Building Community Connections

 March 2014

 Issue #6

Change is in the air at Ball State University and the face of our engagement itself is following suit! More and more faculty members are getting involved in working on projects and initiatives throughout Indiana and requests for university assistance are increasing in response.  Building Better Communities is pleased to announce the addition of five new team members to help us meet this rising need:
Kimbra McDowell-Homza
Kimbra McDowell-Homza joined BBC on Monday, December 23 as a Project Specialist.  Kimbra is providing administrative support for the Regional Office Directors, David Terrell and Beth Neu.   Most recently, Kimbra served as a temporary office assistant in the Graduate School.  Prior to that, she spent 15 years as an Executive Assistant at Ontario Systems, LLC.  
Jeani Marsee
Jeani Marsee started with BBC on Monday, January 6 as a Project Specialist supporting the efforts of the Economic and Community Development Division.  Jeani joins BBC after spending the last 5 years in Bracken Library as the Student Employment and Business Services Assistant.
Erin Moore
Erin Moore officially became part of the BBC team on November 20 in a part-time capacity as a Communications Coordinator.  Erin’s early priorities include developing messaging around outreach and engagement efforts and preparing information about initiatives for the BBC website.  
Cathy Whaley On Monday, February 3, Building Better Communities welcomed the Northeast Indiana Area Health Education Center to Ball State University as well as Cathy Whaley who will serve as the interim program manager.  Cathy hit the ground running and will facilitate the development of the Center's infrastructure, including hiring staff, assembling an Advisory Board, and refining a five year strategic plan.

Heather Williams
Heather Williams became the Program Manager of the new Building Better Neighborhoods initiative of Ball State University on Monday, March 3rd. She will kick off this new initiative, funded by the Ball Brothers Foundation, with a focus on strengthening neighborhoods in the Muncie community in conjunction with existing neighborhood associations and by helping to establish new groups.  



President Gora visits the Fellows Showcase

BBC Fellows

Building Better Communities Fellows recently hosted another successful Showcase of projects from the summer/fall of 2013.  Three of the fall projects were nominated for Aurora Awards for their video components, and Cold Case Homicides: Making a difference for Families and the System received some great recognition from the media.  Fellows also wrapped up a 5-year grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and announced 17 projects for the spring semester.  



Mike Row Visits with BBCMike Row, the new President and CEO for the Muncie-based Alliance for Strategic Growth, was introduced to the campus community at a reception in BBC on December 5th.  He was formally appointed during late September as the result of an extensive leadership search.  He replaced Barbara Street, the longstanding former leader of the organization.   

Most recently, Row served as the Chief Operating Officer of EDGE Manufacturing in Bluffton.  Prior to that assignment, he served for five years as Executive Director of Economic Development for Wells County.  His background also includes service as an assistant professor and administrator at Taylor University, an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University and member of the Grant County Council.  Row earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ball State University and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute.   

The Alliance for Strategic Growth is East Central Indiana’s primary workforce development organization.  The Alliance serves a nine county region with eight WorkOne locations, one of eleven such operations in Indiana.



Building Better Communities recently opened its downtown Fort Wayne office.  This location, in the First Source Bank Building at 200 East Main Street, is the home base for Beth Neu, Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement.  The office itself is positioned adjacent to the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, IPFW’s Community Research Institute, WorkOne and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  This arrangement, and the relationships that it represents, is considered ideal for the nature of the work that the office intends to perform.  An open house is planned for our new location in the weeks ahead.     



BBC’s Building Better Neighborhoods initiative took a major step forward recently with the engagement of Heather L. Williams as Program Manager.  Most recently, Ms. Williams served as Zoning/Structural  Inspector in the Building Commissioner’s Office for the City of Muncie.  Her previous work experience also included service as a Planner, Coordinator of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and Assistant Administrator of the Unsafe Building Hearing Authority in the City’s Community Development Department.  Williams has earned three degrees from Ball State University including a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Business Administration with a focus in Entrepreneurship, and a Master of Urban Planning with an emphasis on Community Development.  She presently serves as President of the Board of Directors of ecoREHAB, Inc., member of the Board of Directors at the Roy C. Buley Community Center and as a Mayoral appointment to the Neighborhood Investment Committee.   

