, before he was hired in at Eli Lilly. It was his work as an intern for the pharmaceutical giant, he says, that opened the door to start his 31-year career with Lilly, where he’s served in various roles.
“I knew I wanted to go into business,” says Crenshaw. “The good thing about sales is you are able to understand your customers and what their needs are. I think that’s very important.”
During his years at Eli Lilly, Crenshaw has filled a variety of roles for the company, including running two of Lilly’s largest business units in the U.S. and serving five years as the president and general manager for Eli Lilly’s Japan operations.
“Probably the most unique and memorable experience (at Eli Lilly was) spending five years in Japan … and where I had responsibility for all of our sales marketing, medical, manufacturing, and our research and development,” he says. “That was quite an interesting cross-culture experience as well as business experience.”
Now, Crenshaw and his wife Susan are planning to start a new venture. In April he accepted the position of president with Young Life, a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle and high school, and college-aged students in the U.S. and more than 100 countries around the world. It’s an organization Crenshaw has been familiar with since his youth.
“I’ve been involved with Young Life for longer than I’ve been with Lilly,” he says. “As I graduated Castle High School in the summer of 1981, my mom and dad began to explore getting Young Life started in Newburgh.”
The Crenshaw family has a “real heritage and legacy” with the ministry, he adds. Following the work of his parents, Crenshaw and his wife have served as volunteer leaders, were the founding committee chairs for Young Life in Zionsville, Indiana, and started a Young Life ministry in the Kansai region of Japan during their time living there.
“I’m excited about serving the Young Life staff as the leader of the organization, as they are out there caring for kids and loving them by sharing the gospel. That for me is a real high calling,” says Crenshaw.
For more information about local Young Life ministries in the Tri-State, visit younglife.org.
As a female working in the manufacturing industry, Janette Hostettler admits early in her career at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton, Indiana, she struggled with anxiety over what her team members would think about what she had to say.
“I was my worst enemy and I would worry about what to say at the meeting and what people would think of me,” says Hostettler, who serves as the general manager of Paint, Plastics, and Plant Engineering at Toyota. “Then someone would say what I was thinking and I missed my opportunity.”
Hostettler says she learned to acknowledge and use her strengths and quickly she climbed the ladder from a team member in the quality engineering group in 2000 to her current position where she is responsible for 1,000 team members, managers, engineers, leaders, and more. The 46-year-old recently was honored as one of 130 women around the nation who work in manufacturing at the 2016 STEP Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C.
Women make up about 47 percent of the labor force, but only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce.
“This award means I have an obligation to give back to the other women and encourage them to face their fears so we can turn things around,” says Hostettler, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Purdue University.
Hostettler credits shadowing her father, who worked as an anesthesiologist in Cleveland after emigrating from the Philippines to the U.S. with her mother and five daughters at the time, with what ignited her passion to be a leader in manufacturing. She began her career as a chemist at Red Spot Paint and Varnish Co. in Evansville.
Hostettler has raised three children with her husband Robert while working at Toyota. She says the Japan-based company allows her to balance work and home life and has daycare facilities and lactation stations as well.
Toyota is celebrating its 20th anniversary since breaking ground on its production facility in May 1996 in Princeton. The company has invested $4.3 billion into its Princeton operations and created more than 5,300 Indiana jobs.
“Going through the economic downturn you could hear a pin drop in the factory,” says Hostettler. “We went through the tsunami and some winter storms and had come up with creative ways to keep things running. Toyota has the capacity and capabilities to get through anything.”
For more information about Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, call 812-387-2266 or visit tourtoyotaindiana.com.
Basketball was a game changer in Mike Blake’s life. In high school, the Munster, Indiana, native played the sport, though he admits he saw more time on the bench than on the floor. When his career in news broadcasting began, it would be in the Evansville high school sports scene, including basketball, where he would make his name. Now his work covering local athletics has earned him a spot in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame with the Indiana Pacers Silver Medal award.
Each year, the Hall of Fame committee selects an individual who has contributed significantly to Indiana basketball in some way other than being a player or a coach. The honor was established in 1962 and past winners include former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight, University of Evansville Hall of Famer Arad McCutchan, and former Evansville Courier and Press writer Dan Scism.
