Shelbyville mayor puts next-generation professionals in drivers seat

Shelbyville mayor puts next-generation professionals in drivers seat

Progressive talent tasked with helping determine, implement policy and direction

Sept. 18, 2018 — Shelbyville, Ind. — Who best knows how to attract diverse new talent to a community with a rich manufacturing and agricultural heritage? Shelbyville, Ind., Mayor Tom DeBaun believes next-generation professionals already living in his city know the answer.

DeBaun has convened nine emerging leaders in the community near Indianapolis and charged them with helping set a wide-ranging strategy for positioning Shelbyville and Shelby County to thrive for decades to come. The young professionals, who have dubbed themselves Backyard Shelby, not only are helping determine strategy, but they also are tasked with carrying it out in ways uniquely suited to their generation.

“This is an opportunity to shape community, policy and development,” DeBaun said. “The key is engaging this group of people specifically. That’s the group that’s left out traditionally.”

DeBaun launched the initiative in July after recognizing Shelby County was aging and in need of fresh blood. “We don’t retain our character by staying the same,” he said. “We need to evolve and grow.”

Blue River Community Foundation Executive Director Amy Haacker, who has been instrumental in launching the project, said it is unusual for a mayor to place so much responsibility with emerging leaders.

“We’re putting a pen in their hands and putting them in the driver’s seat,” Haacker said. “We’re empowering these future leaders to create an environment that would be attractive to them and those who are like-minded.”

Early priorities for Backyard Shelby include promoting the livability and sense of authentic community its members treasure in Shelby County. Other priorities include promoting events, opportunities and amenities as well as the close drive to Indianapolis.



Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun
Telephone: 317-395-4596

Blue River Community Foundation Executive Director Amy Haacker
Telephone: 317-956-7937

Backyard Shelby members are available for interviews. Please contact Norm Heikens at 317-509-3276 or