Committed to Education and the Community

IUPUC hosted a panel discussion titled Strengthening the Community through an Educated Workforce: A 50-Year Commitment to Building Brighter Futures for All, which brought together community leaders and educators to discuss the history and future of IUPUC's role in the education and economy of the region.

The event aligns with IUPUC’s 10-year Welcoming Campus strategy, and was presented as part of IUPUI's Welcoming Campus Initiative. It commemorates IUPUI's 50th Anniversary and its collaboration with IUPUC to create best-in-class higher education opportunities for students South Central Indiana since 1970.

Watch the Replay of the Panel Discussion

The Panelists

John M. Burnett – CEO, Community Education Coalition (CEC) of Columbus, IN

John M. Burnett, serves as President and CEO of the nationally recognized Community Education Coalition (CEC) of Columbus, Indiana. CEC is committed to development of a coordinated learning system linking to economic opportunity and quality of life. He is co-founder of CivicLab, An Institute for Civic Collaboration with his colleague Jack Hess.  Burnett is a founder of Southeastern Indiana’s EcO Network (Economic Opportunities through Education). Launched in 2008, the network focuses on educational attainment leading to well-paying jobs. EcO Network has been funded to-date by more than $80 million in grants, including major gifts from Lilly Endowment Inc., and substantial funding by Cummins Foundation, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and Lumina Foundation.

Drew Klacik Senior Policy Analyst at the IU Public Policy Institute


Drew Klacik was born in Northwest Indiana, earned a BA from Purdue, and a masters in urban planning at Ball State. He previously worked for the city of Indianapolis, where he was part of the economic development team that helped transform downtown Indianapolis. He is now a Senior Policy Analyst at the IU Public Policy Institute where he works collaboratively with others on complex inter-related issues and building a thriving region and state. Recent projects included working with Indy Chamber and the Brookings Institute on the Brookings; sponsored Income Disparity Lab and the Public Policy Institute's Thriving Community, Thriving State effort to provide a series of recommendations for Indiana's urban, suburban, and rural places.

Daniel Noel – Director of Clinical Talent, Columbus Regional Health


Daniel Noel provides leadership, direction, and administration of clinical education and development, including continuous improvement of nursing services to meet the needs and expectations of those served by the Columbus Regional Health System. He began his career at Columbus Regional Health in 1999, leveraging his degree in health and nutrition to become the coordinator of food services. His interest in nursing led him to go back to school to get his LPN certification, ASN degree, and ultimately a BSN degree from IUPUI. In his spare time, he serves as a tour guide for the Columbus architecture tours.

Srikanth Padmanabhan –Vice President, Cummins Inc. | President, Engine Business


Srikanth Padmanabhan is President of the Engine Business, the largest of Cummins’ business segments. In this role, he pushes the boundaries of customer-focused innovation to position Cummins as the leading powertrain supplier of choice, with its portfolio ranging from diesel and natural gas to hybrid and electric powertrains. Srikanth holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Trichy, India and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School.

Dr. Jim Roberts, Ed.D. – Superintendent, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation


Dr. Jim Roberts serves as the Superintendent of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation. Previously, Dr. Roberts was the Superintendent for Batesville Schools, where he also served as an assistant high school principal, high school principal, and assistant superintendent. He began his career teaching Math and coaching basketball and baseball within the Flatrock-Hawcreek School Corporation. Dr. Roberts has been a state and national presenter in the areas of school health and continuous improvement processes, received an ISDH Wellness Champion Award in 2011, was the IAPSS District VIII Superintendent of the Year in 2014 and 2016, and earned the 2016 Governor & Cheri Daniels School Health Award. 

Amy Conrad Warner – IUPUI Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement


Amy Conrad Warner, IUPUI Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement, develops mutually beneficial partnerships between Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and organizations that make Central Indiana a better place to live, work and learn. Warner aligns university resources with partners to fuel economic development, improve the quality of life, and address critical societal issues in Indiana and beyond. Since 1987 Warner has provided leadership to the university in strategic marketing and communication, community relations and regional economic development, government relations, alumni affairs and fundraising.

The Moderator

Kathy Oren, Executive Director of the Community Education Coalition

kathy-oren-headshot.jpgKathy Oren currently serves as Executive Director of the Community Education Coalition (CEC), a not-for-profit organization committed to the development of an aligned, high quality community, and regional learning system. Oren’s work involves education, economic growth, workforce development, and quality of life initiatives. Prior to CEC, she worked for Cummins Inc. for 22 years.

Oren serves on several boards and councils including: BCSC Business Advisory Council, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Council for Youth Development, East Indiana Area Health Education Center Board, Greater Columbus Indiana Economic Development Board, IUPUC Division of Nursing Advisory Council, Ivy Tech Board of Trustees, United Way of Bartholomew County Board of Directors. She received a BS degree from Purdue in Industrial Engineering and an MBA from Indiana University at IUPUI.

This event is presented as part of IUPUI’s Welcoming Campus Initiative, which launched in spring of 2016, and has provided a springboard for transforming IUPUI and IUPUC into more inspiring destinations for faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Get more information about the Welcoming Campus Initiative.


For more information about this event, please contact:
Jay Lesandrini
Office of Communications and Marketing
812-375-7553 or jlesandr@iupuc.edu