What was your work background prior to becoming president of the Chamber?
I landed a job with the Legislative Services Agency right out of graduate school working in the Statehouse for the Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis. I worked at LSA for three years and then had the opportunity to become the tax and budget analyst for the finance committee of the state Senate where I worked for nine years.
I was excited when the tax and fiscal policy lobbyist position at the Chamber became open because it was among the top two or three places I wanted to go when I left the Senate. I worked for the Chamber for 10 years, including leading up government affairs. Then, 12 years ago, I was chosen to be the seventh president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in its 92-year history.
How have these experiences helped you in your role as president?
I feel like leading the Indiana Chamber of Commerce is the best possible job for me given my background. I have developed a passion for public policy and making a difference through the Legislature, by working with state agencies that regulate business and with the congressional delegation on federal issues. I use my business education and background, along with my public policy education and training, to lead an organization that’s arguably one of, if not the most, impactful and influential public policy and leadership advocates in the state.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There’s not a typical day. This work is seasonal. In January through March or April, a lot revolves around the General Assembly. I help wherever I can while at the same time dealing with the Chamber business: helping with membership, making strategic planning decisions and working with the executive committee and board of directors. When the Legislature’s not in session, my focus switches to outreach. I do a considerable amount of traveling during the interim to visit board members, legislators and media. I also do things like fielding calls and inquiries from members and looking at financial reports and performance reports.
What’s the most rewarding part about being president?
Having the opportunity to work with so many great people, including the staff, board members, legislators and other public officials. They’re good, well-educated people trying to do meaningful things. But probably the most rewarding part is that this organization makes a difference and has the ability to make a difference for members and for the people of Indiana. That’s what really encourages and enthuses me about this job.
It’s known around the Chamber that you have a great love for music. Where did that originate?
I played saxophone in middle school, but then in high school I participated in four different sports, which made playing an instrument basically impossible. But my interest in music continued and I started collecting music in high school. I started out collecting cassette tapes and have over 1,000. The last five or six years, my musical interest has expanded into concert DVDs, and I have about 80 or 90 concerts on DVD. Several summers ago, we began the summer concert series at the Chamber, where we watch a concert on DVD some Fridays during lunch. It’s a way for me to share my music and also allows other employees to do the same.
When you have free time, what do you like to do?
I like to play golf. I’ve enjoyed some success with three holes-in-one and a double eagle (a score of 2 on a par 5). I’m a big sports fan. My son plays college basketball at DePauw, so I like to watch him and help him with his workouts. I’m a big Pacers fan, all the way back to the ABA days. I like the Colts as well. I’m a big baseball fan, but since we don’t have a major league team in Indiana, I grew up liking the Boston Red Sox. I also have three dogs – Labradors.
Favorite Band: The Eagles or The Doobie Brothers, but I have lots of favorites.
Favorite book: I’ve read two recent books that were very moving: The Coming Jobs War, which we emphasized at the fall board meeting last year and had the author, Jim Clifton, speak at the meeting; and The Story by Max Lucado, which is the story of the Bible told chronologically.
Favorite vacation spot: I have a personal goal of setting foot in all 50 states, so we’ve planned family vacations to go to different parts of the country. I’ve been to 49 states. Maui is pretty awesome, and I also enjoyed a place in Southern Utah right outside Zion National Park called Zion Ponderosa.
Favorite quote: “Criticize yourself once in awhile and see what you may be doing wrong. Speak no ill of anyone and all the good you know of everyone. Don’t judge a person too soon. Even God waits to the end.”