In the summer, Kevin Enders began his journey at Ivy Tech Indianapolis as the director of community engagement, focusing on Hendricks and Boone Counties. 

Prior to his appointment, Enders spent eight years at the Indiana Youth Institute, culminating in his most recent position as the director of social and emotional health. With nearly two decades of experience working with youth and families, I’ve spent nearly half of that time leading community engagement strategies and initiatives.

Enders earned a B.S. in health, physical education, and fitness from Purdue University and an M.A. in industrial and organizational psychology from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Ivy Tech Indianapolis is excited to introduce Enders to our community and shine a light on this first-of-its-kind position for the campus. To learn more about Enders, we sat down with him to hear more about what attracted him to this position, what his top priorities are, and how he plans to collaborate with students, alumni, businesses, and more. 

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to this role at Ivy Tech Indianapolis?

I was drawn to this role because community plays a significant part in any organization. Solving community needs and problems takes people, not just programs. Developing a better future cannot happen with a singular intended effort; it requires the community’s experience, knowledge, relationships, skills, and active participation. With nearly two decades of experience working with youth and families, I’ve spent nearly half of that time leading community engagement strategies and initiatives. Through this journey, I’ve witnessed how community relationships and partnerships enhance overall impact. My background spans the sectors of nonprofit, education, and government. In the nonprofit sector, I sharpened the art of empathy and the science of collective impact. As an educator, I facilitated the magic that occurs when students, teachers, and parents collaborate. In government, I navigated systems while championing youth initiatives, bridging the gap between government and community partners.

2. What attracted you to the position of Director of Community Engagement for Hendricks and Boone Counties?

Contributing to positive change is important to me, and making a positive impact in the community where I live holds significant meaning. I believe that I am creating a positive ripple effect for both current and future generations in Hendricks and Boone Counties. Living at the intersection of Hendricks, Boone, and Marion counties, I find myself constantly aware of local happenings in all directions. As part of my professional and personal endeavors, I am fortunate to utilize my experiences in community engagement to enhance Ivy Tech’s educational and workforce presence in Hendricks and Boone Counties. Not only am I shaping the community landscape for my family, but I also have the opportunity to collaborate with nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies on inclusive educational and career initiatives, aiming to interrupt systemic and generational cycles by providing education and workforce pathway options for youth and adults.

3. Can you describe your primary responsibilities as the new Director of Community Engagement?

The Director of Community Engagement role will primarily focus on developing community relationships and partnerships, participating in community events and initiatives, and strengthening accessible postsecondary education and workforce pathways for teenagers, adults, and seniors. It is my efforts in this position to inform, consult, involve, collaborate, and empower the community about Ivy Tech’s no-cost and low-cost certification, training, and degree programs that can contribute to the community’s workforce needs and propel individuals toward fulfilling careers.

4. What are your key goals and objectives for the first year in this role?

Life happens and can fill time with many unintended or unenjoyable responsibilities and emotions. In this first year, I will be listening, partnering, and taking action to better understand and reduce the obstacles for teenage and adult-serving organizations to access education, credentials, or training they need to progress the quality of life of those they serve and employ. I will be engaging with a variety of community organizations such as nonprofits, faith-based institutions, community coalitions, healthcare agencies, local government, social service groups, cultural centers, senior programs, neighborhood associations, and many more. In addition to understanding the education and workforce needs, Ivy Tech will be coordinating local community conversation and outreach events to inform you about program pathways and how to enroll.     

5. How do you see Ivy Tech impacting the local community in Hendricks and Boone Counties?

Indiana residents are likely familiar with Ivy Tech Community College, yet its engagement with local groups and initiatives may not have been consistent throughout the years. I envision Ivy Tech becoming an even more active partner in the local community, facilitating discussions, connecting dots, and filling gaps. By doing so, Ivy Tech will bring its strengths and relationships to the forefront, contributing to workforce needs, social change initiatives, and sustainable solutions. Ultimately, Ivy Tech’s impact in Hendricks and Boone Counties will add to the foundation of the communities, not just individual programs.

6. What specific programs, projects, or initiatives are you most excited to introduce or expand in these counties?

Ivy Tech’s vision for Indiana’s workforce is outlined in its 2023-2025 Strategic Plan, which states, ‘Ivy Tech students will earn 50,000 high-quality credentials each year, aligned with the needs of Indiana’s workforce and communities.’ However, Ivy Tech’s student body is not traditional; therefore, I will focus on increasing adult awareness and enrollment access. My goal is to help adults discover and pursue high-impact careers that align with their interests. Simultaneously, I am excited about co-creating talent pipelines with various organizations, including nonprofits, faith-based institutions, healthcare agencies, local government, and social service agencies.

7. Can you share some examples of how you plan to collaborate with local businesses, organizations, and schools?

Collective impact serves as a crucial driver when considering collaboration with local organizations. Ensuring alignment with Ivy Tech’s mission and prioritizing organizational needs are pivotal for successful partnerships. The collaboration will span a spectrum of involvement and engagement tailored to the organization’s needs. It could range from a simple request to present at a meeting or attend an event to more substantial efforts, such as co-creating talent pipelines to address employment shortages in the community. While the level of engagement may vary, Ivy Tech’s community engagement intent remains consistent: to connect community members and organizations to Ivy Tech’s mission for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources that align with community needs.

8. How do you plan to involve students and alumni in community engagement activities?

At Ivy Tech, we value student and alumni involvement as a testament to our collective success. Their voices, experiences, and ongoing engagement enrich our community and reinforce the transformative power of postsecondary education. Ivy Tech will coordinate community conversation and outreach events throughout the year in Boone and Hendricks Counties. Utilizing the testimonies of current students and alumni can create meaningful connections with prospective students. Representation matters, and our students and alumni are more than welcome to connect with me or Ivy Tech Indianapolis’ marketing team. We are actively creating platforms to share the transformational impact Ivy Tech Community College can have on individuals, families, and communities.

9. What opportunities do you see for Ivy Tech to make a significant difference in Hendricks and Boone Counties?

The significant difference may not be felt immediately, yet it will be the small actions and seeds planted that develop meaningful relationships and partnerships, ultimately making a significant impact. The efforts of community engagement at Ivy Tech Indianapolis aim not to disrupt the community but to enrich it. Our overarching goals include increasing certifications and degree completions to meet the workforce needs of Boone and Hendricks Counties. This significant difference will evolve from mutually beneficial and consistent relationships and partnerships that strive to enhance the community.

10. What do you enjoy most about working in community engagement?

I enjoy being with others who want to change the world. People fascinate me, and the more I am able to connect and collaborate with someone who wants to improve the livelihood of others, the more motivated and encouraged I feel. The human connection, aligned with a shared purpose, is what I enjoy most.

11. What are your long-term visions for Ivy Tech's role in Hendricks and Boone Counties?

The Division of Community Engagement at Ivy Tech Indianapolis aims to foster meaningful and lasting relationships and partnerships within the community. We prioritize community empowerment, active collaboration, and impact beyond individual programs. Our vision is to strengthen Boone and Hendricks Counties’ workforce and economy through proactive engagement with community partners and high-quality certification and degree programs that meet the community’s needs. We strive to inform, consult, involve, collaborate, and co-create sustainable postsecondary pathways that lead to the present and future well-being of individuals and families in Boone and Hendricks Counties.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.