Podcast: ValpoNEXT- A Short History and Where We Are Headed with Thais Carter

Thais Carter

ValpoNEXT Coordinator Kathy Sipple speaks with Thais Carter, Board Secretary and Community Action Committee Leader for Sense of Place. They discuss the timeline of how ValpoNEXT came to be, the reasons it was formed, and several essential members. The necessity for citizen engagement and volunteering is a forefront of the conversation as a whole, as well as ValpoNEXT’s dedication to communicating, convening, and celebrating. Sipple and Carter also discuss the current community boards and their main focuses, and give examples of the work that said boards are producing now.

Download a copy of the ValpoNEXT Vision Plan here.


  • 2013: City of Valparaiso launches ValpoNEXT Vision Planning process, working with PlanningNEXT as its consulting partner. Elizabeth Lynn and Matt Evans co-chair Citizen Steering Committee.
  • December 2014: Valparaiso’s City Council unanimously adopts ValpoNEXT’s Vision Plan.
  • January 2015: Evans and Lynn co-chair Implementation Task Force.
  • January 2016: Interim Oversight Committee to steward organizational start-up. City invites Garner Tullis to serve as Interim Coordinator.
  • January 2017: Organization launches with a new board.
  • November 2017: Kathy Sipple appointed Coordinator.

Community Action Committees

  • Economic Vitality
  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Nurturing Our Young People
  • Sense of Place

Transcript Notes:

“ValpoNEXT exists to convene, communicate, and celebrate the work that citizens, organizations, businesses, and city leaders are doing to help us live our shared values and dreams for our community.”

  • Podcast is an opportunity for conversations with the community action committee leaders and members, citizens, organizations and other with ideas to share and help us toward our vision to have Valparaiso be the most civically engaged city of its size.
  • ValpoNEXT is focused on the conversation regarding who we wanted to be and how to get there.
  • Garner Tullis initially served as the interim coordinator in the beginning.

ValpoNEXT is focused on civic engagement and how we care for one another, and this is a national sentiment that we implement at the local level.

  • Executive committee (updated):
    • President: Eric Zosso
    • Secretary: Thais Carter
    • Treasurer: Jeff Lewis
    • Coordinator: Kathy Sipple
  • Board represents many niches within the Valparaiso community: want this organization to speak for everyone in Valpo.
  • This initiative is a volunteer-led initiative. ValpoNEXT, a 501(C)3 only has one part-time paid worker (Kathy Sipple); every other member is a volunteer citizen.
  • ValpoNEXT requires time, care, and resources from its citizens in order to function.
  • Communicate
    • Valpo is an amazing community, and ValpoNEXT wants to make sure everyone knows what options are available to help our community.
    • Become aware of all the ways our community members are stepping up.
  • Convene
    • Get all people invested in their projects the chance to get together and refine their work.
    • Bringing together the right people will amplify our ability to share our work and celebrate successes.
  • Celebrate
  • Community Action Committees: Public aspect of how ValpoNEXT functions
    • Encourage citizen presence at these meetings.
    • Check out our Facebook page to find the times and locations!
  • Current Community Action Committees
    • Economic Vitality
    • Equity and Inclusion
    • Nurturing Our Young People
    • Sense of Place
  • Land bank: Land banks are governmental entities or nonprofit corporations that are focused on the conversion of vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties into productive use (Center for Community Progress)
    • ValpoNEXT will not create a land bank, but will provide information for passionate citizens so that they know how to achieve success.
  • Citizens who want to get involved but don’t know where to start can begin with ValpoNEXT.
    • Talk about what we want for our neighbors and for our families.

Getting Involved!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *