Indiana – A State That Works
By Brandon Wells, Executive Director, The Putnam County Community Foundation
Indiana - A State That Works. In 2013, less than one year after leaving my home state of California and settling into life as a Hoosier in my wife’s hometown, I came across the Indiana Economic Development Commission’s (IEDC) slogan, having no idea what it meant. Now, nearly a decade later, I think I am finally beginning to scratch the surface. Although I've worked in multiple industries in different regions of Indiana, it took becoming a member of the inaugural Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute (Mutz Institute) for that to happen.
I still can’t speak eloquently about what the IEDC had in mind when they came up with their slogan. Given the nature of their work, I'm sure they wanted to promote a ready and willing workforce, enticing tax credits, and Indiana’s general "business-friendly" attitude. All those things are true, but it is not entirely what the slogan means to me. I believe Indiana is a state that “works” because of its people. And you need not look farther than the facilitators and participants of the 2021 class of the Mutz Institute to see what I mean.
While they are likely too humble or busy to realize it, the twenty-four members of the Class of 2021 are transforming the way Indiana does business, builds for the future, and cares for our most vulnerable Hoosiers.
Jannett Keesling, CEO of Keys2Work, leads an organization that has secured employment for over 10,000 underserved and hard to employee people, transforming lives in the process. Tiffanie Hedlin of Toyota Manufacturing of Indiana and Nicole Chase of Eli Lilly & Co. work to improve their communities at the intersection of business and philanthropy. My fellow Community Foundation leaders—Alisa Winters (Rush County Community Foundation), Kristin Munn (Heritage Fund - The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County), and Brienne Hooker (Jasper Newton Foundation) —work passionately to ensure that strategic grantmaking and scholarships will benefit their respective communities in perpetuity.
It has been one of the great honors of my professional life to work with each of my classmates on our journey to improve ourselves so we can improve our communities and the State of Indiana. I'm sure they had a similar experience of not knowing exactly why we took this leap of faith but being very grateful that we did.
In our first session as a class, Lt. Governor John M. Mutz, the Institute's namesake, told us that we "change the world" by doing two things, "being a leader and having ideas." Well, if the last several months are any indication of what's to come, then Indiana is poised to be introduced to a crop of new leaders equipped with some incredible ideas, indeed. I look forward to continuing to work with a fantastic network of friends and colleagues as I learn more about the evolving needs of my adoptive home.
As a graduation gift, our class has collectively decided to launch an endowed scholarship for future participants of the Mutz Institute. This gesture reflects our resounding support of this Institute. So, if you are considering applying for the class of 2022, do it. I can assure you that you won’t regret it.
It is appropriate that Indiana Philanthropy Alliance facilitates the Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute because that's precisely what it is—an alliance of professionals and budding philanthropists from many industries and each corner of the state.
Indiana - A State That Works? With this group, you’re darn right.