Malina Simone Jeffers, //
What inspires you?
People inspire me. Lifestyles inspire me. When I see family members with new ideas but no access, I’m energized to continue working to build that access. Or when I see young entrepreneurs working tirelessy to be noticed, to make something work – I’m inspired to connect them, to help them make it work in Indy.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 issues facing your city today?
In my opinion, Indy has to address the education issue and the perceptions around our options, we have to address talent and find ways to retain our students after high school and after college and third, we have to continue to address issues of racial injustice and equality – as do most cities.
You wear many hats. What are one or two projects on which you are currently working that you are most excited?
Right now I’m working with the Central Indiana Community Foundation to raise what will become 2 hundred million dollars. Brian Payne decided to model the community engagement portion of the Indianapolis Foundation’s 100th year anniversary after Ben Franklin’s philanthropic project in 1790. Franklin left money to two cities that couldn’t be touched for 200 years. Now, Indy is changing the narrative around philanthropy and getting 1,000 people to donate $100 and 100 people to donate $1,000 towards two funds that will sit for 100 years. Those dollars are expected to become $100 Million in each of these funds with $5 million granted annually from each fund.
Projects like these that are city specific, innovative and unique – allow people like me to boast about where we live and the power behind us. The community we are today was shaped a century ago, the community we’ll be in 100 years starts with us. How powerful is that? Shameless plug: donations accepted at www.bein2016.org/bff.
What’s your advice for the next generation of city change makers?
Ask questions. Not being afraid to ask questions shows interest and opens pathways to new ideas. Asking questions leads to more questions which will always spark a new idea. And the next generation needs no help with what to do with ideas – millennials and those after us are an action oriented people. Give us an idea and we’ll run with it.
What should we know about the your work that you haven’t yet mentioned because I didn’t ask the right question?
I think the interesting part about my work are the things that happen in between, the gap fillers. For example, I host panel discussions pretty often and post questions on social media, organize very grass-roots events. These are the things I don’t get paid for, the non-formal work, but quite often this is where sparks happen. This is where people can ask the questions they want to ask and have the tough conversations. I’d encourage us to look deeper into the the activity that happens on the sidelines and realize the importance in the open mic nights hosted by our young talent and the discussions on race organized by emerging advocates – that’s where the magic happens.
Finally, could you tell us something about yourself than most of your colleagues don’t know about you?
I’m an introvert. I play socialite in the day time and I love telling stories but I don’t get energy from it. I’d rather be writing all day. Maybe that’s no secret.