Diana Coyle, Executive Director, Hamilton County Leadership Academy
Q: What does your role entail at Hamilton County Leadership Academy?
A: As Executive Director of Hamilton County Leadership Academy (HCLA), my role is rooted in connection building and program execution. I get to partner with amazing HCLA alumni, the HCLA dean, community leaders, businesses, educators, and our HCLA board, staff, & committee members to educate our cohort on the operations of Hamilton County and help them become more confident and competent leaders in the community. We create a rewarding and developmental experience while connecting our cohort members with the best and brightest minds in Hamilton County.
The magic of my role is I get to learn alongside our volunteers and cohort members, expanding my knowledge of the county so I can move our program forward to meet the needs of the future in Hamilton County.
Q: What attracted you to Hamilton County?
A: Initially, Hamilton County reminded me a lot of where I grew up in New Jersey, and honestly, I planted roots here without even realizing it. Hamilton County became the place I brought family when they came to visit, where my friends & I would go grab dinner on the weekend, where I would shop for a locally made gifts, or where I was taking my dog, Coal, for a weekend stroll at the local parks. It became home because it is where I want to be and where a gravitate to, and when it came time to look at the next step in my career, I knew I wanted it to be in Hamilton County.
It is hard to put into work what attracted me most, but I think it was the ability to find what I was looking for and feel a true sense of belonging and community. I’m excited to officially make Hamilton County home when I to Noblesville in July!
Q: How does HCLA fit into the greater community picture within the county and the state?
A: HCLA aids in the ability to cultivate and maintain exceptional talent in Indiana. We are breaking down assumptions in our program about how our county operates or how decisions are made, or resources are allocated. We equip our cohort members with the knowledge so they can see the intersection in their work, home, and volunteer lives and that they are positioned to make an impact where they see change needing to be made.
Our graduates value not just the educational avenues but also the network the program provides. People are able to advance their careers or share time in a volunteer capacity because of the people who are a part of HCLA.
Our program allows cyclical investment into the county and state, you are able to enter the program, learn from experts & peers, identify opportunities for community growth, share your time and talents to grow that area, and then become one of the experts we bring back to educate our cohort. There is constant lifeblood in the community because of HCLA.
Q: Why is it important to have a resource like HCLA within our community?
A: HCLA has community at its heart and equips leaders with a network, confidence, and competency to be difference makers. These programs are important so community members can learn alongside one another to broaden their worldview, think critically about the hurdles the community is experiencing, and identify opportunities for change to meet the needs of those who live and work here.
Q: How do you continue to engage alumni?
A: Our alumni are passionate about their program experience and telling their stories. HCLA is truly lucky for that because that is what keeps our alumni connected to their cohort and allows us to grow our legacy each year. Alumni have built relationships with their class, dean, and individuals in the HCLA family with similar life or career backgrounds. These are people they turn to for support or guidance and are their biggest cheerleaders as they take on new roles both professionally and personally.
Within our organization, our alumni serve on committees, on our board, and as our speakers for class days. Our alumni are able to attend programs and events to continue to grow their community development knowledge and keep a pulse on Hamilton County's places, spaces, people, and trends.
Q: What are your short and long term goals for HCLA?
A: I look forward to continuing our storytelling of who HCLA is and the impact it has on the community. This means gathering testimonies and data from our alumni about the boards they are serving on, how they continue to utilize their HCLA learning, and how they are making their mark in Hamilton County. This means taking a closer look at our communication lines with alumni and making sure we have the resources and tools to gather this information.
As I look to the long-term work of HCLA, I can’t wait to see the 1,000th member join our alumni ranks, build a new strategic plan to guide our work as an organization, cultivate and maintain our community partnerships, and identify new learning opportunities for Hamilton County & our alumni.
Q: HCLA and Invest Hamilton County are partnering to feature Hamilton Connection, a group of Hamilton County residents who will help potential and current residents better connect with the community. What is a program like Hamilton Connection necessary in today’s landscape?
A: As people relocate or look into new ways to invest in their community the key thing they are looking to find is an understanding of the opportunities out there. This allows them to best identify how they can make Hamilton County their home and give back in ways that align with their passion or knowledge areas. Hamilton Connection allows individuals to get an insider look at what being invested in Hamilton County could look like and hears from the voices of those who currently live, work, and play in Hamilton County. This program allows people to learn about the opportunities that exist for them in Hamilton County, but more importantly highlights the opportunities for individuals and families to thrive and plant roots here, retaining exceptional talent and reinvesting that talent back into our community.
Q: On a personal note, you challenged yourself to explore a new Hamilton County location each week. What is your favorite discovery?
A: The spirit of collaboration and desire to give back to Hamilton County. When sharing successes or learning about the opportunities a venue or agency provides, they are always sharing other connection avenues in the community or locations and people who have led to their success. The Hoosier hospitality is real, and my Where am I Wednesday journey has shown me it in action. From enjoying conversations and a glass of wine with a local vineyard owner to learning more about how the Hamilton County non-profits are providing resources to their community, everyone celebrates their success by saying they can do this because of the work of those who have come before them and because of the future that awaits Hamilton County.
If you have a favorite Hamilton County spot, please send it my way (firstname.lastname@example.org) so I can continue to explore my new home!