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Indiana Dunes Tourism Staff & Board Of Directors
Mitch Peters, President:
Mitch joined the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors in 2010 and was appointed by the Porter County Council. Mitch graduated from Valparaiso University with degrees in elementary education and law. He has been an attorney since 1986. Mitch is also a veteran of the United States Navy. He is involved in numerous organizations, including the Respite House, a halfway house for men seeking recovery from addiction and alcohol. In his spare time, Mitch enjoys hunting, fishing, archery, and golf.
Scott Tuft, Vice President:
Scott joined the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors in 2012 and was appointed by Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas. Tuft is the director of sales and marketing for Accucraft Imaging in Hammond and is the account executive for Elegan Customwear in Valparaiso. He is also an active community volunteer through the Valparaiso Rotary Club and the Valparaiso Boys & Girls Club, and he has served as a volunteer coach for basketball, soccer, and baseball. Tuft lives in Valparaiso.
Richard Riley, Treasurer:
Richard joined the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors in 2012 and was appointed by Porter County Commissioner John Evans. Riley is an attorney specializing in real estate zoning for telecommunications structures, and he and his wife, Ann, are also owners of Riley’s Railhouse Bed & Breakfast in Chesterton. Riley has two children, Rebecca and Christopher, and two stepchildren, Angela and Lauren.
Karen Webster, Secretary:
Karen, who previously served on the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors, returned to the board in 2015 and was appointed by Portage Mayor James Snyder. She studied business finance, accounting, and elementary education at Franklin College in Franklin, IN and Purdue University Calumet in Hammond. She has been the manager of Days Inn in Portage from 1994 to 2006 and again starting in 2014. From 2007 to 2013, she worked for Super 8 in Delavan, WI. Karen has two sons and previously coached youth sports in Portage and, as part of her managing duties at Days Inn, worked with the Elvis FANtasy Fest in Portage to accommodate VIPs and the Wizard of Oz Festival in Chesterton to accommodate the visiting munchkins.
Dr. John Johnson:
Dr. John Johnson previously served on the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors and was instrumental in the development of the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and the partnership with the Indiana Dunes National Park. He was asked to serve again by the Porter County Commissioners in 2011. Dr. Johnson, a resident of Valparaiso, has been the proprietor of The Inn at Aberdeen in Valparaiso since 1995. He is also the owner of Immediate Care Center: The Doctor Is In, which is located in Schererville. He serves on the boards of Porter-Starke Services and Pines Village Retirement Center, and he is on the HealthLinc Quality Assurance Committee. He completed his undergraduate degree and medical school at Indiana University.
Julie Jones began serving in 2016, having been appointed by the towns of Kouts and Hebron. Julie is manager of Birky Family Farms Country Gourmet and is a resident of Kouts. Julie’s mother, Carolyn Birky, served on the Indiana Dunes Tourism board for years and Julie decided to get involved as well. Julie is a member of the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, belongs to Open Door Fellowship Church in Kouts and serves on the Kouts Park Board. She and her husband, Tim, have three daughters and one son. She and her husband also enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.
Jesse began serving on the Indiana Dunes Tourism board of directors again in 2017, having previously served serving a term. He is appointed by the Porter County Commissioners. A graduate of Valparaiso High School, Jesse studied film production at University of California, Los Angeles, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Northridge. He also earned his Juris Doctor degree from Valparaiso University. He owns JBH Productions, Inc. in Valparaiso, a company which does video and film production as well as media consulting. He created and taught for three years the American Citizenship course of Gloria Dei, part of the Northwest Indiana Lutheran Hispanic Mission Society.
Barb joined the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors in 2015 and was appointed by Portage Mayor James Snyder. She studied philosophy at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL and Indiana University Northwest in Gary. She is the director of the Portage Public Marina. She is active as a volunteer with the Portage American Legion Post #260 and has a son and two grandchildren. Barb has 20 years of boating experience on Lake Michigan and is on the board of the Lake Michigan Yachting Association.
Patrick McEuen was appointed in 2017 to the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors. McEuen, a Portage resident, was appointed by the Porter County Commissioners. A graduate of Hobart High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Wabash College and his Juris Doctor from Indiana University. He owns McEuen Law Office in Portage. He is active in a variety of ways in the communities of Northwest Indiana, including serving on the Portage Township Education Foundation Board.
