Starke County Economic Development Foundation, Inc.

Board of Directors

Janice Hernandez

At-Large Member Since January, 2015

Owner of Professional Employment Partners

Janice Hernandez is involved in many different boards and organization in the Starke County community. She has been in the staffing business since 2006. She owns Professional Employment Partners. Her service works with companies to help them find the best employees to work at the facilities. Janice is currently serving on the Foundation’s Workforce Development Committee and is serving her initial term on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.  Janice also serves as a member of the Board of the Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning, Inc. (SCILL).


Dave Howell

Representative Member – Kankakee Valley REMC since 2014

Dave is the Director of Membership Services/Key Accounts at Kankakee Valley REMC. He is a past member of the South Central Community School Board of Directors, and he currently serves on the Noble Township Fire Board of Directors. He is also on the Board of Directors of The South Central Educational Foundation. Dave is a graduate of Gary Methodist Paramedic School and the Ball State Economic Development Course.


James W.
James W. Wagner


Retired from CenturyLink

Representative Member from 1987-2010
At-Large Member since 2011

Jim Wagner worked for more than forty years in the communications business before retiring from CenturyLink in 2010. He is a graduate of Elkhart High School, Elkhart Indiana; Indiana State University, B.S. Marketing; Ball State, Economic Development Course; and University of Oklahoma, Economic Development Degree Program.


Carla Musial


Representative Member - DeMotte State Bank Since 2007

With over 30 years of experience in Community Banking, Carla Musial has served in the positions of Vice President and Knox Branch Manager at the DeMotte State Bank.


Donald White
Past President


White Construction

At-Large Member since 2006

Originally from Starke County, Donald White went to work for Scott Foresman & Company immediately after high school graduation. He later took management courses at Purdue University North Central and completed a Dale Carnegie Course for Human Relations. In 1972, Donald and his brother started White Construction. In 1981, Donald took over sole ownership and became D.W. White Construction. Since 1972, he has been building homes and light commercial spaces in Starke, St. Joseph, Marshall, and Porter Counties. He also co-founded L.M.W. Investments LLC, and in 2005 became a land developer. Donald is currently developing Anchorage Town Homes at Bass Lake, Indiana.


Jeff Berg
Representative Member - Knox City Council since January 2018


Jeff Berg is a 1973 graduate of Knox High School who went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Army Reserve Program.  Upon Retirement from the military, Jeff served as an emergency medical services professional and certified medical equipment delivery technician until his retirement in 2015.

Jeff's public service includes 15 years on the Knox Plan Commission, he has served on the Knox Common Council since 2003 and has also been a member of the Knox Redevelopment Commission and as a representative on the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission..He is also a member of the Starke County Historical Society and a County Precinct Committeeman.



Judy Caudill
Representative Member - 1st Source Bank-Knox since January, 2017

Judy has 38 years of experience with 1st Source Bank. Having held many different positions within the bank, Judy is currently Assistant Vice President and Manager at the Knox Banking Center.

 Judy is involved in many community activities that promote Starke County.


Adam Collins
At-Large Member since March 2018

Adam is Plant Manager at Galfab located in Winamac, Indiana, after serving for several years as Vice President of Operations at Kruz, Inc., Knox, Indiana

Adam brings 26 years experience in manufacturing to Starke County.  Serving roles in a variety of aspects of manufacturing including tool and die, engineering and manufacturing management, Adam provides a diversified background with eleven years experience at MPI Indiana Fineblanking, three years in the Aero Space Industry with Howmet of LaPorte, and having served as Vice President of Operations for Kruz, Inc, in Knox since 2007, and now Plant Manager at Galfab since October of 2019.

Adam holds an Associates of Science Degree in Machine Trades from Vincennes University and is a Journeyman Tool and Die Maker.  He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering Technology with an emphasis in Organization Leadership from Purdue University.

Adam is past chair and a sitting member of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board.  The NWIWB is a board of business, education, labor, community, faith-based and economic development leaders responsible for the strategic vision of workforce development and governance of WorkOne in Northwest Indiana. They are also responsible for managing connections to key resources in the workforce and education arena as well as supporting efforts on programming that plan and nurture the seed of entrepreneurship. The board works to determine current and future skill needs together with economic developers, employers, and economists.

Adam and his wife Jill reside in Winamac and have three children.



Denise Cultice


Nancy Dembowski
At-Large Member since 1986; Director Emeritus since 2018

Nancy Dembowski is a life-long resident of Knox who was employed at WKVI Radio for 25 years. She also served as a member of the Starke County Council for seven years; Mayor of Knox for eleven years; two years in the Indiana Senate, District 5; and six years in the Indiana House, District 17. Nancy’s accomplishments also include the roles of VP of Starke County Economic Development Foundation; former President of the Knox Chamber of Commerce; former President of Starke County Junior Achievement; a Board member of Starke United; and a Board Member of the Starke County Community Foundation. She currently serves as Chair of Moving Starke County Forward.


Mayor Dennis
Mayor Dennis Estok
Representative Member - Mayor of City of Knox since January 2016

Formerly: Representative Member - Mayor of Knox 2004-2007
  Representative Member – Starke County Plan Commission -August 2009-December 2015

Dennis currently serves as Mayor of the City of Knox after having spent several years as the Starke County Surveyor and as a member of the Starke County Plan Commission.


Autumn Ferch
At-Large Member since 2021

Autumn Ferch currently serves as the City Attorney for the City of Knox, Indiana after having worked as a member of the Starke County Prosecutors Office prior to that.  She is a graduate of Oregon-Davis High School.  She also serves as a member of the Board of School Trustees for the Knox Community School Corporation, and is a Boartd Member for The Starke County Youth Club.


A.J. Gappa
Representative Member - School Superintendents from May 2011 to July 2017; At-Large Member since July 2017

A.J. Gappa previously served as Superintendent of the Knox Community School Corporation and as President of the Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning, Inc. (SCILL).  He has been an at-large member since 2017.


Mark Gourley
Representative Member - Starke County Board of Commissioners since 2021

Mark Gourley just began his first term as a County Commissioner representing District 1 in Starke County.


Kay Gudeman
Representative Member from Starke County Council since January of 2020

Kay is currently employed at WKVI Radio in Knox as General Sales Manager and sits on the Starke County Council. She holds an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies from IUSB and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Calumet College of St. Joseph.  Kay serves on the WKVI Board of Directors and was recently appointed to KIRPC. When Kay is not working, she spends time with her husband LeRoy Gudeman, a Knox retired attorney.  


Brad Hazelton
Representative Member - Starke County Council since January 2017

Brad is a lifelong resident of Hamlet, Indiana.  He is married to Jana.  He has three children, Harper (10), Hudson (6), and Henry (3).  He is a 1996 graduate of Oregon-Davis High School.  He earned an Associate Degree in agribusiness from Vincennes University.  He has been employed at Farm Fertilizers & Seeds, Inc., for 22 years.  He has been a member of the Hamlet Fire Department for 16 years, presently serving as Chief.  He is a member of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, presently serving as President.  He was President of the Starke County Council and now serves as its Vice-President after having just been reelected to another term.


Wendy Hoppe
At-Large Member since 2018

Representative Member - North Judson Town Council (2011 - 2017); At-Large Member since 2018

Wendy is a former member of the North Judson Town Council and for a portion of that time she served as President. She also serves on the Board for Habitat for Humanity.

Wendy has owned Hoppe Hardware, Inc. of North Judson for the past few years. She has been an Indiana Licensed Contractor Plumber for  over 25 years and has been in the hardware industry for more than 40 years. She has lived in Starke County her entire life.


Keith Nichols


Christin Romine
Representative Member - Starke County Chamber of Commerce since January 2020

Christin is a Commercial Insurance Agent at 1st Source Insurance where she has worked for the last 6 years. She has been in the insurance business for over 13 years. She attended IU South Bend school of Criminal Justice before joining the insurance industry. She volunteers in various activities and helping improve the community in any way she can and enjoys spending her time with her husband and 4 children.


William J.
William J. Sonnemaker
Past President

At-Large Member 2003-2020; Director Emeritus since 2021

Retired - Lockheed Martin Corporation

William J. Sonnemaker is retired from Lockheed Missile & Space Company with over 40 years experience in Facilities Management. He previously served for 7 years as President of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation. He is also a former Director and Treasurer of Starke United, the local United Way organization; a former Director of the Bass Lake Property Owners Association for six years, and continues as Director of the Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning (SCILL). Bill also served as a Director of the Sunnyvale, California Chamber of Commerce.

Bill’s education includes a BSIE from Bradley University, 1954; United States Air Force Contracting Officers School, 1955; Sanford Sloan Executive Fellow, 1968-1969. Bill’s affiliations include: Registered Professional Engineer, California; American Institute of Industrial Engineers; Society of Automotive Engineers; National Management Association; Industrial Development Research Council (Core Net); International Facility Management Association; and California Society of Professional Engineers.


James Young
Representative Member - North Judson Town Council since January 2018 - December 2018 and January 2020-