As a La Porte native and a strong believer in the city’s potential, Tom Dermody has spent a lifetime trying to give back to his community. By channeling his love for the Region and his dedication to stewardship, he and his wife Jackie have launched several initiatives to pull La Porte along its journey to being a thriving Indiana community.
Dermody has a strong understanding of what it’s like to be a business owner in La Porte. With a degree in Business from Purdue University and a strong background in business ownership, Dermody sought to fill a major gap in the La Porte community.
“We noticed that many businesses were struggling to grow because they couldn’t keep employees,” he said.
That’s what lead he and Jackie to found We Connect, an Employer Resource Network (ERN) that helps businesses in La Porte thrive. While Tom was working as a State Representative, Jackie left her 22-year career as a probation officer to keep the company moving. We Connect is a non-profit that offers employers the skills needed to increase employee retention rates, resolve workplace issues, and spur business growth.
“You’re hearing everyday how people are struggling with finding employees and keeping employees, and this is a way we can give back,” Dermody said. “Anything we can help an employee with, we try to do. Our cell phones are always on, and people call us 24/7 every day.”
We Connect’s small, dedicated staff helps with small issues, such as helping employees find transportation and housing, to big issues, like offering training opportunities to companies through partnerships with community organizations.
“Sometimes, people just need a little help and a little hope to know that someone else cares about them,” Dermody said. “That can make a huge difference in the success of their life. If you believe people are good and believe people want to do what’s right and sometimes just need a little help, that’s a great thing and a big part of why We Connect can be successful.”
With the help of Courtney Parthun, the head of the Success Coaches of We Connect, the company has served more than 1,000 employees to connect them to viable employment.
Tom said giving back to the community has been a part of his day-to-day life for as long as he can remember. He regularly volunteered to coach youth sports, served on the YMCA board, and served on the Salvation Army board.
“I’ve always tried to give back to this community because growing up here was a great experience. I was so fortunate for all the people who were good to me growing up,” Tom said. “My parents really made a standard of giving back, so I’ve always tried to do that.”
Committed to making La Porte the best city it can be, Tom filed as a La Porte Mayoral Candidate in hopes of bringing enthusiasm to the city of La Porte. He was the first candidate to file in 2019.
“I felt there was a need for leadership to continue to move the city forward,” Tom said. “I committed almost two years ago that I was going to run, so people knew how serious I was about running for this and my commitment toward the City of La Porte. I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
Tom draws inspiration for his candidacy from his long history of being in involved with sports and enjoying competition. He hopes to bring that same level of competitiveness, drive, and work ethic to the City of La Porte.
“There is so much opportunity here, and I think that people in our community are wanting to change. They’re ready to compete,” Tom said. “I believe that we can compete not only on a local level but on a national level, because La Porte is a great place to live, to work, and to grow with your children. We have to have the expectation to win, the expectation of success, and the expectation of excellence, and we shouldn’t tolerate anything less than that.”
Balancing the demands of his political life, business life, and family life requires patience, understanding, and the support of others.
“I’m fortunate to have Jackie, who has been so supportive of our political life. Having a political life and having kids isn’t necessarily always fun. It can be difficult, but she’s always been so supportive and continues to move forward,” Tom said. “My kids are so supportive and understanding. One thing we always said in our business was ‘family first.’ We’re going to continue to send that message no matter where we are.”
“I’m always going to work extremely hard,” Dermody said. “I am very competitive, no matter what we do. We have some great people who work for the city, and together, in a team effort and with leadership, guidance, and a belief in where we’re going, it’s going to be a great year.”