ROI expands its team with two vice presidents and an education specialist

Regional Opportunity Initiatives recently welcomed two new members to our team, Jacob Hurt, vice president of economic and community development, and Emily Menkedick, education specialist. Michi McClaine has also been promoted from director of K-12 strategies to vice president of talent development.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Jacob, Emily, and Michi on the ROI team,” said President and CEO Tina Peterson. “Each of them bring an incredible level of experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to ROI and the Indiana Uplands region. They are passionate about the potential of the Indiana Uplands region and we look forward to the energy they will bring in making it an even better place to learn, live, work, and play.”

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In October, Michi McClaine was promoted from director of K-12 strategies to vice president of talent development. In her new role, she will lead ROI’s efforts in the development and implementation of ROI’s education and workforce initiatives. McClaine will work closely with K-12 and post-secondary education partners, as well as key sector employers, to align education and workforce through specific demand-driven strategies relevant to the Indiana Uplands. She will also cultivate and maintain relationships across partner organizations at the local, regional, and state levels.

McClaine has been with ROI since 2017, serving the education and workforce team and on various advisory councils throughout the region. Prior to coming to ROI, she was a K-12 educator, school principal, and district leader in Monroe County for 22 years. She received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Indiana University.

“I am thrilled to assume the role of vice president of talent development and to continue moving the region forward,” said McClaine. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work alongside the Uplands communities and their many talented leaders. I am confident that continued collaboration and innovative thinking will help the Uplands grow and prosper.”

In his role as VP of economic development, Jacob Hurt will improve talent and workforce attraction in the Indiana Uplands region through the implementation of ROI’s place-based strategies and initiatives. ROI’s place-based initiatives include strategic investments in projects that foster a high-value quality of place and advance a sense of regionalism, including the Indiana Uplands Regional Housing Study, the Ready Communities grant program, and Indiana Uplands branding and marketing initiatives.

Working closely with communities, economic development organizations, governmental entities, businesses, and education providers, Hurt will work to ensure the Indiana Uplands region is prepared to fulfill its significant potential and is poised for growth.

Prior to joining ROI, Hurt served as the chief operating officer of the Jackson Anchor Initiative in Jackson, MI. The Anchor Initiative is focused on talent attraction and retention through downtown redevelopment. 

Hurt has 20 years of experience in the field of community and economic development, serving in various positions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. He received his Certified Main Street Manager (CMSM) designation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center in 2005. Hurt previously served as a municipal planning and community development director, the executive vice president of a local chamber of commerce, a local main street program manager, and a private consultant.

“I am excited to join the ROI team and begin working with community leaders throughout the Indiana Uplands to help the region realize its potential and growth opportunities,” said Hurt.

Emily Menkedick joined ROI in August following 13 years with the Monroe County Community School Corporation, where she served as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and most recently as the assistant principal at Grandview Elementary. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Indiana University.

In her role as an education specialist at ROI, she works with regional school districts, post-secondary education institutions, and industry partners. She designs and develops new training models and serves as a coach to school districts and communities engaged in the Ready Schools initiative.

The Ready Schools Initiative is a design-thinking framework to support school districts in aligning their PK-12 curricular and programmatic offerings to the educational and workforce needs of the Indiana Uplands. The goal of this initiative is to enable schools to engage business leaders, community stakeholders, parents and students in meaningful dialogue about what success means within their community and to develop a plan to obtain that success. The result of this process is a systemic PK-12 approach designed to support students in achieving their academic and career goals that are aligned with the workforce opportunities in the Indiana Uplands.

“The collaboration and innovation taking place through ROI’s education initiatives is inspiring,” said Menkedick. “I am excited to join the ROI team and look forward to continued partnerships with education and employer leaders.”

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.:

The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is to support economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties). ROI is implementing education and workforce initiatives and regional engagement initiatives for quality of place development. More information can be found at www.regionalopportunityinc.org.

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