Influential person: Bart Peterson

mayor, charter school advocate

Bart Peterson’s accomplishments during his two terms as mayor of Indianapolis include the completion of Lucas Oil Stadium, an Indiana Convention Center expansion and neighborhood redevelopment. However, Peterson thinks his greatest achievement lies elsewhere.

“The thing I’m most proud of is supporting legislation to create charter schools in Indiana,” he said.

At the time, the concept of independent public schools operating alongside Indianapolis Public Schools was new. But Peterson’s administration pushed the idea, and in 2001, Indiana lawmakers made Indianapolis the first U.S. city where charter schools could be authorized by the mayor.

Today, Peterson continues his work in education as president and CEO of Christel House International, which develops educational initiatives worldwide.

“Education is the single most important responsibility that government and society have,” he said. “When education is not working as effectively as it can, the consequences can last for generations.”

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