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Friday, June 21, 2024

In the News

Who's making things happen in local business and industry.


Erica Schmidt is the new executive director of the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville. Schmidt most recently was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College Evansville where she taught various communications and media courses. She has worked for more than two decades in resource development, strategic planning, hospitality management, customer relations, communications, and marketing.

Sam Preston has been named Director of Public Safety at the University of Southern Indiana, after holding the role on an interim basis following the retirement of Steve Bequette. Preston had served as Assistant Director of Public Safety since 2018, and he retired from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office after 26 years of service. USI also has appointed Andrea Gentry as vice president for development. She was the university’s director of development for the last seven years.

The Henderson, Kentucky, Chamber of Commerce has announced the selection of Clay Gillham as its new president. The Henderson native, who previously spent more than two years as Downtown Events & Communications Coordinator for the Chamber, replaces Lindsay Locasto, who was named Evansville’s deputy mayor.

Evansville Philharmonic Music Director Roger Kalia has taken on another role,
as artistic director-designate for the Terre Haute, Indiana, Symphony Orchestra for the 2024-25 season. Kalia has helmed the Evansville Philharmonic’s music programs since the 2020-21 season. Kalia also serves as music director for the Orchestra Santa Monica in California and Symphony New Hampshire in Nashua, New Hampshire.

The Evansville Regional Economic Partnership has promoted Patrick Hickey to economic development director. He has served as E-REP’s economic development program manager since January 2023. The organization also has hired Christy Powell as its community development director. Powell most recently worked as the town administrative manager for the Town of Newburgh, Indiana, and previously worked for the City of Boonville, Indiana, and the Warrick County Area Plan Commission.

Two recent hires have joined Ivy Tech Community College Evansville. Arieona Garrett, a sports management graduate from the University of Southern Indiana, is the new facilities assistant for Ivy Tech. Matthew Cosby, an accounting graduate from USI, has joined Ivy Tech as an accounting clerk.

Old National Bank has hired Daniel Quinn as a senior wealth advisor for Southwestern Indiana. As part of 1834, a division of Old National Bank, Quinn will focus on high-net worth individuals, multi-generational families, business owners, and current and retired physicians and executives.

Chase Coslett, Daniela Vidal, Tonya Kirby, Sophia Hape, and Chris Johnson at Ivy Tech’s Entrepreneurship Expo on May 2 provided by Ivy Tech Community College Evansville

Business Spotlight
Best Face Forward
Dual-enrolled student wins Ivy Tech’s Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition.
By Maggie Valenti

Sophia Hape is proof that the seeds of entrepreneurship can sprout early. The F.J. Reitz High School senior, who is dually enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College Evansville, won the college’s Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition on May 2. This is the second year of the contest, which brings together top entrepreneurship students at the Garatoni School of Entrepreneurship & Innovation to present their business pitches to investors and community members.

Hape pitched a beauty and skincare company called Sophia’s Salon and Skincare, which would specialize in in-person esthetic skincare and personalized subscription boxes. A panel of local judges awarded her $3,000 as the top prize, which she plans to use toward tuition for esthetician school.

“Sophia’s Salon and Skincare” was joined by 19 other business concepts presented during the Entrepreneurship Expo taking place around the pitch competition. Hape won an additional $500 at the expo for Best Booth Design as determined by attendees of the expo.

The University of Evansville has announced the appointment of Amanda L. Krause as the new dean of the William L. Ridgway College of Arts and Sciences. Most recently, Krause has been employed as the director of international programs and an associate professor of political science at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana; a Master of Arts in political science from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Krause is slated to begin her new role at UE in mid-July.


Robert E. Griffin, the longtime CEO and chairman of Evansville sporting goods manufacturer Escalade, Inc., passed away March 22 in Saint George, Utah, at age 89. The East Saint Louis, Illinois, native helped launch Escalade, Inc. in 1973 and served in several leadership capacities through 2015.


Habitat for Humanity of Evansville has celebrated its 40th anniversary by dedicating its 598th house on April 4. In 2023, the local chapter was ranked 16th in the nation in new home construction out of 1,031 affiliates.

Evansville startup Anu, formerly called Gropod, has won this year’s HungerTech Innovation Challenge by designing an aeroponic smart garden appliance. Anu earned $25,000 at the TechPoint Mira Awards gala April 26 in Indianapolis.

Students in USI’s radio television program continue to earn top marks from the Broadcast Education Association. According to BEA’s rankings of more than 300 schools internationally, in 2024 USI’s radio television program moved up four spots to fourth in the nation in winning audio programs. This elevation has placed the program as one of the top 25 overall winning programs in the country.

The Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science’s board of trustees has awarded Stephanie M. Engelbrecht with honorary lifetime trustee status. The Evansville philanthropist has been involved with the museum for 20 years, including five years with the Museum Guild and working with the museum’s governance, finance, development, art, and executive committees. Engelbrecht is a past president of the museum’s board and has chaired the advisory council of past presidents.

Some Evansville companies were recognized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce on its list of best places to work for 2024. The annual statewide survey evaluates participating organizations for the highest levels of employee satisfaction and engagement in the workplace. Among small companies, Brackett Heating-Air-Plumbing Inc. and ECS Solutions made the list, while Lochmueller Group landed on the large companies list. Large companies receiving honorable mention status included Warehouse Services Inc. of Evansville and Mount Vernon, Indiana.

Deaconess Midtown, Gateway, and Henderson (Kentucky) hospitals, as well as Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana, all have earned an “A” Hospital Safety Grade from The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog. Leapfrog assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on over 30 measures of errors, accidents, injuries, and infections as well as the systems hospitals have in place to prevent them.

The University of Evansville‘s Presidential Medal of Honor was presented on April 24 to 4-star Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John Conaway, a 1956 UE alumnus, by UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. Conaway’s miliary career from 1956 to 1993 began with his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from UE and led to his service as the 22nd chief of the National Guard Bureau, as well as vice chief and director of the Air National Guard.

Amiyah W., Ralil C., Zayvion S., and Jakobe C. work together on a project May 9 during Statewide Day of Service at the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville provided by the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville

We are the Champions
Boys & Girls Club of Evansville earns a national honor.
By Maggie Valenti

The Boys & Girls Club of Evansville’s history of helping Tri- State youths dates to the late 1950s, and its recent efforts are being lauded.

In April, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America honored the Evansville chapter with its Champion for Youth Award, recognizing its advocacy for Hoosier youths. This honor is awarded only to the top 10 percent of Boys & Girls Clubs in the nation. The Evansville club earned commendations for its efforts, with the state, toward mentoring, workforce development and readiness programs, and academic success for the approximately 2,000 youths it serves.

“We are raising our voices every single day, to ensure top issues and solutions impacting young people are prioritized in our community, our state, and at the national level,” Executive Director Ron Ryan said in a press release.

A member of the Evansville club also recently received recognition. Mike Mitchell, a lifetime board member, was inducted into the Boys & Girls Club of Indiana’s Area Council Hall of Fame on April 11, one of seven Hall of Fame inductees this year.

Shelby Clark, a spring 2024 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern Indiana, has received the USI President’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed to an undergraduate student. Clark was a two-term editor of The Shield, USI’s student newspaper, as well as publicity chair of the Asian Student Union and a Welcome Week Team Leader. She assisted with New Student Convocation and was on the 2024 Homecoming Court.

Evansville Fire Department Capt. Ed Gunn has been named the Green River Kiwanis’ 2023 Firefighter of the Year. Gunn, a 31-year veteran of the department, received a wall plaque, $100 check from On The Spot Utility Resources LLC, a Firefighter of the Year ring from Local 357, and more on March 20 at the Kiwanis club’s weekly meeting. Gunn is the 42nd recipient of the Kiwanis club’s annual award. Other 2023 nominees were Michael Wilson, Tyler Pipes, Patrick Moore, Matthew Mastison, and Jesse Marx, who was profiled in the April/May 2024 Evansville Business cover story about dream jobs.

