Benefactor Awards

Benefactor Awards

The Foundation’s mission is to partner with donors to invest in Ivy Tech Community College students, faculty, and programs to build stronger communities and a better Indiana. Our success depends on the support of generous benefactors who give of their time, talent, and treasure to support its mission.

Ivy Tech Foundation annually honors an individual, corporation, or foundation that has changed the lives of our students and the communities in which they live, learn, and work by providing exceptional philanthropic and volunteer leadership. This award celebrates the gifts and volunteer service the recipients have bestowed on the college.

2023 Benefactor Award Recipients

Bonnie Willy

Bonnie Willy has committed much of her adult life to shepherding opportunities for people interested in an Ivy Tech education. In fact, she has been directly responsible for helping thousands of high school students with the acquisition of college credits from Ivy Tech. She has served the college in several ways including through classroom instruction and, most recently, as the Executive Director of K-14. Bonnie has a wealth of knowledge and career-long relationships that allow her to help students in numerous ways, and her commitment to student success is incomparable. If that weren’t enough, Bonnie has contributed to the Ivy Tech Foundation since 2004. She established an endowed scholarship at our Muncie campus in 2021, and she plans to create another for the Anderson campus. Her generosity is an example to us all.


Joyce Poling

Joyce Poling has made a big difference in Bloomington as a leader in county government, community health, economic development, nonprofit board service, and higher education, and her commitment to Ivy Tech is helping students thrive in the real world. In addition to her longstanding work with the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, Joyce supports the college through 3 endowed scholarships, her Circle of Ivy membership, and participation in Ivy Tech capital campaigns. And as a Monroe County commissioner, her deep understanding of workforce development needs of our community led to the construction of the county-funded Indiana Center for Life Sciences, supporting life science training and the study of biotechnology by Ivy Tech students. Her legacy of leadership and service in the community is unparalleled.


The Heritage Fund Community Foundation


The Heritage Fund Community Foundation has been changing lives in the Columbus area for decades. And, for more than 33 years now, the team now led by Tracy Souza has been a longtime partner of Ivy Tech Columbus. Its strategic and community-minded focus has brought our organizations together for numerous community projects. In addition to partnering on scholarships they have supported the iGrad program, academic programs like Visual Communication and Early Childhood, Hope Squad (a suicide prevention program), and more recently a naming opportunity with our building campaign. With their collective giving – more than $1.2 million – the Heritage Fund Community Foundation has left an amazing legacy on Ivy Tech Columbus. Tracy and her team are amazing advocates for the entire Ivy Tech community.


Lu Porter


Lu Porter has been a Foundation board member for more than 27 years, connecting countless donors and Ivy Tech students. Porter supports her community in many ways – from serving 25 local and state boards over the last several decades to delivering community needs and helping non-profits with fundraising. Porter retired from the Evansville African American Museum in 2017 and previously worked in community outreach for Integra Bank. Throughout her life in Evansville, Porter has kept a pulse on supporting youth and the disenfranchised: from helping young people set up their first bank accounts to encouraging the pursuit of higher education. Porter is the daughter of a preacher, to whom she credits for teaching her the values of servant leadership. In addition to the Ivy Tech Foundation Board of Directors, Porter is also currently on the ECHO Community Healthcare board. 


Northeast Indiana Chapter of the Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education

Fort Wayne

The Northeast Indiana Chapter of the Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, also known as NEI INFAME, entered a partnership with Ivy Tech Fort Wayne in 2020. The agreement facilitated the campus serving as NEI INFAME’s education partner implementing a dual-track, work-based learning program for Advanced Manufacturing Technician. The partnership creates a pipeline of highly skilled workers that meet the needs of manufacturing employers in Northeast Indiana. Through an alliance of six partner companies there was an investment of $738,537 – enabling the campus to create an INFAME Flex Lab where leaders develop the whole person including technical skills, work experience, personal behaviors, and core manufacturing skills. Students earn a two-year Advanced Manufacturing associate degree


Lauren and Chris Salerno
Hamilton County

Lauren Salerno has made an unmeasurable difference in the opportunities to support Ivy Tech students throughout Indiana as a volunteer and through her personal giving.  While her support centers around the Hamilton County campus, Lauren has led Ivy Tech’s Circle of Ivy initiative for the entire state and now serves as the Ivy Tech Foundation Board chair. Lauren and her husband Dr. Christopher Salerno established the Salerno Family Endowed Scholarship to help students who want to become a nurse.  In addition to this gift, as a lifetime member of the Circle of Ivy, Lauren established an endowment for the Circle of Ivy.  Lauren’s legacy of service and leadership in support of Indiana is supreme.

Catrina Tate

Catrina (Lane) Tate has made a career of leading others. Catrina graduated from Ivy Tech Indianapolis in 2012, earning her Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration. Catrina, originally from Gary, began her career at Teacher’s Credit Union 19 years ago, and today is Vice President of Retail. Catrina has taken on various supervisor roles – including the management of three locations during her time as a branch manager. Today, Catrina leads a team while working to make a positive impact at TCU and the industry. She is co-chair of the credit union’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce and serves as First Vice Chair for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana Board of Directors. She is a past mentor for Habitat for Humanity and has established a scholarship in her name at Ivy Tech. Catrina was a 2021 winner of the David R Sage Award, and a CLD Minority Achievers nominee.


The City of Kokomo and Howard County

The City of Kokomo and Howard County make our community better by emphasizing quality of place, economic development, and educational attainment – and they recognize the important contributions Ivy Tech Kokomo. They have supported our scholarship fundraising efforts along with our Doing the Dream Diversity event, job fairs, and leadership programs. Both also have supported two important initiatives: the $43 million Kokomo Campus Transformation and the development of Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Industry 4.0 Lab supporting Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration skills training, which are vital to the area’s industrial sector. As the campus prepares for potentially hundreds of students associated with the $2.5 billion EV battery plant under construction, we are grateful for the support from the city and the county. The 3.3 million-square-foot StarPlus Energy plant, a joint venture of Stellantis and Samsung SDI, is expected to employ 1,400 when completed in 2025.



Cleveland Cliffs
Lake County/Valparaiso

Cleveland-Cliffs has been a financial friend of Ivy Tech for more than 26 years. The company is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America and the main source of steel production serving Northwest Indiana. For years Cleveland-Cliffs has supported the Chancellors’ scholarship event – the Meet the Need initiative – for students. It also partners on the electrical technology certificate program to help improve the lives of students at the Lake County and Valparaiso campuses. Cleveland-Cliffs is committed to public service in the region, and they’ve made it their business to stay involved in what’s happening locally. They understand there is a need in every community and remain committed to partnering with non-profit organizations, including the company’s footprint through in-kind contributions and financial support.


Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN)

Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) has partnered with Ivy Tech Lafayette since 2019, giving nearly $1.1 million in grants to various programs, primarily in agriculture. WHIN serves 10 counties in North Central Indiana and is working to develop the region into a global epicenter for digital agriculture and next-generation manufacturing – one that is empowered by data science and Internet-enabled sensors of all types. The organization’s regional cultivation initiative is designed to increase the vitality, education, and connectivity of the Wabash Heartland region.

Jim and Charlotte Helms

Since 1963, Jim Helms has dedicated his life to education by serving in a wide variety of roles including high school teacher, guidance counselor, basketball coach, and high school principal. Helms’ initial involvement with Ivy Tech was in 1976 when he served on the Southeast Regional Board of Trustees.  He continued to serve as a Trustee until he was hired as the Executive Dean in 1998 for the Lawrenceburg and Batesville campuses. In 2001, Helms was named Chancellor of the Southeast Region, which included Lawrenceburg, Batesville, and Madison. Under Jim’s leadership as Chancellor, the college’s vision to expand Ivy Tech in Southeastern Indiana with new state of the art facilities in all three communities was brought to fruition.  During his 16-year tenure as Chancellor, the College experienced a massive and unprecedented growth period of enrollment, curriculum, and programs.  Jim was also instrumental in launching the now statewide Dual Enrollment initiative creating partnerships with the area high schools to offer college credits to high school students.  After retiring in 2014, Jim continued his involvement with Ivy Tech, along with his dedication to meet the educational needs of Indiana residents, by serving on the statewide Foundation Board of Directors until 2018.  In 2021, Jim was selected as the Lawrenceburg Citizen of the Year in honor of his outstanding community activism & dedicated regional support for the citizens of the City of Lawrenceburg & Southeast Indiana. Jim & Charlotte Helms have been married for 58 years, and together have funded two separate scholarships through Ivy Tech Foundation.  The Jim & Charlotte Helms Scholarship fund was established to assist students in reaching their educational goals.  They also did not hesitate to establish the Jim & Charlotte Helms Emergency Scholarship fund when they were made aware of a tragic situation an Ivy Tech student was facing and wanted to ensure students would be able to continue their education despite unforeseen situations they may encounter.

The Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County

The Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County (CFMJC) has been a true partner and supporter of our Ivy Tech community for more than three decades. The Foundation has supported initiatives as far ranging from endowing a scholarship, outfitting our Paramedic classroom, expanding campus broadband service, supporting our emergency aid fund, and beautifying our campus with more than 20 new trees. The Foundation is making our campus, along with Madison and Jefferson counties, better.


