CORE Inc » About Us

We provide job skills training, work experiences, and job placement opportunities to individuals with disabilities.

CORE was created from a vision: a passion for educating others. CORE was founded in 2009 by two high school teachers who shared a vision to provide job skills training to young adults with disabilities in a real-world environment. Today, CORE serves as a Vocational Rehabilitation and Ticket to Work provider for the State of Indiana offering on-site job skills training, work experiences, and job placement opportunities at various business in 13 counties throughout Indiana to individuals of all ages. Our partnerships with various businesses throughout Indiana allow us to provide a wide range of employment opportunities to our participants while helping businesses meet their employment needs. Connections, Opportunities, Resources, Experiences – at the core of CORE.

OUR TEAM

CORE is comprised of dedicated staff who work with participants and local businesses to support the disabilities community and assist with the economic development of the communities we serve. CORE’s vocational training program is led by Amber Martinez, Program Director, who supervises a team of Employment Specialists and support staff to ensure our participants receive the specialized support they need to attain meaningful and gainful employment. By partnering with local businesses throughout our service areas, CORE provides its participants on-site, individualized job skills training, work experiences, and job placement opportunities in a variety of careers. The partnership between local businesses and community members is the CORE principle of our organization. What We Believe: Individuals with disabilities need opportunities for job skills training, work experiences, and job placement. Local businesses see value in employees with disabilities.
Amber Martinez, Program Director

Lori Heiges is a co-founder and current Executive Director of CORE. During her 30 years as a high school teacher, Lori noticed that many of her former students with special needs were often inactive and unemployed after graduation. She was aware of her students’ vast capabilities and wondered how she could assist them in developing jobs skills that would assist them in acquiring gainful employment. CORE was founded in 2009 and has since become a progressive and innovative Vocational Rehabilitation provider for the state. Lori retired in 2018 after 30 years of teaching high school students in both East Allen County Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools to focus on developing the organization. Lori holds a BS in English Education, an MS in Secondary Education, and is a certified Library Media Specialist and Journalism teacher.

Amber Martinez, Program Director

Being in the education field, Amber Martinez’s curiosity for transition opportunities for graduating high school students arose when she worked as a paraprofessional for Northeast Indiana Co-op at Dekalb Central. Amber came to CORE in June of 2019 as an Employment Specialist with the intention of working during the summers and other scheduled breaks during the school year yet remaining in the classroom. Amber quickly had a change of heart while teaching job skills needed for those with disabilities. She finds great happiness through the sucess of others. Amber did not return to the classroom and began working full time as the Lead Employment Specialist with CORE. A year later, Amber was promoted to her current position as Program Director.

Gayle Topp, Human Resource Specialist

Gayle Topp is a retired high school business and career teacher who taught for 26 years. In 2011, he earned an MBA in human resource management. He came to CORE in 2019 with the intent of being an employment specialist temporarily until he found something more related to his degree in human resource management. However, after working with participants and the administrative team at CORE, he decided to stay permanently. He was an Employment Specialist for about a year before transitioning into other roles. He currently is serving as the HR Specialist, the BIN Liaison, and an Employment Specialist.

Stephanie Kalakay, Gusiness Liaison

Stephanie Kalakay has been a part of Core since 2020. After working in the local school system in Special Needs, Stephanie decided it was time to change paths and work with adults. Stephanie was new to the employment side of working with those with disabilities and knew that she wanted to continue helping others. Stephanie began as an Employment Specialist and continues to enjoy working with participants. Stephanie has also taken on administrative roles and is working to develop business relationships to open more possibilities for each participant. Stephanie’s favorite part about CORE is the hardworking team that assists every participant in learning, discovering, and developing a meaningful career path.

OUR BOARD

Jane Surbeck, President

Jane is currently president of the following boards: Allen County Christmas Bureau, St. Joseph Academy Alumnae Association, and Shepherd’s House, Inc. Jane is also Chair of NPR Association, Vice Chair of RMSM Foundation, and serves on the board of the Terra Brantley Foundation. She has a history of board service in Fort Wayne, including terms with the following boards: Indiana State Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Catch a Falling Star, Inc., Three Rivers Festival Executive Board, Inc., Eagle’s Nest Youth Centre, Inc., Masonic Learning Center for Children, Inc., and One Church One Offender.

Tom Fabini, Vice President
Consultant for Applied Lubrication Technologies

Beth Jewett, Secretary

Educational Instructor, Retired Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo Instructor, Substitute Teacher

Justin Heiges, Treasurer
Old National Bank, Applications Administrator

Stan Ziherl, Board Member
President, Five Star Distributing

Brad Kopecky, Board Member
PPG Primary Care Clinic Manager, Onsite and Employer Based Clinics

Andrew Callison, Board Member
Purchasing Manager, PHD, Inc.

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Jane Surbeck, President

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Tom Fabini, Vice President

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Beth Jewett, Secretary

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Justin Heiges, Treasurer

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Stan Ziherl, Board Member

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Brad Kopecky, Board Member

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Andrew Callison, Board Member