When Ken Elwood looks at his hometown of Portage, he sees a community bursting with the same qualities that his mother personified in Elwood’s childhood: toughness, passion, and grit.
“I’ve always loved the Portage community. It’s a tough, blue-collared community that’s very unionized. I respect all of that, as I come from a union family,” Elwood said. “I just like the people. I think there is a tough grit about the town and about the people here in Portage.”
Fueled by his passion for the community, Elwood worked his way to become an attorney, joining forces with John Rhame in 1994. As an attorney and owning partner at Rhame, Elwood, & McClure, Elwood uses his position to better the community as he represents the city council and schools of Portage and acts as the Chief Public Defender for Porter County.
“I think being involved with representing the schools keeps me engaged, involved, and connected,” Elwood said. “Being involved in the local government is important. Everyone should pay attention to what goes on in their local government, and it’s beneficial that I get to do that through my profession.”
Elwood has a strong family network within Portage, as his grandmother, parents, stepparents, children, and the latest addition to his family, Elwood’s granddaughter, all reside in Portage. With a long history in the town and through his many connections as an attorney, Elwood has developed a deep appreciation for the community.
“I have nothing but love and respect for Portage,” Elwood said. “I think that the people here are tough, I think they’re gritty, but I also think they’re giving and welcoming. I like those qualities about Portage, and I think they’ve always been that way. If you look at the sports teams over the years, they’ve been very tough-minded. They’re tough people.”
Elwood recognizes the impact that his mother, the CEO at Northshore Health Centers, had on his work ethic and on his outlook of the Portage community.
“She’s as tough as they come,” Elwood said of his mother. “She’s created that organization and built it from the ground up. She’s got that toughness and passion that reflects upon Portage, and I’m proud that she taught me a lot about that and that she’s helped to teach my kids some of that toughness and work ethic.”
Elwood strives to pass on the inspiration from his mother to his children. Both on and off the field where he coached Portage sports teams, Elwood was actively involved in his children’s lives, demonstrating how hard work and toughness can lead to victory. With all his children having gone through the Portage school system, Elwood felt personally connected to giving back to the schools.
“I think [giving back] is the nature of mankind,” Elwood said. “It’s a cyclical world. If you’re selfishly taking without giving back, I think that’s not the way to go through life. I was taught by my parents and grandparents to be engaged and to be involved. It’s important that Portage remains the great city that it is, and in order to do that, you have to be involved.”
Elwood hopes to pass on the same toughness, passion, and grit that he sees in his mother and in the Portage community to his children.
“Be proud of your community,” Elwood said. ‘’Love your community, and put time into your community.”