Randy Ballinger

Randy Ballinger is professionally and personally committed to making Indiana a better place to live – including for students at Ivy Tech. Randy – a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in agronomy and turfgrass science and a graduate of the National Institute of Golf Management – served on the Ivy Tech (state/Marion) board of directors from 2018-2022. He’s been recognized numerous times for his leadership in the state’s golf industry – including recipient of the National Golf Course Owners Association Champion’s Award and the Indiana Golf Course Owners Course of the Year Award. Away from the course, he’s been recognized for his support of Indiana’s communities: Randy was honored with the Hoosier Homestead Award and the Indiana Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award. He’s a past vice president of the state’s tourism board and he’s a three-term past president of the Grant County Convention Recreation and Visitors Commission.


Sheila Johnson

Sheila Johnson has been a servant leader for Ivy Tech Muncie for 50 years. Her career began in 1973, making her the longest-serving state employee in the history of the college. Throughout her tenure, she has held various executive positions in the Office of Administration, working diligently under 9 previous chancellors. It is often said that she has trained nine chancellors and played a vital role in assisting thousands of students in achieving their education goals. Early in her career, she was the Executive Assistant to President Gerald Lamkin father of Indiana’s community college system. She has had many opportunities offered to her in Indianapolis but has chosen to serve in Muncie her entire career.

Currently as Chief of Staff, Sheila’s responsibilities extend far beyond the smooth operation of the campus. She has consistently demonstrated her exceptional leadership abilities and unwavering commitment to excellence. Her expertise and diligence have been instrumental in ensuring that our institution functions seamlessly, and her exemplary management skills have earned her the trust and respect of our entire community.

As the liaison for the Campus Board of Trustees, she helps maintain a cohesive and well-informed administrative structure. Her strategic thinking, combined with her strong work ethic, has resulted in significant advancements for the students.

Sheila K. Johnson has had as strong impact on our Ivy Tech Foundation through her consistent giving over the course of her 50-year tenure. Her dedication, professionalism, and unwavering commitment to Ivy Tech’s mission have been a driving force in Muncie. She embodies the qualities and values that the benefactor of the year seeks to honor. She is a well-deserving recipient of this prestigious recognition.


Glen and Carolyn Thornburg

Glen and Carolyn Thornburg are a faith-driven couple. They have committed time, talent, and financial support to many local and international organizations with a shared mission to love and support people from all walks of life. Their most recent gift is both personal and a meaningful way to help Ivy Tech students for years to come. Glen and Carolyn became members of the Cornerstone Society and established the endowed Grant Huldane Thornburg Legacy Scholarship in memory of their son, a United States Marine Corps veteran. This endowment ensures a legacy that will change the lives of Ivy Tech students forever. Additionally, their early involvement in the Young Life program impacted countless young people in the Richmond area. Glen and Carolyn are admired by all who have the pleasure to meet them.


The Caesars Foundation of Floyd County

The Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, a private foundation created to benefit the Floyd County community, has been an important partner to our campus and community. The Foundation’s philanthropic focus traditionally falls into the categories of grant making to charitable non-profit organizations, educational scholarships, and program-related investments that encourage economic development. Since its inception, the Caesars Foundation has awarded more than $57 million to Floyd County organizations and schools. The Sellersburg Ivy Tech foundation’s benefactor, Caesars Southern Indiana, has contributed more than $69 million to the Sellersburg Ivy Tech Foundation since 1999. Excluding annual scholarships, Caesars Foundation of Floyd County has contributed more than $500,000, which includes its most recent gift of $100,000 to support the renovation of a new Student Life and Development Center.


Donna and Dick Pfeil

South Bend

For more than 10 years, Donna and Dick Pfeil have been one of the strongest supporters of Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart campus, specifically the Culinary Program. They created the Donna & Dick Pfeil Hospitality Administration Scholarship in 2016 and have supported Ivy Tech’s annual fundraising event, which started as the Culinary Dinner nearly 20 years ago and has evolved into the Ivy Impact Gala.  Both Dick and Donna are known for their philanthropic commitment to the Michiana area.  Together, they have funded the Pfeil Innovation Center for Beacon Health System employees and the Pfeil Innovation Center at Bethel University for students and staff. Dick and Donna continue to be visionaries for Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart. Dick currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the college, while Donna is a member of the Circle of Ivy. Their commitment to Ivy Tech students persists as they continue to partner with the College through new opportunities.


Union Health

Terre Haute

Union Health and Ivy Tech Terre Haute have been linked for many years. Union Health is an integrated health system and the Wabash Valley’s largest employer. It has served the health care needs of West Central Indiana and East Central Illinois residents for more than 130 years. Union Health’s mission is to provide compassionate health care of the highest quality while leading communities to their best health and wellness. Union Health has served as a clinical site for Ivy Tech Terre Haute students for more than 50 years and employs more than 600 Ivy Tech graduates, which is equal to nearly 20 percent of its total staff. In the spring, Union Hospital Foundation awarded Ivy Tech a $1 million gift to expand the School of Nursing and support the School of Health Sciences.


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