This time last year, Lauren Petersen walked through the doors of United Way of Central Indiana excited (and a bit curious) in anticipation for what would unfold. Earlier in the week, Lauren received an email that caught her completely off-guard; she had been nominated for a United Way ELEVATE Award. ELEVATE, United Way’s signature fundraising event, was adding an award element to the evening as a way to celebrate and recognize the next generation of philanthropists, volunteers and advocates in the community.
Not only had her dear mentor and friend, Rupal Thanawala, nominated Lauren, but to her delight, Lauren was named a finalist. Her visit to United Way was to conduct an interview about her volunteer work on the board of a local local non-profit, Partners in Housing, whose mission is to help people reach their potential through creative housing solutions.
Fast forward five weeks, standing on stage at ELEVATE as the emcee announced the first category – “Young Professional Board Member of the Year,” Lauren was shoulder to shoulder with two other outstanding individuals being recognized – Laura Granieri, for her work with People for Urban Progress, and Justin Hayes, for his work with AYS, Inc.
The lights went down. The big screen flashed LAUREN’S NAME!
With a big smile and a bit teary eyed, Lauren watched with a crowded room of attendees as her video showcased how her passion for place-making endeared her to Partners in Housing’s mission to provide over 600 residents with pathways to sustainable and self-sufficient lives.
So, what has Lauren been up to in the year since winning an inaugural ELEVATE Award?
Two words. “A LOT.”
In spring of 2019, Lauren wrapped up her participation in Leadership Indianapolis’s flagship program, Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series and the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation Fellowship. Feeling more prepared and inspired than ever, Lauren knew she was ready to take her servant leadership to the next level. She reflected, researched and had intentional conversations with the people closest to her about where her time, treasure and talents could be of most value across Central Indiana.
On community involvement:
“Know your why. Know it upfront and be prepared to reevaluate it along the way. Getting involved isn’t a one and done; it takes time and passion. Invest in evaluating and discovering yourself as a leader and a steward. Make sure your work aligns with what you care most about. If your heart isn’t in it, you won’t be successful.”
Today, Lauren has added three board seats to Central Indiana institutions to her resume, including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Ball State University’s Discovery Fund and United Way of Central Indiana.
From ELEVATE Winner to United Way Board Member.
As a United Way Board Member, Lauren regularly attends meetings and events, forms relationships with other board members and key executives in Central Indiana, works with staff on new initiatives and lends her perspective to a wide array of issues facing the organization.
In her first few months, Lauren has aligned her day job as Senior Director of Relationship Management at TechPoint, as Chairwoman of United Way’s Technology Fund Work Group. From her years at TechPoint, Lauren has been a fierce advocate for a strong, vibrant and inclusive tech ecosystem in Central Indiana. In this role she has had the privilege to witness how the tech industry plays a critical role in providing tools and infrastructure to nonprofits which need it most. Lauren is excited to see how a dedicated tech fund can help solve the critical issues – like poverty – facing so many Hoosier individuals and families.
On ELEVATE 2020.
“I wouldn’t miss it! ELEVATE is a party with a purpose and is a great rallying cry – we rise by lifting others. It’s an important night for our generation to celebrate all the good that’s being done in our community by our peers.”
Lauren has her tickets for ELEVATE on February 29, 2020. Do you have yours?
Thanks to ELEVATE Host Committee member, Molly Lauck for this profile of Lauren Petersen. Molly is a social media marketing maven with experience in the information technology and services industries. A native Hoosier and graduate of Marian University, Molly is a Marketing Manager at Appirio. Meet Molly.