By Kasy Long
Jun 20, 2023
2011 Communication Alumna
During the summer season, many people spend time traveling, attending community events, and enjoying the warm weather with family and friends. In Indianapolis, residents and visitors enjoy numerous opportunities to explore attractions and activities, participate in sporting events, visit art and culture festivals, attend music concerts and live theater, eat savory and sweet food, and much more.
Just ask Taylor Schaffer, president and chief executive officer of Downtown Indy, Inc., a private, not-for-profit organization focused on Downtown Indianapolis’s economic success, livability, and vibrant energy. The organization ensures that Indy remains a fun, diverse city in which to live, learn, work, and explore.
“We’re focused on bringing people to Indianapolis. We’re shifting the way we view the city. We’re making this a pleasant city to live, work, and play,” Schaffer comments.
Schaffer, a 2011 communication alumna from Indiana State, has a set goal for herself: build the future of downtown Indianapolis. She meets with stakeholders, local and state partners, and board members to discuss infrastructure plans, event planning, and other ways to advertise and promote the city of Indianapolis in a positive manner.
This isn’t the first time Schaffer has been involved in project management, strategic planning, brand development, and other leadership roles.
Since graduating from Indiana State in 2011, the Sycamore has worked as an account manager at Brandy Carroll Hellige, an advertising and public relations firm; as a brand action specialist at Young & Laramore, a national advertising agency; as communications director for Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett; and as chief of staff of the City of Indianapolis, before transitioning to her current role as president and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc.
“I learned so much about advertising and public relations through these positions, especially when I first graduated from Indiana State,” says Schaffer. “I learned how to work with partners and build strong brands.”
Schaffer has been instrumental in strengthening the image of downtown Indianapolis. This has been accomplished through beautification projects throughout the city’s Mile Square, through the addition of new businesses, and with the creation of new residential living that supports people who choose to live and work in downtown Indy. These exciting projects align with Schaffer’s passion for Indianapolis.
“I care about people and the future of Indianapolis,” Schaffer says. “I want people to experience as much as possible when they visit downtown Indianapolis. They can be a part of so many exciting projects and events.”
Schaffer credits her education at Indiana State as the first step toward her professional success. A member of the Student Government Association, Sparkette Dance Team, Indiana Statesman student newspaper, and winner of the Miss ISU scholarship pageant, Schaffer felt the Indiana State community cheering for her throughout every opportunity.
“Indiana State is the place to grow. There were opportunities to learn, but also wonder, ‘What else can I do?’” says Schaffer, who also worked as a social media specialist for Indiana State’s University Marketing team and as an executive assistant to the University’s President and its director of governmental affairs.
Those opportunities also helped prepare her for internships at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum and with BunkerHill Designs.
Schaffer keeps her advice for current students simple: Meet up for coffee.
“Conversations are invaluable and they happen best when they’re casual, like meeting for coffee,” she explains. When networking with other professionals, “begin with these conversations and see where they go,” she advises.
Looking to the future, Schaffer predicts downtown Indy will evolve to accommodate mixed-use campus areas, including more ways for residents to walk around the city; ecosystem projects; and more national events. Schaffer notes that Indianapolis has successfully hosted major sporting events, including NCAA March Madness games, the 2012 NFL Super Bowl game, and others.
“We could do it again. We could host these events again. We’re working hard to make Indianapolis a vibrant, collaborative city that people want to call home 365 days a year,” she reflects.
Schaffer is confident there is much excitement in store for Indianapolis and the state of Indiana, and she is proud to be a part of that change. Because enthusiastic leaders wear BLUE!