John Sampson (chair)

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

John R. Sampson, President/CEO for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, strategically directs the Partnership's mission to generate business investment in the region. John actively supports collaborative relations with stakeholders, fosters regional communications and works to expand all channels of business development on behalf of the ten county local economic development organizations of Northeast Indiana.  Previously, John served as the Vice President for External Affairs and AEP President-Indiana and Michigan with responsibility for public policy advocacy and interaction with external stakeholders including legislators, regulators, government officials, customers, and business and community leaders.  Prior to his work in Indiana, John served as Site Vice President and Plant Manager of the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant, in Bridgman, Michigan. During that time, he was elected vice president for Indiana Michigan Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of AEP. John joined AEP in 1985, serving as the Operations Production Supervisor, Safety and Assessment Superintendent, Operations Superintendent and Assistant Plant Manager for Technical Support.  Prior to service with AEP, John was the Maintenance Production Manager at the Washington Nuclear Project No. 2, operated by the Washington Public Power Supply System.  A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering and was licensed as a senior reactor operator for the Washington Nuclear Project and the Cook Nuclear Plant. During his naval service, he qualified as engineer in the Naval Reactors program. John completed the AEP management development program at Ohio State University, and the Senior Nuclear Plant Management course of instruction at the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.



Wayne Barker

Bluffton-Harrison M.S.D. 

Wayne Barker is now in his sixth year as Superintendent of Schools for Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District after serving fourteen years as Assistant Principal and Head Boys Basketball Coach at Bluffton High School. Prior to coming to Bluffton, Mr. Barker taught business education and coached basketball at Cowan High School during the 1994-1995 school year.  He began his teaching and coaching career at Carroll High School in 1989 and served there through 1994.  Mr. Barker graduated from Ball State University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business education.  He earned his Master of Science in Administrative Leadership from Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne in 1998.  He earned his Educational Specialist (Ed. S.) degree from Indiana University – Bloomington in December 2006 and received his Superintendent’s License in August of 2009.  He holds active memberships in the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Indiana School Boards Association, Upper Wabash Valley School Study Council, Northern Indiana Superintendents Club, Indiana Basketball Coaches Association, and attends Hope Missionary Church.



Brian Bauer

Lutheran Health Network 

Being the son of a nurse and the husband of a nurse, Lutheran Health Network and Lutheran Hospital CEO Brian Bauer knows a thing or two about placing the needs of the patient ahead of all else. Bauer’s bulldog reputation has little to do with an aggressive personality; it has everything to do with his undergraduate degree in finance from Butler University in Indianapolis where he played center on the Bulldog football team. The leadership skills he honed on and off the field at Butler served Bauer well while earning an MBA, with a healthcare emphasis, at Indiana Wesleyan University, and later during his time as chief executive officer of his hometown hospital in Terre Haute, Ind. He became CEO of LHN’s flagship facility in June 2011 and the network CEO in October 2013.  Within days of his arrival at Lutheran Hospital, Bauer had already set a positive tone for associates and patients during his weekend and late night visits to units staffed by individuals who help keep the care flowing long after most have called it a day. Always quick to ask if there’s anything he can do to help make things better, he leads by example and understands that actions speak louder than words.  His selection as the honorary chairperson for the northeastern Indiana editions of the March of Dimes’ 2012 March for Babies, the National Kidney Foundation’s 2012 Kidney Walk and the American Heart Association’s 2013 Heart Walk were natural choices for each organization considering the essential roles Lutheran Health Network plays in the delivery of life-changing care for premature infants and patients with diseases of the kidneys and heart. These latter two roles for Lutheran Hospital include offering the only kidney and heart transplant programs in northern Indiana.  Bauer is a board member for multiple organizations including the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the Indiana Hospital Association, Junior Achievement, Mad Anthonys and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. He serves on the Region 3 Works Council and during his time as a hospital administrator, Bauer has also worked at the state level as a governor’s appointee to advance the effectiveness and utilization of health information technology.  Bauer was presented one of Indiana’s highest honors in December 2013 when he received the rank and title of Sagamore of the Wabash.



