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Bill Hanna, prior President and CEO of the Regional Development Authority, was recently named the executive director of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation. He will support the foundation’s mission to contribute to sustainable economic and social wellbeing of Northwest Indiana and the surrounding area. Hanna will maintain an office in Merrillville at White Lodging’s corporate headquarters.

“Bill is known for cultivating legacy projects that support the health, wellness and economic sustainability of the Region,” said Bruce White, a trustee of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation. “He’s a catalyst for progress and good things, and will be tasked with supporting my parents’ – and the entire White Family’s – vision, while maximizing the long-term investments of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation.”

“It’s an honor to serve the community in a new capacity and help support the beautiful legacy of Dean, Barbara and the entire White Family who care deeply for this region,” said Hanna.

As the first person in this official capacity at the foundation, Hanna’s first priority is working with the White Family and foundation trustees to further solidify the foundation’s strategic priorities.

Strategic Priorities

The Dean and Barbara White Family foundation considers each project an investment in the community and will look for a ‘return’ on its investment in the form of tangible impact on its stakeholders. The foundation will invest in projects aligned with the following strategic priorities:

  • Economic Development: Investments generate tangible and intangible benefits that sustain over generations in the form of quality of life, health and wellness and economic centers of influence.
  • Self-Sustaining: Projects must be self-sustainable over time and not require consistent ongoing funding from the foundation.
  • Region-Wide Benefit: We are community of one and those projects funded must bring people together and be accessible to all even if those projects are in a particular community.
  • Matching Gifts: We align with projects where our investment can be a multiplying force for good with other leaders in the area.

The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation reserves the right to change these priorities and does not provide support in the form of sponsorships, sports teams, political organizations/causes or individuals. Investments of less than $25,000 are also not considered.

Investment Highlights

Over the past five years, the foundation has invested more than $46 million.

  • Most recently, the foundation pledged $10 million – This link opens in a new browser tab. to support the new Merrillville Community Center. The Community Center will be named the Dean and Barbara White Community Center.
  • In 2020, the foundation supported White Lodging associates impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and more than $1 million to support COVID-19 economic recovery efforts at the Indy Chamber, Legacy Foundation and the Porter County Community Foundation.
  • In 2018, the foundation donated $15 million to Purdue University to support the transformation of the historic Union Club Hotel – This link opens in a new browser tab.. The donation was matched by the Bruce and Beth White Family Foundation.
  • In 2017 the foundation donated $21 million to develop a new, state-of-the-art Southlake YMCA in Crown Point, complete with indoor and outdoor recreation and water activities. The facility opened in 2019 as the Dean and Barbara White Southlake YMCA – This link opens in a new browser tab..
  • The foundation also has been instrumental in supporting many community improvement efforts in including the historic courthouse restoration, the Sportsplex and Legacy Fields.

About Bill Hanna

Hanna most recently served as the President and CEO of the Regional Development Authority. Prior to the RDA, he was the City Manager and Deputy Mayor for Valparaiso, the Economic Development Director for Valparaiso and Vice President of the Valparaiso Economic Development Corporation.

Hanna earned his Juris Doctor from Valparaiso University, his MBA from National-Louis University in Chicago, and his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Human Resources from Colorado Christian University. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Army serving in the Army’s Official Presidential Escort and service as a Sentinel (guard) and Head Trainer/Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C.

White Lodging, established in 1985 by hospitality icon Bruce White, has evolved into one of the country’s largest privately held hospitality companies focused exclusively on highly curated urban and lifestyle properties. The company develops, owns and manages a portfolio of brands in destination-driven markets, including Austin, Chicago, Denver, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Louisville. With a focus on elevated and experiential service, White Lodging’s portfolio consists of approximately 60 premium hotels; a private collection of world-renowned luxury ranches; 50 locally relevant, award-winning restaurants; and 10 market-leading rooftop bars. White Lodging focuses on hiring and developing Hospitalitarians that are committed to exceptional service and fostering meaningful connections. White Lodging is the second highest in the 2021 J.D. Power Guest Satisfaction Benchmark for third-party management companies, and has been near the top since the first benchmark was published. For more information about White Lodging, visit or follow the company on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


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