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.