The Indianapolis Foundation launched a fellowship program in 2016 that places a diverse group of 10 young civic leaders on prominent local boards and provides them with $10,000 to activate annually, for three years, during their terms. The Fellows are:
- Kiamesha-Sylvia G. Colom, Benesch Attorneys at Law
- Duane Ingram, Indianapolis Housing Agency
- Rebecca King, Leadership Indianapolis
- Emily Masengale, Christel House
- Doran Moreland, Ivy Tech
- Terina Perry, Lucas Oil
- Sherron Rogers, Eskenazi Health
- Adrianne Slash, Community Health Network
- Lily Smith, Warner Retail Group
- Marshawn Wolley, IUPUI
With a year of service to their respective boards, we wanted to check up on them regarding their experience.
President and CEO at Leadership Indianapolis
-serving on the board for the Indiana Repertory Theatre
One thing that I really appreciate about the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is that in addition to its commitment to creating high caliber professional theatre productions, the organization takes great pride in its role as a catalyst for critical conversations in our community. This overlaps with my personal mission to gather diverse people for shared experiences and meaningful conversation. As a result, I used some of my Fellowship funds to gather a group of people to attend a performance of “The Originalist,” a play about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a fictional young, liberal, female, African-American law clerk.
The production explored different viewpoints on several controversial issues and considered that hate is not a requirement for people who have strong disagreements. I loved having the opportunity to share the IRT with people who have not regularly, or in some cases, ever, attended a show there, and it provided a great opportunity for us to reflect on how we interact with people who are different from us. I found this to be especially important in the context of the Indianapolis Foundation Fellowship, which aims to increase the diversity of board members in our community.
(above photo: Rebecca King and guests at IRT performance)
Executive Director of Statewide Diversity & Community Engagement at Ivy Tech Community College
-serving on the board for the Indy Chamber
This year, I directed Fellowship funds to the Indy Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative (BOI). BOI is of particular interest to me because I deeply respect enterprising people who turn their passions into successful businesses. Recently, BOI was chosen as an official micro-lending intermediary by the U.S. Small Business Administration, giving the business group access to federal funds to expand its lending efforts to small-but-growing companies across the nine-county Indy region. As a supporter of emerging local businesses, it was fulfilling for me to direct funds to this effort.
In 2018, I’m looking forward to watching Indianapolis take a big leap in mass transit with the installation of the Red Line. I’m a big believer in investing in human capital. Therefore, I’ll look for opportunities to help my city develop its reputation as a smart and inclusive place for all to work, live and raise a family. Finally, I’m looking forward to civic engagement efforts that educate our community, boost voter participation and modernize our election systems. It’ll be fun to see Indianapolis’ emerging thinkers, entrepreneurs and artisans rise to a higher level in 2018!
Commercial Real Estate Broker at Warner Retail Group
-serving on the board for Goodwill Industries Inc.
I lost my mom two years ago and she was a foundational support system for not only the individuals in my family, but for many in the Indianapolis community and beyond. Losing her reminded me that privilege is having support and when I learned from Goodwill that their biggest funding priority for 2017 was their Goodwill Guides program – essentially a team of life coaches who provide mentorship and support to Goodwill retail employees to help them increase their independence and reach their potential – I knew immediately how I would like to apply my Fellowship funds. I felt that the type of work Goodwill is doing is in direct alignment with the life my mom lived and the person she was. I am grateful to be a steward of her legacy and contributor to Goodwill through my Fellowship funds.
Vice President of Business Development, Strategy and Operational Excellence at Eskenazi Health
-serving on the board for Newfields (formerly known as Indianapolis Museum of Art)
Newfields has enjoyed a historic year and it’s been very rewarding to serve on the board during this period. After a robust strategic planning process that engaged our current and potential customers, the Indianapolis Museum of Art rebranded itself to Newfields – which encompasses the art museum and the surrounding properties and grounds. This was not only a name change, but an opportunity to reimagine the potential of the campus.
While I was not involved with the board during the beginning of the strategic planning process, as soon as I joined, the organization and the board welcomed my feedback and perspective — both with the overall strategy as well as with the execution of the plans. The organization has welcomed me from the beginning which has helped me engage, learn, and also contribute.
Through the experience with The Indianapolis Foundation Fellows program, I’ve learned more about how to highlight and articulate my strengths when engaging with established, mature organizations. I’ve learned more about the importance of being able to proactively articulate how you want to engage and be utilized. The techniques I’ve learned are helping organizations, who are in the early stages of getting to know me, know when to pull me into topics or projects.
Partner, Real Estate & Environmental at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP
-serving on the board for Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
This past year was an exciting and transformative one. It took an institution, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO), that I only knew as a patron and made it into a very real entity for me. I participated and served on two committees: individual gift giving and finance. They both provided a breadth of knowledge about the organization and its pressure points. I have been able to make some great connections with the staff and hope to make those same connections with other board members in my next two years of service.
Thankfully, my career and knowledge base have been useful. I have learned things about the organization as well—about the way an artistic charitable board operates and the expectations it has of its board members. I have also developed a sense for the types of improvements that can be made and have begun sharing my ideas. I hope that in my last two years some of these ideas can become a reality.