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Five regional companies were named to Forbes’ Indiana list of America’s Best State Employers for 2023. Deaconess Health System ranks 26th out of 73 employers in Indiana, followed by Jasper Engines & Transmissions (30th), Ivy Tech Community College (44th), Berry Global (52nd), and the University of Southern Indiana (58th).

New Hires/Promotions

Sean Georges has been named Evansville Wartime Museum’s executive director. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran had a 22-year career with Evansville-based Shoe Carnival Inc. as senior vice president for human resources, general counsel, and secretary to the board of directors.

John “Jack” Bogard has been named concertmaster for the Evansville Philharmonic and first violin for the Eykamp String Quartet beginning with the 2023-24 season. The Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, graduate has served as concertmaster with the IU New Music Ensemble and positions with orchestras in Richmond, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Owensboro, Kentucky.The Philharmonic also appointed a new director of development, Boonville, Indiana, native Weston Whitehouse.

Ports of Indiana has hired Jenna Richardt as senior vice president of business development and engagement. She is the first senior vice president to be based in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and she will lead state-wide initiatives to grow business for all ports and expand engagement with key partners. Josh Armstrong, Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District president, will take over Richardt’s former duties as senior vice president of economic development at the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. Adam Trinkel has been tapped to serve as Downtown Evansville’s new executive director starting Oct. 2. Trinkel has worked for Downtown Evansville since 2018, most recently as its marketing, communications, and events director.

Ivy Tech Community College Evansville has named Cary Conley its new director of admissions and enrollment. Conley was most recently director of adult education at Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas, and before that, spent 15 years in a variety of student service roles at Henderson CommunityCollege in Henderson, Kentucky.

Hafer has announced staff member Henry Steckler now is a licensed professional engineer. He joined the Evansville-based architectural, design, and engineering firm in 2019 as a staff mechanical engineer and has an associate’s degree in engineering science from Vincennes University,Vincennes, Indiana,and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. Carver Simkins has joined Hafer as graduate architect in the firm’s Evansville office. Simkins has a Master of Architecture from Virginia Tech,Blacksburg, Virginia.


Ron Rochon photo provided by USI

Business Spotlight

Distinguished Alumni by Maggie Valenti

When the Evansville-based Buffalo Trace Council chapter of Boy Scouts of America told Ron Rochon he received this year’s Distinguished Citizen Award, little did they know he himself was a former Scout.

Rochon, president of the University of Southern Indiana, sits on the boards of directors for WNIN, Deaconess Health System, and Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. USI also hosts Merit Badge University to help 400 area Scouts advance toward their Eagle Scout designation.

“My scouting experience began when I was in elementary school on Chicago’s South Side,” Rochon says. “What gives me optimism and hope are these children doing phenomenal work.”

Then-Indiana Gov. and Evansvillian Robert Orr received the first award in1983. Deaconess Health System President and CEO Linda White and Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke are among past recipients.

“Dr. Rochon is a very humble individual, but he has a profound impact in the community,” says Brian Baker, Buffalo Trace Council’s development director.


Berry Global Group, Inc. has appointed Kevin Kwilinski its Chief Executive Officer, starting Oct. 2. CEO of six years Tom Salmon will remain with the company in an advisory capacity through the end of the year. Kwilinski has 30 years in the packaging industry and currently is president and CEO of Multi-Color Corporation.

University of Evansville President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz has been named Vice Chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Board of Directors. Pietruszkiewicz will continue to serve on the Finance Committee and will become the chair of the Administrative Committee. Pietruszkiewicz also will finish his term as chair of the Board of Directors of the Independent Colleges of Indiana. UE also announced the hiring of Blair Doneske as director of Enrollment Analytics and Strategy. Doneske previously worked in technical sales, enterprise architecture, and data analytics at CenterPoint Energy.

Fouad Hamami has joined the University of Southern Indiana Board of Trustees as a student trustee and will serve a two-year term through June 30, 2025. The political science major is an Evansville native and graduate of Signature School. Additionally, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the reappointment of two members of the USI Board of Trustees, Jeffrey Knight of Evansville and Christina Ryan of Newburgh, Indiana. Both will serve four-year terms.

University of Southern Indiana has announced John LaFief as its director of technical service, information technology. LaFief previously worked as an IT auditor at Deaconess Health System. USI Athletics has announced Tessa Shade as its director of academic and support services and Ashley Johnson as the assistant coach of women’s basketball. Johnson played three seasons for USI before graduating in 2020 and finished with a No. 11 ranking in career assists.

Kristi Rhule has been named director of external relations for the Community Foundation Alliance, Inc., serving Daviess, Gibson, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties.

