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CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary: Working together on multiple fronts

November 27, 2006

Nov. 14 was a good day for Indianapolis.

It was the day we learned the Diversity Leadership Academy of Greater Indianapolis is alive and well.

Three years ago, I attended the academy in the inaugural year of a three-year program that was brought here by Atlanta-based American Institute for Managing Diversity.

What facilitated its arrival in 2003 was a three-year sponsorship to the tune of more than a half-million dollars by Anthem, a local company that has been at the forefront nationally of promoting and managing diversity in its own ranks for years.

All the classes that year took place at Anthem headquarters on Monument Circle.

After three years, and more than 130 graduates, Anthem said it was time for someone else to take over sponsorship.

Lots of behind-the-scenes work has been going on in the last several months to keep the program alive. Many people have been involved, including Carey Lykins, CEO of Citizens Gas, who graduated with me in that first class.

Lykins' company-along with Clarian Health Partners, Eli Lilly and Co. and National City Bank-has stepped up to keep the academy going in Indianapolis. That's something we should all be grateful for.

The sponsors' investments allow about 40 community leaders to participate in an experiential and interactive learning program that teaches them the basics of managing diversity in their organizations and community.

It's an eye-opening experience. For starters, one of the primary takeaways is that diversity goes way beyond color, gender and religion. Students are shown that diversity covers a broad array of dynamics, from those mentioned to sexual orientation, political affiliation, upbringing and beyond.

Yes, diversity brings tension and conflict, but it also brings a variety and richness that should be appreciated, not feared. What's more, diversity can be used to improve organizations and communities and lead them to new heights of awareness, understanding and accomplishment.

That's diversity management.

The program consists of an orientation meeting, five one-day sessions and the completion of a capstone project presented by a half-dozen or so groups formed within the class. The capstone projects must present solutions to real challenges that exist in the community.

The DLAGI program is accepting applications for fellowships in the upcoming spring 2007 class. The application form and additional information about the program are available at www.dlagi.org. The orientation session for the next class is Jan. 18.

I highly recommend it. And, thanks to the sponsors for working together to make it happen.

Shop the Cultural Store

Speaking of working together, for the second year in a row a group of local cultural institutions has teamed up to present a first-of-its-kind catalog and Web site for selling their wares.

The joint venture is ground-breaking on a couple of levels.

First, not-for-profit CEOs for several years have stressed the importance of working together for the betterment of the entire not-for-profit community. With nine of them participating in the catalog, they're backing up the talk with action.

Also, in an era when competition for consumers' entertainment time and dollars is intense, the unique collaboration shows savvy and forward-thinking on the part of the organizations that made it happen.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to say the catalog was produced by IBJ Media's Custom Publishing Division. But proceeds from all the sales go to the organizations themselves.

Inserted in the Nov. 6 issue of IBJ, the catalog features gift-store items and membership information from the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana State Museum, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Conner Prairie, Indianapolis Opera, Indiana Repertory Theater and the group behind the proposed USS Indianapolis Museum.

Items can also be purchased by visiting the catalog's Web site, at www.INculture.org., during the holidays and all year long.



Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com.
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