BY BARB BERGGOETZ
As the public face of new Mayor John Hamilton’s administration, Mary Catherine Carmichael is front and center in all the goings-on.
She has long made an impact by spending much of her time and energy enhancing the arts, social services, and economic development in Bloomington.
And clearly, she’s not finished.
“Hopefully, looking back, it will be a nice body of work,” she says about her community efforts since moving here 25 years ago.
In January, Carmichael, 54, was appointed Hamilton’s interim communications director after serving as his assistant campaign director. The two got to know each other as neighbors 15 years ago.
Carmichael savors the chance to serve. “There are so many moving pieces in city government — it’s amazing,” she says. “It’s very different every day.”
But she’s used to community service, often as a volunteer. She’s been board president of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation and Bloomington Board of Park Commissioners. She has also served on the Bloomington Area Arts Council, the Hoosier Youth Philharmonic, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, and has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
Raising money, she says, is one of her strengths. She led teams in 2014–15 that raised $102,000 for local groups, including the Hoosier Youth Philharmonic and CASA.“I don’t know why people still take my phone calls,” she jokes.
Carmichael credits her late mother, Audrey Brown, for setting a good example as an active volunteer for Meals on Wheels, the American Red Cross, and other initiatives.
“That sense of service and obligation you owe to the community — she lived it,” says Carmichael, who grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. “I went everywhere with her.”
Carmichael also is well known for hosting, as a volunteer, two WFIU public service programs, Ask the Mayor for 10 years and Noon Edition with The Herald-Times Editor-in-Chief Bob Zaltsberg for nearly 20 years.
“I loved it. The programs provided the public with access to people they wouldn’t have otherwise,” says Carmichael, who also was the on-air host for four years during WTIU fund drives. “I really believe in public television and radio.”
Carmichael is proud of her five-year stint, ending in 2011, as paid director of Leadership Bloomington-Monroe County, a course for emerging leaders. She says she increased participation and, as a result, boosted the impact of the leaders’ service projects.
But, she says, her greatest accomplishment is her son, Dylan, 18, an Indiana University student, whom she’s also encouraging to become community-minded. “He’s my best work,” she says.