Influential person: Theodore R. Boehm

Legal and community leader

Ted Boehm has enjoyed a rich and varied business and legal career, serving in roles ranging from deputy general counsel at Eli Lilly and Co. to an Indiana Supreme Court justice from 1996 to 2010. But he also figured prominently in both the city’s arts community and its sports scene.

While lots of people worked diligently to turn Indianapolis into an amateur sports capital, Boehm was the man charged with making the city’s very first such event a success. Indy’s coming-out party was the 1982 U.S. Olympic Festival, also called the National Sports Festival, for which he served as chairman of the organizing committee.

Ironically, the template for running the affair came from the Penrod Festival, which Boehm oversaw as president of the Penrod Society. It was managed, then as now, by a group of civic leaders and staffed by a large cadre of volunteers. The same plan worked for the Olympic Festival.

“A lot of that was translatable to sports,” Boehm said. “And I think we pulled it off pretty well.”

The model proved equally effective for the city’s next big gig, the 1987 Pan Am Games. As chairman and CEO of the organizing committee, Boehm oversaw some 36,000 community volunteers. But by that time, Boehm, who also served as the first president and CEO of Indiana Sports Corp., had the hang of it. All he needed to do was scale everything up, way up.

“Raising 2,000 volunteers for the festival was nothing like the 36,000 it took for the Pan Am Games,” he said. “It was a big project to assemble the NFS volunteers because there was no precedent. But once we did the Sports Festival, it was a more viable goal to do the Pan Am Games.”

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