Influential person: Jeff Smulyan

Emmis Communications CEO and philanthropist

For 40 years, Jeff Smulyan has served as CEO of Emmis Communications Corp., which over the decades has been a national force in radio, television and magazines such as Indianapolis Monthly. Smulyan even owned the Seattle Mariners baseball team. But none of those things played as big a role in his life as charitable and civic work.

The man has a soft spot for public service. He even makes a point, every holiday season, of standing in front of Emmis’ headquarters, ringing a bell beside a Salvation Army donation kettle.

“I have great pride in what this community has done,” he said. “I think it’s come a long way and has tried to do the right thing, and I’m proud that in some small way I’ve been a part of that.”

Smulyan is a founding board member of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, which oversees such economic initiatives as BioCrossroads, TechPoint and Conexus Indiana.

“It was created at the behest of Eli Lilly and Co. and the Lilly Endowment,” Smulyan said. “They basically said, ‘The CEOs don’t know each other, and if you’re going to have a long-term vision for this region, it’s going to have to come from civic leaders. Because elected officials live on two-year cycles.’”

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