10 minute read

KATHY CABELLO

BY DIANNE FRANCES D. POWELL

Indianapolis businesswoman and philanthropist Kathy Cabello began her tenure as chair of the Indiana State University Board of Trustees in July, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in the role.

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Cabello, a board member since 2014, said one of her passions paved the way for her connection to ISU: sparking the interest and building the confidence of underrepresented youth toward college success.

Cabello first visited campus 13 years ago while mentoring students involved with Project Stepping Stone of Indiana (PSS), a precollege program that emphasizes the value of higher education and supports Latino high school students to gain college access and success. Cabello leads this organization.

It didn’t take long for her to realize the similarities between ISU and PSS, not least of which is serving first-generation college students. When she got to know the mission and people of ISU, she found the perfect fit for her interests and passion.

“Higher education changes people’s lives,” Cabello said. “Only in America can a college degree change where a person is in their lives and how they advance and progress. And this affects generations afterward. And now you’ve changed generations. And to me, that’s impactful.”

Cabello said she believes wholeheartedly in ISU’s mission and as chair of the board, she aims to continue supporting that mission.

As a first-generation college student herself, Cabello has seen how one student’s success can improve an entire family’s social mobility. She feels blessed to have been able to attain higher education with the help of scholarships, and that has made a difference in her life.

Cabello holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Eastern Michigan University and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. She is also a graduate of the Minority Business Executive Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

A first-generation American born in Chicago and raised in Bridgeport, Michigan, Cabello started her career as a computer engineer. Her love for marketing strategy and customer relationship management eventually led her to start Cabello Associates, a full-service marketing consultancy that works to develop corporate strategic plans for Fortune 500 companies and other clients.

She founded the firm with her husband 18 years ago and takes pride in helping companies uplift people and communicate complex ideas with the potential to improve quality of life. Growing up, Cabello’s mom and dad emphasized the importance of helping people. This, and hard work, perseverance, and confidence, guide her decisions for her company and volunteer leadership of Project Stepping Stone.

“Our parents taught us that no matter how little or how much you have, we need to help people, serve, and share,” she said.

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Her mom is of Mexican American heritage and her dad is from Mexico.

“They have been my biggest influences,” Cabello said. “I’ve seen them work very hard and encourage us — my sister and my brother — to be the best we can, to keep striving. They gave me the confidence to just keep pushing.

“Even as a young girl, my mom would ask me to tutor young people. ...They were instilling in me that even as a young girl, I can still serve. And that taught me to give back.”

In 2019, Cabello and her husband pledged $25,000 to create ISU’s first private scholarship to support students of Latino/Hispanic descent, The Eddy and Kathy G. Cabello Annual Scholarship. They wanted to do their part in helping students overcome financial barriers to higher education.

Cabello also serves as a consultant and speaker on talent and leadership development, executive coaching, business startups, and the importance of diversity in the workforce.

She has served on the board of several organizations, including Fifth Third Bank, the Indianapolis chapters of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

She has earned several recognitions, including the 2021 Courage Award presented by the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana and Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch; 2010 Indiana Fortune’s Most Powerful Women nominee; the 2010 Indianapolis Business Journal Women of Influence for Indiana; and the 2012 Mayor’s Latino Woman-Owned Business of the Year.

But for all her accomplishments, she’s most proud of her daughters and her partnership with her husband of 35 years.

“I’m proud of how we’ve built our life together to give back to our community,” she said.

NEW TRUSTEES

John Pratt, Rockville

Pratt is a descendant of multiple generations of Parke County citizen leaders. He currently serves as President of the Parke County Council and has been greatly involved with economic development initiatives to position the county as an important place of destination in West-Central Indiana. Pratt was instrumental in helping guide Parke County to join the Wabash River Regional Development Authority and has been supportive of county efforts to attract investment in qualityof-place enhancements for Rockville and surrounding communities. He has demonstrated strong support for education, including K-12 and higher education, recognizing the high percentage of Parke County children who attend and graduate from Indiana State University. Pratt is a leader in agri-business and rural-based issues, including the importance of reversing the cycle of rural poverty through higher education. He is the treasurer of the Parke County Republican Party.

Troy Woodruff, Fishers

Woodruff is a 1998 graduate of Indiana State University with a degree in Communication Studies and a Minor in Marketing. He served in the Indiana House of Representative (District 64 in Southwest Indiana) from 2004-06 during which time he was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. With his ISU background, he became a strong ally when the university was looking at what to do with the outdated and costly twin towers on campus. Following his service in the House, Woodruff was a leader at the Indiana Department of Transportation. After leaving INDOT in 2014, he started his own consulting business and went on to purchase RQAW in August 2015. At RQAW, he currently serves as President/CEO. In 2017, Woodruff started another successful company, BW Construction, which supplies construction management services across Indiana. In his spare time, he serves on the board of the Youth Mentoring Initiative, which is affiliated with Fishers High School. He also serves as a varsity basketball assistant coach for Pendleton Heights High School.

