Jennifer Webber, a third-year public affairs major at Indiana University Northwest, embodies the values and commitment of a change agent and a life-long learner. Returning to school to finish her undergraduate degree after more than a decade of public and nonprofit service, she now seeks to combine her professional and academic experience to empower people and provide them with a space to grow in their civic lives. While in school, Jennifer continues to contribute to her community serving as a state representative for the Indiana Coalition of Animal Rescue Efforts and on the Advisory Council of the Human Society Northwest Indiana. She was also selected to serve as an IU Northwest Community Engagement Fellow, where she works closely with community partners and university faculty and staff to develop and enhance learning opportunities for seniors (aged 55 and older). Through this fellowship she is strengthening her understanding and the practice of authentic community engagement. Jennifer is a powerful example of dedication and civic commitment. She is respected by her fellow students, faculty, and by the community. Northwest Indiana can look forward to Jennifer's energy, imagination and leadership for the long term.
Involvement in my community began at an early age. My mother was a true pioneer and the first female police officer in our hometown. I volunteered with her at soup kitchens, domestic violence shelters, and after school programs. This work paved the way for me as a young adult and I began to develop park programs for seniors and children. Improving the quality of life in my community continued as I transitioned out of government operations and into non-profit animal welfare. I researched the connection between people and pets in our community. Lack of resources and accessibility to affordable veterinary care led to an increase in homeless pets. Over fifty organizations duplicating efforts to solve the homeless pet problem was inefficient and expensive. I organized a coalition of providers to explore a collective impact model to save more lives. As a student and current fellow for the Center for Urban Regional Excellence at IUN, I have learned invaluable skills to advocate for policy and legislative reform and partnership development. When I graduate, I plan to seek leadership roles that will allow me to use these skills to do my part to ensure my community is growing and thriving.