Chief Executive Officer
Senior Program Officer
C&LC Operations Associate
Special Projects Manager
Communications & Education Manager
Outsourced Investment Officer, Northern Trust
Maria Fruth is the president and CEO of Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, a private, independent foundation dedicated to empowering La Porte County residents to live healthy and well. HFL was created from the proceeds of the sale of IU Health La Porte Hospital in March of 2016. As HFL’s first CEO, Maria led the process of creating the foundation’s structure, including its strategic direction, grantmaking programs, and nonprofit capacity-building efforts. Under Maria’s leadership, HFL has launched three community-wide collaboratives that bring partners together to solve complex problems, including Partners for Healthier Babies, Partners in Prevention, and Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL); grown the When Seconds Count: AED Initiative by adding 208 more life-saving AEDs in key community locations; built and opened the doors to the 13,000 square foot HFL Conference & Learning Center; and invested over $41.4 million in the community.
Following years of teaching, community service, and business experience, Maria started her career with La Porte Hospital in 1996 as the director of development. In 1998, she was named chief operating officer of the La Porte Hospital Foundation and executive vice president of La Porte Hospital. During her 20 years at La Porte Hospital, she oversaw all aspects of La Porte Hospital Foundation and raised over $17 million for the hospital services, health programs, scholarships, and community health. She also served as the administrator of several hospital services (2011 to 2016) and the Community Health and Dental Center (2011 to 2014).
Maria received her Bachelor of Arts in Languages from the University Federal Minas Gerais, in Brazil. In 1999, she received her Certification in Fund Raising Management from Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, Fund Raising School. Maria is trained as a green belt Sigma Lean Six and is a graduate of Leadership La Porte County. She is a member of the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance and serves on the 2023 Board of Directors. She is also a member of Council on Foundations, Grantmakers in Health, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.
Maria has resided in La Porte with her husband Greg since 1976, and they have three sons and four grandchildren.
Jessica Mace is the senior program officer at Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. Jessica is experienced in providing technical support to nonprofit organizations and in developing, implementing, and managing grant-funded projects and programs.
Prior to joining HFL, Jessica worked with several organizations in the United States and internationally. At Mariposa DR Foundation in the Dominican Republic, Jessica led the development and implementation of procedures and tools to strengthen human resource management; program delivery; and monitoring, evaluation, and learning. Jessica also worked as a consultant with Population Services International in the Dominican Republic where she supported resource development, designed and managed health projects, and led a team to develop a technology platform that used text messaging as a tool for social and behavior change communication.
As a Service Corps Fellow at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Jessica coordinated the Nonprofit Service Corps program and supported health projects at the City of Bloomington. After completing her studies, she served as the community initiatives director at United Way of Monroe County in Bloomington. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Gonzaga University and a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University.
She resides in Michigan City with her husband and two children.
Mary Wellnitz is the special projects manager at Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.
She earned her Master of Business Administration from University of Notre Dame, Bachelor of Arts from Purdue University and Sales Certificate from University of Michigan. She began her career with NIPSCO Industries, holding various positions including Human Resources Manager, Investor Relations Supervisor, and Manager of Sales & Marketing. She also served as the Director of Strategic Planning and Marketing for La Porte Regional Health System. Mary is one of three founders of Figment Group, Inc., and serves as its President. She has taught advanced strategic planning, marketing and sales, and has consulted for many non-profit and for-profit organizations. She has also actively served on many non-profit boards in the region and currently serves on the Board of La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP) and Chairs their Workforce Taskforce. She has been honored with the National Athena® Award to acknowledge her professional excellence and contribution to assisting others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential; inducted in the Society of Innovators – PNW saluting business innovation, and selected to participate in the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series-Leadership in Action. Women accepted into the Lugar Series have demonstrated long-term success, leadership in their careers or community and have an interest in developing public policy.
Mary has a step-son who lives in Vermont and she resides in La Porte with her spouse Jim. Sadly their adored and well-mannered golden retriever named Cooper Bradley crossed the rainbow in December 2020. Community members who knew him said he was a ‘cool’ dog and an first-rate greeter at Jim’s office.
Erica Kanney is the Communications & Education Manager for Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.
Erica is a lifelong resident of La Porte and former Slicer, both as a student and then an English teacher at La Porte High School, where she taught for nine years. Prior to teaching, Erica worked at the Herald-Argus newspaper as a reporter, columnist, and Community editor. Most recently, Erica served as the Operations Manager at a local digital marketing agency, managing projects, content creation, PPC, and SEO strategy for clients. Erica received a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature from Purdue University and completed the Transition to Teaching program at Indiana University South Bend.
Erica lives in La Porte with her husband Zach, their daughter, three sons, a cat, a dog, and a very busy kids' sports schedule. Erica loves reading, yoga, and being outside, preferably at the beach.
Elizabeth Schlundt is Healthcare Foundation of La Porte's Office Manager, coordinating the facilities, team schedules, HFL Board meetings, and the general operation of HFL.
Before joining HFL, Elizabeth was an office manager in home health for several years. She grew up and currently lives in Wanatah, Indiana, with her husband and two children. Elizabeth received a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management from Indiana University Northwest, but she is a Purdue fan. Boiler up! She has a group fitness instructor certification, and she enjoys exercising, gardening, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her family.
Lisa Heddens is HFL's Conference & Learning Center (C&LC) Operations Associate.
Lisa grew up in Vincennes but recently moved to Michigan City with her family from Columbus, Indiana. As the C&LC Operations Associate, Lisa is the first smiling face you'll see when you visit our building, and she coordinates the C&LC room reservations, tours, set-up, and event flow. Lisa received an Associates Degree in Business Administration from American Intercontinental, and most recently worked as the Office Coordinator at a school in Michigan City. An avid reader, Lisa loves going to the beach with her husband and two sons. She enjoys cooking and smoking meats, making desserts, and experimenting with different foods. The Heddens family also includes a beagle mix (Dakota), a bloodhound (Liberty), and a cat who is well fed.
Amy McDaniel serves as the Staff Accountant for Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington. She began her career in accounting at Monon Trailer Company and then worked for LaPorte Hospital as a Staff Accountant until deciding to stay home and raise her children. Amy has been very active in her church and creating costumes for the Young People’s Theater Company in Michigan City. She has also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, Mothers of Preschoolers, and is the President of the Parent Network at Michigan City High School. Amy enjoys gardening, yardwork, hiking with her family, and creating.
Amy lives in Michigan City with her husband Jason and their two children.