Catherine Brown was appointed in 2016 to the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors. Catherine, a Valparaiso resident, was appointed by Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish from Indiana University. Catherine, who has experience as a teacher, is now one of the owners and operators of Valpo Velvet Ice Cream in Valparaiso.
Ted Fitzgerald was appointed by the Hebron Town Council. He is a Hebron resident and is the current Hebron Town Attorney. Graduating from the University of Notre Dame Law School with a Juris Doctor degree, Ted has held many prestigious legal appointments over his 50+ year career. In 2015, Ted was awarded Professional of the Year during Indiana Dunes Tourism’s annual R.O.S.E. Luncheon.
Gillins was appointed by the Porter County Commissioners. Gillins is the Vice President of Programs and Communications for the Valpo Chamber. He is also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Valparaiso and has been involved with numerous productions at the Memorial Opera House. Gillins lives in Valparaiso with his wife, Patty, and daughter, Lilly.
Soliday was appointed by the Porter County Commissioners. Soliday is a staff attorney at the nonprofit Federal Community Defenders in Hammond Indiana, and he is a graduate of Valparaiso High School, Indiana University, and Valparaiso University School of Law, where he served as an adjunct professor. He was also the co-founder of the Valpo Triathlon, and he continues to enjoy outdoor sports. Prior to working for the Federal Community Defenders, Soliday had a private law practice in Valparaiso and served as a Porter County deputy prosecuting attorney. He and his wife live in Chesterton.
Lisa Wodrich began serving in 2015, having been appointed by the towns of Chesterton, Porter and Burns Harbor. Lisa attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Indiana University. She and her husband, David, are owners of Third Coast Spice Café and Lemon Tree Mediterranean Grill, both in Chesterton. She has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years throughout Indiana, Southwest Michigan, and Chicago. During that time, she spent 12 years as an outside sales representative for a national specialty food distributor and importer based in Maryland. She founded and managed the popular Chesterton’s European Market in downtown Chesterton. She sits on the Family Advisory Board for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and acts as resource development manager for the For the Love of Chocolate Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships for culinary students specializing in the pastry arts. Lisa resides in Porter with her husband and their two children, Ethan and Abby.
David Hollenbeck, Attorney:
David has been serving as the attorney for Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors since the creation of the organization in 1986. David, a Valparaiso resident, is a partner in the law firm of Blachly, Tabor, Bozik & Hartman. In addition to serving the Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Directors, he is also the attorney for the Porter County Board of Health and many other government entities. He serves on the Porter County Community Foundation finance committee. David, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Valparaiso University, teaches classes at the Valparaiso University School of Law and is an NCAA clock operator and scorer for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team.
Lorelei Weimer, Executive Director:
The Executive Director is responsible for directing and leading Indiana Dunes Tourism towards achieving its vision and mission. The director works closely with the board of directors on policy-making and business strategies for the organization, and they also serve as the primary spokesperson and chief executive officer.
Lorelei holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism management from Purdue University Calumet and obtained her Fellow Certified Destination Management Executive certification from Destination Marketing Organization International. Lorelei started her career with Indiana Dunes Tourism in 1991. She currently serves on the Indiana Tourism Council representing Northern Indiana, and she is a current member and past Board of Director of the Indiana Tourism Association. Lorelei currently serves as the treasurer and is a past president of the Board of Directors for the Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission. She is currently a board member of the Duneland Economic Development Corporation, Portage Economic Development Corporation, chairs the Dunes-Kankakee Trail initiative, and co-chairs the Chesterton Branding Leadership Team pilot initiative. She served on the Porter County Economic Alliance and was a staff member to the Porter County Jobs Cabinet. Lorelei is on the board of directors for Laszlo Mission League and is the president-elect of the Duneland Exchange Club.
Christine Livingston, Assistant Director:
The Assistant Director/Marketing Director is responsible for the development and implementation of marketing strategies to meet Indiana Dunes Tourism’s goals and objectives. This includes managing advertising initiatives, the website and database, photo inventory, and major campaigns designed to draw visitors into Porter County communities. The director also assists in managing staff and leads Indiana Dunes Tourism in the Executive Director’s absence.
Christine has a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Indiana University Northwest. Previously, she worked for several nonprofit organizations as a program manager and has worked on various outreach and marketing initiatives. She served as an advisory member of Purdue’s Indiana Water Research Center and served on committees for various community projects, such as the Porter County Corridor Plan Committee, the Duneland School Improvement Committee, and the Porter County Parks Master Planning Committee. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Coastal Program and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.
Dustin Ritchea, Promotions Director:
The Production Director coordinates the production, post-production, delivery, marketing, and design of promotional materials, publications, and video and graphic design projects. The director manages partnership events and outreach programs, such as R.O.S.E., media events, and chamber functions. They also work alongside the marketing team to update and implement the Indiana Dunes Communications Plan, serving as IDT’s in-person representative for all media, radio, step-on guides, and video interviews. The director works closely with the Communications Director on strategic planning and media requests, and they are the communications lead for crisis management.
Dustin has a master’s degree in telecommunications (production and design) from Indiana University and bachelor’s degrees in English and theater arts from Augsburg University. He currently serves as a member of the Indiana Arts Commission and is a graduate of the Valparaiso Chamber Leadership Academy. A porter native, Dustin is a trained actor, producer, photo/videographer, and multimedia specialist. In his spare time, he writes, plays piano, and leads a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Kailey Capuano, Community Engagement Director:
The Communications Director writes and manages content for Indiana Dunes Tourism’s print/digital guides and publications, social media, and travel blog, as well as develops engaging visitor resources such as itineraries and top ten lists. The director works with the marketing team to develop and implement IDT’s key messaging and annual strategic plans and is the primary liaison between media, journalists, and influencers. The Communications Director fulfills media requests, makes press kits, and stays in close communication with the organization’s internal/external audiences and local partners. The director also coordinates regional social media marketing efforts and niche-marketing campaigns that promote the Indiana Dunes.
Kailey Capuano has a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing from Purdue University. She is the author of two self-published novels and is an avid hiker. She says that she’s constantly finding inspiration for her writing at the Indiana Dunes, with its towering sand dunes, vibrant ecosystems, and unforgettable Lake Michigan sunsets.
Julie Brown, Special Project Coordinator:
The Partnership Coordinator is responsible for all of Indiana Dunes Tourism’s partnership sales and gathers festival, event, and coupon information for both the website and print pieces. The Partnership Coordinator also maintains and updates the database for use in mailings, marketing, and website purposes, and is the primary contact for groups looking to visit the Indiana Dunes area.
Julie previously operated a licensed home daycare business and worked for Guideposts for Kids/Teens magazines, Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, St. Anthony Health System, Pathway Family Center, and KPM Group. She is active in Boy Scouts of America, Indiana Addictions Coalition, National Autism Association, PFLAG, St. Patrick’s Church, and the Duneland community
Sandy Remijas, Operations Director:
The Operations Director is responsible for managing the finance, administration, and day-to-day operations at Indiana Dunes Tourism, including the front desk staff management, vendor and customer relationship management, point of sales and inventory management, and human resource management. The director prepares and disseminates materials for monthly Indiana Dunes Tourism Board of Director meetings, maintains office inventory, administers the Tourism Promotion Grant Program, and processes payments, invoices, and credit applications.
Sandy has over 30 years of experience in financial management, having previously worked as the vice president of a lending and corporate office for the Park Federal Savings Bank. She holds a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from the College of DuPage and operated a successful landscape design business in the Chicagoland area for 15 years. She is currently a member of the Planning Commission for the Peace and Social Justice Committee at Queen of All Saints Church, and she is pursuing certification to teach women’s self-defense classes. Sandy volunteers at Michiana Humane Society and Midwest Dachshund Rescue. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking, biking, hiking, walking her dog, snow tubing, and cross-country skiing when she’s not spending time with her sons and grandchildren.
Indiana Dunes Tourism relies on volunteers to assist with special projects. Volunteers also greet visitors at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and fulfill requests for travel information from potential visitors across the U.S.
Destination Concierge Staff:
The Operations Director manages and directs the activities of the Destination Concierge Staff, who are responsible for opening and closing the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center, greeting visitors, assisting with travel information, maintaining accurate visitation records, inputting data into the database, fulfilling travel information requests, and assisting with special projects. The Destination Concierge Staff are the face of Indiana Dunes Tourism at the visitor center and are a primary resource for what visitors are looking for when they visit the Indiana Dunes area.