Champion of the Month

Wendy Puffer Share

Apr 5, 2018  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

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.” 

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