South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership Welcomes New Staff

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (June 29, 2022) — The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership welcomed five new team members to its ranks this spring. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (Regional Partnership) is a collaboration of economic development partners in the South Bend – Elkhart region, which encompasses 47 communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.

The new team members include:

  • Lisa Buchanan, Director, Education and Workforce Solutions: A recent transplant to the area, Buchanan brings 15 years of workforce development experience to the team. In this position, she manages and supports educational and workforce initiatives, increasing the availability of work-ready talent for key industry sectors in the region.
  • Lori Flotow, Manager, Office Operations: Performing a wide variety of office operations and executive administrative support, Flotow is the first line of communication with key constituents, executing multiple administrative duties of the office and performing a wide variety of duties.
  • Liz Folkerts, Manager, Digital Marketing and Public Relations: With a background in journalism and marketing, Folkerts creates and promotes content on behalf of the Regional Partnership. She oversees web content, from initial strategy to day-to-day updates and management of our public-facing platforms including social media.
  • Taryn MacFarlane, Vice President, Regional Initiatives: Bringing an expertise in grant writing, management and administration, MacFarlane serves as the primary staff administrator for the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority (RDA) and supports the Regional Partnership’s implementation of the READI grant program.
  • Bianca Tirado, Director, Strategic Initiatives: The previous Chief Deputy City Clark/Chief of Staff for the City of South Bend and a recent master’s graduate from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Tirado provides management and coordination for the Talent Attraction and Retention, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives of the Regional Partnership.

“Our fresh staff members bring an array of skills and experience to our team,” said Bethany Hartley, newly named President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “These new members, combined with our established team, allow us to increase the impact of our work for the region though data-driven decision making. This potential for growth is exciting for our organization and I look forward to guiding us in this new direction.”

The new team members join the rest of the Regional Partnership team:

  • Dan Buckenmeyer, Sr. Specialist, Economic Development: Buckenmeyer works with the South Bend International Airport to increase the direct and indirect economic benefits of airport operations throughout the region. This includes real estate development, international trade, FTZ use, cargo service development, public-private partnerships and more to move both people and goods.
  • Bethany Hartley, President and CEO: Hartley was named President and CEO of the organization in May of 2022. She has over a decade of experience in non-profit leadership, primarily focused on economic development and entrepreneurship. She previously held the position of Chief Strategy Officer with the Regional Partnership and led the organization as interim CEO.
  • Sarah Niespodziany, Vice President, Marketing and Communications: Niespodziany oversees planning and executing marketing and communications efforts for the Regional Partnership and acts as the primary media contact for the organization. She manages brand strategy, events, stakeholder relations, and execution of other initiatives.
  • Jill Scicchitano, Chief Operating Officer: Scicchitano oversees the key business functions of the organization, pursuing continuous improvement and operational excellence fostering growth and driving action toward positive community impact. Her enterprise-wide leadership role takes a holistic, systems view and works to advance the regional economic development strategy.

The Regional Partnership is looking to fill one more position within the organization. For more information on the Manager, Innovation and Entrepreneurship position, click here.

About South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership
The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from 47 smart connected communities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership focuses on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders around five key areas: educating a world-class workforce, recruiting and retaining great talent, attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries, promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for minorities and helping entrepreneurs thrive. The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership seeks to unify and collaborate so that together, the communities across the region to work together to achieve what cannot be done individually. For more information about the Regional Partnership, visit


Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership