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Leadership Columbus: Lynn Lucas

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Lynn Lucas

Place of birth: Sullivan County

Date of birth: Nov. 9, 1941

Title: Executive director, Visitors Center Inc.

Duties: Lead and manage programs and activities of the countywide tourism bureau with a staff of 19 employees, including eight full-time and 11 part-time staff.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education — Indiana State University. Majors in English and social science.

Family: Husband, Larry; daughter, Beth; son, Mark

Came to Columbus in: 1974

Community involvement: Serves on the following boards: Columbus Area Economic Growth Council, Mill Race Center, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Indiana Architecture Archives, Indiana University Purdue University Columbus, Columbus Arts District Coalition, Columbus Area Sports Advisory Council, Association of Indiana Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Recently agreed to serve as Bartholomew County’s Bicentennial Coordinator for Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration (2016).

Hobbies: Lucas loves to travel with her family, usually taking several trips a year in the United States and internationally every two or three years. She plans to go to Spain this year. Lucas said she finds gardening to be a great stress reliever. She still enjoys cooking even though it has been several years since she was a partner in a catering business. And she’s always loved to read.

What is the leadership lesson that has stuck with you throughout your career?

Building a network and developing partnerships have been especially important. For example, the statewide relationships I established through my position at the engineering firm were helpful during the regional and statewide political campaigns I managed — and are still serving me as I work with tourism partners throughout the state. It is every difficult to develop and implement community, regional or state projects without understanding the art of partnering and collaborating.

During your career, what has been your most challenging job and why?

Accepting the challenge to develop a marketing program for a consulting engineering firm in the late 1980s was the biggest cliff I’ve ever jumped. I entered that world as a female, non-engineer in marketing — with very few females in management in that industry around Indiana and the Midwest. Looking back, I know that I grew as a stronger leader during the eight years in that position.

What are the leadership qualities you most admire in those who have mentored you?

I served in leadership positions for two of former State Sen. Robert Garton’s election campaigns and also had the opportunity to be the treasurer of his campaign committee for a number of years. I admire many things about Bob’s leadership style, including his willingness to listen to all sides of an issue before making his decision. He treated all residents with respect and made it a priority to personally answer their phone calls and/or respond to letters.

What do you like best about your job?

I definitely enjoy sharing the Columbus/Bartholomew County story. Along with that, I enjoy growing our local economy by attracting visitors, conferences, sports events, groups, etc. I like the great variety in our work — attracting visitors from around the country and the world, as well as the diversity of markets and projects — from architecture and public art to sports tourism, corporate, culinary tourism, military and family travel, etc. In addition, I like the entrepreneurial opportunities including our tour and retail businesses. I don’t know of any other tourism bureau that runs a tour operation.

What do you like least about your job?

Sustaining and growing adequate funding sources in order to promote Columbus and Bartholomew County and host individuals and groups that visit our area.

What advice would you give those starting out in their careers about leadership?

I have looked for two important elements in positions I have taken or considered: 1. Opportunities to be productive and make things happen; 2. Opportunities to continue to learn. My advice is to accept responsibilities that provide opportunities to learn and grow — even though you may feel stretched or out of your comfort level.

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