Class unpacks a leadership tool kit

The beads rattling around in the bottom of their plastic cups were mostly the same color: white. Clearly, members of the class of 2016-17 quickly confirmed, their community, their workplaces and their neighborhoods — and even those they hire to handle their car repairs — generally look a lot like them.


Class members Laurene Lonnemann (standing), Cindi Holloway and Aaron O’Connor participate in a diversity exercise.

That tide of white beads wasn’t to illustrate any shortcomings. Rather, it sought an answer to a question at the center of a presentation to the class as part of its Leadership I Day on Wednesday, Feb. 1: How diverse is my personal universe?

The seminar, presented by Lakshmi Vavilala, a diversity coach at Elanco Animal Health, sought to encourage the class members to tout inclusiveness in their organizations. The best-run organizations, she said, celebrate differences in their workforces. So do the most welcoming communities, which thrive when everyone feels valued, she said.

But diversity sometimes is elusive. That’s where the beads came in. As part of an exercise, Vavilala asked the class a dozen questions about the ethnicity of their circle of friends, co-workers and others. They dropped a bead in their cups as they answered each question. A white bead stood for a white person, for example. A black one represented an African-American, a yellow one an Asian person, and so on.

At the end of the exercise, there were very few beads of color in any of the cups. Lesson learned.

Vavilala, who was born in India and speaks four languages, suggested the class think of diversity as a batch of ingredients: “…the unique perspectives and differences that exist among people in a group.” In the best organizations, she said, that fertile mix is used to create something great: inclusion, or “the ability to leverage differences in the workplace to enhance innovation and break-through thinking.”

Vavilala’s diversity seminar was one of several studies on important leadership tools the class heard. Here’s a summary of the rest of the class’s day:

Partnering with media: Executives from the Daily Reporter gave the class some tips on working with their community newspaper. From tips on advertising to pointers on how to submit a news release, the session was designed to introduce the emerging leaders to a valuable community resource.

Crisis communications: Jen Schmits Thomas, a PR professional from Indianapolis, provided a blueprint for how to deal with public relations disasters. As they take on more responsibility in their organizations, Schmits pointed out, the future leaders one day will have to confront unpleasant news in their workplaces. How they react to it might be the difference between ugly public headlines and a sensible in-house resolution. In an age when every social media post has the potential to go viral, it’s important to react quickly and honestly, she told the group.

Social media pointers: Andy Wilkins, digital sales manager at the Daily Reporter, walked the class through the basics of setting up and maintaining Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Laws of Leadership: Gary Halliburton, a 2010 graduate of Leadership Hancock County, gave a lively talk on the “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” a book by leadership guru John C. Maxwell.

The Feb. 1 class session was the sixth of seven class days for the class of 2016-17. It next meets on March 1. After that, the class members will work in earnest on their community projects with an eye toward presenting them at their graduation on May 3.


Class gets introduction to local government

Armstrong Fewell et al

Making presentations to the Class of 2016-17 on Government Day were County Commissioner Brad Armstrong (left in top photo) and Mayor Chuck Fewell. Also speaking to the class were (bottom, from left) Maj. Derek Towle of the Greenfield Police Department; Hancock County Sheriff Mike Shepherd; and Chief James Roberts of the Greenfield Fire Territory.

If you want to make a positive impression on Judge Dan Marshall, it will help if you dress nicely and address the bench respectfully.


Judge Dan Marshall

Sweat pants and casual greetings won’t get it done.

Judge Marshall, who presides over Hancock County Superior Court 2, was one of a dozen leading officeholders and department heads who spent time with the Leadership Hancock County class on Government Day, held on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

The class, the fifth of seven sessions for the Class of 2016-17, served as an introduction to the basic workings of government. But class members also heard some keen — and occasionally humorous — insights about our court system, public safety and the administration of local rule.

Marshall, speaking to the 25 class members from inside his courtroom at the Hancock County Courthouse, told the group that decorum is important to him. As the overseer of the vast majority of criminal cases in the county, Marshall runs a tight ship. And that means people appearing before him should conduct themselves accordingly. For example, he urges defendants and others to dress as if “they’re going to church.” T-shirts with inappropriate slogans or images — or sweat pants — probably aren’t going to win much favor from the county’s busiest judge. They likely will get an admonishment and be urged to dress differently next time.

