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Meet Board Member Michael Leppert

Meet Michael Leppert. Michael joined our board in January 2020, and we are thrilled to have him on the board.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a husband, father, writer, teacher, student, traveler, golfer, exerciser, oh, and I am the Director of Public Affairs at Krieg DeVault, LLP in Indianapolis. That last one is a fancy way of describing a “contract lobbyist.” Professionally, I represent clients of the firm on matters in the Indiana Statehouse. I have worked in and around state government for thirty years now, so I am working on behaving like an elder statesman, since statistically, I should already be one. In the last year, I have become an adjunct professor at IU, and a graduate student at Northwestern. I am married to Amy Levander, who is also an active member of Indy’s lobbying and civic leadership community, and we live in the Old Northside, downtown. My two adult sons, Alex and Jack, both also live in Indianapolis.

2. How did you first hear about Exodus, and what made you want to join the board?

I learned about Exodus in November of 2015 when then-Governor Mike Pence announced that Indiana would no longer accept refugees for resettlement from Syria, following the Paris terrorist attacks that had occurred several days earlier. I suspected that the governor was acting outside of his authority, and I wanted to write about it. In that process, I began learning about resettlement programs and was fortunate enough to meet Cole Varga in that process. Cole started teaching me about all of it, and continues to today. I have written about a dozen columns on resettlement since then, and the issue has a chapter all its own in my first book: Contrary To Popular Belief, which was published in 2016.

3. When thinking about the future of Exodus, what are you looking forward to the most and why?

The opportunity to raise our community’s understanding of its role in and its connection to the world by being present to people who need us is the reason I joined the board. I am an engaged and involved citizen, but five years ago, I was ignorant of resettlement programs almost entirely. Judging by my own ignorance, I am convinced that the more our city’s people learn about this, the more meaningfully active we can be for others who need us.

4. In your opinion, how can the Indianapolis community be more inclusive and welcoming to refugees and asylees?

Learning, learning, learning. People who hear, read and see the stories that come from Exodus and all of those connected to resettlement programs will enrich their lives first. That enrichment and basic increase in understanding will help our city and state embrace our cultural differences as the valuable assets they truly are. Telling the transformative stories we already have in every possible and innovative way is the key.

5. What are your favorite things to do in your spare time?

My wife and I are competitive golfers, which takes up too much of our time, but it is just who we are. We are lucky enough to travel more than most. We like going to New York for Broadway shows; international trips to Spain and Ireland the last two years, and anyplace warm during Indiana’s lovely winter months. We are fans of going to a variety of concerts, and are rabid Colts and IU fans.