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LEADING QUESTIONS: Pugnacious DeLaney seeks simpler life

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about the latest developments in their industries and the habits that lead to success.

Up until September, 64-year-old Ann DeLaney maintained a professional pace that would tire the most ambitious of go-getters. She essentially maintained three offices as executive director of The Julian Center; a partner in the family law practice of DeLaney & DeLaney LLC; and trustee of Chapter 13 bankruptcies filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. That doesn’t count the role for which she is likely best known in central Indiana: the pugnacious Democratic voice on the political-events public TV show “Indiana Week in Review.”



“I needed to simplify my life,” DeLaney said. “It was too complicated.”

Something had to give, so after 15 years at the helm of The Julian Center, DeLaney decided to step down. The not-for-profit group providing support to survivors of domestic violence had transformed over her tenure. Its annual budget was less than $1 million in 1996; today it’s more than $4 million. The group formerly was squirreled away in a small building with an undisclosed location, but now boasts a high-profile campus of shelter, support and administrative facilities at 2011 N. Meridian St.  The latest addition is 34 North, a 71-unit affordable housing complex at 34th and Meridian streets that provides long-term lodging to victims of domestic violence.

The metamorphosis can be traced back to DeLaney’s aggressive approach to fundraising, which itself was honed over many years as a leader in state politics. A former deputy prosecutor for Marion County, DeLaney was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1984. She was campaign manager for former Gov. Evan Bayh’s re-election campaign in 1992, and served as state Democratic Party chairwoman from 1993 to 1995.

Julian Center supporters resisted staging a capital campaign when DeLaney took the reins in 1996. Defying the findings of a feasibility study, DeLaney embarked on a $7.5 million campaign that ultimately reshaped the organization and its services.

In the video at top, DeLaney reveals the high-profile political position she turned down in the 1996 presidential election to stay with The Julian Center.

“I had made a commitment to try to get The Julian Center in the black,” she said. “And I had just had my first grandchild and wanted to stay pretty close to home. If you’re in a presidential campaign, you have no life for six months. … If they had called me a few months earlier, I don’t know what the answer would have been.”

She also explains her decision to leave the Julian Center after 15 years, motivated by family concerns that included the brutal attack on her husband, state Rep. Ed DeLaney. The failed attempt on his life on Oct. 31, 2009, left him with fractured ribs and a broken eye socket.

“We’ve been thinking about things that we’ve wanted to do, and needed to do. So, sure, it puts [life] in perspective,” she said.  

In the video below, DeLaney provides an inside glimpse at the workings of “Indiana Week in Review,” which has featured her as a panelist for nearly all of its 20 years on the air. She also describes a pivotal episode in her early career as a political activist, giving birth to her first child between the assassination and funeral of Robert Kennedy in 1968.




 

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  • Service well Done
    Ann DeLaney is one of the most classy women in the state. Although I have disagreed with some of her positions, one has to admit that she is honest and you know and understand where she stands. As a result, she has made Indiana a much better place, something more than one can say about dozens of elected officials at the state level. Trust she continues to find time for IWR.
  • IBJ Article
    FYI - Barb

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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