The D-Patrick family of automotive dealerships has made several recent donations. D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln has presented $2,500 checks each to Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden and the Evansville Rescue Mission. D-Patrick Boonville Ford has donated $1,000 each to the Warrick Parks Foundation and Warrick Literacy & Educational Connections/Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. D-Patrick Honda has gifted Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Indiana and Granted $1,500 each through its “Honda Helping Kids” program. With a $500 donation, D-Patrick Motoplex has sponsored the 2024 Buffalo Trace Council Pinewood Derby.

The University of Evansville has named four teachers as this year’s outstanding educator winners on April 10 during its 33rd annual ceremony. West Terrace School fourth-grade classroom teacher Lindsey Stine earned outstanding elementary teacher of the year. Helfrich Park STEM Academy sixth-grade English/Language Arts instructor Lindsey O’Brian was named outstanding middle school teacher of the year. Sally Sternberg, the AVID elective teacher and site coordinator at William Henry Harrison High School, was honored as outstanding high school teacher of the year. The award for outstanding building principal of the year went to Angie Oliver, principal of Glenwood Leadership Academy.

Boston IVF’s center at The Women’s Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana, is among the company’s five facilities named to Newsweek’s 2024 list America’s Best Fertility Clinics. The magazine’s report ranks the top 125 fertility clinics in the country by polling more than 3,000 reproductive endocrinologists, infertility specialists, obstetricians, and gynecologists, and reviewing performance indicator metrics for assisted reproductive technology.

National nonprofit Petco Love has awarded a $35,000 grant investment to the Vanderburgh Humane Society to assist with its adoption, spay/neuter, humane education, clinic, and other services. Founded in 1957, VHS completed its 100,000th spay/ neuter surgery in December 2022.

Evansville’s Buffalo Trace Council of the Boy Scouts of America has received a $20,000 grant from the Gibson County Community Foundation to launch its Leadership Development Initiative in Scouting to address the cycle of poverty in neighboring Gibson County. The funds are part of the Lilly Endowment’s Gift VII Community Leadership Initiative.

Perry Heights Middle School Principal Kaycie Soderling was named Middle School Principal of the Year for the Evansville area by the Indiana Association of School Principals.


Toyota Indiana announced it is adding a three-row, battery electric SUV to its production line. The company plans 340 new hires at its Princeton plant as part of the $1.4 billion investment, and the first vehicles are to be produced in 2026. The new hires will grow Toyota Indiana’s workforce to about 8,000.

Commonwealth Pain & Spine announced a development partnership with Woodward Development & Construction to open the first of many state-of-the-art, convenient, and patient-centered ambulatory surgical centers. The first ASC will be at 6016 E. Columbia St., adjacent to the existing Commonwealth Pain & Spine Evansville East office on Kimber Lane. The nearly 10,000-square-foot building will contain two surgical suites, and the project is expected to open in early 2025 for surgical services and procedures.

Ascension St. Vincent Evansville announced it has acquired Midwest Neurological P.C., which consists of three physicians specializing in neurology — Drs. Carla Brandt, Francis Kadiyamkuttyil, and Faris Fadheel. Ascension St. Vincent is renovating its Medical Office Building East, 801 S. Mary’s Drive, to accommodate the three physicians’ practices.

Matrix Design Group broke ground in April for the company’s new headquarters at 3299 Tower Drive in Newburgh, Indiana. The company, which produces safety and productivity technologies in the industry and mining segments, plans to open the headquarters by January and add more than 100 employees over the next five years.

Evansville-based Berry Global and Glatfelter Corporation of Charlotte, North Carolina, entered into an agreement under which Berry will spin off and merge its Global Nonwovens and Films business with Glatfelter. The companies say the transaction will create a leading, publicly traded company in the special materials industry, and it was expected to close in the second quarter of 2024.

Energy Systems Group of Newburgh, Indiana, merged with PacificWest Energy Solutions, a California energy services provider. Energy Systems Group says the merger will expand the company’s footprint to the western United States.

The Posey County Fair Association and major sponsor CountryMark announced plans to construct an expo pavilion at the county fairgrounds. The CountryMark Expo Pavilion will be used year-round for events, shows, and expositions of all kinds, and it will replace facilities constructed between 1960 and 1970. Plans for the new pavilion will be unveiled during the 2024 Posey County Fair.

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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