“If you’re here for a marijuana case,” the judge said to laughter, “You shouldn’t come to court wearing a T-shirt with a marijuana leaf on it.”

The students heard several similarly interesting anecdotes and observations throughout the day, which was organized by LHC board member Bobby Campbell, who served as day chair. Another LHC board member, Dianna Hawkins, also served as a day chair.


Debbie Harris of the animal management department

The class learned, for example, that Hancock County Animal Management is still battling misconceptions about its mission. Debbie Harris, an official at Animal Control, pointed out that the city-county shelter’s euthanasia rate has dropped significantly over the past several years. People still ask, she said, whether the shelter puts down animals because of space constraints or because they remain at the shelter for too long (it doesn’t in either case).

Some other interesting tidbits from the class’s day:

During a tour of the Hancock County Jail, Campbell, a captain at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, pointed out a new body scanner that will be used to detect contraband being smuggled into the jail. This, he said, will improve the jail’s intake process and increase security.

Hancock County is paving more miles of roads thanks to better management of resources and an influx of funding, County Commissioner Brad Armstrong told the group. “Eight years ago (when he took office), county roads were turning to gravel,” Armstrong said of the plight facing the county highway department. “We spent a good six years making cuts, working diligently with department heads” to maximize the county’s resources, he added.

More tornado sirens might be installed in coming years if Hancock County Emergency Management is successful in obtaining grants to pay for them, Misty Moore, head of emergency management, told the class during its visit to the county’s emergency operations center on South Franklin Street. The majority of the county’s two dozen or so sirens don’t work reliably, so fixing them is a priority, she said. Adding new ones in more populous areas is also a key goal, she said. The county still will push out text alerts in emergencies, she said, but the sirens will be an important component in warning residents.

Runs at the Greenfield Fire Department continue to increase, James Roberts, chief of the Greenfield Fire Territory, told the group. In 2016, the department made just under 4,000 runs, up from 3,600 in 2015 and up from 3,000 just a few years ago. Roberts said the increased load is putting more pressure on the department as it responds to the needs of a growing — and aging — community.

The class also met with state Rep. Bob Cherry and state Sen. Mike Crider who stopped to address the class before heading to the Statehouse for the second day of this year’s Indiana General Assembly session; Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell, who urged the class to get involved in civic affairs; Sheriff Mike Shepherd, who helped lead a tour of the jail; John Jokantas, director of communications for the county 911 center, and his deputy, Matt Kelly; Maj. Derek Towle of the Greenfield Police Department, a 1999 graduate of Leadership Hancock County who also served on the LHC board for several years; and Nick Ernstes, a deputy at the sheriff’s department who introduced the class to his drug-sniffing dog, Manni.


Deputy Nick Ernstes of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department hid a stash of drugs in the garage at the sheriff’s department. His dog, Manni, sniffed it out within moments. Manni has been instrumental in a number of drug busts in the county.


Capt. Bobby Campbell of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department displays a map of the county jail showing how the cellblocks are laid out. The class (including Jennifer Frye, at right) took a tour of the jail during its class day on Wednesday, Jan. 4


Sgt. Matt Boots of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department leads the jail tour into the facility’s indoor recreation area. The graffiti on the door was painted using toothpaste. Painting messages and drawings on the walls of the room is something of a pastime for inmates at the jail.


Chief James Roberts of the Greenfield Fire Territory leads a tour of the garage at the downtown fire station. The department’s antique fire truck, which is used during ceremonies, is parked in the garage. The class learned that the fire department went on nearly 4,000 runs in 2016.


Class members gather on the main floor of the Emergency Operations Center, which would be the nerve center for the county’s response to a large disaster.




Class ready for Government Day

Leadership Hancock County’s class of 2016-17 will get back to work on Wednesday, Jan. 4, with its fourth class day. The 25 emerging leaders will meet a dozen public officials and public safety officers as part of its Government Day curriculum.

