A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Barbara ‘Barb’ Young

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Barbara ‘Barb’ Young

Barbara “Barb” Young serves as the director of the Mike Anderson Chevrolet Event Center in the Dean and Barbara White Event Center of Merrillville.

In her role, Young is tasked with coordinating events and ensuring they run as smoothly as possible. She also focuses on creating mutually beneficial relationships between the event center and its sponsors. 

Young finds her job incredibly rewarding, as her efforts are a vital part of the event center's success.

“I serve as the director of the Mike Anderson Chevrolet Event Center,” said Young. “My role involves coordinating social and corporate nonprofit events and developing sponsorship programs to support our special events committees. My previous experiences with catering and sales brought me to where I am today, and I thoroughly enjoy every moment of it, regardless of my age."

Young’s journey began in the food and beverage industry, where she created marketing strategies and navigated challenges for restaurants and hotels.

"I started in restaurants and worked my way through hotels and sales, accumulating valuable experience that led me to join several chambers of commerce and become actively involved," said Young. "I served on various committees in special events and ambassador roles, allowing me to connect with numerous individuals. Managing banquet facilities further expanded my network. Ultimately, my experience led me here, particularly when the Dean and Barbara White Community Center opened.”

One of the things she enjoys most about joining the Dean and Barbara White Center is the opportunity to contribute to its success from the ground up, having been with the center since its opening in March 2021.

"They built this beautiful recreation facility, including a nearly 10,000 square foot event center, but they needed someone to oversee the startup and operations," said Young. "I was fortunate to be brought in from the beginning despite not being known to them initially. My extensive network within the Town of Merrillville and support from council members played a crucial role in getting the position. It's been an incredible three-year journey overseeing this startup business."

Interestingly, Young was retired before accepting this job. During her retirement, she had just started her own gourmet basket business when the opportunity came.

"When I was approached to help set up the event center, I eagerly jumped at the opportunity," said Young. "Returning to this field has been incredibly rewarding, and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. Being involved in a startup business is exhilarating; I've always enjoyed taking ventures from the ground level to success, just like I did with restaurants in the past. Over the last three years, we've seen continuous growth, attracting more people."

One of the ways she ensures the continued success of the event center is by teaching others how to run it effectively.

"Delegation is crucial for effective leadership in any role," said Young. ”Knowing when and whom to delegate to, and what to retain control over, is key. I've brought in a young lady whom I've trained to manage social events and calendars, allowing me to focus on what I excel at. The real challenge lies in filling an event center or banquet facility throughout the week, and that’s where my strengths lie. Being able to bring capable people to assist has been significant to our success so far, and we're seeing positive results."

As a committee member for the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce, Young came up with the idea of giving an award for the Employee of the Year.

"One of the newer events we've started, about three years ago, is the Employee of the Year award," said Young. "It was my suggestion when we first opened, recognizing the need to honor outstanding employees alongside our volunteer awards. I had someone specific in mind when proposing this award, and I was fortunate to see it established as the Star Award. It was satisfying to see the person I had hoped would win receive the award.”

During her spare time, Young finds enjoyment in the company of her friends and engaging in activities that bring refreshment to her life.

“I'm out all the time socializing with my friends and enjoying life with the neighbors,” said Young. ”The simpler things you do as you get older are the most important. It is just being around friends and family and enjoying that part of your life when you get to this stage of life.”

Young describes the best part of her job as the opportunity to create memorable events, bringing people together and contributing to the community. 

"I'm absolutely in love with Merrillville,” said Young. “I adore my job and everyone who visits our facility. We have the best residents here in Merrillville, and I firmly believe it. Forming genuine friendships with people is such a rewarding aspect of this job. Even daily at our recreation center, we have many people who feel like family to us. That, without a doubt, is the most wonderful part of this job."

For more information, follow this Facebook page Merrillville Parks and Recreation and website merrillville.in.gov to stay updated.