Building Better Neighborhoods is funded for three years by the Ball Brothers Foundation.  Ball State University provides additional funding and a commitment to support related immersive learning projects.  The initiative is focused on strengthening neighborhoods in the Muncie community by working closely with existing neighborhood associations and collaborating with others to establish new groups.  The project is related to a key priority of the Muncie Action Plan and will serve to facilitate the resources of the university toward neighborhood development.



As the new host for the Northeast Indiana Area Health Education Center (NEI-AHEC), Building Better Communities is pleased to announce that Cathy D. Whaley, MS, MCHES has been hired as the Temporary Program Manager. In this role, Mrs. Whaley will facilitate the development of the Center’s infrastructure at Ball State University, including the hiring of Center staff, assembling a representative Advisory Board, and refining the Center’s five year strategic plan. 

Through funding from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Indiana State Department of Health, NEI-AHEC promotes health career opportunities to high school students and underrepresented minorities, encourages college students and health professionals to work in areas with limited health care providers, and enhances the knowledge and skills of a diverse workforce of health professionals throughout northeast Indiana. 

NEI-AHEC includes the 17 counties of Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Grant, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Randolph, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley. If you are a health care workforce stakeholder in one of the above-mentioned counties and would like to serve on the Advisory Board or be involved with future health-related programming for rural and medically underserved communities, please contact Mrs. Whaley for additional information ( or 765-285-2776).


Economic and Community Development

EDC imageOur Economic and Community Development Division has also been busy! Ball State University’s Building Better Communities (BBC) held its 34th Economic Development Course (EDC) in January of this year, and for the second year in a row, the Indiana Arts Commission has partnered with us to provide capacity building opportunity consultancies to Indiana communities selected to participate in the Commission’s Community Cultural Planning Consultancy Program.   

In addition Dr. Michael Hicks of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), and Dick Heupel, Sharon Canaday, David Terrell, and Beth Neu of Building Better Communities’ Economic and Community Development unit traversed Indiana in November and December of 2013 to facilitate eleven regional meetings focused on gathering input and information from economic, business, and workforce development professionals to help identify regional key economic sectors.  In November of 2013, the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance (IGA), a nonprofit membership association serving the state’s community, corporate, family, independent, operating, private and public foundations, as well as corporate giving programs, invited Building Better Communities (BBC) to participate in five regional Fall Forums throughout Indiana. The forums were attended by foundations and corporate giving programs to talk about quality of place in communities, why it matters, and what role foundations and giving programs can play in community placemaking efforts that impact quality of life, attract and retain talent, and contribute to economic development efforts.

BBC has also signed an agreement with the Rural Policy Research Institute to develop a national state policy program.  David Terrell will be the national chair of this initiative, and he was also awarded the honor of the Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear.  This is the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to ambassadors of good will and fellowship.    


CDMA Expanding Programs to Include Fort Wayne Area 

Late last year, the Online Marketing Institute (OMI) released a study that pointed to a significant shortage of digital marketing talent.   The 2013 national study surveyed 747 key executives and found that these company executives were not satisfied with the current skill levels of their digital marketing leadership and employees. The report also found that over 80 percent of the companies faced significant problems in locating, hiring and retaining talent in digital marketing fields. 

Ball State’s Center for Digital Marketing Advancement (CDMA), launched last fall and is committed to solving this workforce development dilemma.  As an industry-focused, problem-solving group, the staff works to demystify digital marketing strategies and highlights the necessary skill sets that help companies and employees accelerate their digital marketing results.  To date, the center has been working with economic development and technology partners in Indianapolis to identify digital best practices and has developed professional workshops on a variety of topics that help improve employee skill sets and enhance marketing efforts.  The unit also works with campus departments and faculty to develop curricula that prepares graduates for future digital media related fields.  

