Leading within the community
Leadership programming in Northwest Indiana and statewide will be enhanced by the recent establishment of The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest (PNW). The growing entity, formerly known as the South Shore Leadership Center, presents the most current thinking on crucial topics facing the region, builds skills among emerging leaders, and uses project-based learning as a force for active community engagement.
The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest is the region’s leadership resource center. The Institute’s goal is to create a dynamic, collaborative environment with a broad range of resources to enrich the skills of program participants.
The Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest is led by Sheila Brillson Matias, Executive Director. Brillson Matias, who joined PNW in October 2018, also serves as Executive Director of the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest. Cortney Robinson serves as Program Manager of The Leadership Institute.
“PNW recognizes the significant opportunity to build upon the connecting legacies of leadership and innovation represented by these two long-standing, successful regional organizations,” said Thomas L. Keon, Chancellor of Purdue Northwest. “The development of the Leadership Institute, along with the affiliation with the Society of Innovators, will bring new opportunities to jointly promote leadership development, a culture of innovation, and to increase our collective impact on the economic, social and cultural well-being of Northwest Indiana.”
Keon noted that Brillson Matias has been working with PNW faculty and staff members, as well as business leaders throughout Northwest Indiana, to develop opportunities for intellectual and business partnerships, new leadership development programs, and ways to support and augment PNW’s research and economic development efforts.
Brillson Matias brings an extensive background in community development, leadership, education and service to her role leading the two organizations at PNW. A former two-term Michigan City mayor, city councilperson, co-founder and board chair of the Michigan City Economic Development Corporation, and teacher in the Portage Township Schools, Brillson Matias most recently served as National Director of Programs for Summer Advantage USA/Entrepreneurial Ventures in Education, where she worked with key community partners across the country to bring learning programs into high-need schools. She also led workforce development and employment programs, veteran job retraining and community health services for regional and statewide operations in the state of Washington. Brillson Matias earned a master’s degree from Valparaiso University and a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland.
Brillson Matias is actively engaged in the Northwest Indiana community as an elected La Porte County Commissioner. She was the co-founder of the Safe Harbor program and has served on the boards of directors of Save the Dunes, Michigan City Salvation Army, Michigan City Zoning Board, Michigan City Plan Commission, and Dune Brook of La Porte County.
“I am very excited to be a part of the Purdue Northwest team as well as to be serving alongside the dedicated board members of both the Leadership Institute and the Society of Innovators, who are committed to moving Northwest Indiana forward,” Brillson Matias said. “By developing people and practicing skills, we are investing in the place we call home – our region. Leaders aren’t born, they’re made. By working to develop these skills in our program participants, our communities are strengthened.”
The board of directors of the South Shore Leadership Center voted recently to change the name to The Leadership Institute, reflecting the expanding mission of the organization. The Institute currently is the home of the flagship Leadership Northwest Indiana (LNI) program; and South Shore Leadership Youth for Community Engagement, or SLYCE, a six-month leadership development program for select young people from area high schools. Future additions are expected to include development of a leadership certificate and graduate-level credits.
Sheila Brillson and Society of Innovators Board Chair Gary Johnson recently shared thoughts about the Purdue University Northwest connection in the Feb. 2019 edition of Chancellor’s Corner.