‘A beacon of light on the east side’: Board member Jose Juarez talks about what’s so special at Shepherd

April 24, 2024

Jose Juarez, the family and community engagement director with Indianapolis Public Schools, joined Shepherd Community Center’s board of directors in April 2023.  Juarez, who has worked for IPS since 2013, also serves with the Indiana Commission of Higher Education’s Padres Estrellas program, which helps Hispanic and Latino families and students receive resources and information about education and careers.

We asked Juarez about his experiences serving as a leader at Shepherd:

Q. How did you get involved at Shepherd Community Center? 

Juarez: I first reached out to Shepherd Community Center early in the 2022-2023 school year. The Indianapolis Public Schools’ Family and Community Engagement team was reaching out to local community partners to spread the word on upcoming collaboration opportunities. Shepherd was one of the first groups we contacted as it works closely with a few nearby schools.

Q. What made you want to engage with Shepherd?

Juarez: I wanted to engage more with Shepherd as it serves a very diverse demographic and has adapted to best fit the needs of its community. It offers an educational option for families and tries to meet its families where they are. All of the families that I’ve interacted with at Shepherd are truly appreciative of this approach and it is reflected in how they serve as well.

Q. What is your current role on the board?

Juarez: I look forward to serving on the fundraising and finance committees this year.

Q. What impresses you the most about what Shepherd does?

Juarez: Shepherd’s flexibility when working with the community has been very impressive to me. They bring resources to families and find ways so that families can have access to programs that will help them not only in the short term, but also their future.

Q. How are your gifts and passions being used at Shepherd and on the board?

Juarez: My parents are immigrants from El Salvador and many of the families at Shepherd are folks that are new to our country. Their perseverance reminds me of the struggles our family went through when I was a child and I love the programming that is offered to help them better themselves. I have worked in education since 2009 and have worked with students with special needs, English language learners, and on the engagement team. I have a passion for helping families that are navigating the American educational system and want to do what is best for their children. I love to serve and feel that my cultural and professional background can help give a new perspective on what we do.

Q. What is your vision for Shepherd moving forward?

Juarez: I would love to see Shepherd continue to be a beacon of light on the east side of Indy, but that the calling to serve our community extends beyond our area. I believe that doing what is right for those that need it the most will bring better things for our community. I would like to see increased collaboration between Shepherd, community partners and educational institutions. I have seen glimpses of this through our connections for students to local employers, and I think that this is just the beginning.

Q. If you could share one thing with people who don’t know much about Shepherd, what would you tell them?

Juarez: You are free to come as you are to Shepherd. Everyone is welcome, and if they have an immediate need or long term need then do not be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is that we do not offer a service on-site, but we can point them in the right direction.

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