Extend Group has hired Alicja Ackermann as marketing design coordinator. Ackermann is a recent University of Southern Indiana graduate whose responsibilities will include developing targeted marketing campaigns, designing impactful visual content, and strategizing new ways to connect with audiences.

Blackstrap Media has hired Jodie Coher as a lead account manager. Coher previously was self-employed at JAC Media. The company also promoted Ryan Dunn to senior graphic designer. Dunn has worked with the company since 2017 on brand, web design, and motion graphics.

Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana has named Michael Galvin senior director of operations effective Oct. 2. Galvin will oversee operational functions including finance, development, marketing, business processes, programming, and innovation. The Western Kentucky University graduate has 30 years of experience in education and recently served as the superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of North Posey County.

Evansville-based fiber and communications company MetroNet has announced a succession plan for managing its expanding services. Effective Oct. 1, Chief Operating Officer Dave Heimbach will become President and Chief Executive Officer. Executive Vice President Sarah Overbaugh moves into the role of CFO, while longtime CEO John Cinelli will serve as Executive Chairman. Current CFO Lohn Weber will become Executive Vice President-Capital Markets, a new position, while retaining his seat on the Board of Managers.

Awards/Recognition

Six Evansville-area executives have been named to IBJ Media’s annual list of 250 influential business leaders in Indiana who have made a significant impact on the Hoosier State’s economy and people. The Class of 2023 includes Tara Barney, the retiring CEO of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership; Robert Koch, chairman of Koch Enterprises Inc.; Shawn McCoy, CEO of Deaconess Health System; Christopher Pietruszkiewicz, president of the University of Evansville; Ron Rochon, president of the University of Southern Indiana; Ron Romain, executive chairman of United Companies; and Tom Salmon, the retiring CEO of Berry Global.

Bally’s Evansville has earned StormReady accreditation from the National Weather Service, the first casino in the U.S. to do so. The StormReady program helps arm communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before, during, and after an extreme weather event.

United Way of Southwestern Indiana has invested $634,000 in Social Stability & Growth Pathway grants to improve support for low-income families. Dream Center, in collaboration with Memorial Community Development Corp. and Potter’s Wheel, received $334,000; Evansville Christian Life Center was granted $200,000; and Parenting Time Center was awarded $100,000.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke received the Russell G. Lloyd Distinguished Service Award during the 2023 Accelerated Indiana Municipalities Ideas Summit. The statewide award, named for the late Evansville mayor, recognizes dedication to public service, leadership qualities, personal initiative, and contributions to AIM.

Volunteer USI, the University of Southern Indiana’s volunteer organization, has announced its award recipients for 2023. Terry Alvey, named Volunteer of the Year, serves on the USI Foundation board of directors and the USI Alumni Association while mentoring pre-med students. Finance major Christina Butler is Student Volunteer of the Year for her work through Tri Sigma, Be the Match, and USI Eagles in Action. Associate Professor of Psychology Urska Dobersek, named Mentor of the Year, leads a lab where she guides undergraduate USI students on research endeavors.


Business Spotlight

Making the Grade by John Martin

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden has earned reaccreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, an important undertaking for the facility every five years.

The reaccreditation process is rigorous — experts in the profession evaluate local zoos during onsite visits, and they measure them against established standards and best practices.

The process, according to AZA, is overseen by a commission of 16 zoo professionals in operations, animal welfare, and veterinary medicine. Accreditation status may be rescinded if the standards are not maintained.

The zoo first received accreditation through AZA in 1985. The 45-acre facility in the northwest corner of Evansville lost its accreditation in 1998 but regained it in 2002, and it has maintained accredited status since. The city-owned zoo was founded in 1928.

Mesker was one of 22 zoos and aquariums across the country to be accredited at the AZA’s annual conference in Columbus, Ohio. Thirty applications for accreditation were reviewed.


University of Southern Indiana has received several grants and awards. Two grants totaling $528,000 were awarded by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. A $240,000 grant will fund the STEM-based Teaching Eagles Scholarship Program; a $288,000 grant will support elementary teachers who want to deepen their understanding of math content, pedagogy, and leadership, and will continue to fund the annual Quantitative Reasoning Conference for high school teachers. USI was awarded a $250,000 planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its College and Community Collaboration initiative. USI’s Romain College of Business received a five-year extension on its accounting program accreditation from the Association to Advance College Schools of Business International. Romain College of Business is among two percent of business schools globally to receive this accreditation. The Ohio Valley Conference recognized USI during its 2022-2023 season with the league’s Institutional Achievement Award, given to schools with the greatest percentage of eligible student-athletes with a 3.25 grade point average or higher for an academic year. The Screaming Eagles’ men’s basketball, women’s cross country, and women’s track and field teams earned OVC Academic Achievement Awards.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari was ranked No. 5 on a 2023 list of Most Affordable Theme Parks in North America byHomeToGo, a vacation rentals marketplace. HomeToGo scored theme parks based on total cost per day – a combination of ticket price, parking rate, and median nightly accommodation per person. Also, for the 31st year, Holiday World has donated Play Day admissions to Easterseals Rehabilitation Center. Play Day limits theme park entrance to only children with special needs, their teachers, and adult chaperones. Play Day proceeds donated to Easterseals have totaled $610,000 since it started in 1993.

