17 Complete 2017 USI Community Leadership Program


Connect with Southern Indiana presentation

17 individuals successfully completed University of Southern Indiana’s 2017 Connect with Southern Indiana program on May 5. An annual leadership program, Connect with Southern Indiana was established in 2006 and is managed by Community Engagement, a department within USI Outreach and Engagement.

The program is in its fifth year of using the Romain College of Business Entrepreneurship Initiative model as a guide. Participants attended 10 full-day sessions focusing on divergent and analytical thinking, idea generation, communication and strategic entrepreneurship from a community development perspective.

This year, that entrepreneurial mindset was applied to the program’s theme of advanced health care directives. Participants teamed up to create innovative ways to encourage southern Indiana communities to have conversations about their own advanced directives to better plan for their future health care needs. Teams presented their collaborative projects at the conclusion of the program.

Below is a list of the projects, the team members involved and a brief description of the project:

The Conversation Game: Caylin Blockley, Nicole Osborne and Erin McCracken Merris

The Conversation Game is a board game that helps families enhance their relationships and ability to talk about the sensitive subject of life and death.

AHCP2Go: Echo Ira, Tammy Oliver and Chaze Patrick

AHCP2Go is designed to foster effective conversations in a multi-mode platform that is suitable for various populations in the Southwest Indiana.

SILC – Southwestern Indiana Life Conversations: Martha Seal, Martha Vance, Melissa Walden and Loc Duong

This project consists of the rebranding of and the creation of a website and social media platform for New Harmony Conversations.

Advance Directives (A Purr-fect Conversation): Rasheedah Jackson, Casey Trela, Sara Dzimianski and Jenell Schue

This program utilizes pets as a conversation starter.

Progressive Benefits – Health Care Derivatives for Employees: Sara Hopkins, Allison Brown and Tonya Rine

This program utilizes human resource departments to facilitate the promotion and creation of employees’ advance healthcare directives.

Connect with Southern Indiana continues to promote active citizenship for individuals across a nine-county region in southwest Indiana. Connect with Southern Indiana is open to Indiana residents living in Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh or Warrick counties who would like to improve the quality of life in their communities.

The 2017 graduating class includes:

Dubois County:                                                   

  • Jenell Schue, supervisor of central scheduling, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center

Gibson County:

  • Melissa Walden, director of marketing and development, The Arc of Gibson County

Knox County:

  • Martha Vance, business and industry coordinator, Vincennes University

Pike County:

  • Sarah Hopkins, 4-H youth development educator, Purdue Extension Pike County

Posey County:

  • Allison Brown, senior gallery associate, USI New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art
  • Casey Trela, director of financial aid, Ivy Tech Community College

Spencer County:

  • Sara Dzimianski, extension educator, Purdue Extension Perry County
  • Nicole Osborne, human resources and development coordinator, Lincoln Hills Development Corp

Vanderburgh County:

  • Caylin Blockley, assistant director, USI Alumni and Volunteer Services
  • Loc Duong, admission assistant, USI Center of International Programs
  • Echo Ira, market research analyst, Vectren Corporation
  • Rasheedah Jackson, childcare and development director, Memorial Community Development Corporation
  • Erin McCracken Merris, community engagement manager, USI Historic New Harmony
  • Tammy Oliver, recruiting supervisor, USI Career Services and Internships
  • Chaze Patrick, marketing intern, USI Outreach and Engagement
  • Tonya Rine, senior electric financial analyst, Vectren Corporation
  • Martha Seal, development director, Holly’s House

Individual headshots of the graduates can be downloaded here.

For additional information on the Connect with Southern Indiana program visit USI.edu/connect or contact Leslie Townsend, director of Community Engagement, at ltownsen@usi.edu.

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