Invest Hamilton County

Featured Business Leader

April Featured Leader
April 14, 2023

Andrew Bradford

Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer, Conner Prairie

President of the Board, Hamilton County Leadership Academy (HCLA)

Q: What is something you would like the community to know about HCLA?

A: HCLA has been an anchor institution in this community for over 30 years leading and developing many of the incredible assets our community enjoys today. Our community leaders, of which over 800 are HCLA Alumni, are at the helm of nearly every nonprofit, private, public and governmental agency in the region. We are proud of our legacy and eager for our future as catalysts for inclusive community growth.

Q: What are your short- and long-term goals for HCLA? 

A: The board of directors recently authorized a new strategic framework focusing on our mission to serve community by amplifying impact and empowering community members with access to people and insights into the operations of Hamilton County. Our short-term goals are to continue embracing our learning models for community building and to remain flexible in responding to our communities greatest needs. In the long term, we are eager focus on people, programming and finances – all three of which are critical to supporting our values of community, learning and strategic adaptability.

Q: What is something you have learned while serving as President of the HCLA Board?

A: Leading change requires authenticity. This was my first time stepping into a Board Chair role for a nonprofit, with a term that included on-boarding a new Executive Director and developing, implementing and executing a new Strategic Framework. It was quickly apparent that this would not be a job done alone. I have always subscribed to the leadership philosophy that you must first understand how to lead yourself before you can lead others and then ultimately lead business results. With the level of impact HCLA has in the community it was quickly apparent that I needed to lead with authenticity in order to lean into my fellow board members and community leaders who have helped support the last year of work with HCLA. The opportunities for HCLA are vast, but it takes focus and intention from the board and leadership team to appropriately impact community.

Q: Why is a program like HCLA important to our community? 

A: HCLA is a program that our community and employers can rely on to help develop leaders and retain talent. As we all continue to face workforce challenges, HCLA can be called on to ensure our best and brightest are being developed into strong community leaders. Whether those leaders are guiding civic work or leading organizations, we all need to have a deeply rooted understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing Hamilton County so we can ensure inclusive economic growth.

Q: What do you think Hamilton County’s greatest asset is?

A: Hamilton County has positioned itself as a community overflowing with amenities and opportunity. It has the infrastructure to support world class park systems, cultural institutions, businesses and schools. Our growth now, for the next 200 years, will need to focus on who gets access to these assets and the ways in which we can become more welcoming to a diversity of voices and communities.

Q: What one organization in Hamilton County (aside from HCLA) would you like the community to know more about and why?

A: Can I highlight three, if I go really quick? The first is “A Kid Again” – this organization is supporting entire families and communities who have youth facing life-threatening illnesses. The second is “Youth Assistance Program” – this county wide effort to support youth ages 3-17 who are facing hardship is a key to early prevention and long-term success. The third is “PFLAG” – the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families.

Q: What is your professional role?

A: I serve as the vice president, chief advancement officer at Conner Prairie. In this role I lead a team responsible for advancing external relationships and partnerships through fundraising, marketing, membership, guest services and evaluation efforts; and as part of the executive leadership team of the Museum, I work everyday to find creative ways to redefine how the world views and uses Museums.

Q: What is your favorite place/activity in Hamilton County and why?

A: I am a sucker for a quiet reflective moment at the Conner Prairie when no one else is here, but that’s not the answer you’re looking for in this article! My favorite place would be anywhere my husband and I can watch our kids be kids – whether that’s Flowing Well Park, Sun King Brewery and the Midtown Plaza, Conner Prairie, home or Noblesville Square.