Melissa Fairbanks is the Director of the Center for Business and Economic Development (CBED) at Indiana University – Purdue University in Columbus, Indiana. Melissa’s charter is to build business relationships with corporations and organizations in Columbus and throughout South Central Indiana by providing a portfolio of business services and leveraging university faculty, staff and regional subject matter experts. These business services include over 25 executive education and management development seminars and certification programs, management consulting and coaching, and supporting entrepreneurship, innovation, business start-ups and professional networking events.
Melissa brings over 30 years of experience in C-level business ownership, operational management, sales, marketing, and training expertise with manufacturing, broadcasting, in-home healthcare and publishing corporations. She started her career at the number one rated CBS affiliate in the United States, WWL-TV, Channel 4, located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Melissa ascended from CBS Marketing Executive to Director of Operations for the award winning “NewsWatch on Channel 15”. Concurrent with responsibilities at the CBS affiliate, Melissa was Adjunct Professor of Management Communication with the Tulane University A.B. Freeman School of Business for six years.
Melissa transitioned to manufacturing with Cummins Engine Company (now Cummins Inc.) serving as Internal Communication Manager, functioning as business leader for the Cummins Communication Network (CCN) intranet web site; Dealer Communication Manager, responsible for Cummins communication effort aimed at original equipment manufacturers; Manager of Broadcast Communication, with additional responsibility added for sales force skills training. Responsibilities included automotive, industrial, marine, and oil and gas training broadcasts on Cummins Television Network (coordinating pre-production broadcast details, broadcast content, presenters, rehearsals, pre-tapings, conducting on-air interviews, and serving as program host), producing corporate marketing videos, as well as hosting semi-annual sales & marketing orientation training events for North American corporate and distributor employees. Melissa achieved certification as a sales training facilitator and served as global relationship manager between Cummins and Acclivus, a selling skills training corporation. Her presence assured corporate marketing messages were clearly and consistently presented to factory, distributor, dealer, and customer audiences. To deepen her knowledge of customer support excellence, Melissa served as Parts and Service Regional Manager assigned to two of the largest Cummins distributor territories, Cummins Crosspoint and Cummins Mid-South.
Melissa joined Pearson, Inc., the world’s largest educational publisher, as a Solutions Consultant for Pearson Learning Solutions. Customer focused, she produced custom learning solutions for government, association, and corporate customers. As a member of the Pearson ITT Technical Institute account team, her responsibilities included eBook development and instructor resource center content management. She served as Client Services Coordinator for the Independent Electrical Contractor Association (IEC) with day to day responsibility for more than sixty IEC chapters and associate members.
Melissa opened the Columbus, IN office of Comfort Keepers, an in-home, non-medical healthcare company specializing in 24/7 care of the elderly and other clients requiring assistance to remain independent at home. Serving as Owner/General Manager, the company was recognized as national rookie office of the year exceeding all expectations for growth and employee development. Melissa sold the franchise after three years for a 550% return on investment.
Melissa and her husband, John, live in Columbus, Indiana and are actively involved in community programs, boards, and service organizations. They raised two sons currently attending Butler University and Western Michigan University.
• Economic Development Board of Columbus, IN
• ASPIRE - Johnson County Economic Development, Franklin, IN
• Jackson County Education Coalition, Seymour, IN
• American Red Cross Leadership Council – Bartholomew County
• American Red Cross – Southern Indiana Board Member
• Columbus Indiana Philharmonic – Vice President / Board Member
• Indiana University Council For Regional Engagement & Economic Development (CREED)
• Monday Literary Club - Member
• Columbus Indiana Rotary Club – Public Relations Chair / Board Member
• President (Two Terms) - Columbus Area Arts Council
• President - Monday Literary Club
• Commissioner - City of Columbus Animal Care Services
• Board Member - United Cerebral Palsy of New Orleans
• Director of Development - Foundation for Youth
• Volunteer - Boy Scouts of America (both sons Eagle Scouts)
• Member - Columbus Service League, Girl Scouts, 4-H
My Cummins Worldwide Contributor Award
Most Promising Salesperson Award by the Advertising Club of New Orleans
Distinguished Service Award from Turning Point Domestic Violence Services
North American Comfort Keepers Franchise Rookie of the Year
Education & Certifications:
BA, Communication, Indiana University (1987 - Bloomington, IN)
MA, Organizational Communication, The University of South Florida (1990 - Tampa, FL)
Six Sigma Green Belt Certified (2009)
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Certified Practitioner (2017)
EQi 2.0 / 360 Emotional Intelligence Certified Practitioner (2018)