On this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent chats with J T. Forbes, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana University Alumni Association and President of the Indiana University Foundation. J T. is the first person in 86 years to hold both titles at IU.
Catch the full episode here or read on for the highlights.
Highlights from this episode
J T. was a drum major at Terre Haute South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana. At Terre Haute, he ran for student leadership positions without much success. But his unlucky election streak ended when he enrolled at Indiana University.
In J T.’s words, IU is a place where if a student shows up prepared, willing to put in the work, with the humility to listen, then “the whole place opens up as a fertile environment to learn how to be a leader.” J T. eventually served as Student Body President for an IU student base of over 25,000.
J T. served as Assistant Vice President for Government and State Relations at IU, and his experience at the intersection of public policy and education led him to Cummins. Once, while on Capitol hill during the US-Brazil CEO Forum, he lost his ID and was five minutes late to meet then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t too pleased, but he “was a goldfish” and everything turned out alright.
J T. has a deep love for IU. Early on in his career, he told IU President Myles Brand, “I love this place so much. How can I advance in my career here?” President Brand told him bluntly, “Go someplace else. You need experience beyond your alma mater.” J T. says it was the best advice he’s ever received. (He is a three-time boomerang back to the place he loves most.)
J T. strongly believes that we need to stop talking about big dollars and start talking about big problems and big impact.
J T. has a reputation for being the best-dressed man on the CASE conference circuit. But on this episode, he reveals that he switches between two black suits to simplify his morning routine. He wants to save his daily mental energy to focus on how to make IU a more accessible, sustainable, thriving institution.
More about J T.
J Thomas Forbes, BA’90, MPA’96, was appointed chief executive officer of the Indiana University Alumni Association in June 2010. He returned to IU after a stint in the private sector, where he served as director of state government relations for Cummins Inc. and as a principal private sector staff leader for the United States–Brazil CEO Forum.
An experienced higher education leader, J T. has served in communications, marketing, public affairs, and government relations roles at IU and Michigan State University and provided consulting on these issues for other major public research and land grant colleges. His service to the advancement field includes work as a Consulting Vice President for Grenzebach Glier and Associates philanthropic consultants and active service with the Council of Alumni Association Executives (CAAE) and Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). A two-term CAAE, JT. also is a member of the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations, chair of the CASE Summer Institute in Alumni Relations, and active on the CASE Alumni Engagement Metrics Task Force.
As a student, J T. was president of the student body on the IU Bloomington campus, founded the All University Student Assembly to unify IU students from all campuses, and served as a trustee of Indiana University.
A life member of the IU Alumni Association, he is married to Martha Shedd and has three adult children.