Carmel Rotary Club’s leadership forum expands, rebrands


The event has a new name with an expanded reach.

The Rotary Club of Carmel will hold its second Leadership Connection forum from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 7, followed by a social hour from 3 to 4 p.m., at 502 East Event Centre in Carmel. The event was called Carmel Leadership Day in 2021. The initiative will also include a volunteer project from 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. Oct. 21 at Central Park on the Monon Greenway.

“It’s students and community leaders working hand-in-hand on this,” said Rick Markoff, a Rotary Club of Carmel member who had the idea for the leadership forum. “There will be more than 107 students and 140 total working out on the Monon Trail.”

Leadership Connection is a combined effort of the Rotary Club of Carmel, Hamilton County Leadership Academy, iTeam (think tank), Carmel firefighters, Carmel Clay Schools and Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation.   

“We’ve more than doubled the number of students participating this year over last year,” Markoff said.

In 2021, there were 50 students from Carmel High School. This year, there are 107 students from CHS and other area schools.

“There is a more diverse group of students participating,” Markoff said. “This event will not just benefit Carmel, but the central Indiana area. The one thing all these students have in common is they are all seniors in high school.”

CIC COM 0927 Rotary Leadership Peterson

Keynote speakers include Bart Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Christel House International, and Stacy Atkinson, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College, Hamilton County. Peterson, a former two-term Indianapolis mayor, will speak at 8:10 a.m. Atkinson, a former U.S. Marine jet technician and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, will speak at 2:20 p.m. Their remarks will underscore the event’s theme, “Inspire Today, Impact Tomorrow.”

Markoff said the Leadership Connection has a faculty that provides tremendous speakers and authentic role models designed to inspire attendees to develop a path in professional and civic leadership. There are three panel presentations, one by elected or community officials. The second panel is conducted by iTeam, a think tank, which will include presidents and CEOs of businesses talking about their experiences. The third panel will include emerging business and nonprofit leaders.

The Hamilton County Leadership Academy will run training between the panels.

At lunch, there will be 22 tables led by moderators and four students and four community leaders at each table, discussing core values.

“Rotarians, if they are not volunteering, are encouraged to come to the lunch (Oct. 7) and participate,” Markoff said.

Karen King, who is in corporate communications for Midcontinent Independent System Operator, is on the event steering committee. MISO is the sponsor for the Oct. 21 event.

“Our purpose is to encourage careers in STEM,” King said. “We have a pretty extensive internship program that we are trying to extend as an outreach to a number of students. We are looking at a shortfall of engineers in the next 10 years as people start retiring. It’s great for area businesses to connect with younger students.”

Markoff said no student has to pay to be part of the event.

“We like to get as many students underwritten as possible, and we’re asking $60 for a student,” Markoff said.

IUPUI is the sponsor for the education platform. The Goddard School, 160 Medical Dr.., Carmel, is sponsoring Lunch with a Leader.

For sponsorship opportunities, visit