Charles McKinney Jr.

If Charles McKinney Jr. didn’t live in Indianapolis, he might not have been able to make such a big impact.

“I’ve lived in multiple places, and the ability to make an impact in Indianapolis is what makes this city special,” said McKinney. “If you have a topic you’re passionate about, being connected to the right people is not an issue here.”

McKinney’s impacts are numerous. He credits his past employer, Indianapolis Power & Light Company, for providing opportunities ranging from harvesting food at Indy Urban Acres and membership on United Way’s Emerging Leaders Steering Committee to park beautification and building homes for Habitat for Humanity. He also devotes his time to organizations that promote community building such as United Way’s Diversity Leadership Circle, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis, The Exchange at the Indianapolis Urban League and the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.

Why does McKinney give so much to the community? “My children are a big inspiration for me. I want to be someone they look up to and someone who shows them that it is not just about us,” he explained. “I raise my kids to be empowered and speak their mind. There is always something to do, and I never want to be complacent. I’m trying to create a place where my children can grow and raise their families in an environment that is inclusive and equal.”

McKinney especially enjoys the opportunity to help people directly, such as stocking housewarming baskets for homeless neighbors transitioning to their first home and supporting students at the MLK Community Center. “When you see that smile or look of relief, it’s all worth it. You will never be able to replicate that feeling of making someone know you care about them…It’s amazing,” said McKinney.

“Most important thing in my life is to be a great father and husband, second is creating a place that is inclusive to everyone. Giving back is huge to me, many have given back to me over the course of my life and it’s in me, it’s in all of us, to give back.”