RJL Solutions, an advocacy and strategic communications firm in downtown Terre Haute, recently hired two interns for the spring semester to complete a regional branding project for West Central Indiana. Kathryn Shema, a senior at Indiana State University, government affairs intern, and Anna Madden, a senior at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, public relations intern, joined the RJL Solutions team in January.
“Governor Eric Holcomb has spoken about West Central Indiana’s biggest asset being the variety of educational institutions as a business community,” states Rachel J. Leslie, RJL Solutions partner. “It is important to seek opportunities to nurture these students in experiential ways and raise servant and civic leaders willing to change West Central Indiana. We look forward to what these two students accomplish as they work closely with government and business leaders across West Central Indiana.”
Shema and Madden will work closely with leaders from the Vigo County government, the city of Terre Haute, the Economic Development Corporation, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with community leaders from Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, and Vermillion counties to develop a student-led proposal.
“I’m pleased the different government and organizational entities that represent our community are willing to work with these two, talented students. I’ve encouraged these students to visit the surrounding counties and get to know their leaders, learn from their thoughts, and develop an asset list. They’ve also been resourced to visit other regions across the state and ask hard questions and develop strong recommendations. I’ve asked them not to get side-tracked by politics, but to use their educational backgrounds, talents, and collaborative spirits to do quality research,” states Leslie.
Shema, of Terre Haute, majors in Social Justice and Sociology with a minor in International Studies. She has been a recipient of the Indiana Academic Honors Incentive and Dean’s List for four years. Shema was given the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy and traveled to various places in Europe and Morocco. She was also chosen to go on a service trip to the Republic of Panama through the Community Engagement Center at ISU. She has served on a medical mission trip to Haiti, where she worked in a clinic and visited the local school. Shema plans to attend law school, utilizing her passions for education, human rights and international relations, in the legal system to advocate for positive change.
While being a full-time student, Shema has also worked at CASA Kids as a Volunteer Coordinator and serves many hours volunteering at her church, St. Joseph’s University Parish. Kathryn is also an active member of the Chi Omega Fraternity and served as a Recruitment Counselor for the Panhellenic Association.
“Through working as an intern at RJL Solutions, I hope to develop strong leadership skills and help bring more opportunities, pride, and growth to my hometown, and the greater West Central Indiana area,” states Shema. “I believe that this internship will impact my future endeavors in a multitude of ways, because it will teach me how to advocate for the community, develop stronger leadership skills and collaborate with multiple different entities such as businesses, non-profit organizations, and government.”
Madden, of Indianapolis, is pursuing a degree in marketing with a minor in French. During her time at the Woods, she spent two years as a resident assistant and worked as a student representative for the College. This past summer, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Cannes, France where she immersed herself in the French language and culture while traveling throughout the French Riviera. Madden plans to attend Xavier University to complete her Master of Business Administration in International Business.
“From this internship, I hope to obtain industry level experience in marketing as well as a better understanding of the functions of working in a business and with others,” states Madden. “West Central Indiana has provided me with countless opportunities and support, and I cannot wait to give back while utilizing my talents. I am honored to be entrusted with such an important project and hope to have my growing talents speak for themselves through the regional branding project.”
Expanding its repertoire in collaboration and advocacy, RJL Solutions brings senior member Jenn Kersey to the team to serve as Director of Advocacy and Client Affairs. Kersey will play an external role in the community, cultivating leadership in organizations so that they may seek partners, influence decisions, and empower others.
“Relationship-building and networking are crucial to an organization’s success – not only to gain resources but also to share knowledge and expertise,” states Rachel J. Leslie, RJL Solutions managing partner. “Jenn has a proven record of accomplishment in ensuring high-level client service, engaging organizations in event planning, and facilitating collaboration.”
As Director of Advocacy and Client Affairs, Kersey will manage a portfolio of clients. Fostering a sense of achievement, she will work with organizations so that they may be intentional in collaboration, leadership, and advocacy – the three pillars of RJL Solutions.
“Every business and organization has a purpose they are passionate about, but may not have the resources or time necessary to fully implement that purpose,” states Kersey. “Helping others identify their strengths and areas of growth for continued success is an attribute I have always been proud of, and now I will be able to help on a much larger scale.”
Kersey holds a Master of Leadership Development degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a B.S. degree in Health Education from Indiana State University and a B.A. degree in Health and Kinesiology from Purdue University. She served as Executive Director for the Vigo County YMCA, and prior to that she worked for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as the Director of Events and Strategic Programs. Kersey was instrumental in the development of the college’s wellness and sports marketing programs.
Kersey currently serves on the Parke County Community Foundation’s Board of Directors and has been a volunteer for the PCCF since 2007. She has also been a member of Better Health Wabash Valley since 2014, where she enjoys collaborating with other organizations in the Wabash Valley that have the same passion for healthy living. She also sits on the Community Advisory Council for Foundation for Autism Resources where she assists with outreach, planning and fundraising efforts. As an autism advocate, Kersey’s efforts include working with state legislators to improve access to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to those who are on the autism spectrum.
While she enjoys her work as a professional and a volunteer in the community, she loves the gift of being a mother to sons Couper and James, and sharing that responsibility with her husband, Kyle. They reside in Parke County where Kyle is Principal of Riverton Parke Jr. and Sr. High School for Southwest Parke Community School Corporation.
RJL Solutions, an advocacy firm in downtown Terre Haute, recently added a new member to the team. Betsy Peperak will serve as Media Relations Manager.