“I think for anyone who grows up in Indiana … basketball is, I don’t know if you’d call it a religion, but it’s more than just another game,” says Blake, who is a graduate of Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, and the University of Iowa, Iowa City
Blake made his start at 14 WFIE-TV in 1970 as a nightly weatherman and in 1971 began his duties as sports director at the station. Over the 41 years he had covered sports — Blake’s 46-year-plus career still continues at WFIE — he has covered numerous sporting events in the Tri-State, including the tragedy of the UE men’s basketball team plane crash in December 1977. It has been a career that surprises even Blake.
“Ironically, shortly after my wife Jenny and I got married, I said, ‘Honey, we’re probably going to have to leave Evansville.’ Career-wise I wanted to get to Chicago or New York,” he says. “Fortunately that never happened because if it had, I would have never had the opportunity and privilege to cover so many wonderful athletes, coaches, school officials, athletic directors, referees, fans, and parents. All the people that make up this basketball-crazy state.”
Blake and his wife traveled to Indianapolis March 23 to accept his award in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,150. It was a truly wonderful, overwhelming, and humbling day, says Blake, but one he was honored to be a part of. In his three-minute acceptance speech — keeping to three minutes was the challenge Blake says with a laugh — he thanked his family and his co-workers at WFIE through the years.
“I had said, ‘They never made a movie about high school basketball in North Carolina or Kentucky. But they did about Indiana, because Indiana basketball is special.’ Hoosiers are special,” says Blake. “This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime honor and I’m so grateful to have been recognized for it.”
For more information about the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, call 765-529-1891 or visit hoopshall.com.
Hometown: Campbelltown, Indiana
Job: Director of Corporate Communications, Vectren
Resume: Senior Biological Products Specialist,Sanofi Pasteur, 2004-2010
Family: Husband Chuck, son Clark, 3, and daughter Haven, 2
Working in the field of communications wasn’t something Natalie Hedde had planned while attending the University of Evansville. Her original idea had been to pursue education, but a talk with her academic advisor changed that.
“During a conversation with her, I shared my plans and she sort of laughed and said, ‘How about communications?’” says Hedde. “It’s as if she knew something I didn’t. I look back now and realize how influential that conversation was.”
For the last six years, Hedde has found a home at Vectren, and most recently as the director of corporate communications. It’s a company and job she truly finds rewarding.
“When you work for Vectren, you work on a team. You work for an organization that will work as hard for you as you choose to work for the company,” she says.
What do you enjoy the most about working in the energy industry?
What I enjoy most, including that of the areas we serve, is that energy is evolving. We challenge ourselves with anticipating what our customers are going to demand of us in an evolving energy market. As we learn from our customers, we too will continue to evolve and do our best to communicate to our customers the value and quality of the service they receive for the price they pay.
What is the most challenging aspect about your job?
The unforeseen. I think that pretty much sums it up.
What other organizations are you involved with in the Tri-State?
I recently finished serving six years on the board of Gilda’s Club Evansville. It is a tremendous organization doing a multitude of good things for our community. I also have given time to March of Dimes the past several years and am excited to see their Signature Chefs Auction event become even better. I remain active within the UE Schroeder School of Business. I really enjoy collaborating with my old professors to bring work to the classroom in a way that hopefully better prepares current students for the challenges of a career.
What is something you enjoy doing off the clock?
My husband and I, having both played athletics at UE (Natalie played softball and Chuck played basketball), really enjoy Aces games of just about any sport. We have a lot of fun being able to take the kids, who currently think any team dressed in purple is the Evansville Aces. We’re working on that. They love to be ‘announced’ out of the locker room and come running down the hallway at home like it’s the tunnel leading to the game floor. They each are co-captains on Team Hedde.
When I take the time, I also enjoy cooking. I’m not certain that it’s the food that I enjoy as much as what sitting around a table and sharing a meal with people you care about means to me. I grew up in a home where we ate dinner together; my husband did as well. We still get together with our parents very regularly and dine together. The sound of laughter that erupts during these times is a sound I will cherish and remember the rest of my life.
How do you balance your home-life with your career?
For all women, moms who pursue a career and to those who work full time for their families at home, cheers to all in their effort to strike a balance. It isn’t easy but there is a great deal to learn from one another and for that, I’m grateful.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to jump into communications?
Be nimble and practice patience. There are so many facets to communications, a person can work broadly or find a niche within this area of practice. It is a great platform from which to grow.
For more information about Vectren, call 812-491-4000 or visit vectren.com.
