Putting community first, career follows


What does community mean to you?

Community is like a big blanket, woven with diverse threads, that wraps around you, keeps you warm and protects you. We are all threads in this blanket, each of us different, but held together and supportive of one another.


Why is Whitley County important to you?

It’s small. It’s beautiful. It’s home. I have fond memories of growing up on our rural Whitley County farm, and I appreciate what a wonderful gift it was to have been raised in this caring, supportive, loving community. I am proud to now raise my children here in the same community where many generations of my family have called home. I find it kind of serendipitous that my ancestors arrived here in the 1830s and we’ve been here ever since. For randomly selecting a place in the wilderness to plant roots, they did well!


How did you become involved in the chamber?

I initially became a volunteer, then a member and was eventually selected to serve as a board member when the Columbia City Chamber and South Whitley Chamber joined to become the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce. I later served two terms as board chair before becoming a staff member. In each role, I’ve learned a lot about our organization, identified opportunities and gained a tremendous passion for what we do and what we have the ability to do in the future.


What is your goal(s) for the chamber?

I have several important goals for 2017. I want our community to fully understand the importance of the Chamber and the many roles we serve – providing advocacy, resources for information and serving as a champion for not only our members, but the community at large. I want to grow our membership base. We are also very excited to be launching some major initiatives this year that will be huge for our community – specifically launching a visitor’s center, highlighting the arts in our community and creating new, member-centric programming.


Tell us about the Talk of the Town. How did that come about?

In addition to my role at the Chamber, I am a small business owner as well. Talkofthetownwc.com is an online news site for Whitley County that focuses on positive news. Honestly, it was a hobby that accidentally became a business. I felt there needed to be an online place where residents, former residents and potential new residents of Whitley County could go and find positive, upbeat news about what’s happening in Whitley County. In a lot of ways, I felt there were a lot of great things happening here that no one seemed to know about – and this was one way of getting it out there. It grew from something I shared among friends and became something much bigger. I am proud of what it has become. We celebrate 10 years in November. It is very much a small, family-centered business.


How do you balance all of your commitments and responsibilities?

People ask me this a lot. It all comes down to reasonably good time management and a crazy work ethic. I am fortunate that my husband and children are very involved in and supportive of the work I do.


Do you have any concerns or fears about small towns and their survival?

Not at all. We have the tenacity, creativity, vision and will to thrive in the years ahead. I have no reason to believe we won’t!


Why should someone live or do business in Whitley County?

Our community is known for being a place that is safe and caring, that exudes warmth and that welcomes others. Whitley County offers a close proximity to bigger cities, but boasts scenic rural landscapes, sparkling lakes and quiet neighborhoods that are inviting to all.


What is your favorite aspect of northeast Indiana?

My favorite aspect of northeast Indiana is how much we have to offer. We are a region of entrepreneurial spirit. We have dynamic cities, bustling towns, rural landscapes and we have a lot of lakes – all in close proximity. Additionally, I think our region is a great place to choose to live with an affordable quality of life, a supportive attitude toward economic development and a lot of variety.


Who is your favorite author and why?

I have quite a few favorites, but right now my favorite is Carol Dweck. I am particularly interested in her theories on fixed and growth mindset and how that relates to developing the kinds of attitudes, talents and abilities we want to encourage in future generations.


By Lucretia Cardenas. To suggest a “Career Path,” please email lcardenas@kpcmedia.com or call (260) 426-2640.