Influential person: Yvonne Shaheen

Business leader and philanthropist

Yvonne Shaheen, retired CEO of Long Electric Co., broke plenty of ground during her business career. She rose to heights seldom achieved by female executives of her era. But her success in the boardroom was at least matched by her desire to help others. She started working as a Red Cross volunteer at the age of 14. Over the decades, her desire to be of service, and the financial means at her disposal, both increased. “I’ve always enjoyed it,” Shaheen said. “It’s something that’s very special to me.”

Over the last couple of decades, she has given both her money and her business savvy to a who’s who of Indy-area groups. She was the first board chairwoman of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and served some 20 years on the boards of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Symphony, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. In fact, she donated the baby brachiosaur “Riad” (named after her late husband) who is climbing into the museum near the front entrance. And the trio of dinosaurs breaking out of the museum’s southwest corner are named after Shaheen and her children, Diana and Greg.

Her more recent efforts include membership on the board of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and a keen interest in the University of Indianapolis, where she has served on the board of trustees since the early 1990s. In addition to lending the school her expertise, in 2015 she gave $5 million to support the College of Arts and Sciences (since renamed the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences, in honor of Shaheen and her husband). It was the largest single gift in the school’s history.

“I think that, for a small university, they’re doing great things,” Shaheen said. “I really feel good about that.”

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