Reflecting on his political time as 3rd Ward City Councilman for LaPorte, Ind., David Pendergast ’76 is quick to credit lessons learned from Culver Academies.
March 24, 2015

“Although I didn’t hold any high leadership roles, every experience I had at Culver, good or bad, is something I use every day in my life. During my time at Culver, I also learned that there is good leadership and there is bad leadership, and I aspire to be one of those good leaders.”

Unlike some political figures, Pendergast didn’t decide to enter public office to better his career. As an outspoken advocate for contributing to his community, he felt like it was his opportunity to give back.

Alumni Magazine Extra: Answering the Call

From 1996 to 2000, Pendergast helped develop an industrial park that took 15 years to fully complete. The construction started in 1996 and is today one of Pendergast’s biggest accomplishments. To see the park continue to grow and create new jobs for others is something he continues to take great pride in. “If I learned anything from economic development, it was ‘build it and they will come’ and we did that.”

After being elected as a city councilman, Pendergast quickly became president, which is one heartbeat away from mayor. He was also appointed Park Board Liaison and Tree Commissioner, but that was because, according to Pendergast, “I missed a meeting one day and came back to find out they signed me up. Suffice it to say, I didn’t miss another meeting after that.”

Beyond popular belief, not all political positions are 9-to-5 jobs. Pendergast’s role as city councilman was actually a part-time gig while working for Edward D. Jones & Co. as a stockbroker was his full-time career.

“The greatest thing Culver did for me was teach me time management. To be able to manage a part-time job, a full-time job, as well as a family is a huge thing,” Pendergast said. “Culver taught me that time management will help me be very successful.”

With great accomplishments comes challenging experiences. Every decision made has a different effect on people. Some will benefit positively from the outcome, while there will still be others negatively impacted.

“Even though it may have been the right decision for the community as a whole, you have to figure out how to help those people it negatively impacted and be compassionate to their feelings,” Pendergast said. “It’s all about helping your neighbors to have a better life. If someone came to you with an issue and you helped them resolve it, well that was very rewarding.”

Alumni Magazine Extra

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