Gov. Mike Pence’s chief lobbyist is leaving the administration. Heather Neal also served as chief of staff to former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett and played a significant role in the changing of grades for a charter school funded by a prominent Republican donor. Copies of emails obtained by the Associated Press indicate Bennett and Neal frantically intervened late last year on behalf of the Cristel House Academy to boost the school’s grade from a C to an A. “The Journal Gazette” reports Neal is joining Limestone Strategies as president of its public affairs practice. The company is based in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. Bennett lost his reelection bid to Glenda Ritz last November and was hired as state education commissioner in Florida. He resigned from that job after news of the grading scandal broke.
Written by Mary Perren
WKVI News Director Mary Perren is glad to be back home in northern Indiana and on the radio. She’s a North Judson native with more than 20 years of news experience. She’s worked in print and radio news in Indianapolis, Hopkinsville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn. and most recently in Winamac before taking over as news director for Kankakee Valley Broadcasting in February of 2013. Her work has been honored by the Associated Press, StateNets News Association, Curb Foundation, Hoosier State Press Association and IBA. When she’s not sitting in the anchor chair or chasing down news, Mary enjoys shopping for antiques, attending concerts and taking long walks and rides in her vintage Saab convertible, weather permitting. She’s also a hopelessly devoted Chicago Cubs fanatic who still cringes at the mention of Steve Garvey and Josh Beckett and maintains it wasn’t Steve Bartman’s fault.