Kimberly Collins, Terre Haute

Collins, the new student trustee, is a junior majoring in Marketing with a concentration in Sales Management and a minor in Entrepreneurship. She is a President’s Scholar and a Networks Scholar and is part of the Honors College where she serves as a peer mentor. Collins has served as president and vice president of Indiana State’s Student Philanthropy Organization, which assists with the annual Give to Blue Day. She is also involved in the Indiana State Dance Marathon, which annually raises money for Riley Children’s Hospital. As a freshman, she was a member of the Sycamore Leadership Coalition, a branch of student government designed for first-year students. She also holds on-campus jobs in the University Marketing Office and in the ISU Foundation.

Indiana State University had the largest fundraising year in its history in 2020-21, nearly tripling donations from the previous year with more than $29 million.

It is the third straight year fundraising has increased. More than 7,500 donors made contributions — up almost 10 percent from the previous year — supporting 620 funds and initiatives.

“We are so grateful to our alumni, friends, and corporate partners who generously supported the university in a record-breaking year,” ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said. “Indiana State University serves an important mission, and donor support is critical to expanding access to higher education.”

Gifts to the university’s endowment totaled more than $4.3 million, double the amount from the previous year. Forty-one new endowed funds were created, largely helping to build scholarship support and increase opportunities for ISU students.

Over 1,200 donors were recognized as members of the President’s Society for contributing at least $1,000 in the fiscal year.

“The ISU Foundation Board of Directors wishes to congratulate the ISU Foundation for setting an all-time record of over $29 million this past fiscal year,” said Don Dudine, chair of the ISU Foundation Board of Directors. “It is heartwarming to witness the ISU administration, deans, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of ISU embrace philanthropy with this genuine level of excitement. As a board, we are proud to be associated with the culture of philanthropy now established at ISU.”

Said Andrea Angel, Vice President for University Advancement and CEO of the ISU Foundation: “It has been an amazing year, and I am humbled by the generosity of our donors. Every gift is making a difference and it is exciting to see the bold advancement of the philanthropic culture at Indiana State.”

Angel credited initiatives such as the third annual Give to Blue Day for building momentum for philanthropy. The day resulted in more than $1 million in donations during a 24-hour period from 2,620 donors, including nearly 300 students.

“The energy among our ISU Foundation Board, Advancement team and campus partners is unparalleled,” Angel said. “It is inspiring to see how philanthropy is helping our students achieve their dreams of earning a college degree.”

Indiana State University’s Board of Trustees approved the honorary naming of a campus street as “Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry Way,” recognizing the long and distinguished career of a Terre Haute native and ISU graduate.

Dr. Perry, 92, was selected by three U.S. Presidents to represent the nation internationally.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan appointed her as Ambassador to Sierra Leone. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed her as Ambassador to Burundi. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed her to be U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank in Tunisia.

The honorary naming covers Fifth Street from Tippecanoe Street to Cherry Street. It is owned by ISU as part of an agreement with the City of Terre Haute in 2011. Appropriate signage will mark the honorary naming, but street addresses will not be changed because of public safety.

“We’re proud to honor Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry, one of the most prominent people to come from Terre Haute and graduate from Indiana State University,” ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said. “She spent her career bringing people together in our nation and around the world, and represented our country with distinction in numerous capacities.”

The street naming, Curtis said, “allows us to lift up the visibility of who comes and learns at Indiana State. We serve a population from all walks of life and Ambassador Perry is the embodiment of successful Sycamores who have gotten their start here and gone out and literally changed the world.”

In an interview with the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Perry said, “I’m really, really truly honored that my hometown has thought to do this for me. I’m sure this doesn’t happen to many people.”

Perry grew up in the segregated community called the Lost Creek Settlement just outside Terre Haute. After graduating from high school in 1946, she married and started a family while also working in banking and for IBM, the computer hardware company. She later earned a scholarship to Indiana State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1968.

She went on to earn a doctorate in international education from the University of Massachusetts in 1972. As part of her doctoral program, she worked with former Peace Corps volunteers who had served in Africa to develop and test African Studies curricula for public schools to help improve race relations.

Perry had a distinguished career in education, consulting, and diplomacy. She held prominent positions at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, Texas Southern University, and Texas Woman’s University.

Dr. Perry was recognized with Indiana State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987, the same year she received the NAACP President’s Award. She also holds an honorary Doctorate for Public Service and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Massachusetts.

In the Tribune-Star interview, Perry gave advice to college students at ISU and elsewhere.

“I’ve been teaching now for a long, long time, and my message always to young people is to set a long-term goal, one that you can’t reach tomorrow, one that’s going to take you years to reach,” she said.

Perry said students should have short-term goals as well “for good measure and to make you feel you are succeeding. Most people, young people especially, don’t try to think through to when they are going to be 70 years old and retiring. What do you want to be retiring from? And how do you get there?”