By Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo
Taylor alumna Jessica (Barnes) Love ('00) is the new executive director of Prosperity Indiana in Indianapolis as of March 2.
Love is stepping up from her current position as associate executive director to fill the role previously held by Andy Frazier, according to a press release from the organization. Prosperity Indiana's website describes them as an association that serves and partners with organizations across the state to achieve community economic development.
While at Taylor, Love studied journalism and worked as the Editor in Chief of both The Echo and the Ilium. Her career began as a lifestyle editor at The Selma Times-Journal, where she climbed the ranks to managing editor before transitioning into the community economic development sector at the South Central Alabama Development Commission.
When she moved to marry her husband, Love found a position as the senior program manager for community economic development at the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development, which later rebranded to become Prosperity Indiana.
"I still look at all of my work kind of through the lens of a story, and still look at it through journalism," Love said. "So even though I was doing grant writing (in community development), I was using the skills that I learned in journalism . . . (to get) to know people's stories."
Within the organization, she changed positions a few times before becoming associate executive director in 2013. When Frazier announced his plan to leave Prosperity Indiana, Love applied for his position. At first, she questioned whether she was applying because it just seemed like the next step or because she truly wanted to lead the organization. She discovered her own vision for the future of the organization and decided to pursue that leadership role.
Faith (Batzinger) Musgrove ('09) started working at Prosperity Indiana part-time and worked under Love while Love served as associate director. Musgrove transitioned into full-time work and continued to work under Love for her three years with the organization. Musgrove described Love's responsibilities during her time there as including caring for the staff, advocating for others and working toward better benefits for employees.
"She really challenged me," Musgrove said. "She would see things in me that I didn't see in myself, and she would really challenge me to be fully engaged and fully present in those ways. . . . I'm excited for her to be in the executive director role."
When Prosperity Indiana wanted to start a podcast, Love encouraged and supported the shy, inexperienced Musgrove to pursue audio editing and production. Musgrove feels Love will be a supportive and encouraging leader with a heart for people and a passion for her work.
Love is excited to lead Prosperity Indiana into the future and see her vision come to life.
"The most exciting part of it is having the freedom to re-envision the organization," Love said. "Not that we're going to take a large detour from who we have been, but just to have the power to kind of break down what I have envisioned for the organization . . . and then really take that on. My vision for the organization is that every member would be able to say that they couldn't have done their work without Prosperity Indiana."