February 13, 2020
Throughout 2020, United Way of Central Indiana is sharing more stories than ever before that focus on your impact in Central Indiana. Your commitment to community is evident, and we want to highlight others who share your passion.
One of those people is Lauren Petersen, TechPoint’s Senior Director of Relationship Management and the inaugural 2019 ELEVATE Award winner for Board Member of the Year.
Lauren is driven by her team’s purposeful mission to promote and accelerate the growth of Indiana’s tech community, create a respected and beloved local brand and become a model for innovative economic development nationally. She’s been committed over the past seven years to creating a strong, inclusive and resilient tech landscape through her roles at ExactTarget, Salesforce – and now at TechPoint, via relationship management, economic development and community engagement.
Q: What excites you the most about Central Indiana and the work United Way is doing?
A: United Way of Central Indiana is in the business of helping people and our community thrive, and that’s what excites me most about the organization’s work.
To expand on that, I think what makes United Way special and unique is its positioning within our community at the epicenter amongst public, private, and philanthropic sectors. United Way is well positioned to bridge industry, non-profit and social service resources while simultaneously lending it’s leadership to the ecosystem on tough and complex issues.
Q: What is your favorite place in Central Indiana? It could be a coffee shop, hangout spot, park, building, or even an event.
A: During the week, where I spend most of my time outside of my home or work is Pearings Cafe, a coffee and frozen yogurt spot downtown on Washington Street on the Cultural Trail.
I love that it’s locally owned, cozy and offers a beautiful view to our city. I tend to be spotted at Pearings a couple times a week and will actually do two or three meetings back-to-back while there. I’m not a coffee drinker, and luckily, they have a vast selection of delicious tea.
Q: How long have you been involved with United Way of Central Indiana?
A: I have been involved for about four and a half years now. I was first introduced to the United Way when I began working at TechPoint, which is an initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.
Q: What was your first experience with United Way, and what was your most recent?
A: Central Indiana Corporate Partnership is a corporate partner of United Way. During my first week on the team in 2015, I attend our corporate philanthropic giving breakfast that we host each year for all employees. While at the breakfast, I was able to participate in a facilitated poverty simulation and also heard from one of the torch bearers from Dress for Success. That moment inspired me to get engaged with United Way. From there, I donated my talent and treasure to the organization for the first time.
I remember going home that night and having a conversation with my boyfriend over dinner about implementing our household giving plan; that experience ultimately inspired our current plan. It made us think about how we want to intentionally give back to our local community and understand where the greatest impact is needed. It not only inspired me to give more strategically to organizations in our own backyard, but also allowed us to choose how we wanted to do that as a household. That night, I also signed up to volunteer for the ReadUP program where for a year, my friend (who was also a colleague) and I visited IPS 67 weekly to read with two third-graders in an effort to increase their reading proficiency.
Over the past three years, it’s also been a joy serving as the project manager for the partnership that TechPoint and United Way have formed and something that I continue to support each day. The thesis behind that partnership is recognizing that as the Central Indiana tech ecosystem continues to grow and thrive, there continues to be an acute awareness on the haves and have-nots. This partnership is helping the tech community understand complex issues facing our community, like poverty, so they can be inspired and motivated to help find creative solutions alongside United Way.
Most recently in fall of 2019, I was invited to join the United Way board of directors. It’s been an absolute joy and blessing to serve as a steward for the organization in this capacity and I’m learning so much from my fellow board members! One of the efforts I’m leading is the relaunch of the Technology Fund to assist accredited community based organizations across Central Indiana with their technology needs. As chair of the work group, I’ve invited several technology leaders and experts to help guide the initiative.
Q: What does a normal day look like for you?
A: I’m not a snooze person, so once my alarm hits, I’m up and at it and usually out the door within an hour. With a daily commute from Westfield to downtown, by the time I get to work, I usually have two hours of combined news listening (Morning Express with Robin Meade is my go to), local podcasts absorbing (Drink Culture is a current favorite), and at least one work call complete.
In short, my days are filled with internal and external meetings and I’m extremely grateful that I have a lot of autonomy, trust and flexibility in my schedule as well. Given my work as Senior Director of Relationship Management for TechPoint, my role is very externally focused with key tech stakeholders, as well as internally focused on the operations and leadership of our team. My role at TechPoint is focused on supporting tech companies, universities, service providers, venture capital firms and other community partners that are all working towards ensuring Indiana will be a top tech hub.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
A: If I could have any superpower, I would fly because I love to travel and that way I could easily get to anywhere in the world. I’ve been to 26 countries total, and I’m a little behind my goal of having gone to as many countries as years as I am old. I’m trying to rapidly catch up with that!
Q: You have some free time after work. What do you do?
A: In this past couple of months, I’ve fallen in love with a new gym in Carmel called Shred415. I make an intentional effort to get to a 5:30PM workout class a couple times a week and will coordinate with my friends so that we can attend with one another. It’s nice that we have an opportunity and space to decompress and re-energize after a workday together.
Q: Why are you passionate about the United Way?
A: I love this question. My background is in urban planning and development, which is essentially architecture, but on a city level. When you think about all the components that will make a community healthy, sustainable, inclusive and thriving, urban planning is the art, study and implementation of all those components. The three causes I care most about currently are placemaking, poverty and women/girls; so everything I say “yes” to, must align with one of these areas and the United Way is indeed supporting each of these.
For me, UWCI has provided the empathy, understanding and inspiration that’s been critical for me when I answer that call to action of: What can Central Indiana can be for me and what can I be for Central Indiana?
Because of my experiences and exposure the last four years with the organization, I’m a firm believer that the United Way of Central Indiana is our community’s best bet at tackling some of those most pressing issues. Even more so, United Way is an organization that’s been around for over a century, right? For an organization that’s over a hundred years old, it continues to be forward thinking in how to deliver innovative, meaningful and intentional solutions – especially now through the impact funding model. It’s rejuvenating to know that United Way will continue to be nimble and meet the needs of the community as it’s needed most.
Every month we will be sharing a new impact story with you – check back in March to read the next one!