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New Greenways Foundation chief hopes to hike group’s profile

November 1, 2017

A locally based charitable trust that supports Indiana trail systems has a new leader who’s hoping to elevate the organization’s profile and the amount of money it raises.

Ken Giffin, 72, has joined the Greenways Foundation as its executive director, taking over for Allison Maxwell.

ken giffinKen Giffin

Giffin is a veteran of local politics and the business community. He served on the City-County Council from 1971 to 1995, representing Decatur Township and parts of Wayne Township on the southwest side.

Giffin spent 30 years at the Indianapolis Water Co. and left as senior vice president of real estate in 2002, when the city took over operations.

“The staff is me, and that’s it,” Giffin said of his part-time role at the Greenways Foundation. A board of 11 directors governs the foundation.

The organization serves as the coordinating body for local trail groups across the state, with a mission to achieve the “Indiana Trails Vision” that calls for a trail within 15 minutes of every Hoosier.

Biking and hiking trails exist in 91 of 92 Indiana counties. In Marion County, the crown jewel is the Monon Trail, Giffin said.

The Greenways Foundation operates on an annual budget of about $35,000. Its primary source of revenue is the $25 the group receives from every license plate sold that promotes Indiana’s trails.

It also has about 3,000 individual members who contribute to the cause. But Giffin wants to begin soliciting corporate donations to provide more grant money to the local groups. Most of the funds are used to extend or make improvements to bike paths.

“The trails movement in Indiana is alive and vibrant,” Giffin said. “What we try to be is an anchor, a focal point for all the groups.”

Giffin's new post is considered a volunteer position, although he does receive a "modest stipend."

The Greenways Foundation’s roots date to 1991, when the City-County Council (with Giffin) passed an ordinance establishing the Marion County Greenways program.

A native of Mooresville, Giffin, at age 26, became the youngest member to serve on the council at the time of his election in 1971.

Giffin has been named by four Indiana governors a Sagamore of the Wabash—an award founded by his wife’s grandfather, Gov. Ralph F. Gates of Columbia City.

 

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