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Team Terry Announces Several Key Evansville City Appointments — bringing total to 14

New key Evansville city appointments include (from left) Joe Atkinson, communications director, Lindsay Locasto, deputy mayor and Robert Gunter, city controller.
Mayor-Elect Stephanie Terry
New key Evansville city appointments include (from left) Joe Atkinson, communications director, Lindsay Locasto, deputy mayor and Robert Gunter, city controller.

The Friday announcement reveals the names of the city controller, deputy mayor, communications director and executive assistant; earlier announcements include as parks director, climate action director

These department heads maintain daily city operations.

Robert Gunter will replace Russel Lloyd as city controller, and Lindsay Locasto will step into Steve Schaefer’s former position as deputy mayor. Schaefer is moving to the private sector.

Gunter and Locasto are coming from positions in Henderson.

Some of these appointments work specifically for the mayor. Joe Atkinson will be the new communications director, handling media inquiries and sharing news from the mayor’s office, replacing Noah Stubbs who finished Nov. 10.

Amanda Joest will be executive assistant.

Transition Team Co-chair Bob Jones said they had many applications for city positions.

“There's a number of applicants that unfortunately, it was not possible to interview … because (it's a) pretty short window to get from the election to January 1 and hit the ground running.”

Terry had previously released the names of 10 other leadership positions.

Of the 14 positions announced, seven are "incumbents." For example City Engineer Mike Libitzke and Levee Superintendent Mike Herke will remain.

Others include Tamara Payne, executive director of human resources. Payne started this spring.

Diane Clements-Boyd will continue her tenure as executive director of Evansville-Vanderburgh Human Relations Commission as will Cliff Weaver, director of the Emergency Management Agency.

Todd Robertson will remain executive director of the Department of Transportation, and Eric Beck will continue to helm Mesker Park Zoo.

“The department heads are really the folks that are doing the day to day operations,” Jones said. “So whether it's Eric Beck at zoo, or, you know, the folks that are working their day to day operations, and they're responsible for making sure that the citizens of Evansville have the services that they need.”

New appointments include Lauren Norvell; she’ll head up the Climate Action Plan as director.

Danielle Crook will be executive Director of the Evansville Department of Parks and Recreation following interim director Steve Schaefer.

Another new face will be Vernon Lutz as Chief Information Officer.

Terry will be sworn in January first.

Her transition team has been working since the election to interview department heads and fill open positions.

Mayor-Elect Stephanie Terry with members of her transition team at the Ford Center
File Photo
Mayor-Elect Stephanie Terry with members of her transition team at the Ford Center

Full descriptions of the new appointments:

Lindsay Locasto, Deputy Mayor: Lindsay Locasto has served the past two years as the President of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce and was the past Executive Director of the Downtown Henderson Partnership. She brings a wealth of experience in working with the public and private business sector as well as fostering community engagement. Her tenure in these roles has been marked by a commitment to promoting the growth of Henderson's Downtown area and strengthening the business community in Henderson County. She is also a co-founder of the local non-profit, 7 Sisters, an organization whose mission is to stop the stigma of addiction and bring awareness recovery options in the tristate. Lindsay is originally from Newburgh, In. and will be moving back to Evansville for the role of Deputy Mayor.

Robert Gunter, City Controller: Robert Gunter has been the finance director for Henderson, Kentucky since 2004. His prior experience includes serving as finance director for West Memphis, Arkansas for seven years, and as field auditor for the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit for six years. Robert has served as a trustee for the Kentucky League of Cities Investment Pool (KLCIP), was president-elect for the Kentucky Finance Officers Association (KGFOA) and has volunteered as a budget award reviewer for the Government Finance Officer Association (GFOA) since 2009. Robert holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arkansas Tech University, a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Southern Indiana and is a certified public accountant (CPA).

Joe Atkinson, Communications Director: Joe Atkinson has spent the past 16 years at the University of Evansville, where he served as Director of News Services and Director of Digital Media before joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Communication. During that time, he also has served as president of both the Friends of Willard Library Board of Directors and the Evansville Civic Theatre Board of Directors, and has worked as a documentary filmmaker, earning Ohio Valley Regional Emmy nominations for the five-episode documentary series Epidemic: Addiction in Middle America and for the documentary feature film From the Ashes: The University of Evansville Purple Aces. Atkinson earned his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Ohio University, his Master of Public Service Administration from the University of Evansville, and his Master of Fine Arts in Writing at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Amanda Joest, Executive Assistant: Amanda Joest is a graduate of Ivy Tech Community College, holding degrees in both Business Administration and Hospitality Management. Her academic journey included active involvement in various organizations, notably Student Government, where she honed her leadership skills, earning recognition with the prestigious Athena International Scholarship. With more than 19 years of experience in front-line and customer service across public and private sectors, complemented by 11 years as an Executive Assistant, she brings a wealth of expertise. She also is a devoted mother of twins who expresses her creativity through culinary pursuits, crafting, and volunteer work with the Evansville Audubon Society.

