Board member Andrew Shearn, a third year medical student at IU School of Medicine, is JMF’s youngest board member. He is a long-time participant in JMF programming and events. We asked Andrew to share his perspective as a young professional on a board of directors, and why he believes JMF is making a generational impact on central Indiana children. (Read more about Andrew’s years with the foundation here)

Now that you’ve had some time to settle into your role as a board member, what has the experience been like so far?

This has been my first experience serving in such a capacity, and it has been quite educational. Seeing how a foundation is run from “behind the scenes” and being able to provide input has better prepared me for other leadership roles I hold both now, and will hold in the future. It has also been helpful to hear the perspectives and opinions of other members of the board, which have helped me expand my own mentality and the way that I approach challenges and unfamiliar territory.

As a younger JMF board member, you bring a new perspective to the board, do you think this is a valuable asset and why?

I do think this is a valuable asset, especially from the perspective of transitioning the board forward into the future as both the staff and board positions inevitably are passed on to younger generations. It’s not only helpful for me to provide the perspective of a young adult to the board, but for the board to educate and prepare me to efficiently foster the Foundation when members are even newer or younger than I am. While I may not have the largest or broadest network of colleagues — having just begun my career path — I can still help the foundation maintain its relationship with younger generations.

What is something about JMF that you think is unique?

I love JMF’s presence in the Indianapolis community. The Foundation has worked hard to build itself as a community resource, and it continues to expand its reach further and further into the surrounding suburbs. Additionally, JMF is incredibly supportive of other nonprofits and foundations in the area, having worked in collaboration with many. It’s refreshing to step aside from the competitive atmosphere that many other industries cultivate and work in one of fellowship and common interest.

What do you want others to know about JMF?

I hope people are aware that JMF can be a resource for them. Aside from the Run, Walk, Roll, Golf Outing, and other events that come to mind when one thinks of JMF, there are also the many programs within the Foundation intended to be utilized by those looking for help or education. Whether it be assistance with IEPs’, family dynamics, disability education and awareness, or inclusive fitness, there are many offerings within JMF to be taken advantage of.

How would you encourage others to get involved with JMF?

If someone isn’t yet ready to volunteer with the Foundation or is unsure of their own understandings of disABILITY, I think a great start would be to participate in, and support any one of the many fundraisers throughout the year. This provides the opportunity to learn what JMF is all about, meet the great staff and board members, and allows a casual setting for those who have more familiarity advocating for children of all abilities to share their perspectives and knowledge.

Finally, what image comes to mind when you think of JMF?

When I think of JMF, I think of a success story. I see what was once a small, family and friends based Foundation that has grown into an expansive, diverse educator of the central Indiana area. Not only has JMF grown physically, but it has also more clearly defined its goals and role in the community. Children in so many schools have become significantly more inclusive and informed through the disABILITY Awareness program, and this will become evident in the way that they raise their future children. JMF shares with others the ability to easily promote the mission of “serving children of ALL abilities”.