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Diane Arnold

Executive Director, Hawthorne Community Center

Diane Arnold, executive director of the Hawthorne Community Center, has been working to improve the lives of those in her community for more than 40 years. What makes Hawthorne so different from other community centers, Arnold says, “it’s very much a big family.”

The Center for Service and Learning has played a large role in this family over the years providing funding, guidance, and resources to maintain a long-standing relationship with the Near Westside community.

“CSL and the university legitimize our efforts,” Arnold says. “With their support, we are not just a little community. They strengthen our position.”

Arnold is an IUPUI graduate receiving a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in social work. She has maintained close ties with the university and praises CSL’s consistent partnership with Hawthorne. This partnership was especially appreciated when CSL helped reopen George Washington High School, which opened in 2001, after many Indianapolis Public Schools were closed. GWHS continues to be a main community partner for CSL staff, faculty, and students. (Learn more about our partnership and research opportunities with GWHS.)

“The university helped a great deal to fight the system with us,” Arnold says. “Hawthorne had the passion to reopen these schools, and IUPUI had the resources and clout to back us.”

Arnold seeks out CSL’s expertise whenever there is a need because the staff sits down with her, listens to her concerns, and works to problem solve. CSL has connected Hawthorne with a number of student volunteers including America Reads* America Counts tutors, Sam H. Jones service scholars and interns, student athletes, and even dental students working in Hawthorne’s various community programs.

Arnold says CSL has also been an active partner in the Great Indy Neighborhoods Initiatives (GINI) Quality of Life Plan, which works to better public safety, economic development, education, health, and other improvements to Indianapolis neighborhoods.

“Partnerships often times can be one-sided,” Arnold says. “This partnership has lasted so long because it is fruitful for both the community and the university. Our mutual respect is what makes the partnership so powerful.”