Bobby Campbell, immediate past president of the LHC board, is the chief day chair for Government Day. He is a ranking officer at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, which will play host to the class as the day’s Vision sponsor. Dianna Hawkins, a graduate of the 2016 LHC class, is the other day chair.

The day’s meetings will involve officials from many state and local offices. Highlights will include a tour of the Hancock County Jail, led by Sheriff Mike Shepherd, and a K-9 demonstration by the Greenfield Police Department. The class also will meet Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell; County Commissioner Brad Armstrong; and Hancock County’s chief representatives in the Indiana General Assembly, Sen. Mike Crider and Rep. Bob Cherry.

You can link to a copy of the schedule below.

Class members also will have time to huddle in their project groups as their work intensifies ahead of their presentations in May. After this week, the class will have only two more class days: Leadership I on Feb. 1; and Leadership II on March 1.

2017 Government Day Agenda

Groups begin work on community projects

Class members (from left) Kate Brown, Teresa Smith, Kimberly Sombke and Matt Davis discuss their group project at the end of Community Issues Day. The team will work to establish a "sensory" garden at J.B. Stephens Elementary School, where Davis is principal.

Class members (from left) Kate Brown, Teresa Smith, Kimberly Sombke and Matt Davis discuss their group project at the end of Community Issues Day. The team will work to establish a “sensory” garden at J.B. Stephens Elementary School, where Davis is principal.


The 2016-17 class of Leadership Hancock County broke up into groups on Community Issues Day and began work on their community projects. The six projects are an eclectic collection of initiatives sponsored by nonprofit groups and will help the classmates develop their teamwork skills.

The groups will produce presentations on their projects that they will present at their graduation in May.

Here are summaries of the projects and the team members who will undertake them. These descriptions come directly from the sponsors’ applications.

Backpacks of Hope

Team members: Jennifer McMillan, NineStar Connect; Debbie Grass, Eastern Hancock High School; Jennifer Frye, city of Greenfield; Jennifer Stanley, Hancock Regional Hospital.

BackPacks of Hope provides backpacks filled with supplies to people who are without permanent homes in Greenfield and, more recently, Hancock County. The backpacks have supplies that are meant to provide comfort and care to those who no longer have permanent homes. These people can be living in wooded areas, in their vehicles, with friends and family, in abandoned structures or in transient hotels.


  • Aid in establishing an inventory system that will allow BPoH to track what supplies we have
  • Develop a marketing/fundraising strategy for BPoH

BPoH serves those without permanent homes in Hancock County. The Foundation will serve new non-profit organizations needing funds to begin their programs BPoH allows those without permanent homes to have a better quality of life. Supplies include a blanket, hat/gloves, bandages and antibiotic cream, hygiene and other personal care supplies, as well as entertainment items (puzzle books, toys for children). This meets the needs of the people without permanent homes and can make them less dependent on others. While this is certainly not a guarantee, it is hoped the supplies will give the person the motivation to look for more permanent housing and employment.

Sexual assault awareness

Team members: Rachel Cremeans, Kindred Healthcare; Aaron O’Connor, Hancock Regional Hospital; Summer Grinstead, city of Greenfield; Robert Harris, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department; Rachel Dennis, Alternatives Inc.

Alternatives Inc. strives to eradicate domestic and sexual violence in central Indiana through education, prevention and intervention. Alternatives is a domestic and sexual violence shelter for victims from six counties, including Hancock. Shelter services include food, clothing, emergency shelter, individualized case management and children’s programming. The agency also provides advocacy, outreach and education.

We are requesting the assistance of LHC participants to utilize their professional skills, talents and community connections to create, plan and implement an awareness event and or fundraiser. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We would like to take the opportunity to engage community members in awareness, education and prevention activities.


  • Incorporate awareness of sexual assault in Hancock County through an organized event.
  • Create a plan for advertising the event throughout the county.
  • Develop a replicable timeline for planning and implementing the event
  • Engage a minimum of 100 Hancock County residents in an awareness and/or fundraising event during the month of April.

