At St. Joseph Elementary School in Fort Wayne.
When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
I was very interested in journalism.
Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
Every interaction I’ve had with a child or family served by Big Brothers Big Sisters has reinforced my passion to work for this organization on behalf of kids.
Have you been mentored by (or had any significant interactions with) previous Forty Under 40 honorees? What did you learn from that person? What do you admire about that person?
Susan Brock Williams was my first Indianapolis mentor. Marty Posch helps me remember every single day that important, hard work can be, and should be, fun.
Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
I hope things look a lot like they do now.
CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana
Darcey Palmer-Shultz has at least 60 first cousins. She still likes to spend time with her large extended family, but she also knows that not every child has such positive experiences.
As CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Palmer-Shultz helps develop mentors so hundreds of local children who don’t have family members to turn to can have positive adults in their lives. Last year, the organization served 1,175 kids and supported mentoring relationships, largely due to “an amazing staff,” she said.
Palmer-Shultz has worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters eight years—two in her hometown of Fort Wayne and six in Indianapolis—first in event planning, recruitment and marketing, and then gradually assuming more responsibility in fundraising, strategic planning and managing relationships with significant partners. She has been CEO since October, after having served as interim leader.
When she graduated with a political science degree from St. Mary’s College in South Bend, she says, “I was interested in doing something that helps kids.” She started with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana and soon grew passionate about its work.
“It became a very natural and good fit,” she said.
In Indianapolis, she launched the first Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana Alumni Association, which is designed to engage kids and adults in reunion activities and opportunities to reconnect with the organization.
“We wanted to hear the stories from both the kids and the adults,” she said.
She also cultivated a statewide alliance of 21 Big Brother Big Sister agencies for lobbying efforts.
Outside of work, she and her husband, Michael Shultz, are active in Giving Sum, a philanthropic group that awards a $50,000 grant to one local organization—this year it’s Indy Reads—then commits volunteer hours with the recipient organization.
“It started in a friends-asking-friends kind of way,” said Palmer-Shultz, whose is finishing a term on the board. She values the experience for developing leadership skills and as a way to learn about local organizations.•