Business and Economics

Pence Has New Airport Board President: New Members Mean Business

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September 2, 2013 — A local businessman is Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s choice to preside over the Gary/Chicago International Airport Board.

Pence has appointed Thomas M. Collins, Sr. to a four-year term as President of the Board.

Pence said in Friday’s announcement, “With nearly thirty years of firsthand economic development experience in northwest Indiana, Tom Collins, Sr. has the skills and unique perspective necessary to lead the Gary/Chicago International Airport Board.  Under his leadership, I am certain the Board will ensure quality service and operation of the airport for Hoosier taxpayers in the region for years to come.”

The Valparaiso man is President of Luke Oil Company, a family-owned and operated business started by his father-in-law Ralph Luke in 1967.

As a lifelong resident of northwest Indiana, Collins joined the company in 1986 after working as an electrician for ten years through IBEW Local 697.

Pence says Collins played a critical role in growing Luke’s business, “and was personally responsible for Luke Oil’s north Lake County growth strategy in the late 1990’s.”

The Governor’s announcement said, “In 2005, the company purchased County Line Orchards, used at time for fundraisers to benefit local charities including the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and various veterans’ organizations.  Today, Collins spends much of his time managing and growing the wholesale fuel and transportation business and is active in the company’s growth plans, real estate development and investment opportunities. He recently completed a term as President of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers Association and serves as Indiana’s board member to the Petroleum Marketers of America Association.”

The Board is a municipal corporation responsible for the management and operation of the Gary airport. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson names four appointments to the Board while the Governor, the Lake County Board of Commissioners and the Porter County Board of Commissioners each name one appointment.

The Mayor named her four appointees last week, along with presenting the Lake County appointee, including:

James Cooper, the Vice President – Account Manager at JP Morgan Chase in Chicago.  He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in accounting from Indiana University Northwest. Cooper has extensive experience in data analysis, external regulatory reporting and auditing.

Michael Doyne, President of Doyne’s Marine, Inc., in Portage, Ind. Doyne is a certified pilot for light sport aircraft and previously served on the airport’s board from 2004 to 2009.  A graduate of PurdueUniversity, Doyne also taught biology and environmental science at the former WilliamA.WirtHigh School, now the Wirt/Emerson VPA Academy.

Shontrai Irving, Attorney at State Farm insurance in Crown Point. He is also a former deputy prosecutor of the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office.  Irving holds a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law and an MBA from the Purdue University School of Management.

Alesia Pritchett, Director of Business Services/Grant Management for the SchoolCity of Hammond.  Pritchett is a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of PurdueUniversity. She also holds an MBA from Indiana University Northwest. Pritchett previously served as the Director of Business Services for the Gary Community School Corporation and held several accounting positions at United Airlines.

Denise Dillard, (Lake County appointment), Vice President of Government and External Affairs at the Methodist Hospitals where she also previously served as the Vice President of Human Resources. Dillard earned a degree in economics and political science from HowardUniversity and a Master’s degree in Public Policy Administration from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  She also holds a certificate in negotiations from HarvardUniversity.



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