Walk This Way
Tate Fritchley never considered herself a pageant girl.
She could speak in front of a group, sure. Carrying on a conversation, the bubbly 18-year-old says, had never been
But the walking — it was always the walking that tripped her up.
“Growing up in 4-H, I always looked at the older girls and thought, ‘Man, I want to be like them!’” Fritchley says excitedly. “But I just never thought I could do it. I mean, being on stage, giving a 3-minute speech, the interview, the walking. I always thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t do all that!’
“And then during my first pageant, I messed up. I messed up so much,” she said offering an infectious giggle. “But I still got fourth-runner up. I was so excited I figured I’d give it another try.”
The next year, in the summer of 2015, Fritchley, a senior and three-sport athlete at North High School, once again traded in her cowboy boots for a pair of strappy sandals and shocked herself by being crowned Miss Vanderburgh County.
In January, she represented Vanderburgh County in the Miss Indiana State Fair pageant in Indianapolis, and the girl who couldn’t walk — the girl who never thought of herself as the queen type at all — walked away with the coveted crown once again.
“I mean, there were 87 other queens,” says Fritchley. “I didn’t think I had a chance, not at all. I thought, ‘What’s the point? These girls are so much older.’ But I knew I needed to be positive. I went into it thinking, ‘Whatever happens, God has a plan for me.’
“And when they called my name, that moment was crazy. Oh my goodness, was it crazy! I could hear my little sister screaming from the audience.”
Fritchley, the daughter of Paul and Jane Fritchley, joined 4-H 10 years ago, an active member in the Horse and Pony Club. She and her horse, Champ, have competed in a variety of events, including barrel and pole racing as well as western pleasure and trail class competitions.
She also is a member of the 4-H Color Guard and Drill Team, one of 12 horse-backed girls who post the American flag each night of the county fair before grandstand events.
She is the captain of North’s cheerleading squad, plays soccer and tennis, is a member of the National Honor Society, a senior member of an organization aimed solely at making freshmen students feel welcome, and also has a part-time job at Graceful Lady Glam, a formal dress store in Fort Branch, Indiana.
But this summer, she will embark on possibly her most thrilling adventure yet. She will begin her responsibilities as Miss Indiana State Fair in June, visiting as many as 50 county fairs before spending 17 days at the state fair in Indianapolis Aug. 5-21.
“I’ll be the face of the state fair,” she says, her voice filled with child-like excitement. “I’ll get to promote Indiana’s bicentennial year, meet cool people, talk to little kids, eat fair food, and just have a good time.”
After graduation, Fritchley says she wants to attend the University of Evansville to study physical therapy. Her dream is to work with athletes like herself, being a “positive influence” in their lives.
For more information about the Indiana State Fair Pageant, visit indianastatefair.com.
Where the Wild Things Are
On a chilly February morning, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden Zookeeper Shannon Irmscher stands in the outdoor exhibit of the zoo’s red panda Celeste. As the animal sleeps curled up at the top of a tree, Irmscher stands with her hand outstretched, offering a grape to Celeste, attempting to lure her awake and down the branches.
“She’s got one of the cutest faces you’ll ever see,” says Irmscher fondly. Eventually, Celeste unwinds herself, stretches along the tree limb, and crawls down to investigate Irmscher’s offering.
For the past seven years, Irmscher’s days have been filled with similar encounters at the Evansville zoo. But the Bedford, Indiana, native is quick to point out being a keeper is about more than feeding the animals. As an Indiana University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology and minors in animal behavior and psychology, her work includes keeping the animals healthy, enriching their lives in the zoo, and teaching visitors about the importance of the species that call Mesker home.
“If a member of the public sees me in an exhibit, of course I’m going to do everything I can to educate them on that species and create a more powerful interaction of them with the animal,” she says. “And I look at all of our animals as ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild.”
Irmscher — who has worked at the Indianapolis, Louisville, Kentucky, and Jacksonville, Florida, zoos — begins her day at Mesker with checks of all of her animals before serving breakfast of some kind to most. Once she’s made her rounds — Irmscher works in the Discovery Center and the nocturnal exhibits in the Kley Building with birds, primates, and the smaller cats — she works to clean their holding spaces and on enrichment activities for the animals.
