INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development is stepping down after serving for more than four years.

Governor Eric Holcomb made the announcement Wednesday after the United Way of Central Indiana announced that Fred Payne will become the organization’s next president and CEO. Gov. Holcomb said Payne has helped propel the department since becoming appointed as commissioner in 2017.

“From the moment he stepped up to lead the Department of Workforce Development, Fred Payne put his wealth of knowledge, innovative approach, and contagious optimism to work,” said Gov. Holcomb. “Throughout the unforeseen challenges of the past few years, Fred has adeptly propelled this agency to provide not only unemployment benefits, but training that has helped thousands of Hoosiers pursue training pathways that have led to careers and helped unleash their full potential.”

Payne replaces outgoing United Way President and CEO Ann Murtlow, who retires June 30 after nine years with the nonprofit. After Murtlow announced her retirement, United Way’s Board of Directors created a nine-member search committee, led by Sanchez and incoming board chair Deborah Daniels, and partnered with the executive search firm Koya Partners to find a new president and CEO.  

“United Way of Central Indiana is at an important phase of its history, as we embark on a strategic plan to guide our work for the next several years,” said Rafael A. Sanchez, United Way’s board chair. “With his demonstrated leadership in the public and private sector, data-driven philosophy and passion for community service, Fred is the right choice for United Way. Additionally, Fred is committed to building on United Way’s legacy of collaboration within the human services sector to address Central Indiana’s toughest issues.”

Under his leadership, DWD has:

  • Started the state’s Office of Work-Based Learning & Apprenticeship, which added more than 200 new apprenticeship programs, 25,000 new apprentices and more than 150 State Earn & Learn programs
  • Helped more than 30,000 Hoosiers obtain a high school equivalency, which has pushed Indiana’s Adult Education program to be ranked No. 1 in the nation for three of the last four years in terms of average skills improvements
  • Evolved the state’s Next Level Jobs program to serve more than 1,400 employers and provide training to more than 37,000 Hoosiers. Since its inception, more than 15,800 people have enrolled in high quality certification programs
  • Maintained a 95% graduation rate for high-risk high school students through the Jobs for America’s Graduates program
  • Delivered more than $9.6 billion in unemployment insurance benefits to more than 900,000 people throughout Indiana during the height of the COVID-19 epidemic

“My service under Gov. Holcomb has been one of the proudest moments of my professional career,” said Payne. “I have had the privilege of working with talented professionals who have dedicated their time to helping Hoosiers gain economic mobility through job training, education, job connection and assisting those who need a financial bridge between employment. While the challenges facing workforce are complex, Indiana remains uniquely positioned to continue addressing them and moving forward.”

Payne’s last day as commissioner is July 8. He joins United Way on July 18.