Indianapolis City-County Councilman Blake Johnson has been named president of IndyHub, the organization aimed at getting 20- and 30-somethings involved in civic life, volunteerism and the city’s cultural organizations.
Johnson, 32, replaces Molly Chavers as the leader of the organization, which serves as an advocate and networking resource for young professionals. Chavers announced her planned departure earlier this year after helping create the group and serving as its leader for more than a decade.
For the past five years, Johnson has served as vice president for strategy and advocacy for Complete College America, a higher education-focused organization focusing on student achievement. He played a large role in crafting the city’s new “Indy Achieves” program, which aims to remove barriers from students completing college in Marion County through scholarships and grants.
Johnson, who starts in the role in mid-December, said his new position would allow him to shift from a national to a city focus and “zone in on the place I love the most and the people I love the most.”
“We live in a city that’s pretty unique,” Johnson said. “You can be a 20- or 30-year old and be in charge in a nonprofit. This is a city where a 29-year-old can get elected to the city council. We empower and uplift young professionals.”
Johnson said he was “humbled by the opportunity to build on the extraordinary success IndyHub has enjoyed under Molly’s leadership and eager to get to work in ensuring our city’s young leaders continue to make an impact in the Indianapolis we enjoy today as well as the Indianapolis we strive for tomorrow.”
Chavers, who will provide support to Johnson through the end of the year, said in a written statement that Johnson is a “proven and thoughtful leader who brings a wealth of professional and personal experience to IndyHub.”
When she announced her departure in June, Chavers wrote in a blog post that “there are not words to describe the incredible honor it’s been to serve IndyHub, and by extension, Indianapolis.”
“Having a front row seat to this organization’s, and our city’s, evolution has been one of my greatest joys in life,” she wrote at the time.
Previously, Johnson worked as a Teach for America teacher in Indianapolis and as a communications staff member for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson.
Johnson, who was first elected to the City-County Council as a Democrat at age 29 in 2015 in an east-side district, is planning to run again in the 2019 municipal elections.
IndyHub was founded in 2005 as a freestanding not-for-profit out of conversations with community leaders facilitated by BioCrossroads and the city of Indianapolis. The organization expanded in 2013 to start the IndyHub Foundation. It says the group’s network of involved 20- and 30-somethings is “thousands strong.”
While the organization was originally about attracting and retaining talent to the city, the group says it has “grown to support the economic development efforts of Indianapolis by serving as a catalyst for young leaders to become civically engaged in the city.”