Circle of Ivy Spotlight: Lucy Whitehead Keller
Impact on Indiana: Ivy Tech and Our Communities is a series of profiles demonstrating how Ivy Tech impacts communities across the state. The following profile spotlights the impact of Circle of Ivy – the women’s philanthropy circle – and the work of Lucy Whitehead Keller.
Lucy Keller has a deep personal commitment to Ivy Tech Community College. She’s a long-time member of the Circle of Ivy – in fact, Keller was one of several co-founders of the women’s philanthropic circle seven years ago that facilitates support for students across Indiana’s 19 campuses.
She gets her passion for Ivy Tech honestly. Governor Mitch Daniels in 2006 named Lucy’s mother, Kaye Whitehead, to the Ivy Tech State Board of Trustees, where she eventually served as chairwoman. With her mother in a leadership role, Keller had a bird’s eye view of what Ivy Tech had to offer.
“I got to be her plus one for many events, and I was able to see the difference Ivy Tech makes in the lives of so many students,” said Keller, who in December will become chair of the Circle of Ivy. “Through the passion of the people behind all the work, the focus on keeping cost lows, they really showed me how a rising tide can raise all boats.”
Supporting Ivy Tech, in fact, has become a family affair. Keller’s brother, Eugene, recently finished 10 years on the board of trustees at the Muncie campus. Keller, meanwhile, is all-in when it comes to generating revenue that improves the lives of students across Ivy Tech’s 19 campuses.
When Keller was asked in 2014 to help create Circle of Ivy, she “jumped at the chance” to support students seeking an education. Today, she wants to build upon the good work already underway. Since 2015, Circle of Ivy has grown to more than 1,000 women across Indiana. In seven years, the group has raised more than $1 million to support 384 projects.
Circle of Ivy has a statewide reach, with a focus on campus needs and projects that positively impact students. Last November, Circle of Ivy awarded more than $263,000 to 84 projects.
Why is the group’s work important? Ivy Tech is home to tens of thousands of first-generation students and non-traditional students who hold down full-time jobs and raise families while going to class. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, many students found themselves on the fringes of losing their dream.
Circle of Ivy went to work.
“I feel like we helped a lot during the pandemic,” Keller said. “Our focus is always on removing barriers.. COVID created new barriers, such as technology barriers and virtual learning. The funding we were able to provide to campuses removed provided resources that allowed students to continue their educational journey.”
The Circle of Ivy continues to recruit women from across Indiana. Keller wants to continue growing enrollment to build upon the $1 million already raised for students since 2015.
“For me, Circle of Ivy is not about having the most members, but it’s about having the most impact,” Keller said. “We have engaged members who push themselves to give at the next level, and we strive to find others who will give in the same way. The women of Circle of Ivy always find a way to get to the next level.”
For women who may consider joining the Circle of Ivy, Keller offered words to ponder.
“We are empowering our community of women to come together to improve the state of Indiana,” she said. “Ivy Tech provides opportunities to so many people, and this is our opportunity to have an impact. I encourage anyone who is considering Circle of Ivy to start even at the $100 level and help us showcase what we can do.”