Legacy Foundation welcomes new board members, highlights dedication to representing diverse communities

Legacy Foundation welcomes new board members, highlights dedication to representing diverse communities

Legacy Foundation recently appointed five new board members, representing a range of backgrounds and experiences that will push forward Legacy Foundation’s mission to positively transform Lake County.

John Freyek, Vice President/ Senior Relationship Manager, First Merchants Bank; Heather Garay, Director of Financial Operations for the Energy Division, Leopardo Energy; Chris Salatas, Lowell Town Council and Northwest Indiana Regional Director for U.S. Senator Todd Young; Sophia Stratton, CPA, Chief Financial Officer of Levy Family Partners LLC (LFP); and Richard Young, CPA, Swartz Retson & Co. are among the new class of Legacy Foundation board members.

“Our five new members bring a wealth of financial and community experience to our board,” said Erica Fizer, Director of Marketing and Communications for Legacy Foundation.

Sophie Stratton

Legacy Foundation board appointees serve three-year terms and can renew their appointments two times, serving a maximum of nine years. While other boards of directors may serve life-long appointments, Legacy Foundation believes in the importance of term limits in order to guarantee that the ever-evolving needs of the organization and the community are met with fresh, unique perspectives.

“So much of our board’s work is ensuring our programs and our grants are distributed responsibly, our investments are invested wisely, and that we are stewarding our donor money in the right way,” Fizer said.

“We have members who represent the university space, city leadership, the business community, and more. It’s important that we appoint board members who bring in not only their work experience, but also their personal experience,” Fizer said. “It’s important to us that we have a board that reflects the community we live in.”

The new board members echoed the importance of their work in the community and the impact they have on serving others. For John Freyek, Vice President/Senior Relationship Manager at First Merchants Bank, he has looked forward to serving his home county, where he has raised his own family, in a direct, meaningful way.

John Freyek

“I believe in service above self,” said Freyek. “Everything I have done before, all of my life and business and non-profit experiences, has put me in this place to do the best I can to improve the quality of life for the people we serve.”

For Heather Garay, Director of Financial Operations for the Energy Division at Leopardo Energy, her appointment to the Legacy Foundation board of directors offers her the opportunity to apply her talents and experiences to all of Lake County.

Heather Garay

“Whether practicing law, working in municipal government, or in my current position with Leopardo Energy, my work has always centered on helping people and communities succeed,” Garay said. “When I worked for the City of Hammond, I focused my volunteering on programs and organizations that primarily bettered those residents. These experiences taught me how to really listen and understand the needs of others, and the importance of creative problem solving and teamwork in addressing those needs in order to help our communities thrive. Now, I look forward to learning more about and helping other communities in Lake County.”

Chris Salatas, Northwest Indiana Regional Director for U.S. Senator Todd Young, is excited to serve on the Grants & Scholarship Committee for the Legacy Foundation. A local elected leader who serves on the Lowell Town Council, he knows the impact scholarships and grants can have on individuals and organizations.

Chris Salatas

“Having graduated college 5 years ago, I know the difference a scholarship can make in a young student’s life,” Salatas said. “The Legacy Foundation was fortunate enough to have been able to disperse $1.3 million in scholarships for the 2020-21 school year, which will make a big difference in our Lake County community.”

And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting communities, Salatas looks forward to working with local leaders to help them build and better their cities.

“I also look forward to the grant side of this committee and how it responds to community needs,” Salatas said. “Legacy Foundation moved quickly to raise nearly $1 M for COVID-19 response and has started to distribute those funds for essential needs during COVID-19 such as food, PPE, and rent/utility assistance. The flexibility of the organization to quickly respond to community needs is truly amazing.”

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has brought financial hardship to nonprofits in Lake County, Richard Young, CPA, of Swartz Retson & Co. brings his expertise to helping organizations through unprecedented times.

Richard Young

“My background allows me bring an understanding of the operational and financial challenges facing charitable organizations, and developing responses to meet those challenges,” Young said. “Our firm works for many not-for-profit organizations as auditor, tax preparer, or consultant, so working with charitable and philanthropic organizations is a big part of my everyday life.”

For more information about the Legacy Foundation, please visit their website at https://legacyfdn.org/.