This spring the CDMA is expanding this effort to include the Fort Wayne and Allen County area.  In order to make new contacts, the staff will work with Beth Neu, BBC Director of Public Policy and Engagement, to meet with businesses, attend community meetings, and provide workshops to interested companies.  The Center will also offer lunchtime talks, three-hour workshops, and customized, in-depth, one or two-day workshops on topics particularly relevant to the host company.  

In addition, CDMA is looking for digital marketing professionals willing to be interviewed on their company’s social media best practices, challenges, and successes.  These interviews are part of an ongoing research effort to create a best practices and case study archive to be used in training and whitepapers.   

If you would like to sign-up for a digital marketing lunchtime talk or would like to know more about customized workshops, contact Suzanne Plesha, CDMA Associate Director, at or 765-285-0123.  


Greater Indianapolis Area

IndyNewsOn February 18, 2014 at the Ball State Fishers Center @ Saxony, the Bowen Center for Public Affairs, awarded the designation of Certified Public Supervisor to eighteen state and local government and nonprofit officials. Additionally, the Ball State Indianapolis Center is offering Graduate Certificates in Public Administration beginning this coming Fall 2014 term.  The Greater Indianapolis Area would also like to announce the debut of their quarterly eNewsletter which was successfully launched this quarter.


E.B and Bertha C. Ball Center

Luminaria Walk

The 2013 Magna cum Murder (McM) Crime Writing Festival XIX exceeded our expectations this past October with 140 registrations, up 50 from last year.  The festival, which was held previously in Muncie, moved to the historic Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis to serve as Magna’s home for the next three years. The December 3rd Town and Gown Conversations dinner with special guest Nicholas Basbanes, author of “On Paper: The Everything of Its 2000 Year History,” attracted 70 guests, and the annual Christmas Luminaria walk welcomed over 2500 guests. E.B. Ball was also commended for its use and care of the facility and needed renovations were green-lighted to continue in June.  


GeoCon:  A Showcase of Ball State University’s Geothermal System 

GeoConclave photoOn November 7, 2013, Ball State University offered GeoCon I, a single day event in which presenters and participants exchanged technical notes, developed understandings, and shared experiences with the design, installation, and operations of geothermal ground source heat pump technology.  

Activities included a pre-session on the basics of geothermal heat pump systems, along with a synopsis of Ball State University’s sustainability efforts, and an overview of Ball State’s geothermal system.  Additional presentations were given by academic and industry professionals related to geothermal technology.  A highlight for the 60+ participants included tours of the south campus borehole field and the District Energy Station North building.  

Based on the success of the fall program, GeoCon II is scheduled for April 10, 2014.  It will highlight aspects on design, drilling, and equipment.  The agenda will feature geothermal professionals, an industry panel discussion, and Ball State’s geothermal system.  Participants will have the opportunity to visit these campus sites:  (1) Letterman Building (HVAC Interface); (2) District Energy Station North (Controls, Monitoring & Equipment); and (3) South Campus Borehole Field (Drill Site). 

Ball State University expresses its appreciation to Automated Logic, The Geothermal Exchange Organization, and HeatSpring Learning Institute for their sponsorship of GeoCon along with the additional support provided from the Chevrolet Carbon-Reduction Initiative.



The university’s redoubled commitment toward advancing Indiana is yielding significant quantitative results.  For the first year of the institution’s current strategic plan—2012-2013—there were significant gains in outreach activity.  During this year, there were 872 outreach and engagement projects conducted throughout Indiana: an increase of nearly 41% over 2011-2012.  These projects engaged more than 11,000 participants.  The actual number of students involved nearly doubled over the previous year to more than 10,500. Student-engaged projects numbered 464, an increase of 65%.  All in all, the university was involved in outreach and engagement in 81 of Indiana’s 92 counties.     


Building Better Communities
Carmichael Hall (CA), room 104
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana 47306

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Summer hours: 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Phone: 765-285-2773
Fax: 765-285-4989
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