An engaged group of young leaders gathered for lunch and to hear insight from Rachel Leslie, a partner of RJL Solutions a regional firm focusing on advocacy, collaboration, and leadership.  Rachel was gracious to invite Senator Jon Ford to share his experiences as a State Senator and the challenges he has faced during this fast-paced legislative session.  Some of the highlights from his talk included:

John Ford, Senator

  • The key to working in the State house is working together and it takes bipartisanship to accomplish great things for our community.
  • We need our community to continue to be good advocates. For example, 18 representatives banded together to present for a recent bill.
  • It’s hard work to keep moving the ball. In a session, a Senator averages 10 bill filings and usually, only 2-3 will be heard.
  • It’s not just Republican vs. Democrat but it has become Urban vs. Rural lines.
  • More than half of the Indiana State Senators are attorneys.
  • The reason Senator Ford decided to run was because he brought an issue to our then-Senator and he received a note back that they wouldn’t talk to Republicans. Senator Ford believes that everyone deserves to be heard.

Rachel Leslie, RJL Solutions

Rachel Leslie then took the floor and gave the group a very educational overview of what her organization does and why it is important to our community.

  • Rachel got the “itch” after working at the Terre Haute Chamber and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College to be a game changer in our community.
  • Rachel was prepared to take her talents to a different community when her RJL Solutions partner, Greg Gibson, questioned her and asked her why she had to leave.
  • It was the phrase: “Does this community have an appetite for change? We won’t know until we feed it.” that has resonated with her to this day in her decision to stay.
  • Since opening in July, it seems that the appetite is here with her clients from across the West Central region including many local organizations to multiple higher educational institutions utilizing her great service of bringing the right people to the table.
  • A question she receives a lot is how do they not have a conflict of interest and she stated that it takes looking at the bigger picture for her clients and keeping their integrity intact.
  • Collaboration is how we are going to get things done and what it takes to get funding.
  • Rachel and her team went thru over 500 bills that were drafted in the Senate and asked themselves how it affected each of their clients.

Jenn Kersey, the Director of Advocacy & Client Affairs, described the work that she does in helping clients and the fact that it takes passion and a belief in what they are doing to succeed.  Betsy Peperak, Media Relations Manager, described her work with developing strategic communications and the fun of getting to tell their clients stories.

It was a very educational lunch with a whirlwind of discussion.  It was so great to see a whole table of individuals who are working hard at pushing our community forward and working towards overall success.  We thank Rachel Leslie, the RJL Solutions team and Senator Jon Ford for their time and great discussion.

Be sure you take time to attend one (or more) of our CEO Roundtables. These are offered at least six times a year, and allow a small group to have an intimate conversation with local leaders.