Three area hospitals are among the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines honorees in Afib, heart failure, mission lifeline, stroke, and resuscitation. Deaconess Hospital received Stroke Award: Target Type 2Diabetes Honor Roll and Stroke Award:Gold Plus. Deaconess Gateway Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana, received Stroke Award: Gold Plus, Stroke Award: Target Stroke Elite Honor Roll, and Stroke Award: Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll. Ascension St. Vincent Evansville received the Afib Award: Bronze.

D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln has presented $2,500 to Colon Screening For Life and $2,500 to SMILE on Down Syndrome. D-Patrick Boonville Ford donated $1,000 to Optimal Access (formerly known as Optimal Rhythms/ACCESS Foundation) and $1,000 to Trail Heads-Southwest Indiana. D-Patrick Honda sponsored Easterseals Rehabilitation Center’s Golfing Fore Kids golf outing, hosting 184 players and raising $52,642. As a part of its “Honda HelpingKids” campaign, D-Patrick Honda also donated $2,000 to Easterseals.

Two students from the Evansville area have been awarded college scholarships from the Indiana Donor Network Foundation. Applicants were family members of Hoosier organ and tissue donors or transplant recipients. North Posey High School graduate and current University of Louisville, Kentucky, student Faith Curry received $6,500. Curry’s family donated her older sister Madison’s heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and intestine after she died from a heart arrhythmia; her organs saved eight people’s lives. North High School graduate and USI student Mollie Pearson was awarded $5,000. Her father, Doug, died from injuries sustained in a June 2022 motorcycle accident. His liver and kidneys successfully were transplanted; his heart valves, corneas, and skin helped treat others; and his pancreas was donated for research.

The Women’s Hospital was recognized by NRC Health with the 2023 Excellence in Patient Experience Award among small hospitals (those with fewer than 150 beds). Winners were selected based on receipt of exceptional real-time patient feedback NPS scores.

Oakland City University has been recognized as the seventh-best university in the U.S. for social mobility in U.S. News and World Report’s 2023-2024 Best College rankings. This is the second year the university has received this recognition.

The City of Evansville’s storm water coordinator, Karan Barnhill, has been honored with the 2023 Indiana Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management Excellence in Stormwater Management Award. The award was presented at INAFSM’s Annual Conference in Florence, Indiana. Barnhill was lauded for efforts in forging collaborations with neighboring towns, cities, and local universities.

American Airlines Group has awarded its Customer Cup to Evansville Regional Airport team members, run by Envoy Air, a subsidiary of the airline. The Customer Cup recognizes airport teams for serving customers across primary touch points, including on-time performance and customer feedback. The airline feted Evansville Regional Airport as one of the top domestic airports for outstanding customer service in the second quarter of 2023.

Growth/Development

University of Evansville has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission to launch a Ph.D. in health professions education to develop clinicians’ skills as educators and researchers across the health care sector. UE’s School of Education also has obtained approval from the Indiana Department of Education to introduce an elementary transition to teaching program offering both secondary and elementary programs, with a minimum of 600 hours of clinical experience in area classrooms.

Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners recently broke ground on the addition of six pickleball courts and two new tennis courts at Burdette Park. The $472,470 project is tentatively scheduled for completion in mid-November.

CRG Residential recently broke ground for Promenade Flats, an upscale, 220-unit, $45 million apartment complex at 1501N. Burkhardt Road.

The annual Cool Cars, Cold Cash raffle benefiting Easterseals Rehabilitation Center raised $79,000 in net proceeds for the agency. Since 2000, the raffle has generated nearly $1.8 million for the agency, which assists people with disabilities throughout the Tri-State.

Meyer Truck Equipment has acquired Melchiors Trailer Sales & Service. The expansion will allow Meyer Truck Equipment to become a regional dealer of A.R.E products at its Evansville and Jasper, Indiana, locations.

Business Closings/Reductions

Atlas Van Lines has confirmed that an unspecified number of employees have been furloughed at its Evansville-based companies.

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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