Caterina Cregor Blitzer
Executive Director, International Center of Indianapolis, 1996-2006
A native of Italy, Caterina is a transformational civic leader who helped guide The Center through a period of growth as Indiana became increasingly diverse.
In the early 1990s, the Indiana Humanities Council established a task force to support and shape the future of Indiana’s international impact. Together, they helped establish the International School of Indiana—and called for a community-wide movement to develop and revitalize international resources including The International Center of Indianapolis.
These efforts emanated from a position paper written for Lilly Endowment, Inc. in 1989 by a consultant named Caterina Cregor Blitzer. On January 3, 1995, Caterina became the Director of International Programs at the Indiana Humanities Council, where she managed the Indiana International Forum and encouraged conversations about international relations. Caterina’s dedication to a global Indiana eventually led to her becoming the Executive Director of The International Center.
But Caterina’s work as a global citizen didn’t start with her career. Born to an American serviceman and an Italian mother, Caterina always had international connections. Born in Trieste, Italy, her family lived in Italy, Austria and Germany before moving to New Rochelle, New York at age eight.
As a teenager, she followed her mother to Indianapolis, where she attended Indiana University and majored in French, German and Italian. She graduated as a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society and then went on to earn her Master’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, Caterina worked in Tübingen, Germany at the University and at the Max Planck Institut before eventually returning to Indiana.
Caterina’s career was marked by a variety of distinguished positions in both the public and private sectors. She worked in economic and international development for both municipal and state governments. She led multiple firms and corporations, served as a board member for various organizations and even managed her own translation and consulting business.
Throughout her career, Caterina crossed paths with many local leaders in international development, all while The International Center was first taking shape. Although her direct involvement with The Center began at the Indiana Humanities Council, she quickly became the decisive leader that The International Center needed.
“From the beginning of my professional life in Indianapolis, it’s been so rewarding to watch the development and the growth of The International Center,” said Caterina.
Under Caterina’s direction, The International Center was re-established as an independent, non-profit organization. Her passion for international affairs helped revitalize The Center, bolstering its programs and quadrupling its staff.
“It didn’t take long for me to understand that my heart lay with the action-oriented, people-facing, hard work on the street of The International Center, and I chose that direction to take,” said Caterina. “Heroes really came forward to respond to: ‘What can The International Center be?’”
Remarkably, Caterina managed to accomplish all of this while also balancing life as a full-time mother and long-time community volunteer. She credits her success to her children—who rose to the occasion while she was a single parent—and her mother, who helped Caterina when work kept her from home.
Caterina’s immeasurable contributions to the globalization of Indiana truly embodied the mission of The International Center. When Caterina became The Center’s director, she said: “This position is a prime opportunity to foster international awareness and growth in our city and state. I consider that mission vital to the cultural and economic well-being of Indiana.” As director, her goal was always to contribute toward making Indianapolis an international destination and an engaged and welcoming – global community—and the past two decades bear witness to the ever-growing importance of The International Center of Indianapolis.