Downtown Indy Inc. CEO’s quick rise to the top
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In October, Taylor Schaffer became the youngest president and chief executive officer of Downtown Indy Inc., an organization focusing on the economic success of downtown Indianapolis.
But, her journey started over a decade ago in Terre Haute where Schaffer grew up. “Same thing was true with my mom. My mom grew up in Terre Haute. She graduated from the same high school I graduated from.”
Schaffer graduated from Indiana State University in Terre Haute with a degree in journalism, and then ended up working for an advertising firm in Indianapolis. “Working for big, major brands, working in the retail and real estate space.”
In 2015, she joined the election campaign for Democrat Joe Hogsett, who won the mayor’s job. Later, she took on the city government roles of communications director, deputy mayor, and chief of staff.
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Taylor says city government has a direct impact on people’s lives, even more than she had realized. “Knowing the neighborhood groups that are impacted when violence occurs in their community, knowing the challenges families face in Indianapolis.”
Taylor’s former boss said her time in city government made her the perfect fit to lead Downtown Indy Inc. Hogsett said, “At this period of time as we’re coming out of a once-in-a century global pandemic, she’s very well positioned. She understands the city’s challenges.”
Taylor took on the role because she has a passion for living and working downtown, and is proud of how the area has transformed over the years. “It was a sense of connectivity and culture and place that, as a kid who came up here for back-to-school shopping, I don’t think I ever experienced.”
Although she never envisioned herself becoming the CEO of Downtown Indy Inc., Taylor says she wants to make the most of that role by working with businesses and corporate partners to make Indy a safer and cleaner city. “I often say downtown is the reason that I stayed in Indianapolis. Candidly, that wasn’t the life plan either. I was going to come here, I was going to work for advertising agencies for a couple years to get enough experience and to go move to a bigger city.”
Taylor’s advice to anyone aspiring to be in a leadership role is never be a afraid to say “yes” to a new opportunity.