The Innovators of the Month: February 2014

soc-inn-nwi-logo"Innovators of the Month" highlights the Members of the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana for use by the media serving Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke Counties. The Society celebrates Fellows and Chanute Prize recipients, but also recognizes other Members of "The 2013 - 2014 Class." The Society shares their inspiring stories of innovation in each monthly edition. The Society is part of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest. For information, contact O'Merrial Butchee, Director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at (219) 981-4942, or John Davies, Assistant Director, at (219) 981-1111, Ext. 2292.

Judge Julia Jent, Porter County Veterans Treatment Court, 2013 – 2014 Team Member

Julia-JentPorter County Superior Court Judge Julia Jent launched the first veteran's treatment court in Northwest Indiana and the second in the state certified as a problem-solving court for veterans. This model serves veterans who are often struggling with addiction, mental health, and other issues through a hybrid of treatment services designed for each veteran's needs aimed at diverting them from the traditional criminal court system. She is a veteran herself who has family members who served. So she is familiar with the issues facing veterans upon return to civilian life, complicated by multiple tours of duty served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Envisioning a better way to address the needs of justice for veterans, she was inspired when she heard Judge Robert Russell of Buffalo, N.Y. discuss the nation's first veteran's treatment court several years ago.

Launched in September, 2011, she convened a team of stakeholders representing the local criminal justice system, law enforcement, veteran serving organizations, treatment providers and local veterans. Veterans voluntarily agree to participate and undergo specific treatment options based upon an assessment that take from one to two years to complete before their record is expunged.

The program is aided by mentors who volunteer their services and even include graduates. Judge Jent oversees this program in addition to the adult drug court and her regular court docket.

She was nominated by Jackie Algozine, Porter County PACT, Inc.

Chris Mahlmann, CEO & Founder, IDEAS in Motion Media, 2013-2014 Member

Chris-HeadshotChris Mahlmann who ran a successful market information business serving traders in Chicago and around the world, launched a unique business model here and perhaps elsewhere based upon "good news." Chris launched an online media company in Valparaiso called "IDEAS in motion media" focusing on positive news.

Chris explained, "I am not suggesting that people aren't interested in bad news, but they are also interested in good news."

Recognizing that non-profits are doing a world of good, and often have difficulty telling their stories, he used technology to expand their reach exponentially through online communities.

Five years ago, he launched a website called ValpoLife. PortageLife followed in 2010; LaPorteCountyLife in 2012, and NWIndianaLife in 2013. Expansion to other areas will be happening in the future. He has also launched an annual awards recognition program called 'The Good Life Awards." Already, the company has published more than 35,000 articles, 650 videos, 225,000 photos and content from 2600 contributors.

Nonprofits have free access and businesses are advertising partners. Once called a "goofy" idea, he started the firm over his garage with three employees, and now has 30!

"The innovation is building a business model around good news," he added.

Utilizing the website and other social media outlets like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter, thousands are now introduced to "stories for good" each week.

Chris was nominated by Bert Cook, Jon Groth and Gus Olympidis.