By Michelle Kinsey—
MUNCIE, IN – The East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative (ECITC) welcomes Ashley Surpas as the new associate director for Regional Initiatives at Ball State University. In this role, Ms. Surpas will oversee the university’s role as the backbone organization for the ECITC, a collective-impact initiative advancing talent attraction, talent development, and talent connection across Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Rush, and Wayne counties.
Since joining Ball State’s Office of Community Engagement on Oct. 3, Ms. Surpas has served as the primary ECITC point of contact. She has provided strategic, project management, and infrastructure support for the initiative’s guiding team, network of county and regional coalitions, and industry networks.
Ms. Surpas brings with her 10 years of experience in economic development, project management, and strategic plan coordination with the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance and Chamber of Commerce. She was an integral part of the team that developed the East Central Indiana’s Regional Cities Plans and participated in multiple aspects of the Talent Region designation process.
In addition to earning her master’s degrees in Public Administration and Executive Development for Public Service from Ball State, Ms. Surpas is certified in Clear Impact’s Results-Based Accountability (RBA) framework, one of the leading systems for implementing collective impact models and measuring their success.
“Ashley impressed us on many levels during the interview process—her breadth of knowledge about East Central Indiana communities, her above and beyond level of preparation and research, her excellent facilitation skills, and her insights into the opportunities and potential for talent development in our region,” said Trevor Friedeberg, president and CEO of the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership and member of the ECITC Guiding Team. “Her personal and professional accomplishments have uniquely prepared her for success in this role and I am excited to work with her as we position East Central Indiana for a brighter future.”
Corey Murphy, fellow ECITC Guiding Team member and president and CEO of the New Castle Henry County IN Economic Development Corporation, agreed.
“I am thrilled Ashley is engaged in this important regional effort,” he said. “Her knowledge and passion for the region and its shared prosperity will propel the initiative forward.”
Ms. Surpas said she was drawn to the Talent Collaborative’s mission and the initiatives that are already underway.
“I enjoy making a difference, and, in my opinion, there is no better way to create lasting change for our region than to strengthen and expand talent development in East Central Indiana,” she said. “I was eager to be a part of this important work.”
Her initial efforts will be focused on maintaining the momentum of our county and regional coalitions, learning about the region’s existing assets, and connecting with industry leaders to establish the Talent Collaborative’s industry networks.
Strategic plan sets priorities through 2025
The appointment of Ms. Surpas coincides with the release of the 2022-2025 East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative Strategic Plan, developed by the ECITC Guiding Team in collaboration with the region’s birth-5, K-8, high school, and adult/higher education coalitions.
The plan centers around five strategic pillars that articulate long-term ideals to guide more immediate work: 1) Equitable Child Development and Education; 2) Equipped Adults; 3) Employers of Choice; 4) Elevation of the Forge Your Path Talent Attraction Initiative; and 5) Trust.
According to Mr. Murphy, trust across counties and stakeholders is foundational to the work of the Talent Collaborative and the region’s economic future.
“Trust is the most important currency for regional initiatives to succeed,” he said. “The Talent Collaborative has increased trust and is proving to be a solid foundation to tackle regional objectives.”
The ECITC Strategic Plan recognizes that talent development and connection go beyond education and training, Ms. Surpas noted.
“Individuals must be able to meet their basic needs—food, clothing, health services, child care, safety—before turning their attention to certifications, degrees, and career advancement,” she added. “These are very real concerns in our region and impact even our youngest residents. We need the involvement of educators, healthcare providers, non-profits, chambers of commerce, business leaders, child care specialists, politicians, public safety, grassroots advocacy groups … there is a role for everyone. Please reach out if you want to help at the local or regional levels. This truly is a collaborative effort.”
About the East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative
The East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative is a regional collective impact initiative to improve talent attraction, talent development, and talent connection. As a State of Indiana 21st Century Talent Region, ECITC is made up of key stakeholders from nine ECI counties – Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Rush, and Wayne.
ECITC convenes our region’s diverse leaders, businesses, training and education providers, and nonprofits to pursue shared prosperity through equitable and dynamic talent attraction, talent development, and talent connection. The mission is to accelerate the profitability of East Central Indiana by elevating investment in education and talent and positioning ECI as the region of choice built on trust and support. For more information and to get involved, visit forgeeci.com/ecitc or contact Ashley Surpas at email@example.com.
About Ball State
Founded in 1918 and located in Muncie, Ball State University is one of Indiana’s premier universities and an economic driver for the state. Ball State’s 20,000 students come from all over Indiana, the nation, and the world. The 790-acre campus is large enough to accommodate first-rate facilities and 19 NCAA Division I sports, but our welcoming and inclusive campus is small enough to ensure the friendliness, personal attention, and access that are the hallmarks of the University. Destination 2040: Our Flight Path establishes Ball State’s ambitious goals for our second century. We Fly!