The Landing

Team members: Mike Graf, Greenfield Banking Co., Nicole Mann, Jane Pauley Center; Mike Schull, Hancock County Public Library; Monica Sexton, NineStar Connect

The organization wants to create a website that helps it better reach its constituency: at-risk young people and their families that are battling addiction


  • Promote The Landing as a place for young people ages 13-19 “to be real.”
  • Show testimonials.
  • Create awareness to teen addiction prevention/intervention/education
  • Promote a 24/7 hotline
  • Highlight the facility, 18 W. South St. in Greenfield, and its staff
  • Communicate with potential volunteers, donors and corporate partners

The Landing serves about 300 students a month. The majority come from Hancock County. Most have engaged in destructive behavior — 70 percent of them, for example, have reported cutting themselves on purpose — and virtually all of them have abused drugs and/or alcohol. Two teens with whom the organization is working have attempted suicide in the past year, and its crisis hotline engages frequently with teens who are contemplating suicide.

Little Free Library

Team members: Lisa Thompson, Hancock Regional Hospital; Rob Caird, Greenfield Banking Co.; Susie Coleman, Greenfield-Central High School; Marie Felver, Hancock County Community Foundation.

This effort would help the Little Free Library Hancock County work toward sustainability. The mission is to promote literacy, get people to stop and sit and enjoy our parks with a good book. Community pride and involvement. We’ve already given out hundreds of free books. (The Little Free Library was established in 2015 with the help of the Leadership Hancock County class.)


  • Establish a corps of volunteers to oversee the LFL stations throughout the county.
  • Plan some fundraisers at local restaurants and continue Home Depot Grant Process
  • Continue to build infrastructure to get libraries filled and maintained on a regular basis

Greenfield murals

Team members: Laurene Lonnemann, Elanco; Cindi Holloway, Hancock County Public Library; Regina Jackson, Hancock Regional Hospital; Dede Allender, CGS Services/Hancock County Solid Waste Management District

This project is sponsored by the Hancock County Arts and Cultural Council and Greenfield Main Street. The arts council fosters, supports and promotes the arts, humanities education and cultural activities. Greenfield Main Street promotes downtown commerce and historic preservation. The project focuses on researching the history of several downtown buildings that are in prime locations for a mural that relates to the original history of that building. To contact the current building owner to gauge interest in having a mural depicted on the side of their building. To discuss with the city’s planning department the goal of several murals in downtown Greenfield to confirm any policies the effort would have to adhere to. To research mural artists local and statewide who would have an interest in painting a mural in downtown Greenfield. Determine cost and research grant opportunities.


  • Buildings have been identified (although more nominees are welcome). Focus on researching the history of the buildings
  • Work toward creation of the murals

School sensory garden

Team members: Matt Davis, J.B. Stephens Elementary; Kimberly Sombke, Buck Creek Flooring; Teresa Smith, Hoosier Hear Gear;

Hancock Regional Hospital

Many students do not experience the outdoors on a regular basis. This destination would allow visitors to not only view aesthetic beauty but also use their other senses to enjoy nature. Teachers will use the garden to complement the curriculum. The original concept would be put in place at J.B. Stephens Elementary School in Greenfield.


  • The garden would focus on the five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.
  • The garden would have separate beds dedicated to the senses. The smell garden, for example, would include various fragrant plants. Taste would have edible varieties. The sound garden would include a water feature and wind chimes.
  • The project team will create base plan that can be shared with other schools.

Class goes through a sobering day


Roundtable gallery

The class of 2016-17 heard from representatives of 10 nonprofit groups during roundtable discussions on Community Issues Day. They were (top row, from left) Denise Arland, FUSE; Kim Hall, Mental Health Partners of Hancock County; Linda Hart, Hancock County Senior Services; Lisa Heady, Hancock County Children’s Choir; and Nicole Mann, Jane Pauley Community Health Center. Also, (bottom row, from left) Linda Ostiweg, The Landing; Jim Peters, Love INC; Kathleen Vahle, Meals on Wheels of Hancock County; Kurt Vetters, Edelweise Equine-Assisted Therapy Center; and Judy White, Hancock County Women’s Resource Center.

Their comments after Community Issues Day said it all.

