2023 Board of Directors


Gary Johnson (President)
Gary Johnson is a Gary native.  He and his wife currently reside in Gary’s Miller Beach community.  Gary graduated from Horace Mann High School.  He earned a BS Electrical Engineering degree at Purdue University in West Lafayette, then after a three-year work break, returned to earn an MS in Industrial Administration. In 1979 he was recruited to Cleveland, Ohio.  In 1990 he was elected chairman, president, and ceo of a producer of electronic materials. As a result of his work to improve the quality of the materials produced, he was elevated to Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.  He left in 2004 and affiliated with three technology-based venture capital funds focus on strategies to commercialize technology.  He relocated from Cleveland to Northwest Indiana in 2012 to become president of Mortar Net Solutions (Burns Harbor, IN).  He holds six patents and was recognized as a member of the Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators in 2015. Gary became a director of the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1992 and served as chairman from 2005 to 2012.  In Northwest Indiana, in addition to serving on the board of the Calumet Heritage Partnership, he is board chair of the Crisis Center in Gary and board chair of the Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest.

Tyrell Anderson (Vice President, Indiana)

Kevin Brown (Vice President, Illinois)
Kevin Brown is a lifelong resident of the Calumet Region, both in Illinois & Northwest Indiana, and co-owns a marketing & communications firm with his wife Sara. In his hometown of Blue Island, IL, he serves as Executive Director of the Blue Island Historical Society. He and his wife also produce an award-winning documentary series on Blue Island — My B.I. — a video portrait of the people, places, and stories that make their city so special.

David Klein (Treasurer)

David attended the first meeting of the Calumet Heritage Partnership when it was founded twenty years ago. He has been a Board member since 2005, serving as treasurer. For most of his career, David has worked in theater as a stagehand in Chicago, including a twenty-year stint at Lyric Opera. His career path, though, has taken a couple of detours through the Calumet Region. In northwest Indiana, he served for three years as Executive Director of the Calumet Project, a labor-community-religious coalition that worked on social, economic, and environmental justice issues. Following this, he spent a decade with a Service Employees International Union local based in Gary, where he worked as a researcher, organizer, union rep, and finally as the administrative manager for the Local’s health and welfare fund. Career shifting again, recently he has returned to theater work and is currently the shop carpenter for the Joffrey Ballet. David is a member of the Board and Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of the Calumet Area. He is also a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. In his spare time he takes full advantage of the Calumet Region’s recreational natural resources as a cyclist, boater, and kayaker. David lives in Whiting with his spouse Susan Duncan, a researcher in global health, and a number of cats that may slightly exceed what’s permitted by city ordinance.

Kathleen Tobin (Secretary)
Dr. Kathleen Tobin is Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History and Philosophy at Purdue University Northwest. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and currently teaches 20th century U.S. History. Her research addresses population issues, migration, and birth control history. Her publications include  “People, Not Property: Population Issues and the Neutron Bomb, in Cold War History (2016), “Manning the Enemy: U.S. Perspectives on International Birth Rates during the Cold War,” in Philip Muehlenbeck, ed., Sex, Gender, and the Cold War: A Global Perspective (2016), “Feeding a Population: Agricultural Education Priorities in Haitian History,” in Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences, (2015), “Population Density and Housing in Port-au-Prince: Historical Construction of Vulnerability,” in the Journal of Urban History in November, (2013), and “The Reduction of Urban Vulnerability: Revisiting 1950s American Suburbanization as Civil Defense,” Cold War History (2002). Her books include The American Religious Debate over Birth Control, 1907-1937 and Politics and Population Control, A Documentary History. Dr. Tobin is a lifelong resident of the Calumet Region.

Directors (in alphabetical order)

Emiliano Aguilar Jr (Director)

A lifelong Hoosier, Emiliano Aguilar Jr. is a native of East Chicago, IN, and current Assistant Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Emiliano has a bachelor’s degree in English and History from Wabash College, a master’s degree in History from Purdue University Northwest, and earned his Ph.D. in History at Northwestern University. His manuscript-in-progress, “Building a Latino Machine,” focuses on how the ethnic Mexican and Puerto Rican communities of East Chicago, Indiana, navigated corrupt machine politics to pursue their inclusion into the city. The narrative traces Latinos’ transition from cogs in the political machine to eventually becoming the machine itself. He is interested in the region’s history and how these often-underrepresented stories can enrich classrooms across the Calumet. His work has been featured in Belt Magazine, Cleveland Review of Books, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Blog, and the Indiana Historical Society Blog, among others. He has spoken about his work and Latinx History in the Midwest on PATV Channel 18, Inner States on Indiana Public Radio, and Valparaiso University’s Welcome Project.

