Former Staffer Eric Richards Says Working at IHQ Helped Him Find His Passion for Nonprofits, Giving Back

Eric Richards said his time on staff at Lambda Chi Alpha’s International Headquarters opened up a whole new world to him.

In this world, he leads the largest boots-on-the-ground non-profit cancer organization in Indiana and has been dubbed one of Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40, making him one of three former staff members with that honor.

Richards was on staff at Lambda Chi Alpha for five years. He worked as an educational leadership consultant after graduating from Franklin College in 1999 before serving as a risk manager, director of Chapter Services and development director for the Educational Foundation.

“I met some really outstanding brothers during my time and learned how important an entrepreneurial spirit is to be successful in life,” Richards said. “The leadership at the time — Bob London, Andy Longo, Kip Zurcher and Tom Helmbock — really allowed us to put our own stamp on the work we did. I think that made what we were putting out on the chapter and alumni level better and created a lot of buy-in.”

He has worked at several places since then, but nothing really compares to what it was like to work at International Headquarters, he said.

“I can tell you firsthand, as an employee, you don’t always get those opportunities,” he said. “My experience at IHQ definitely made me the person I am today.”

Photos courtesy of Eric Richards

As President and CEO of Cancer Support Community Central Indiana, he leads a team of dedicated, passionate individuals who work to provide free services to more than 5,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year.

Richards hadn’t even thought about a career in nonprofits until he worked at Lambda Chi. The experience altered his path entirely.

He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in philanthropic studies from Indiana University, and found a passion for serving those impacted by cancer.

“It’s a disease that will touch each of us during our lifetime and it’s an honor to be a helping hand for so many facing this terrible disease,” he said.

Two years ago, the IBJ named Richards to its 40 under 40 list.

“First of all, for the Indianapolis Business Journal to recognize that the non-profit sector is indeed a part of the business community is phenomenal,” he said.

The annual list often includes prominent local celebrities, like former star basketball player and coach Stephanie White, award-winning author John Green and Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck.

It is absolutely absurd to Richards that he is on such a list.

“It’s been so humbling,” he said. “To know there were more than a dozen folks who took the time to write letters on my behalf is just so unbelievable.”

But what is even more important to Richards is the light the recognition shined on the local cancer community and the work his organization does.

He believes while it is important that individuals give back to their community, it is equally important to give back to the organizations that made them who they are today. For him, that is Lambda Chi Alpha.

“It’s important we give back to allow others the opportunity to experience Lambda Chi Alpha the way I did,” he said. “I tell everyone I interact with, regardless of fraternity or sorority affiliation, they should consider working for the headquarters staff. It was a coming of age story for someone like me.”

Richards is one of three former staff members to earn a coveted spot on Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list. We are highlighting each of them to show you how their experience at Lambda Chi Alpha’s International Headquarters helped shape their success. 

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