“Very long day,” said one member of the Class of 2016-17 after the group visited with more than a dozen nonprofit directors to learn about challenges that our communities face. “Emotionally draining.”

“Very eye-opening,” said another class member.

Their reactions came at the end of a busy class day in which the 25 class members surveyed the breadth of Hancock County’s nonprofit community. From large groups (United Way of Central Indiana and the Hancock County Community Foundation) to small ones (FUSE and Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center), the class received a broad education in the agencies that assist those in need.

The Landing, 18 W. South St., Greenfield, played host to the group for the day. The Landing is a youth center that offers support to at-risk young people.

The class day began with a “poverty simulation” designed to illustrate the hard choices families must make when they encounter crisis. The class members struggled to prioritize expenses when the moderator, Paula Jarrett, area east director for United Way of Central Indiana, told them they had to eliminate a chunk of their fictional families’ income because of a job loss. Some gave up health insurance to cut expenses. Others surrendered their cell phones. Everyone chafed at the choices.

There were no wrong answers. Only difficult ones.

The class also spent nearly two hours of their day in roundtable discussions with directors of nonprofits, who explained their agencies’ roles in the community. Many real-life families from their earlier poverty scenarios, they learned, depend on the services these agencies provide.

Participating in the roundtable discussions were:

Linda Ostewig, director of The Landing

Kathleen Vahle, director of Meals on Wheels of Hancock County

Lisa Heady of the Hancock County Children’s Choir

Jim Peters of Love INC

Kurt Vetters of Edelweiss

Denise Arland of FUSE, a clearinghouse to assist families with  special-needs children

Kim Hall, director of Mental Health Partners of Hancock County

Linda Hart, director of Hancock County Senior Services

Nicole Mann of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center in Greenfield

Judy White of the Hancock County Women’s Resource Center

The class also heard an enlightening presentation from Mary Gibble, president of the Hancock County Community Foundation, who gave the class an inside look at the makeup of nonprofits and the importance of volunteering for nonprofit boards.

After enjoying lunch at the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in downtown Greenfield, the class toured the Hancock County Food Pantry and Hancock Hope House, the county’s transition shelter for those who have lost their homes.

As the class toured the food pantry and listened to director Tom Ferguson describe the challenge to feed the hungry in the county, a vehicle pulled up to the loading area with a collection of donations. Peeling off from the group, several class members helped unload the groceries, piling the bags onto a cart so the items could be sorted and brought to the pantry floor.

It was a fitting object lesson on a day dedicated to learning about those who help others.



Class of 2016-17 gets down to business

Members of the class of 2016-17 thought they were visiting an agriculture operation when they walked onto the production floor at Fortville Feeders.

Imagine their surprise, then, when they learned they were actually watching the fabrication and testing of equipment that is found in virtually every factory in the country that uses automated processes.

Fortville Feeders was one of two stops on an afternoon field trip for the class, which spent Wednesday, Nov. 2, learning about business, commerce and, yes, agriculture during its monthly class day. The group spent the morning and enjoyed lunch at Elanco Animal Health in Greenfield.

The stop at Fortville Feeders is on the agenda every year for Leadership Hancock County. As a leader in manufacturing equipment that feeds parts into assembly systems, Fortville Feeders is one of the county’s most interesting — if little understood — businesses.

Jason Crouse, the company’s president, led the group of a tour of the plant, which is just off Broadway Street on the eastern edge of Fortville. The family business, started by his father in the 1970s, is a leader in the technology. Its 60 employees fabricate what are known as “feeder bowls,” circular machines into which parts — everything from shampoo bottle caps and aerosol tips to small automotive components — are fed. Using a high-speed vibrating mechanism — one employee likens it to the same technology that powered  old-time electric football games — the pieces travel down a spiral chute and eventually wind up in the proper position to  be either packaged or placed on another piece. In the same way little player pieces moved on a vibrating surface painted to look like a football field, a well-functioning feeder bowl vibrates parts into the right position, often at high speed.

Crouse said almost every manufacturer that uses automated processes uses some type of feeder bowl mechanism to arrange parts. Across the large floor in the plant, employees were working on several bowl mechanisms, feeding various parts into the top of the machines and watching them vibrate their way toward the bottom.

