James Twitchell says his success is directly linked to a community in which he strives to contribute for the better.
“I was born and raised in Terre Haute, graduated from Indiana State University, and never left Terre Haute,” Twitchell said, “so this community means a great deal to me. I have a lot of friends and family here in town.”
For eight years, Twitchell served as the Union Hospital community liaison before moving early this year to his current role as employer relations specialist for Union Hospital, where he works with employers to help keep their workers healthy.
He graduated from Terre Haute South Vigo High School in 2005, then attended ISU, where he ran track, before graduating in 2009. In 2012, he received an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Twitchell, 29, first began working at Union Hospital as an administrative intern while in college, hired by former CEO David Doerr. “I was running track at the time at Indiana State and I was working as a paid intern. After graduating, I starting working full time in the marketing department as a community benefit specialist,” he said.
He attributes his career’s start to Doerr.
“I don’t think I would be here without him. At that point in my life in college, you don’t know what direction you want to go in life, you don’t know what you want to do,” Twitchell said. “I don’t think I realized what opportunities are here (in Terre Haute) on the business side of health care,” he said. “(Doerr) introduced that to me and was just a great mentor, he is really someone I just look up to forever.”
Now, Twitchell works with business in his role as relations specialist for occupational health.
“I work with employers in the Wabash Valley on health and wellness of their employees, on-site clinics, drug screenings for employees, anything related to what employers need in the healthcare field,” Twitchell said. “We are trying to keep people out of the emergency room that do not have emergency room issues. There are a lot of costs associated with that for the employer that are unnecessary costs. It is all about prevention.”
His experience running track at the collegiate level made for a natural transition for Twitchell to coaching. From 2009 to 2014, Twitchell served as a track coach at St. Patrick Elementary School, teaching fourth- and fifth-grade students.
“I have had a lot of people along the way help me to get to where I am now, both professionally and personally,” he said. “There were a lot of coaches. I just wanted to give back because, again, without those people, I don’t think I would have got here. So, coaching was one way for me to give back” right out of college.
He has also coached basketball for 10 years at the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club.
“The former (boys and girls club) executive director, Jimmy Smith, is like a second father to me,” Twitchell said. “His late son, Travis, was my best friend growing up. Again, I just care about the youth and I am thankful to those coaches who gave me a chance growing up, so I am just trying to do good by them.
“Kids need guidance, and if I can impact one kid, then I feel my time was well-spent,” he said. “I think kids need somebody outside of the home setting to believe in them and give them the opportunity to show them how to be successful in the next stage of life, which doesn’t have to be athletically, but just as a person. I think that is really important.”
Outside athletics, Twitchell serves as the board chair of Junior Achievement of the Wabash Valley. He has a connection with Junior Achievement through his mother, Kathy, who has been a teacher for the past 36 years at Forest Park Elementary School in Brazil. She annually invites Junior Achievement volunteers come to her classroom, “so my mom, in that sense, inspired me to be involved with this organization,” he said.
His father, Tim Twitchell, is an estimator for Garmong Construction Co. Sister Kristy (Twitchell) Seliger, who also ran track at ISU before graduating in 2012, now works at North American Lighting Co. in Paris, Ill.
Twitchell volunteers in other areas, as well, serving as the chair of the community impact committee for the YMCA Vigo County Advisory Council. He’s also a member of the Vigo County Tobacco Coalition and Better Health Wabash Valley, plus he’s part of the welcome team at Maryland Community Church.
“This is my community and I feel like Terre Haute has provided me with an unbelievable amount of opportunity,” Twitchell said. “My employer has provided me with opportunity and I am proud to have a degree from ISU and a degree from Indiana Wesleyan. It means a lot to represent Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley and try to make a difference.”
Jill Dugan-Miller, director of public relations and marketing for Union Health System, nominated Twitchell for the award.
“James reported to me before he was promoted, so he worked in late 2014 and through early 2015,” Dugan-Miller said. “I was just so impressed with his level of involvement in the community. His passion for this community is really exceptional. He really has heart and a passion to make it better and healthier.”