Director of the Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds Lori Daly was born in Valparaiso. When she was in kindergarten, she moved with her family to Plymouth, Indiana, where she graduated from high school. Next up was her stop at Purdue University — although she did not graduate from there.
Instead, not quite long after she had left for Lafayette, Daly returned home, and worked for three years at Strongbow Inn, which held in store the first opportunity for her to get acclimated to event planning. However, during this time, she also had children, so she left her job and picked up another so she could continue to work while also having ample time to take care of her kids.
Within a few years’ time, Strongbow called Daly to return, and she quickly got to work in event management, soon taking over the whole of the department and managing things such as catering. The year was 2014, and since then her position has given her the chance to do splendid work to benefit the community. She’s already discovered a few shiny gems that help to determine her favorite aspects of the job and the best projects she’s had the privilege of being a part of.
“In 2018, the county invested three-and-a-half million dollars to get the first two buildings of the Expo remodeled. That process, from the bidding out of the job to the actual construction and then getting reopened, was my favorite part about being in this position. The facility wasn't in shambles, but it was starting to get to the point where it really needed work. Now to have this beautiful facility to be the director of, it's been the favorite part of my job so far in my eight-plus years,” she said.
On a macro level, the work Daly does profoundly assists the stability of the community around her. At the end of the day, it’s all centered around the belief in pushing out there a fervent support of serving the greater good. A calming establishment of unity is what she’s chasing. What’s more, everything connects to an overarching vision the Expo has for always wanting to create a place where people can experience something special and worthwhile.
“A lot of my job is making sure the community has a place to come together. Whether we're doing a wedding reception, fundraisers, the best programs possible are always being put on, so to be a part of helping anyone raise the funds necessary to give back to the community is a big part of the Expo’s, and my, value system,” she said.
Constantly having to be sure that all operations are running accordingly is definitely as daunting as it sounds, but Daly never falters in pressing the right buttons. Above all else, she understands that a job well done is what’s most important.
Ten years ago, while she was still figuring out the field of work she wanted to be involved with for the rest of her life, Daly devoted herself to more community-centric things, especially seeking to improve children’s lives. That desire to make the most of the resources at her disposal sets her apart from others, and has made itself apparent in what she aspires to do for the Expo.
“Way back, I joined Kiwanis, and I’m now a board member, our whole mission being just to make life better however we can. I'm on the committee for the Special Kids Special Needs golf outing. Whatever I can do to give back to the community is my goal. What’s nice is that it all comes together, since my favorite hobby, which is getting out on the golf course, has a way of helping me give back to people,” she said.
Daly is the mother of two daughters. One of them has a little boy, Callum, making him Daly’s one and only grandchild as of right now. Because of beings like him, she loves every ounce of every last second she gets to spend with her family.
“Whether we're just sitting on a deck, having a glass of wine and reminiscing, or meeting with the larger part of the family, I've always loved to be with my daughters. Now, considering the ages they’re at, we just love to be together whenever we get the chance to be,” she said.
Daly and her boyfriend’s beagle, Bernie, has become one of the bright lights of her life. As she’s busy as can be day in and day out, she tries to find all the time she can to take some time aside for the sake of being around her friends — but that often comes as a challenge. Nevertheless, Valparaiso’s infectious aura has stolen her heart.
“The closeness of the community is spectacular. Since I was born here and came back after Purdue, even though I didn't spend all of the years of my schooling here, it was important for me to come back and to raise my kids here, to be married here. There's just the family friends, just the community, and you can’t get enough of it,” she said.