The tour was one of several presentations the class heard during Business/Commerce/Ag Day. Here’s a summary of the others:

Davis, Mitch–Mitch Davis, an Elanco executive who helped organize a recent major summit of world business leaders to discuss the role of antibiotics in safely increasing food production, told the class that the world’s population is consuming more food than the planet is currently producing. This will become even more critical, he said, as the world population grows. Elanco, which manufactures medicines and other compounds for animals, is a key player in developing methods to increase food production.

Livengood, Retta–Retta Livengood, president of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce, profiled the chamber, which has nearly 400 members and is the largest business networking entity in the county.

Ballard, Roy–Roy Ballard, agriculture and natural resources educator for Purdue Extension Hancock County, gave the class an overview of agriculture in Hancock County. Ballard, one of the founders of the Hancock Harvest Council, a group dedicated to promoting locally grown food, pointed out that Hoosiers import much of the food they consume. That’s ironic, he said, in a state whose farms are numerous and productive.

Kuker, Skip–Skip Kuker, director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, took the group behind the scenes in the campaign to bring jobs to Hancock County. In the hyper-competitive site-selection process, it’s not always tax incentives that clinch deals, he said. Often, prospects pay more attention to things like ample utilities, good schools, and a well-qualified workforce. He also said that the Mt. Comfort area will be the next major retail/restaurant hub in Hancock County. A number of new employers, such as Celadon Trucking, will bring hundreds of new employees to the area, and those workers will want places to eat and shop, he said.

–After visiting Fortville Feeders, the class finished its day at Wooden Bear Brewing, the popular craft brewery on North Street in Greenfield. The group met Shelley Swift, a 2016 LHC grad whose husband, Jason, is a partner in the business; and Tony Vivaldi, the head brewmaster. Vivaldi led the group on a tour of the facility and explained how Wooden Bear’s popular beers are made. Class members also were able to sample some of them.

Jon Cannaday, an employee at Fortville Feeders, sands the edges of a feeder bowl part. Even small metal spurs can cause problems in the finished product.

Jon Cannaday, an employee at Fortville Feeders, sands the edges of a feeder bowl part. Even small metal spurs can cause problems in the finished product.

Tony Vivaldi, brewmaster at Wooden Bear Brewing, cracks open a container of hops, a key ingredient in brewing beer. Class members (from left) Rachel Cremeans, Lisa Thompson, Matt Davis, Summer Grinstead and Debbie Grass take a closer look.

Tony Vivaldi, brewmaster at Wooden Bear Brewing, cracks open a container of hops, a key ingredient in brewing beer. Class members (from left) Robert Caird, Rachel Cremeans, Lisa Thompson, Matt Davis, Summer Grinstead and Debbie Grass take a closer look.


Agenda finalized for Business/Commerce/Ag Day

Members of the Class of 2016-17 will hear about a worldwide food-safety initiative with roots in Hancock County as part of Business/Commerce/Ag Day on Nov. 2.

The schedule/agenda for Business Day has been finalized. You can look at it by clicking on the link below.

Mitch Davis, an Elanco Animal Health executive who helped organize a recent summit in Washington D.C., to talk about the use of antibiotics in animals in the food production chain, will talk about the Greenfield-based company’s role in the One Health initiative, which is trying to address the stewardship of antibiotics use around the world.

This is the second class day for the Class of 2016-17. The next class will be Dec. 7: Community Issues Day. On that day, the class, which has 25 members, will be divided into groups that will receive assignments for community projects.

The projects will be presented at LHC’s graduation next spring.

2016 Bus-Com-Ag Day schedule

Class prepares for a busy Business/Commerce/Agriculture Day

Speakers who will address the class on Business/Commerce/Ag Day include (from left) Mitch Davis of Elanco; Retta Livengood of the Greater Greenfield Chamber of Commerce; Roy Ballard of Purdue Extension Hancock County; and Skip Kuker; executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council

Speakers who will address the class on Business/Commerce/Ag Day include (from left) Mitch Davis of Elanco; Retta Livengood of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Roy Ballard of Purdue Extension Hancock County; and Skip Kuker; executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council.