Danielle Crook, Executive Director, Department of Parks and Recreation: As a graduate of the University of Evansville, and a 17 year employee of the City, I want to use my experience to help enhance the quality of our parks. Serving as the Deputy Director for the department has given me insight regarding what is needed to effectively maintain what we have. Being a parent to two elementary age daughters, I see first hand the need for recreational spaces that are safe, accessible, and more inviting. I look forward to continuing to serve our community under the Terry Administration.

Todd M. Robertson, Executive Director, Department of Transportation: Todd M Robertson has served as Executive Director of the Department of Transportation for the past 12 years. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing 6 different departments: Animal Care & Control, City Cemeteries, City Maintenance, Highway (Street) Maintenance, METS Transit, Traffic Engineering and Urban Forestry. While serving as Executive Director, Sunday Service was added at METS and liquid deicers were introduced to the winter operation at Street Maintenance to maximize the removal of snow and ice.

Cliff Weaver, Director, Emergency Management Agency: A U.S. Air Force veteran and a 1981 graduate of the University of Evansville paramedic program, Cliff Weaver has 10 years experience as EMA Director for Evansville and Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Agency. He maintains the required Professional Emergency Manager (PEM) certification from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and has served several years as the Chairman, and Vice Chairman of the Vanderburgh County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Weaver also was a member of Indiana FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One (INTF-1) for 18 years as a HAZMAT specialist and been deployed on several hurricanes and disaster responses. He retired from the Evansville Fire Department after 29 years in 2014.

Lauren Novell, Climate Action Director: Lauren Norvell earned a Master’s degree in Conservation Science from Purdue University, and has accumulated a diversity of experiences in her career. She has taught environmental science and community service to people of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and has directed conservation projects and education programs at Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, Howell Wetlands, and Mesker Park Zoo. Novell believes in volunteer community service, and has served on many volunteer boards and committees such as Sustainable Evansville, the Talon Trust, and the Vanderburgh County Soil & Water Conservation District. She is also the founder of the Talon Trust, a local public charity that rescues and rehabilitates injured raptors.

Diane Clements-Boyd, Executive Director, Evansville-Vanderburgh Human Relations Commission: Diane Clements-Boyd joined the EVHRC in January of 2004. During her tenure as Executive Director, the EVHRC secured two federal grants resulting in ongoing funding. Clements-Boyd also advises commissions and advisory boards, and in 2023 led the establishment and launch of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. She serves as Chairperson of the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and 1st Vice President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies. A product of Evansville public schools, she attended Glenwood Elementary and Bosse High School. Clements-Boyd is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology.

Michael Labitzke, City Engineer: Michael Labitzke, P.E., is a professional engineer who has served the Evansville community for over 30 years in several different roles. As consultant, utility engineer, and city engineer, he has been involved with storm water flooding, intersection improvements, roadway maintenance, and roadway design and construction. Most recently as Evansville City Engineer, Mike has restarted several programs and projects to improve the durability, longevity and rideability of our transportation system. He is a husband, father, and grandfather and is excited to continue to collaborate for Evansville in every positive way possible.

Erik Beck, Executive Director, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Gardens: An Evansville native and a graduate of the University of Southern Indiana, Erik Beck started his career at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in 1995 as a zookeeper. Erik went on to become the zoo’s Animal Curator, General Curator and in 2017 the Executive Director. “I am excited for Evansville and what is to come and Mayor-elect Terry’s recognition of quality of place amenities like the zoo,” Beck said.

Michael Herke, Levee Superintendent: Michael Herke has served as Levee Superintendent for the past three years under Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, after serving as both the Levee supervisor (five years) and a Levee Lead Operator (10 years). “I look forward to continuing with my part in keeping Evansville safe and working with other departments on moving Evansville forward,” Herke said.

Tamara Payne, Executive Director, Human Resources: Tamara Payne is a graduate of the University of Southern Indiana and part of the Evansville community for over 20 years. Tamara has worked as a HR professional in various industries such as hospitality, media, transportation, and joined the City of Evansville December 2019 as Deputy Director, Human Resources and went on to become Executive Director, Human Resources June 2023. “I am excited to be a part of Mayor-elect Terry’s vision of ‘Forward Together’ and proud to work with the people who serve the City of Evansville,” Payne said.

Vernon Lutz, Chief Information Officer: Vernon Lutz is a business professional with over 26 years of experience in business administration. He has served with the Evansville Police Department for 23 years, achieving the rank of Deputy Chief. In this role, he led the Information Technology Unit for 11 years and was actively involved with the City/County ITAC committee. In 2021, he was appointed to CIO for the City of Evansville. Lutz is a proud Army veteran, having served with Evansville’s 163rd Field Artillery Unit in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008. He is an Evansville resident celebrating 30 years of marriage with his wife Wendy. They have two adult sons Damien and Nicholas.

Source: Media Team Evansville (mayoral transition team)

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