Michael E. Schrage, President and CEO of Centier Bank, announced a new community initiative in the city of Hammond: The Hammond Community Advisory Panel. The Hammond Community Advisory Panel consists of a seven member group that will meet quarterly to discuss projects and initiatives in an effort to help improve the standard of living and quality of life for Hammond residents.
Although the advisory panel is considered an independent body of community leaders, panel members will follow the Centier Bank corporate model for community service. Ongoing initiatives will include, but not be limited to, Health and Wellness, Housing, Education, and Jobs.
“The Hammond Community Advisory Panel is comprised of business and community leaders who have dedicated their lives to improving the economy, quality of life, education, and overall progress of the Hammond community,” stated Schrage. “Their work has made a distinct impression on the citizens of Hammond and our mission is to continue this progress.”
Panel members include: Greg Boyan, Lourdes Castellanos, Rocharda Moore-Morris, Wes Lukoshus, Sylvia Planer, Tim Ross, and Art Russell.
Former Executive Director of the Hammond INnovation Center, has led the way for entrepreneurs to grow and develop their business. He continues to work with many small businesses and organizations in the community to instill a vision of innovation and economic development for Northwest Indiana.
Creative Solution/Solutionz Unlimited, and founder of the newly developed Healthy U, an annual event in Northwest Indiana promoting overall health and wellness. Her philanthropic efforts include the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Annual Luncheon in NWI and the role of marketing manager for the NWI House Raffle, which benefits Crossroads YMCA and St. Jude House.
Innovative Solutions, has years of professional experience developing programs for the citizens and families of NWI. She has planned, developed, and implemented programs such as Parent University, the Comer Process, and Neighborhood Rehabilitation Program.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Advancement/University Relations, has more than 25 years of service with Purdue Calumet. His community involvement includes service on the board of the Hammond Education Foundation, the steering committee of the Hammond sports Hall of Fame, Woodmar-Hammond Kiwanis Club and Ridge United Methodist Church.
President of the Hammond Hispanic Community Committee, serves on several community boards and committees, including Purdue Alumni Association Calumet Board, and Hammond Education Foundation. She is also a member of the NWI Quality of Life Council, Our Family Center, and the NIPRC 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan Steering Committee and its Urban Core Subcommittee.
Regional Director Occupational/Employee Health Franciscan Working Well, is responsible for directing five Occupational Health Clinics and on site health clinics, throughout a three county area, including NWI, Southeast Chicago, and Southeast Michigan. He is also Treasurer of the Northwest Indiana Business Round Table and Treasurer of the Hammond Development Corporation.
Director of Community Development for Centier Bank, is a member of the Hammond Education Foundation, United Neighborhoods, Inc., Urban League of NWI, and Banker’s Council of Northwest Indiana. As coordinator for the Hammond Community Advisory Panel, Russell will oversee all community projects and will serve as a liaison between the panel and Centier Management and Board of Directors.
According to Art Russell, Director of Community Development for Centier Bank, the idea for this group was developed in part to aid in the city’s consolidated plan and analysis of impediments to Fair Housing Choice. The City of Hammond has identified a list of major impediments to the city,
including vacant and abandoned properties, foreclosed properties, quality housing, and homeownership and financial literacy.
“As a bank, it makes sense for us to spearhead an initiative that affects the economic reinvestment of a community,” stated Russell. “But, we need a different approach. We are taking what the city has outlined as economic hurdles and are engaging community leaders – each with their own talented network of support – and we’re working together to devise action plans.”
The group hopes to accomplish this by acting swiftly, supporting current community projects before developing new ones. “We are tapping into the community to gain momentum and work together,” he said. Russell added that Centier Bank will support these efforts through its network of associates and financial support. “We have the resources to be very effective in financial literacy efforts,” stated Russell. “We’ll build off of those efforts to be a proactive resource for other Hammond organizations.”
Though members will meet as a group quarterly, Russell says that continuous action plans will be delegated to teams. “This is a group of multi-taskers that won’t rest until their job is done,” stated Russell.