Rising to the Challenge

Leading through the Aftershock: When I signed on to be Chancellor of the Fort Wayne service area with Ivy Tech Community College in August of 2021, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I would encounter. After all, I had held positions throughout the College for more than 20 years and had served on the campus Chancellor’s Cabinet for more than a decade. I was ready for new challenges, but nothing prepared me for the challenges that lay ahead. Or the joys that would come with them. 

The Honeymoon: My first six months as Chancellor felt a lot like a new marriage. There was a honeymoon period full of excitement and anticipation. It felt amazing, albeit intimidating, and I knew I was up to the challenge.

Like all marriages, the honeymoon ended and reality set in. It made me remember my late husband of 29 years, Vincent, and how the first two to three years of our marriage were a lesson in humility, perseverance, listening and gratitude. There were moments where I questioned myself, my decisions, and our future. But I knew it was right, and we learned together how to make it work.

And the same has happened to me in my role as Chancellor. The pressures and challenges of leadership in today’s higher education atmosphere became very real, very fast. I had previously only seen the tip of that iceberg, but was unaware of the massive barriers that lay beneath the surface. I’ll be honest. It was a shock. 

Remembering the “Why”: In that moment, I asked myself, “what have I gotten into?” Then I remembered that the true test of leadership is the way we respond to shock and the unknown. I’ll call that the aftershock. So I gave myself space to stop, take a breath, and remember that my path was divinely designed for me, and I am exactly where I am meant to be – steadfast in my dedication to our mission, our students, and the community I serve. This is my “why.”

The iceberg might have been jarring, but the aftershock won’t sink me. I have years of experience and a case of tools to draw on for success. And I am not alone. My colleagues are THE GREATEST! They are passionate about education, Ivy Tech, and northeast Indiana. They work tirelessly to keep me informed, and I can count on them to candidly express concerns and help formulate new ideas. 

To whom much is given, much will be required – Luke 12:48

Along with the pressure of the work itself, I was also shocked by just how busy I am. My plate is full. Actually, it feels like I’m working with five full plates! Like so many before me, I’m balancing work, family, community, and our world. The nice thing about it though, is that I have been blessed with a strong and diverse network who is willing to sit down at the table with me and digest all that lies before us. I have never been more grateful for my personal team of family and friends who support my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing while allowing me to be “just Kim.”  

Charting new courses: Despite the iceberg’s mysterious depths and the inevitable aftershocks to come, Ivy Tech and I are keeping this ship on track, even if it means charting new courses. And just like my marriage, we will find our collective strength in each other. Vincent and I had 29 years to work on it. The pace is faster at Ivy Tech and the stakes are just as high. I’m thankful for a team that welcomes change as we build the next chapter of Ivy Tech together.

And along the way, I will keep in mind exactly who I am and whose I am. That is my greatest tool for success. And with it, the sky is the limit! 


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