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Feature   | Winter 2011

Building Communities by Building Community Leaders

Interest + knowledge + need = action

Jackie Partlow
Leadership Carroll County helped Delphi, Ind., resident Jackie Partlow develop leadership skills that she used to start a support program for women re-entering the community after incarceration.

Jackie Partlow of Delphi, Ind., defines a leader as “someone who’s open-minded about different ideas and will give you an opportunity to have your say, even if you don’t agree.” In rallying others behind an idea that many doubted, Partlow emerged as a leader herself.

Key to her development were Purdue Extension and Leadership Carroll County, a six-week course offered through Carroll County Focus on the Future. Donations from businesses and organizations fund LCC, which teaches a collaborative leadership model as well as the county’s inner workings and current issues. Participants represent the full breadth of the county’s residents—business owners, government officials, stay-at-home-moms, civil servants, farmers, community volunteers, pastors, retirees, newcomers and many others. They share a common interest in giving back.

Purdue Extension has teamed with counties around the state to develop and support similar leadership organizations.

Partlow is applying her new skills and contacts not just to her catering business but also to a new nonprofit in Flora, Ind., that she hopes will change women’s lives. Keepin’ It Real provides supervised housing and comprehensive support for young women transitioning from incarceration to the community. The house currently has nine residents from Carroll, Boone, Tippecanoe, Benton, White and Clinton counties; two women have successfully moved out.

Partlow, a transplanted Texan, is candid about her own troubled background. Now sober for more than 10 years, she was advocating for women in nearby jails when a need became apparent to her: “Carroll County had nothing to help addicted women,” she says. After three years of persistence and footwork, Keepin’ It Real opened in February 2009, furnished and stocked by generous donations from the community.

Partlow first heard about LCC at a meeting of small business owners and was grateful when a volunteer covered her $100 fee to join the January 2010 class. “I learned a lot,” Partlow says, but she most values the ongoing support of her classmates: “I never would have met them—now I see them all the time, and they’re always willing to help.”

Partlow is “an inspiring woman who has a mission in her life,” says Janet Ayres, professor of agricultural economics, Purdue Extension specialist and co-creator of LCC. But Partlow is just one of many LCC graduates using their new skills and knowledge to make a difference. “The interest and the attitude—and the talent—of people who have been ‘uncovered,’ who want to get involved and who care about the community, has just amazed us,” Ayres says.

 

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