Wendy (Willock) Puffer, born in 1960, is a native of Seoul, South Korea. As an infant, she was discovered by an officer on the steps of a city hall who then took her to an orphanage until an American family adopted her at the age of 11 mos. She mainly grew up in Terre Haute, IN, with 5 siblings, (4 adopted from varying continents).
After graduating from Terre Haute South Vigo, she earned an Interior Design BA from Indiana State University and an Interior Design Master’s at Ball State. Recently, she earned an MFA in Design Thinking from Radford University, VA, completing a thesis on the topic of the Impact of the University on a Downtown Community.
Before pursuing her Master’s, she worked for Campus Crusade for Christ for 10 years. During that time, she met her husband, Keith, and after marrying and moving to Chicago, they moved to Marion (with one daughter and one on the way) so Keith could accept a position at Indiana Wesleyan University. While raising three children, Wendy led bible studies, taught Sunday School, led PTO, and volunteered for school activities. She helped originate Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) which began with a conversation between two friends in her living room.
After completing her Masters, Wendy taught design courses as an adjunct professor at IWU. During that time, she volunteered to write the Interior Design undergraduate curriculum for two years outside teaching responsibilities. While office hours were not required, Wendy made an office in an art closet and held office hours to mentor students. She became a full-time professor once the Interior Design major was launched, and served on the board of the American Society of Interior Designers (President in 2016 – 17).
Wendy later helped transition Interior Design into a socially driven program, Design for Social Impact, and wrote the curriculum. As she developed relationships with the Marion community and leaders, her heart turned toward empathetically empowering those who call Marion home. As an intentional byproduct, Marion Design Co. was born. Wendy, alongside two other professors, Herb V. Peterson and Luke Anspach, created a volunteer movement to provide student interns enrichment by engaging in the community. “I wanted to connect students with our city.” said Wendy. “The more engaged I was, the more awestruck I became of Marion’s beauty. There’s nothing more beautiful than standing atop the Marion National Bank building and looking across our city. Our landscape is gorgeous! The people enhance the natural beauty not always recognized beyond the surface.” Wendy and teammates organized an array of community conversations over meals, which helped them develop a strategy for their program. Wendy donated personal resources and provided housing for interns, and continues to do so.
Wendy offers design consultation, and volunteers with Main Street Marion, the Downtown Roundtable, and other local associations. She serves as the VP of Strategy & Evaluation for the Grant County Economic Growth Council. That role “allows me to serve our county by looking ahead and supporting initiatives while gazing back and evaluating what we’re doing, learn from it and make improvements. I am a champion for potential. I want to be a catalyst to help others realize what they have how they can influence positive change.”