What does the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement do?

If you look at diversity, equity, and belonging, that central theme is an internal theme. It's centered around experiences for our students, experiences for their cultural awareness. Let's take, for example, the LGBTQ+ community feeling a sense of togetherness, recognition, and that their voices can be heard. Black and Brown community organizations, or entities like the Sister Circle or Brother 2 Brother. It’s all about a sense of belonging.

Collectively diversity, equity, and belonging is the inner part that works and functions to really connect our students to college life. The community engagement piece of our division links specific Ivy Tech programs and our external partners or our skills-based partners looking for an enhanced workforce. The Community Engagement Office regulates and helps maintain, in addition to building, those relationships. We seek new relationships and partnerships, for example, the Indianapolis Opera. This partnership isn’t traditionally in Ivy Tech Indianapolis’ wheelhouse, but they are because we’re part of the community. 

We're the only Indiana college with “community” in our name. Our students at Ivy Tech Indianapolis have many different talents and skill sets. So the office is a very, very unique, nuanced entity.

What are your responsibilities as the Director of Community Engagement at Ivy Tech Indianapolis?

It's really simple but very complex at the same time. 

If you think about our populace in Marion County alone, how many businesses need something specific, an enhanced workforce, internal morale between employees and the employer, and deeper certifications? Who is the person creating that link? And who is the person responsible for those introductory meetings? That’s me. I maintain a relationship, or database, with entities like post-secondary colleges because many of our students earn an associate's degree or college credit and then progress to get an enhanced degree. I look at nonprofit businesses, your 501(c)(3) organizations, or even bigger entities such as Amazon and Eli Lilly. 

And that's just Marion County. Now you multiply that with our businesses in both Hendricks and Boone Counties, and that’s enormous, right? So rather than become overwhelmed, what I do is build initial relationships with these groups and then let those relationships bloom and blossom. Then, I do a needs-based assessment based on what I'm hearing from the entity or the partner to figure out how Ivy Tech Indianapolis can help them fill that need. 

Is there anything you wish more people knew about your role on campus?

I want people to know that our office exists! It's here to help the success of professors, staff members, students, employers, and employees. 

I wear multiple hats. I have to be a subject matter expert in a lot of different areas – which is really cool – and then I have to be able to fill in those gaps. So help and understanding from others is great. Please know that the office exists to help facilitate your success – and we're not just out here selling widgets or something! Haha. 

What do you like best about your job?

I love the unpredictable nature of the job. And I love the fact that it's never the same. It's always changing. It's different every day, and it's rewarding work. 

What is a recent project you worked on that you are proud of?

I worked at Lebanon High School one day a week to help build a relationship between Ivy Tech and the school. I saw that Eli Lilly was investing a huge amount of money into Lebanon – to the tune of like almost $4 billion. So, rather than reinvent the wheel, I was like, let me go check it out, see what's going on out there. 

High schools are a hub for a lot of communities, as they should be. And so as a result of that, we used Lebanon High School as a place to host our first Community Conversation. In my work, we work to mitigate biases and misconceptions, and sometimes people have misconceptions about the Indianapolis campus, specifically in that area. This conversation helped dispel some rumors and things that kept us from growing and building relationships in that town. So as a result, we built a solid relationship with Lebanon High School, and it's been going well. It's been moving in a really cool and neat direction. We were able to use their space to create a community conversation, invite businesses, and see what kind of skills they want and need in employees. And the relationship puts us in a position where we're coming as a true business partner and aligning ourselves with the needs of the community rather than assuming what we think they need. 

What is your favorite kind of food?

Oh, that's easy. I'm a sushi guy!

What was the last live entertainment you attended?

I was recently on a Disney Cruise, where I attended several Broadway shows, including Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. And right before that, I saw Hamilton!

Fun fact? 

I love to cook. I started to get into it during COVID, and I really like pairing a good dish with a good white, red, or French wine.

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.