About Us

We are proud of the team that we have assembled. Each of us has a unique journey that has led us to serve our communities through the Community Foundation. Some of us are native to the area, and some of us have moved here and have come to love northwest Indiana. Each of us, though, has a passion for our communities and has a unique background and skill set to contribute. When we put all of that together, and when we have such strong and generous support from all of you, we can do amazing things..

Meet the Board

The Northern Indiana Community Foundation is governed by a volunteer board. Each of our three counties has its own service committee, and several of these county board members also volunteer on the NICF board. Additionally, we have a finance committee and an executive committee.

Who We Are

We are the Northern Indiana Community Foundation (NICF), consisting of Starke, Fulton, and Miami County Community Foundations—three of ninety-four throughout Indiana. This incredible network is inspiring the formation of other community foundations across the country. Indiana is at the forefront of the community foundation world and is setting the stage by exemplifying the incredible work that these organizations do.

So how does the Community Foundation work?

Jay Albright joined the NICF as Executive Director in February of 2013 with more than thirty years of experience in local finance, management, and non-profit work. He had experience with the Community Foundation as well—he served on the Fulton County Community Foundation board from 2008 until 2012 and on the NICF board for three of those years.

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Prior to joining the NICF, he was the Executive Director at the Compassionate Healthcare Center in Rochester. He also has worked at institutions such as Dukes Memorial Hospital in Peru and Rochester Homes. Jay holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University and a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University. He and his wife raised their two children in Rochester, and his son received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship in 2003. Jay likes spending time traveling, boating, hiking, and gardening with his wife, Dawn.

Jay Albright

Executive Director

Phone: 574-223-2225
Email: jay@nicf.org

Corinne Becknell Lucas

Associate Director

Phone: 574-223-2229
Email: corinne@nicf.org

Corinne Becknell Lucas was the very first employee of the Starke County Community Foundation. Previously, she had worked as the Office Manager at Lucas Law Office, Media Producer for Becknell and Lucas Media, and other positions in music and management.

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Since joining the Community Foundation, she has served many roles—Administrative Assistant, Program/Scholarship Coordinator, Program/Communication Director, and finally the Associate Director of the NICF. She has experience in both the local and the administrative levels of the Community Foundation. She and her husband, Marty Lucas, are professional musicians and make up the group “Return to Normal.” Corinne enjoys entertaining guests at her home, knitting, playing and discussing music and art, and celebrating life with her family.

Jessica Mikel, the NICF’s Office Manager, came to the Community Foundation after working at Grace College as a Database Assistant in the Advancement Office for 7 ½ years and Ambassador Enterprises in Fort Wayne as an Administrative Assistant for 1 ½ years.

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Jessica also earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Grace College. As the NICF’s Office Manager, Jessica implements her organizational and administrative skills by managing gifts, running reports, updating the database, and a myriad of other tasks. Jessica is a huge fan of books, and she also likes to do random craft projects like cross stitching and quilting. The NICF takes advantage of her creative skills as well! She also likes to travel, which she plans to do more of if she ever becomes rich and famous.

Jessica Mikel

Office Manager

Phone: 574-223-2227
Email: jessica@nicf.org

Alison Heyde

Scholarship Coordinator

Phone: 574-224-2666
Email: alison@nicf.org

Alison Heyde joined the NICF as Scholarship Coordinator in 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePauw University. Before serving at the NICF, she worked at Delco Electronics in Kokomo as a Purchasing Manager for sixteen years, and she was the Executive Director of the Rochester/Lake Manitou Chamber of Commerce for nearly fourteen years.

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As Scholarship Coordinator, Alison is in charge of administering the scholarship funds within our three counties. She coordinates the entire scholarship process, including all communications with applicants, recipients, local school systems, and universities. Outside of work, Alison can be found gardening, playing racquetball or pickleball, or spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Jacque Ryan started as the Director of Development for the Starke County Community Foundation in the spring of 2021. She enjoys spending time in nature and frequenting local businesses as often as she can.
She grew up in Starke County and after graduating from Ball State University in 2017, she returned to work as a reporter at Kankakee Valley Broadcasting and served as editor of The Starke County Leader newspaper, establishing multiple community connections.

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Jacque is no stranger to work at the Community Foundation as she has volunteered to be in ventures alongside the Foundation, which included involvement with the Constellation of Starke Executive Committee in the Regional Stellar Communities effort in 2019, as well as serving the planning committee for The Hive Giving Circle.

Jacque Ryan

Starke County Director of Development

Phone: 574-772-3665
Email: starke@nicf.org

Brian Johnson

Fulton County Director of Development

Phone: 574-224-3223
Email: fulton@nicf.org

Brian Johnson joined the Community Foundation in 2007 as the Director of Development in Fulton County. Brian holds his associate degree in automotive technology from Indian Hills Community College, and he completed the business management program through Indiana Wesleyan University.

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Before joining the NICF, Brian worked as the Department Supervisor/Machinist at Gaerte Engines. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, gardening, and hunting. He is also involved with music and youth programs at First Baptist Church in Rochester, and he coaches youth baseball. He and his wife, Rhonda, have two sons, Aaron and Levi.

Heidi Wright, a Miami County local, grew up participating in church, the Circus, 4-H and Girl Scouts.  She graduated in 1983 and traveled the world.  She moved back to Miami County in 2010 where she opened a coffee shop and later worked for a nonprofit in Miami County.  She is proud to be part of small tight knit community with a big heart.

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Heidi has been involved with the Community Foundation as a member of the Miami County grants committee for the past year. Before that, she has been an avid participant with community non for profits. Prior to joining the Community Foundation team, Heidi worked at The Family Service Association of Howard County as a domestic violence/sexual assault victim advocate in Cass, Howard, and Miami Counties.

Heidi Wright

Miami County Director of Development

Cell: 765-470-1778
Phone: 765-475-2859
Email: miami@nicf.org

Shannon Berger

Director of Marketing

Phone: 574-270-0440

Shannon Berger, NICF’s Director of Marketing, came to the foundation after working for First Federal Savings Bank as Marketing Manager. She holds a degree in Education and Communications from Manchester University where she previously interned for NICF for 2 years.

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Shannon is from Pulaski County, but has had family ties in Fulton County as long as she can remember. Outside of work, you can find Shannon with her family and their two dogs.