In this capacity, Peperak will be responsible for researching, writing, editing, and coordinating production of a variety of marketing materials. She is responsible for the design and management of the RJL Solutions website, social media presence, and email newsletter, as well as press releases and various other communications for clients of the firm. In addition, Peperak will be responsible for office management.
“It is vital in advocating and lobbying for opportunities, policies, grants, etc., that the message be clear and concise while telling the story,” states Rachel J. Leslie, managing partner. “This position is crucial to the clients of RJL Solutions in helping to increase their exposure not only in the region but across the state of Indiana and beyond.”
Peperak has a strong background in communications and marketing. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Teaching from Indiana State University, which she used to teach high school for two years after graduating. After obtaining her master’s degree in Professional Writing from Eastern Illinois University, she worked at Tribune-Star as an Advertising Account Executive and at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as Communications Manager in the Office of Marketing and Communications.
In her position as Communications Manager, she was responsible for growing the college’s social media presence and was a crucial part of the team during the transition to coed. Peperak led projects such as the #FlatSMTG social media campaign and managed the college’s various social media ad campaigns. Peperak also brought her creativity to the college, serving as videographer on multiple projects including WoodsGivingDay.
“I look forward to bringing my expertise to RJL Solutions,” states Peperak. “This business is helping West Central Indiana grow and change for the better. I’m very passionate about my community and am proud to be a part of that growth.”
Peperak lives in rural Paris, Ill., with husband Matthew and their three children, Liam, Chloe, and Clara.
Terre Haute, Ind. - RJL Solutions LLC is excited to announce the launch of West Central Indiana’s new bi-partisan Advocacy Firm. The business was formed to partner with communities, government entities, corporations and organizations who want to make a larger impact in their community, state and nation in key areas. Today’s leaders are busy dealing with everyday operations and vision implementation. RJL Solutions recognizes the challenges these same leaders face when trying to implement an external outreach program and is committed to helping clients fulfil their mission/purpose. The official launch date for RJL Solutions LLC will occur in July 2017.
RJL Solutions LLC will provide services which range from relationship-building, lobbying, advocating and educating on specific issues, promoting public/private partnerships and general external relations business services.
RJL Solutions LLC Owner, Rachel Leslie, believes this service is an important tool to success. “In today's corporate and political climate it's imperative to understand your place in the economic framework of your community, your state and the nation. Competition is fierce and proven themes for success include relationships, education and communication. It’s important you have a place in the world of community, politics and policy. Working within the community development, higher education, and political framework for the last 13 years, my eyes have been opened to new opportunities for our area,” said Leslie. “This business concept doesn’t exist in the region, yet it’s a vital tool for winning. I am confident the West Central IN region can benefit from such services.”
The business tagline is “Advocate, Collaborate, Lead,” which Leslie says identifies the three most important verbs that shape positive change and impacts success. “We must tell our story, work together, and be leaders in our area of expertise. West Central IN is rich with education and healthcare resources, quality infrastructure and equipped with a diverse industry base.”
Leslie looks forward to working with leaders within the region and building new partnerships which will advance regional development for a variety of clients. “I’m grateful to my family, friends, colleagues, and mentors for helping me build knowledge and courage me to follow my passion and influence change,” said Leslie.
RJL Solutions will be located at 9. South 7th Street, in downtown Terre Haute, and is currently undergoing minor renovations.
Rachel J. Leslie, MLD
Managing Principal, RJL Solutions LLC
Rachel J. Leslie holds a Master of Leadership Development degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a B.S. degree in Speech Communication Public Relations and Journalism from Indiana State University. She is a graduate of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Executive Association Chamber University, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organizational Management and the Indiana Leadership Forum. She served the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce in many capacities for seven years, including Executive Vice President, and as the Vice President for External Relations at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for five years.
She participates on a large number of community and professional boards and committees, which include the Vigo County Education Foundation, Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, Hamilton Center, Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Terre Haute Regional Airport Board Authority, and recently appointed to the Indiana Women’s Commission study on paid family leave.
Through Leslie’s work in the Chamber of Commerce profession, higher education, government relations and various community board and development initiatives, she has a broad scope of understanding on how various industries and both private and public sectors can collaborate for maximum results. She founded the Terre Haute Young Leaders, co-founded the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute and worked behind the scenes on many community development initiatives such as Terre Haute’s recognition as “Community of the Year” named by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in 2010. Recently, she initiated the Terre Haute Women in Washington group to build momentum around women leaders engaging in public policy and led a group of 15 women on a two-day journey on Capitol Hill. During her time at the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce she led the largest membership drive in Indiana with over 100 volunteers and over 200 signed members in just two days. However, although these accomplishments are significant, she is most proud of her work with helping young professionals find avenues for community engagement.
Leslie has been honored by various leadership organizations for her accomplishments in business growth strategies, community development and strategic collaboration. She was named one of the top Chamber professionals under 40 by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, a Rising Star by Junior Achievement of the Wabash Valley, a Graduate of the Last Decade by the Indiana State University Alumni Association, an Athena International Honoree, a Paul Harris Fellow and most recently a recipient of the Top 12 Under 40 in Terre Haute.
She has two boys, Beau and Luke, and a husband, Broc, who serves as Principal at Ernie Pyle Elementary School with South Vermillion Schools. Her family’s passion for the region keeps them steadfast in Vigo County.