Terre Haute, Ind. - RJL Solutions Partner, Rachel Leslie, will be traveling to the Farnborough Air Show in London with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), July 16 through 21. The delegation representing Indiana includes an array of leaders from the IEDC, the Indiana Department of Commerce, including Secretary Jim Schellinger, and other leaders in aerospace and defense from around the state.
The IEDC is working with industry leaders from around the world to advance economic opportunities for the state of Indiana. The delegation is receiving daily email updates regarding new meetings and more opportunities. To date there are 31 meetings scheduled and more to come.
Since opening RJL Solutions nearly one year ago, Leslie has been active in the defense dialogue. She serves as Vice President of the National Center for Complex Operations board (NCCO), serves as the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce lead consultant on defense development, and is an appointed member of the Terre Regional Airport board of directors, serving as President. Currently, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce is advancing efforts around defense development for West Central Indiana, creating a working document that will support a marketing campaign showcasing West Central Indiana’s assets prepared for the growth in the defense sector.
“Although the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce has been active with our 181st Intelligence Wing for many years, this last year has presented a scope of knowledge and excitement around defense that this Chamber has not witnessed. The assets and opportunities in this sector are staggering. We’ve been pleased to not only work alongside RJL Solutions in advancing these efforts, but also Defense Development Director, Danielle Chrysler, who makes regular visits to West Central Indiana. We have a partner in the state of Indiana around defense,” stated Terre Haute Chamber President David Haynes.
“I was pleased and humbled to be asked to travel with such a great group of people who love Indiana and can advance our state-wide efforts in aerospace and defense. I knew Terre Haute was prime for opportunity with our higher education assets, award-winning airport, site ready locations, advanced technology, and proximity to Indianapolis - but I wasn’t seeing the larger picture until the past twelve months. The state’s action to join forces and sell Indiana as one large asset helps advance our competitive edge. Understanding the national competition around this sector has made me think about how we tell our story. Serving on the NCCO board has opened my eyes to how we must work together as a state – one voice – to create big wins in this sector. This multi-billion dollar industry is about advancing technology to keep our warfighters safe, and in turn, keep us safe. I don’t know exactly what to expect on this journey, but I’m prepared to tell the Hoosier story and how West Central Indiana is a part of that story,” stated Leslie.
Leslie will be video blogging on her journey. The blog will include updates from Indiana leaders and can be found on the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce website, www.terrehautechamber.com.
Those traveling as part of the IN delegation include:
1. Alex Miller, Business Development Senior Project Manager, IEDC
2. Bob Fagan, Notre Dame Turbo Machinery Lab & Conexus
3. Danielle Chrysler, Indiana Office of Defense Development
4. Elizabeth Patel, Marketing Outreach Manager, IEDC
5. General Clark, IND National Guard
6. Jake Miller, Field Director – IEDC Secretary of Commerce
7. Jan Wiedemann, Director, Business Development Europe, IEDC
8. Jim Schellinger, Secretary of Commerce
9. Jim Tidd, Miami County Economic Development Corporation
10. Matt Wade, Vice President Marketing, IEDC
11. Paul Moses, Purdue Research Foundation
12. Rachel Leslie, National Center for Complex Operations/West Central IN
13. Rollie Helmling, Senior Vice President- Global Industry & Trade Development, IEDC
The vision of the NCCO is to act as a “one-stop-shop” to connect state, federal, and private interests with services, programs, training and testing capabilities that will serve the U.S. armed forces and government agencies at all levels.
“I’m certain I speak for those I’ll be representing alongside, although this is a unique opportunity to serve, it is humbling to know the work we might accomplish together could both advance economic opportunities for our state and help promote new defense opportunities for our men and women serving our great nation,” states Rachel Leslie. “Each of us brings a distinct perspective, and I look forward to working with people who love Indiana and our military.”
Other Indiana leaders appointed include Vice Admiral Mike Bucchi, of Bloomington; Bill Smith, of Madison County; John T. Thompson, of Indianapolis; and Omer Clifton “Clif” Tooley, Jr., of Bargersville.
Leslie holds a Master of Leadership Development degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a bachelor’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. As an experienced collaborator, Leslie advocates on behalf of her clients at her advocacy firm, RJL Solutions. She strategically brings state and federal relationships and unique resources to West Central Indiana while also working to educate on specific issues and promote public/private partnerships.
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. She served on the Wabash Region Regional Cities team, which resulted in some important financial wins for West Central Indiana.
In her time at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Leslie sought to strategically expand the footprint of the College from a regional, state and federal perspective, thereby implementing an external relations office. Leslie led that effort at the cabinet level as vice president of external relations. The office included grants development, auxiliary revenue, noncredit programs, community and government relations. Leslie was an instrumental part of this outreach through grant acquisition, policy changes, navigation of higher education regulations, and development of strategic academic programs.
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 the Wabash Valley.
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.
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.”
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.
NOVEMBER 13, 2017
“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.
NOVEMBER 8, 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 partner, 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
Partner, 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.