If Dr. Ellen Miller had one wish for the future of the Central Indiana, she would wish for a more unified effort to identify and address ageism and age discrimination. “As a society we tend to be very conscious of the different “isms” – racism, sexism, etc., but often ageism is something that isn’t as talked about.”
As associate provost at the University of Indianapolis and executive director of the university's Center for Aging & Community (CAC), Miller has worked across the state of Indiana to influence policy, implement best practices and change the perception of aging. Under Miller's direction, CAC has worked to improve the quality of life for Hoosiers who live in long-term care facilities through a series of ISDH-funded quality improvement efforts, which have led to national recognition, decreased health care costs and improvement in health outcomes.
Miller was drawn to the University of Indianapolis 27 years ago in large part because of the university’s motto, “Education for Service”. Servant leadership has always been a huge part of Miller’s life, due to how her parents modeled the values of service and giving back. Similarly, Miller has also raised her children to understand that volunteering is a great responsibility. “I am very conscious of the many great opportunities I have received in my life and it is my privilege to help those who aren’t as blessed.”
Some of Miller's contributions to a better aging experience in Indiana include her leadership in the Elders at the Table movement, which first studied and then led action to improve the access of Central Indiana seniors to nutritious meals. She oversaw an aging-in-place initiative, funded by the Indiana Division of Aging, that brought the concept of "Communities for a Lifetime" (CFL) to seven communities around the state. CFL brought together various community stakeholders for discussions and actions related to making Indiana communities places of welcome and vibrancy for our oldest citizens.
Miller’s advice for people who are interested in becoming involved in the community or volunteering is to discover areas of interest and passion. “It’s hard to go very far in Central Indiana without finding opportunities to get involved, whether it’s as a group or individually. It takes courage, but volunteering is an important part of being an engaged citizen.” Recognition and awareness that “isms”, such as ageism, exists is the first step.