Dawn BonAmi

Ivy Tech Community College

Dawn Bon Ami is currently the Director for Academic Affairs Support-Secondary Ed with Ivy Tech Community College.  As the K-12 liaison she offers 17+ years direct work experience with area superintendents, principals, CTE administrators, guidance, teachers, and students throughout northeast Indiana through many collaborative efforts, namely developing a seamless transition to post-secondary education through dual credit opportunities and early college efforts.  She continues to be instrumental in connecting secondary ed to higher education as an adjunct faculty member and in her current role, she is actively engaged and involved with several different collaborative projects with high schools/school corporations, college and community committees, business and industry, and grant opportunities.  Additionally she has 10+ years of experience in the private sector as a marketing and training coordinator for a Fortune 50 company and a corporate headhunter/recruiter. Additionally, she serves on the Youth Council, New DAWN Initiative/LEAP Program at West Noble Schools, DeKalb Learning Link, Executive Women International (EWI), Human Resource Committee board member of the Allen County Education Partnership, Junior Achievement board member for the Garrett (DeKalb County) board, and JA classroom volunteer, and Study Connection substitute.  All of these have provided additional opportunities for greater collaboration; consequently she offers knowledge and technical support to furthering programs in high schools involving careers and college readiness, as evident with her current involvement with the Education Leadership Council of the Big Goal Collaborative, Education Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN), and current appointment to the Governors Work Council.  Dawn has earned a Master’s Degree in Executive Development for Public Service, a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Psychology, and an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences.



Patrick Buesching


Patrick Buesching is the Learning & Development Manager for 80/20 Inc. located in Columbia City Indiana. He received his MBA from Taylor University, and his B.S. in Public Affairs from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He worked various sales and management roles at Sears and HH Gregg, eventually transitioning to Ivy Tech Community College as the Director of Corporate College at the Northeast campus in Fort Wayne. Mr. Buesching also continues to teach college courses, when available, in the areas of economics, business management, ethics, and strategic planning. He has collaborated on an article discussing the success of training teachers in STEM education for the journal Advanced Materials and Processes. Recently he completed Leadership Whitley County in 2013, and was a member of the Leadership Fort Wayne Class of 2012. He remains actively involved in the local community serving as past Vice-President of the Headwaters Park Board of Directors and as a member of the Board of Trustees for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.



Keith Davis

Star Financial Group, Inc.

Keith E. Davis is the President of STAR Wealth Management, a position he has held since July of 2005. Mr. Davis is responsible for the overall management of STAR Wealth Management activities and staff.  Mr. Davis is a 32 year veteran of the trust and investment business. He earned his Bachelors degree in Finance from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and an MBA from Taylor University, Fort Wayne. He is a graduate of the Cannon Trust School at Notre Dame and the National Graduate Trust School at Northwestern University.  Mr. Davis currently serves as the Chair of the Northeast Indiana Investment Workforce Board. He also serves on the board of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and is a Director at the University of St Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana.



Kevin Keller

Area 18 CTE Cooperative

Mr. Keller’s experience in Career and Technical Education spans 25 years.  He began his professional career as a CTE Business/Marketing teacher at Tucker Area Career and Technology Center in Marion, Indiana serving adult and secondary students from Grant County.  As a CTE teacher at an Area Career Center, Mr. Keller gained a keen appreciation for the components of high-performing CTE delivery systems.  He is an advocate for Career and Technical Education and understands the important role it will play in continued economic revitalization and growth in Northeast Indiana and the state.  Currently, Mr. Keller serves as the CTE Director for the Area 18 CTE Cooperative, a consortium of high schools in Adams, Wells, Jay, Blackford, and Huntington Counties.



Robert (Marty) Palmer

Auburn Gear, Inc.

Martin “Marty” Palmer is president of Auburn Gear, Inc., located in Auburn, Indiana.  Auburn Gear is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of innovative hydrostatic and electro-mechanical planetary drives and traction enhancing differential components for mobile equipment applications.  He has been president for 6 years.  Previously Mr. Palmer was President of a four-company business unit of Actuant, Inc., with facilities in Wisconsin, Oregon, The Netherlands, and Mishawaka, Indiana. He has a diverse background, with experience in both industrial and consumer products focusing on the positive strategic growth and continuous improvement of operations. He brings over 30 years of senior management experience in a diversified manufacturing base including hydraulic and electro-mechanical actuation, cosmetics, and aerospace ceramics and food industries.  Mr. Palmer has a BS Degree from NC State University’s College of Sciences/Chemistry. He has done graduate work in business, finance, and marketing from Wake Forest University’s Babcock School of Management and Indiana Wesleyan University.



Kathleen Randolph

Northeast Indiana Works
NE Indiana Regional Workforce Investment Board

Kathleen Randolph, President  & CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Workforce Investment Board (Economic Growth Region 3), is charged with oversight of the public workforce system and management of the northeast Indiana WorkOne Career Centers. She is charged by the workforce board to convene critical stakeholders in workforce development, economic development and education, to meet the employment needs of regional industries.  Kathleen has spent her career in community, workforce and economic development. Prior to her present position, she developed and managed projects for public and private foundations. Kathleen has co-authored publications on youth and trusteeship, public service and civic leadership. She developed and implemented demonstration projects funded by the USDOL, notably Lifelong Learning Accounts, Career Advancement Accounts and the President’s Faith and Community-Based Initiative, which received recognition by the USDOL as a promising practice.  Kathleen also developed Indiana’s work ethic certification program for the emerging workforce and is credited by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for being a forerunner in launching an integrated workforce development service delivery system to maximize efficiencies and drive more resources to education and training opportunities for northeast Indiana Hoosiers. Kathleen is recognized as an innovative collaborative leader - her team operates a demand-driven, sector-based workforce development strategy thus the WIB team understands the skill and credential requirements of regional companies to ensure a work-ready and employable labor pool.  Under Kathleen’s direction, Region 3 was first to launch Indiana’s Jobs for America’s Graduates program and assisted all of the state’s Regional Workforce Boards to do the same in their areas. Kathleen currently facilitates the CELL- sponsored Education and Workforce Innovation Network for Economic Growth Region 2 to innovate Career and Technical Education programs in three CTE regions.  Kathleen serves on several Indiana boards and commissions including the Northeast Indiana Regional  Partnership, Questa Foundation for Education, Schwab Foundation, Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne Community Advisory Council, and the Vera Bradley Foundation for Cancer Research.  Kathleen is a member of the 2011 Northeast Indiana Cohort of Connectors and was the 2009 recipient of the Athena Leadership Award.



Debra Stam

Parkview Health 

Debra Stam is the Director of Leadership and Organizational Development for Parkview Health, and has 37 years of expertise in the area of clinical and workforce development.  She oversees student learning experiences for Parkview Health through alignment with universities and learning institutions across the United States.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Purdue University and Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University.  She is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources through SHRM.  Debra serves as the President of the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre Board of Directors.



Douglas Thieme

Region 8 Education Service Center

Doug Thieme is an Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 with the Outreach Division of School Improvement at the Indiana Department of Education. Doug earned his Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Huntington College and his Master's degree in school administration from Ball State University. Doug began his teaching career at Salamonie School in Huntington County Community Schools. His teaching experiences include second grade, third grade, and sixth grade math.  Doug also has experience teaching sixth grade reading and social studies at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School in MSD Bluffton-Harrison, Wells County. His administrative tenures include assistant elementary principal and elementary principal at Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School. While principal at Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School, Doug was a certified School Safety Specialists, District Administrator for Title I, Title III, and NESP.