By Nancy Price
The Rotary International motto is Service Over Self. A motto that Stephen Powell, president of the Rotary Club of Greenwood, tries to live each day. His second motto is: Help Me Help You, inspired by the 1996 comedy-drama, Jerry Maguire.
Due to Powell’s consistent commitment to these values, he has been named the 2019 Center Grove ICON of the Year.
“By helping others, by giving to others, you help yourself,” Powell stated simply. “It’s amazing how much you get back the more that you give. If I do that, it pays back tenfolds.”
In addition to his involvement with the Greenwood Rotary, Powell is on the board of directors for Concord Neighborhood Center, United Way of Johnson County, Greenwood Village South, Gateway Services, Johnson County Board of Zoning Appeals and League of Miracles. In addition, he is a member of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Martinsville Chamber of Commerce, the Mooresville Chamber of Commerce and the Johnson County Development Corporation Aspire, Growth and Development Committee and a member of the Columbia Club & Antelope Club.
He is also a past member of Association of Indiana Municipalities, Association of Indiana Counties, Indiana Association of County Commissioners, Indy Chamber, Center Grove Education Foundation board and chamber and EDC boards statewide.
In 2015, he was the recipient of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (AIM) Nelson Steele Memorial Award “for selfless contribution to municipal officials of Indiana” and Association of Indiana Counties Associate Member of the Year Award. In 2016, he received the Ernie Mishler “Distinguished Service Award” to community by the Greenwood Rotary.
“Steve has been a liaison between business and government for over 40 years in an attempt to bring updated infrastructure to all parts of Indiana,” said Steve Burkhardt, a longtime friend and member of the Rotary Club of Greenwood. “He tries to find the most positive outcome for every situation he encounters.”
“Steve has provided outstanding community service, not only in the Rotary but many other ways,” added Assistant Governor for Rotary District 6580 Amy Lee. “In Rotary he is currently serving as club president. Someone had to bow out and he graciously stepped up to serve for the 2019-2020 year.”
A native to the Southside of Indianapolis, Powell attended Southport High School, graduating in 1964. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree in journalism from Ball State University, where he also received his master’s degree in public affairs. Powell then received a business degree from the University of Indianapolis.
He began his career at WISH-TV, Channel 8 in Indianapolis, followed by St. Francis Hospital Center. Powell spent 41 years with AT&T Indiana, in public and customer relations before retiring last year as government affairs and external affairs director. After retiring, he served for US Representative Trey Hollingsworth. Powell is also a member of Southland Community Church.
“I enjoy my engagement in the community,” Powell said. “I’m delighted to participate in the community and various boards. I’ve been so fortunate to have that opportunity through these boards I serve on. It’s amazing to me the people that volunteer their time and the efforts, people who volunteer in all sectors. I’m just honored to rub shoulders with these people. You become like those people with whom you associate and try to associate people with high values, high aspirations and it will make you a better person. We should all try to do that with whatever we’re doing, wherever we’re going.”
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH STEPHEN POWELL
- What do you prefer – a book, a movie or a theater play and why?
None, unfortunately, because of time restraints. I prefer reading newspapers and periodicals. Much of my reading is online. Little, if any, is fiction. Of course, nowadays, it is difficult to decipher fiction from nonfiction. Ha-ha!
- What makes you happiest?
Helping and serving others. It is amazing what you can get done when you focus on the needs of others. The same is true with helping family, friends and even strangers. And it is most satisfying when you get nothing in return. As we say in Rotary: Service Above Self. It is more than a motto.
- Which historical figure would you most like to be?
I admire those who stand on core values and principles, primarily Judeo-Christian principles and those individuals who do not waiver under pressure. That is very, very difficult to do nowadays, especially for young men and women who are tremendous pressure from the power of social media.
- If you could take three items with you to a deserted island, what would they be?
Prayer book, a seed and a shovel.
- How do you celebrate the holidays?
I usually take time to call family members. New Year’s Eve is spent at the Columbia Club celebrating and New Year’s Day is recovering and watching as many football games as possible.