The Chairman’s Award: Barb Alder

Madison County advocate connects people, business here with Purdue University

By Kyle Morey | 2.28.2014

Barb Alder | Photo by Dale Pickett


It’s approximately 80 miles from Anderson to the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette. But because of people like Barb Alder, keys pieces of a Purdue education are in Madison County’s backyard.

And because of that, so, too, are businesses like GTI.

Alder will receive the “Chairman’s Award” for her work in helping make Purdue classes available here during the 2014 Madison County Chamber Annual Awards Gala from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Madison Park Church of God in Anderson.

Alder said she was humbled by the honor.

“When I look at the list of past recipients, people, gosh I’m going to have to do an awful lot retroactively earn this,” Alder said. “I am extremely excited to have been chosen.”

The Chairman’s Award annually goes to an individual who provides exceptional service to the Chamber, its members and the business community.

Alder is in many ways “matchmaker” of economic development, not romantic proportions -- although by the time her work is done, another new business often comes to love Madison County.

Because of her passion for Purdue University and the way she’s helped connect others in Madison County to the esteemed school, Alder has helped her adopted community grow.

Proof came when GTI came to town.

“When GTI was there for their groundbreaking, I went up and introduced myself to several executives from Japan,” Alder recalled “One of the men pointed to sign that advertised our Purdue offerings at the Flagship Education Center here and said ‘that’s one of the reasons we chose Anderson.’ I was just thrilled.”

Purdue has always been a big part of Alder’s life.

She grew up in southern Henry County where her late brother, Butch was a state-qualifying track and field star. When he attended Purdue and played football for the Boilermakers, it was her first taste of the university.

Today, she is director of Purdue’s Office of Engagement for Indianapolis, a position Alder’s held since April 2012. She is also the former Location Director for the Purdue University College of Technology in Anderson and Richmond.

Prior to joining Purdue, Alder’s career spanned 26 years with Verizon Communications (formerly GTE). Before that, she served in Admissions and Financial Aid at Hanover College.

While Purdue is a passion, Madison County is her home and Alder is loyal to her adopted county.

“My office may be in Indianapolis now, but I have purposefully kept my home in Anderson,” she said. “The people embraced me so quickly. I made so many friends so fast. Right now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

While her brother still holds shot put records at Tri High School, their Henry County alma mater, Alder covers lots of philanthropic ground.

Alder is active in community service, currently serving on the Madison County Education Coalition steering committee, where she formerly chaired the College Readiness Committee; was a former member of the Boards of Directors for the Anderson Education Foundation and the Anderson Impact Center, Inc.

She currently serves on the boards of the Hancock Community Education Alliance, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the Flagship Enterprise Center, Women & Hi-Tech and the Paramount Heritage Foundation, serving as that organization's Vice President.

She is Immediate Past President of the Hanover College Alumni Association Board of Directors, currently serving as the alumni representative on the College’s Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Indianapolis downtown Rotary Club. Through the University, she maintains active memberships with the Indianapolis, Fishers, Greenfield/Hancock County and New Castle/Henry County Chambers of Commerce, and is a member of the Venture Club of Indiana.

In 2008, Alder was the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Madison County. She also served as a math tutor at Alexandria Middle School during the 2007-2008 academic year. Over the course of her career, Alder has volunteered with many organizations including United Way, Junior Achievement, Broad Ripple Arts Fair, Indiana Repertory Theatre, and she served as President of Keystone Crossing Kiwanis Club in Indianapolis.

Alder’s office is definitely a workforce creator. Alder said about 85 percent of those who take Purdue classes here stay here, putting the power of that knowledge to work for Madison County.

“We’re getting ready to celebrate Purdue’s 30th anniversary as a presence in Anderson. There are companies that locate here because of Purdue’s presence here. I try to raise the visibility of Anderson and Madison County on the broader stage as much as I can.”

About the Award

The Chairman’s Award recipient is selected by the chairman of the Madison County Chamber Board to be awarded to an individual who provides exceptional service to the Chamber, its members, and the business community. Michael Austin was presented the first award at the 2011 Gala. View more past award winners on our WALL OF FAME.



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