After a whirlwind tour of Hancock County historical sites on Oct. 5, the Class of 2016-17 is now looking forward to its next class day on Nov. 2.

That day is Business/Commerce/Agriculture Day, and class members will learn a lot about Hancock County’s workplace diversity in a series of talks and visits.

The day will begin at Elanco Animal Health, arguably Hancock County’s most important employer. The class will hear from Mitch Davis, the director of Global Shared Value at Elanco; Retta Livengood, president of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Roy Ballard, an agriculture expert with Purdue Extension Hancock County; and Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council.

Later in the day, the group will travel to Fortville for a tour at Fortville Feeders, a national leader in vibratory bowl feeder technology. According to Wikipedia, these machines are “common devices used to feed individual component parts for assembly on industrial production lines.” They are an obscure but vitally important part of any assembly operation. Imagine how a million caps work their way onto shampoo bottles whizzing by on a conveyor, and you get the idea.

The group will end the day at Wooden Bear Brewing, a popular craft beer brewery that is enjoying a successful start-up in Greenfield.

The Business Day itinerary is nearly as packed as the one for History Day on Oct. 5. The class visited six historic sites that day: the Old Log Jail  and Chapel in the Park museums; the James Whitcomb Riley Home; Tuttle Orchards; the Thomas Log Cabin; and the Octagon House in Shirley.

Members of the Class of 2016-17 pose for a photo outside the Octagon House in Shirley.

Members of the Class of 2016-17 pose for a photo outside the Octagon House in Shirley. The group stopped at the historic site on History Day Oct. 5.

The Leadership Retreat in photographs

Group 1

Members of the 2016-17 class of Leadership Hancock County completed their two-day retreat on Friday, Sept. 16, picking up valuable insights about team-building, consensus-building and problem-solving from a series of speakers. The class, consisting of 25 emerging leaders from a wide variety of entities in the county, will next meet on Oct. 5 for History Day. Scroll down to see more photos from the retreat, which was held at the Hancock County Public Library.




Laurene Lonnemann, a marketing professional at Elanco Animal Health (left); and Gina Jackson, a health information systems supervisor at Hancock Regional Hospital, share a light moment during the opening exercise of their retreat on Thursday, Sept. 15. The two took turns interviewing the other before introducing their classmate to the rest of the group.


Lisa Thompson, operating room coordinator at Hancock Regional Hospital, turns on her heel to hit the road after making a stop at the Daily Reporter on the Leadership Hancock County Scavenger Hunt on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 15. Greeting Lisa (and members of five other teams who were making the rounds on Thursday) was Andrea Mallory of the Daily Reporter, who pointed the visitors toward materials the class members were charged with picking up during their quests. In this case, it was a replica of the front page of one of the first editions of the Daily Reporter from 1908. Andrea also is secretary of the board of directors of Leadership Hancock County. Lisa and her team won the Scavenger Hunt with a score of 188 points out of a possible 200. Lisa was the team’s driver.




Tom Seng, one of the founders of Leadership Hancock County in 1995-96, introduced the class to the history of the organization on Day 1 of the retreat. Many members of LHC’s first class, he told the group, went on to occupy important positions in their communities.


Chad Chalos, an instructional designer and educator with Community Health Network, reveals the 2016-17 LHC class’s DiSC profile assessment. The DiSC scores, which explain an individual’s personality style and leadership traits, are a key part of the LHC experience. Community Health Network’s team processed the assessments this year for LHC.


Winners of the 2016 LHC Scavenger Hunt: Summer Grinstead, an administrative assistant for the city of Greenfield; Lisa Thompson, OR coordinator at Hancock Regional Hospital; Matt Davis, Principal at J.B. Stephens Elementary School in Greenfield; and Mike Graf, a vice president at Greenfield Banking Co.

Happy Hour (from Facebook)

Members of the Class of 2016-17 enjoy a cold one before their Day 1 dinner at Griggsby’s Station in downtown Greenfield. The restaurant sponsored the LHC Scavenger Hunt earlier Thursday.


