Chief Executive Officer
Communications & Education Manager
Senior Program Officer
C&LC Operations Associate
Special Projects Manager
Healthy Eating Active Living (H.E.A.L.) Manager
Outsourced Investment Officer, Northern Trust
Maria Fruth is the president and CEO of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, a private, independent foundation created from the proceeds of the sale of IU Health La Porte Hospital in March of 2016 and dedicated to empowering La Porte County residents to live healthy and well.
Since her appointment in March of 2016, Maria has led the establishment of the new foundation structure, from creating its strategic direction and blending of the former La Porte Hospital Foundation into the Healthcare Foundation, to hiring the foundation team, assessing community needs and community assets to implementing a grantmaking structure and a plan to grow the capacity of the existing nonprofits in the community. She led the building of the new HFL Conference & Learning Center and the distribution of over $35,000,000 of HFL grants to the community from 2017 to 2022 Cycle 1.
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 January of 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 provided overall coordination for all aspects of La Porte Hospital Foundation and raised over $17 million for the hospital services, health programs, scholarships, and community health in grants, campaigns, special events and major gifts. She also served as the administrator of several support service departments of the hospital (2011 to 2016) and 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, where she serves on the Educational Committee and has participated as a speaker and presenter on some of IPA's seminars and webinars. She is also a member of Council on Foundations, Grantmakers in Health, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. She has served on many nonprofits' boards in the La Porte area.
Maria has resided in La Porte with her husband Greg since 1976, and they have three sons and four grandchildren.
Jessica Mace is the 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 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.
Becca Tuholski is the Healthy Eating Active Living (H.E.A.L.) Initiative Manager for Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. Becca earned a Master of Public Health from Benedictine University and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Health Science from Indiana University. Prior to bringing her passion for community health to Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, Becca worked at La Porte Community School Corporation (LPCSC) where she taught Nutrition and Wellness and several agriculture courses to middle school and high school students. At LPCSC, she also served as a FFA (Future Farmers of America) advisor and worked on a grant that expanded the district’s agriculture program. In recognition of her work, Becca was honored with the Conservation Educator of the Year award in 2020 by the La Porte County Soil and Water Conservation District. As an intern at Purdue Extension, Becca spearheaded the Farm to Freezer to Table program, which created healthy, ready-to-cook freezer meals for La Porte County residents using local, in-season produce. She has also worked with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute as an evaluator on grants for substance abuse prevention and treatment. In 2018, Becca founded a local produce company with her husband in La Porte, where they reside with their three dogs (and mini horse, goat, and several chickens). When she is not working, Becca can often be found running, adventuring, or drinking coffee around La Porte.
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. Erica also served as the staff sponsor for the English Academic Superbowl team, Spell Bowl, the LGBTQ+ Club, and a short stint in the theater department as a director. 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 Duneland Media, 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, a La Porte firefighter, their daughter, three sons, a cat, Hazel, and their puppy, Dolly. Erica loves reading, yoga, and being outside, preferably at the beach.
Sarah Romano is the Conference & Learning Center (C&LC) Operations Associate of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. She is a Certified Phlebotomy Technician and has her own Photography Business. She has worked for numerous publications as a Live Event Photographer, Photo Editor, and Journalist touring with bands. She has previously worked in social media management, website and graphic design, event planning, marketing, and various nonprofit foundations. She is the first person you’ll meet when you enter the HFL building. Sarah relocated from Texas to La Porte with her husband, CJ, and their dog, Bailey.
Ranaeya Yrastorza serves as Administrative Assistant for Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. She brings broad administrative experience to HFL from her work with a large accounting firm in South Bend, Indiana and two law firms in the San Francisco Bay area. Ranaeya's experience also includes event planning, retain management, sales, and customer service. Ranaeya served as the secretary on the Board of the La Porte Music Club for two years (2019-2021). Ranaeya is proud to live in the city of La Porte. She enjoys spending time with her two beautiful children (who are 14 years apart!) and partner, creating delectable new recipes, painting, crafting, and traveling to visit family and friends in California.
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.