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Assistant Program Leader Presents to Community Economics and Leadership Program (CELP) Participants



Michael Wilcox, Assistant Program Leader for Purdue Extension Community Development, was the May 10 guest speaker for the Community Economics and Leadership Program (CELP) meeting in Indianapolis.  The data snapshot that Michael presented showcased a variety of demographic, economic and labor market information that local leaders and organizations can use to gain a better perspective of current conditions and opportunities in Marion County.  The presentation aligned very well with the session objectives of understanding community economics, including investing in the essential community capitals to develop a vital community. Michael explained and engaged activities that demonstrated how community development produces and mobilizes assets to benefit and improve the community. He reviewed Marion County net worth and then discussed issues related to growth, development and sustainability.

Before Michael’s presentation, Matt Impink the Director for Policy and Civic Engagement, Indy Chamber, presented Indy’s Learning Lab on “Rebuilding the dream: Inclusive growth strategies.” His workshop touched on education, workforce and talent development, regional development and equitable development. Participant feedback from these sessions indicated a better understanding of Community Development, including necessary mobilization efforts to sustain growth and development in the metropolitan area.

The day was capped with a review of the Neighborhood Investment Strategy (NIS) of the City of Indianapolis. Brad Beaubien, Administrator of Indianapolis Long-Range Planning, walked participants through the outreach and investment strategy of the City of Indianapolis, including specific participants neighborhood investments. One participant said, “It was a great day and we learned a lot about Indianapolis and what we need to do to engage our neighbors and invest in change in our communities”.

Twenty-one community leaders are increasing their leadership capacity in the first-ever CELP experience. The four-month intensive educational series is the product of Community Development Educator, George Okantey, and his Community Development Advisory Committee. A cadre of diverse program participants are helping Purdue Extension-Marion County build a pipeline of purposeful leaders with skills to facilitate collaboration across systems.

CELP course participants are enhancing their ‘design thinking’ skills to achieve outcomes that benefit neighborhood residents. They are maximizing their leadership strengths to generate solutions to economic, social, environmental and cultural problems. They are working on collaborative solutions to create and sustain growth and economic opportunity in Marion County.

Course topics include strengths-based leadership, interpersonal communication, conflict competence, local government, design thinking, community economics, basic financial and business development, economics of meetings, leadership methodology, facilitation mastery, and the science of behavior change. CELP participants come from a variety of backgrounds to form a learning community.
Organizations involved in the inaugural program, which is supported by First Internet Bank, include:

  • Avondale Meadows YMCA
  • City of Indianapolis
  • Crooked Creek Community Council, Inc.
  • Indianapolis Fire Department
  • IndyEast Promise Zone
  • Indy Parks
  • John H. Boner Neighborhood Centers
  • Mapleton Fall Creek Development Corporation (MFCDC)
  • Marion County Juvenile Detention Center
  • Marion County Sheriff’s Office
  • Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association
  • Midtown Indy
  • Peace Learning Center
  • Volunteers of America of Indiana, Inc.

The eight-sessions, forty-six hours inaugural program concludes on June 21. Plans are underway to conduct fall seminars around the four pillars of the program (leadership strengths, design thinking, facilitation mastery and community economics).  Spring 2019 class enrollment will begin in December. For more information about the program contact George Okantey, or 317-275-9263.

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