“Basically we try to encourage behaviors they would exhibit in the wild,” she says. “Monkeys spend a lot of their time foraging, so I might hide their food in a pile of hay or put it in a container where they have to work to get it.”
Irmscher also spends time as the species population manager for the Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec and the Keel Billed Toucan. As one of the species population managers at Mesker, she monitors the genetics of the population for these two species in a software program. Her data then is used every three years in developing breeding and transfer plans for zoos across the nation.
“It’s fun,” says Irmscher. “Zoos can refer to (the data) and then follow the recommendations and make sure we have healthy populations genetically.”
For more information about Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, call 812-435-6143 or visit meskerparkzoo.com.
Amy Canterbury’s journey from a small town in Kentucky to a corner office of the nonprofit that tops Forbes’ list of 50 largest U.S. charities isn’t so much a Cinderella story as it is a hardworking tale of success.
In December, the United Way of Southwestern Indiana, a division of United Way serving Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Spencer counties, named Canterbury as its new president and CEO. It’s not the first time she’s had the title of CEO, and it’s her past that has prepared her for this new venture.
Whether she was attending church or helping out around the family’s farm, Canterbury grew up surrounded by the idea of taking care of one’s neighbors. After graduating from Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, she spent 25 years in the banking industry – most of which were at Old National, which introduced her to United Way – learning business collaboration and networking before enduring what she calls a “mid-life crisis” and decided to go save the world.
“The things I learned in banking are the principles of what I needed to transition into nonprofit,” says Canterbury. “And then my heart, really the part of who I am, is what allowed me to transition to saving the world.”
Before joining the United Way, she was regional CEO of the American Red Cross, a partner agency. The transition between nonprofits was a smooth one thanks to the staff, which has helped her learn more of the details about the nonprofit and the services they offer the community.
In addition to funding 62 programs and 31 partner agencies, the United Way provides its own programs and services such as helping with FAFSA applications and its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). The VITA Program offers free tax help to low-to-moderate income residents who need assistance preparing their tax returns.
“We’re going to file electronically and we’re not going to charge them for it,” says Canterbury. “That keeps families and individuals from maybe going to get a payday loan advance while they’re waiting on a tax return.”
The organization also offers a 211 service, a statewide collaboration helmed through the Downtown office. The program is a resource for those looking for help with basic needs and social services, such as food, housing, and education. When someone presses 211 on a phone, the call is sent to the United Way office where an operator asks questions to make sure the best resources are being made available to them.
Going forward, Canterbury wants to see the nonprofit become the first place thought of if there needs to be an issue resolved, with the United Way sitting at the table collaborating with those who need to be.
“The community has always really supported the United Way in a huge way,” says Canterbury.
For more information about the United Way of Southwestern Indiana, call 812-422-4100 or visit unitedwayswi.org.
Road to Recognition
The road to a lifetime achievement award doesn’t always come easy, and Chris Traylor says he didn’t walk it alone.
The co-president of Traylor Bros., Inc. — a heavy civil contracting business that specializes in building landmark bridges, tunnels, and marine infrastructures — attributes the recognition that comes with his 2016 Outstanding Projects and Leaders Lifetime Achievement Award for Construction to his family and his team at the company.
“Great things can’t be accomplished by individuals,” says Traylor. “It usually takes a lot of collaboration and teamwork to do really positive things.”
The third generation of Traylors to run the company, Chris says those positive things are the result of his predecessors’ hard work.
When his grandfather started the company 70 years ago, he looked at projects through a regional lens, taking on ventures like Ohio River bridge foundations and soft ground tunnels in Louisville, Kentucky.
His father had a broader vision for the company, shifting the business’ focus from regional to national with divisional offices around the country.
Since taking the reins as co-presidents, Chris and his brother Michael have focused on taking what the previous generations have done and doing it better in order to maximize profitability and increase the quality and safety of work — a feat they’ve achieved by institutionalizing strategic planning as a regular part of the company’s business and creating a roadmap for team members to follow.
The award, presented on behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers in March 2016, isn’t a capstone on his career. It reaffirms the work his company has done and acts as motivation to keep doing what he’s doing, he says.
“We have a very collaborative culture here,” says Chris, who was pictured on the cover of the June/July 2009 issue of Evansville Business with his family. “In our organization, all the doors are open and we hope people work together to make the company the best it can be.”
For more information about Traylor Bros., Inc., call 812-477-1542 or visit traylor.com.