As president of Orr Fellowship, Steven Emch helps recent university graduates gain career experience, develop leadership skills, and build invaluable networks of associates and mentors at Central Indiana-based companies. He previously worked for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, where he was responsible for venture development and entrepreneurship planning. In 2022, Emch joined Shepherd Community Center’s Board of Directors.
In the following interview, Emch explains why he got involved with Shepherd and shares his thoughts about the ministry’s future:
Q: What made you want to engage with Shepherd?
Emch: I really appreciate the perspective Jay (Height) and the rest of the team at Shepherd have about breaking the cycle of poverty. There’s a balance that needs to be struck between providing a helping hand and ensuring neighbors take personal responsibility, as much as they can, to better their situation. I’ve seen too many organizations give handouts without working with the individuals to try and get to the root issues to break the cycle of poverty, so it is refreshing to see Shepherd take this seriously. I got involved with Shepherd Community Center in 2021 as they worked on growing Shepherd Neighborhood Childcare at Minnie Hartman. I have a background in childcare, and after Dave Neff (president of EDGE Mentoring) connected Jay and me, it became clear we could be helpful to each other.
Q: What impresses you most about what Shepherd does?
Emch: The scale at which Shepherd operates while maintaining a depth of relationship with the neighbors is the most impressive thing to me. I firmly believe you need to invest in your own backyard before attempting to change the world. Shepherd starts at the most important place, with the people from our community that need a helping hand.
Q: How do you see your gifts and passions used at Shepherd and on the board?
Emch: I’ve always been passionate about ensuring you are reaching behind you and helping others along with you. Whether that’s through age, perspective, career success — whatever the difference is. We can’t ever take the blessings we’ve been given for granted and need to strive to pass the benefits down to others. Shepherd is an excellent fit for me, and my specific background in childcare is also being leveraged as well.
Q: What is your vision for Shepherd moving forward?
Emch: My vision for Shepherd would be that it looks however it needs to look to meet the needs of its neighbors in the future. Shepherd in 2040 shouldn’t necessarily look like a bigger version of Shepherd in 2023. Instead, we should adapt dynamically to the needs we find in the neighborhood with a “boots on the ground” approach. To me, the ideal scenario is that Shepherd is so successful that it isn’t needed anymore. A more realistic version of this dream would be that the programs within Shepherd have the desired impact we want, and then we change our programming to fit the new needs of our neighbors.
Q: What can you tell us about yourself?
Emch: I grew up in Arizona with my three siblings and was homeschooled. I attended Grand Canyon University, where I received my bachelor’s in applied management and business administration and management. Before serving the team at Orr Fellowship, I spent some time in various vocations. I worked in software sales at Lessonly, in the public sector at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship efforts, and as the business manager at Valley Child Care & Learning Centers in Arizona. I’m a transplant from Arizona. I moved to Indy a little over five years ago. I’m married to Paige, and we have two sons, Edison and Sutton.
Q: If you could share one thing with people who don’t know much about Shepherd, what would you tell them?
Emch: I don’t know of a single other organization that is as ingrained in the community as Shepherd is. They’ve been incredibly intentional about growing with and in the community as it evolves.