Featured Partner: MDLF

zWORKS partner focuses on Indiana leaders

It’s all about young innovative leaders for one zWORKS partner.

In fact, their mission statement is “Enable Leaders. Drive Change”. This year’s Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation Fellows Program is a group of 20 young professionals from around Indiana.

The program has undergone some recent changes headed by one of our very own – Kate Swanson, MDLF Executive Director.

Swanson called it a revitalization of the organization after it began in 2014 – a few years after Mitch Daniels’ second term as Indiana governor. This year has been about focusing on the program’s curriculum.

The program is broken up into 3 phases during the year-long Fellows Program. The first three sessions are focused on economic philosophy and ideas that inspired Mitch Daniels. The second phase covers policy issues that are critical to the state and the last sessions focus on driving change and action. This incorporates how to get politically involved, studying public-private partnerships and more. It ends with a pitch day for the fellows to present their ideas on how to drive change.

“Just like zWORKS, I think it’s inspiring to see young talented and dynamic people making a difference in their communities,” Swanson said.

She said she’s excited to see the kind of network this Fellows Program creates.

“They’re all rock stars,” she added.

Swanson comes from a political background, having worked for Senator Dick Lugar and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve watched [Mitch Daniels’] career for a long time and he’s always been inspiring to me,” Swanson said. “And I feel like if we can enable others to learn from the ways he was able to lead, it could do amazing things for our state and for our country.”

She pointed out examples from Daniels’ time at Lilly, under the Bush administration and as Indiana Governor that have inspired her and the MDLF board members to promote his ideas.

“If it were up to Mitch Daniels, our name would probably be different,” she said. “He never thinks it’s about him but the things he gets to do.”

Being at zWORKS helps their goal of constantly trying to build and grow, Swanson added. In fact, one of the fellows in this year’s program is a zWORKS startup co-founder, Dane Albaugh.

“It makes a lot of sense to partner with an organization like zWORKS because there are a lot of young innovative leaders here that we would love to get involved and help drive change around the state.”

For more information about MDLF, head to their website or email kate@mdlfindiana.org.

Getting to know Kate:

  • Kate met her husband while working on Senator Dick Lugar’s presidential campaign.
  • She won her high school homecoming pie eating contest, beating the captain of the football team. It was a chocolate pie, for those who are curious.