Ed Freije, a retired school administrator who was principal at New Palestine High School for 25 years, coaches class members (including Aaron O’Connor, foreground, Rob Caird, Summer Grinstead and Susie Coleman, far right) on the fine art of consensus building. Tackle the “worst” first, Ed counseled the class, suggesting the best way to find consensus is to meet contentious issues head-on.


Aaron O’Connor (left), Cindi Holloway, Matt Davis, Rachel Cremeans and Rob Caird (right) engineer a tower made of spaghetti in a team-building exercise on Day 2 of the Leadership Hancock Retreat on Friday. The group’s task: Using a set list of materials, they were to erect a tower capable of standing on its own with a marshmallow on top. The group’s creation didn’t quite pass the test.




Lisa Thompson (left), Nicole Mann, Kate Brown and Rachel Dennis test their structural integrity of their spaghetti tower during a team-building exercise Friday afternoon. The exercise was designed in part to show team members the importance of overcoming fear of failure. It was an easy lesson on Day 2 of the retreat!




Facilitator Jesse Keljo puts a tape measure to a spaghetti tower. It topped out at 28 inches without toppling, making it the winner of the exercise.


Their spaghetti tower won’t win any architecture awards, but it was a good lesson in team-building for the winners of Friday’s exercise: Teresa Smith (left), Dede Allender, Robert Harris, Debbie Grass and Jennifer Frye.

Facilitator Cody Flood (foreground, with back to camera) plays referee for a group exercise called “Blanket Flip” on Day 2 of the Leadership Hancock County Retreat on Friday. The blanket, on which all 25 class members were standing, had to be flipped to its reverse side without anyone stepping off. Handicapping the effort was the fact that half the group wasn’t allowed to talk and the other half wasn’t allowed to use its hands. The class successfully completed the flip on the second try, which Cody said was impressive. After two days of team-building, some class members said this wouldn’t have been possible had the exercise been attempted on the first day of the retreat.


Barbara Roark, assistant director of the Hancock County Public Library, facilitates a presentation on problem solving to close the LHC retreat. Barb quoted Albert Einstein during her presentation, in which class members were tasked with offering solutions to a fictitious problem: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”









Class members receive King Scholarships

As Rachel Dennis and Debbie Grass begin their studies in Leadership Hancock County this fall, they enjoy a distinction none of their classmates can claim: They are winners of the Nancy King Scholarship, which pays most of their tuition to attend the class.

King winners BDennis is the new victim’s advocate in Hancock County for Alternatives Inc., which provides services for victims of domestic violence. Grass is a teacher at Eastern Hancock High School, where she helps oversee the Royal Leadership Academy for students.

The scholarship is in honor of one of the founding members of Leadership Hancock County. King, who died in 2010, helped establish the scholarship to help deserving applicants enroll in the eight-month leadership academy. King was a longtime extension educator who was active in many community organizations. She is credited with helping establish Leadership Hancock County in 1996.

Dennis and Grass, in essays that accompanied their applications for the 2016-17 class, said they are eager to hone their leadership abilities. Both already occupy leadership positions, and they said it was important to expand their knowledge of leadership qualities.

“Along with networking and meeting new people, I would like to learn more about Greenfield and the community,” wrote Dennis, who recently replaced longtime victim advocate Kelly Buzan as Alternatives Inc.’s representative in Hancock County. “I am new to Hancock County and could benefit from learning about other leaders and their organizations within the community.”

Dennis added: “In attending the Leadership Hancock County classes, I hope to strengthen my existing skill set while adding more to my leadership tool kit.”

Grass, who teaches business courses at EH, recently gave up sponsorship of two student groups at the school. “I thought it was time to ‘pass the torch’ to younger teachers,” she wrote. “Because I have been so active in our school, my principal (Dave Pfaff) asked me, ‘So, where are you going to get involved next?’ I told him I wasn’t sure, but I would keep my eyes and ears open because I knew an opportunity would come along. I think this is one of those opportunities.”

Grass and Dennis are among 25 emerging leaders who are beginning their studies this fall. They will attend day-long leadership seminars one full day a month for the next seven months and participate in a community project.