Scecina graduate Angela Espada heads Indiana Catholic Conference

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Angela Espada outside the Indiana Statehouse, where she works as executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference to promote public policies Catholics care about.


By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

On workdays when the state legislature is in session, Scecina graduate Angela Espada heads to the Indiana Statehouse. Her first task each day is to look over the bills that have been filed since the day before. If any are of interest to the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC), she’ll talk with the bill sponsors or committee chairs and members.

One bill that caught her attention recently, for example, would lower from 13 to 12 the age that a juvenile could be waived to adult criminal court.  As executive director of the ICC, she voiced the church’s opposition to this legislation.

In cases of 12-year-olds committing a serious crime, she said, society needs to intervene with compassion to try to prevent it from happening in the future, instead of sending the child to adult court.

(At this writing, the bill had passed the Indiana Senate and went to the House, despite strong opposition from the ICC and other organizations and individuals.)

Espada, a lawyer and former deputy prosecutor for Marion County, now is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana.

She’s the lead lobbyist at the Indiana Legislature for policies that Catholics care about, including defense of religious freedom and school vouchers. The ICC executive director articulates the Church’s position on key issues and speaks for the bishops of all five dioceses in Indiana.

“Protecting the common good, the dignity of life, and the dignity of the person will always be our core principles,” she said.

“Not surprisingly, given her Catholic education background, Angela is a very intelligent and gifted woman with many professional and personable attributes that will serve her well in the unique roll of Executive Director of the Indiana Catholic Conference,” said the Most Rev. Charles C. Thompson, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Angela Espada

Angela Espada ’79

“In addition to her rather vast experience prior to coming to the ICC, her strong Catholic faith will serve her very well in this position.  The bishops of Indiana are thrilled to have found someone like Angela to succeed the long-time service of Glenn Tebbe,” he said.  “Given her many talents and Catholic witness, she is a wonderful blessing to the Church and others throughout Indiana.”

Angela’s appointment was especially newsworthy as she became the first woman to lead the ICC since its inception in 1966, and the first woman of color to hold a Catholic conference directorship in the nation. It’s a distinction she takes seriously.

“It shows that the Church is becoming more diverse and inclusive,” she said.

“In my past professional life, I was the associate vice chancellor at IUPUI for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” she said. “These aspects are important to me in my personal, professional, and spiritual life.”

The school voucher program is an important legislative priority for the archdiocese and for Scecina. Many families, Catholic and non-Catholic, use the program to send their children to Scecina.

Ms. Espada encourages parents and others to get involved in supporting vouchers at the legislative level.

“Parents and interested parties should not rely on the schools, and churches or organizations like INPEA (Indiana Non-Public Education Association) to do all the work,” she said.  “They all should be advocates and engage with their elected representatives about the importance and need for vouchers.”

The ICC position is another twist in Angela’s interesting career path.  She’s been able to have great jobs, yet only accepts positions that allow her to be present for her family.

“I left the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office because I did not want to have trials that lasted until midnight when I was expecting my daughter,” she said.

She and her husband also were therapeutic foster parents for a niece and nephew, and Angela cared for her brother and mother while they were going through palliative care and hospice. She relied on faith and her belief in God, as well as her love of family, to meet the challenges and changes of work.

To Scecina students (or anyone!), she offers this work and life advice:

“Be open to change and be curious. What you think you want to do now may not be that appealing to you after you leave Scecina. If that happens, do not panic. You have time to figure it out and it is OK to change your mind or to not know what you want to do.”


Alumni Spotlight

Name: Angela M. (Grigsby) Espada

Year of Scecina Graduation: 1979

College/University: University of Indianapolis, Indiana University Bloomington, and Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Degree: Bachelor of Arts and Associate of Arts (UIndy), Master of Science in Higher Education and Student Affairs (IUB), and Juris Doctor (IU Maurer School of Law)

Current Position: Executive director, Indiana Catholic Conference

Former Positions: Marion County Deputy Prosecutor; Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity Equity and Inclusion at IUPUI, Associate Dean of Students at IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law; consultant.  



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