Partner Interview: Brian Payne, President, Central Indiana Community Foundation

What makes Indianapolis great?

Indianapolis has a fantastic sense of community.  It has a long history and culture of welcoming outsiders into the community leadership arena.  I'm a Californian who came here to run a regional professional theatre company and they made me the President and CEO of their community foundation.  It's hard to get more open and welcoming than that.  Indianapolis has a knack for getting people to work together for the benefit of the community and gets incredibly ambitious projects done.  The whole country witnessed Indianapolis'  talent and creativity this year when our city completely reinvented the Super Bowl.

What are your grandest ambitions for Indianapolis? 

I am most passionate about seeing Indianapolis develop such a special quality of life that it becomes widely known as a top ten American city for developing, attracting and retaining highly educated, creative and community-minded citizens.

Why do you do the great work for Indianapolis that you do? 

Indianapolis made me feel welcome and appreciated from the first day I came here to interview at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in 1993.  I felt instantly at home here even though I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in San Diego. Indianapolis is a special place, easily one of the best cities in America, for anyone who wants to get involved in their community and make things happen.  I love the spirit, the creativity,  the partnerships and the friendships that so naturally evolve from working on behalf of this community.

What do you consider your biggest achievement? 

My biggest achievement is founding and leading the creation of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail:  A Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick, a $63 million, eight-mile, beautifully designed, landscaped and lighted bicycle and pedestrian pathway in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.  The Cultural Trail connects to every significant arts, cultural, heritage, sports and entertainment venue in our very dynamic downtown and is the hub for the entire Marion County greenway trail master plan.  We in Indianapolis believe that the Cultural Trail is bigger, bolder and more beautiful than any other urban trail in the world.  That's a very un-Hoosier like thing to say (since we are known in Indiana for our humility). But we have put that claim out there and so far urban experts and reporters have supported this view.   This 11-year project has been blessed with unbelievable good fortune and the experience has greatly exceeded my wildly ambitious dreams.

What is important to the future of cities? 

I really think CEOs for Cities has dialed into the priorities with its focus on connectivity, innovation, talent and distinctiveness. At the Central Indiana Community Foundation we have been saying for years that the major theme of the 21st Century is connectivity: transportation, technological, geographical, social and cultural connectivity.  I would vote that connectivity is the most important of these four significant priorities.

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