Mark Bouman (Director)
Mark Bouman’s association with the Calumet Heritage Partnership dates to the opening presentation he gave at the first Calumet Heritage Conference in 1999, although it was not until 2005 that he joined the board when CHP became formally affiliated with Chicago’s Steel Heritage Project. Between 2007 and 2017, he served as CHP’s President. Mark has been closely involved with several Calumet regional efforts, including the Lake Calumet Ecosystem Partnership, Calumet Stewardship Initiative, and the Calumet Environmental Resource Center at Chicago State University. He was the Project Director for a widely distributed map of the Calumet region that originally appeared in the Spring, 2009 issue of Chicago Wilderness magazine. Mark’s association with the Calumet region dates to his undergraduate days at Valparaiso University, where the classic geomorphology field trip from the Kankakee sand islands, across the Valparaiso Moraine, and to the lakefront at Mt. Baldy set the hook for a professional lifetime in geography, and, as it turns out, the Calumet region. Mark’s graduate work in geography at the University of Minnesota focused on the relationship between cities and technology, and his work in that area has appeared in the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of American History, and The Cities and Technology Reader. He was a Professor of Geography at Chicago State University from 1984 to 2012. Since 2012, he is the Chicago Region Program Director in the Division of Environment, Culture, and Conservation at The Field Museum.

Benjamin Cox (Director)
Benjamin Cox became Friends of the Forest Preserves first Executive Director in 2004. Benjamin graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis with a degree in journalism and minors in Spanish and Environmental Studies. After working as a newspaper reporter, he served in several non-profit roles, including Director of the International Tibet Independence Movement and a Facilitator for the Peace Learning Center through AmeriCorps. But environmental defense is his real passion. As President and CEO of Friends, Benjamin addresses a range of policy issues, works to bring resources to the Forest Preserves District, advises the Board of Commissioners, advises and works for stewards, bikers, birders and other constituency groups, and more.

Lauren Pacheco (Director)
Lauren M. Pacheco is a Mexican-American born and raised on Chicago’s southwest side. She is a civic practice artist and cultural worker with over fifteen years of arts administration, curation, and project management experience. Her background is grounded in social practice and public engagement with a personal mandate to responsibly and respectfully invest in targeted communities. Many of her projects are interested in space, people, and social impact. Today, Pacheco serves as a resource to policymakers and institutions in the public dialogue about issues that impact artists and creative enterprises. Lauren holds degrees from Northwestern University and the School of the Art Institute and is an associate faculty lecturer and director of arts programming and engagement at Indiana University Northwest. Lauren lives in Gary, Indiana.  

Thomas Shepherd (Director)
Tom Shepherd has served on the Calumet Heritage Partnership board almost since CHP’s inception. A lifelong resident of the Calumet region, Tom has been involved in community affairs at many levels and has worked in government as well as being active on social, labor, and political issues. Tom resides in Historic Pullman, having served three terms as president of the Pullman Civic Organization. He’s led tours and events in the Pullman neighborhood and the surrounding region for many years. Tom is a life-member of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, and as a member of the local Steelworker Retirees chapter helped to spearhead an effort to preserve the legacy of Big Steel and the ACME Steel Coke Plant on the city’s southeast side. He is also a board member of the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Chicago Recycling Coalition. As a member of Governor Quinn’s Millennium Reserve Steering Committee, Tom helped lead the effort to open Lake Calumet to the public and was part of teams to help Pullman achieve National Monument status, and to gain national recognition of the Calumet Heritage Corridor.

Gwen Stricker (Director)
Gwen Stricker is an architectural designer and preservationist at HPZS, an architecture firm in downtown Chicago that specializes in preservation and sustainability. She grew up in Whiting, Indiana, surrounded by the giants of industry that define the Calumet Region. Her undergraduate degree in Architecture from Ball State University prepared her for her eventual decision to pursue a Master of Science in Historic Preservation at Columbia University in New York City. To fulfill the requirements of her graduate degree, Gwen wrote her thesis titled “Industrial Decay: Environmental Value of Industrial Heritage Sites,” which explored the shortcomings of American preservation practice in protecting, understanding, and representing industrial sites and ruins through extensive study and analysis of former industrial sites in the Calumet Region. Her thesis research connected her with the Calumet Heritage Partnership, and following her graduation she was nominated to the board of directors. Outside of preserving heritage sites, Gwen enjoys listening to live music with her partner Madelynne and playing with their two cats Florence and Dolly.

Julie Zasada (Director)
Julie Zasada is a College of Business graduate of University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. She held positions in human resources, employment staffing, and college admissions, prior to embarking upon her child-rearing career and many appointments to non-profit boards in Lake County, Indiana.  She was inducted into the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana in 2007 for her project to bring a children’s museum to Cedar Lake. She completed Purdue University Northwest’s Leadership Northwest Indiana program in 2019 (LNI43). Julie has been volunteering with the Cedar Lake Historical Association (CLHA) since 2008 as a board member, and most active as the CLHA Executive Director since 2015. The CLHA museum is housed in the 100-year old Lassen’s Resort Hotel on the shore of Cedar Lake, and restoring and returning the building to its 1920’s glory is her absolute passion.  She was born and raised in the Chicagoland suburbs, but since 2002, the Calumet region has been home for her family, which includes husband, Todd, and their five children, whom Julie also homeschools. 

Past Board of Directors Lists

2022 Board of Directors
2021 Board of Directors
2020 Board of Directors
2019 Board of Directors
2018 Board of Directors
2017 Board of Directors 
2016 Board of Directors
2015 Board of Directors
2014 Board of Directors
2013 Board of Directors