For several years after her college graduation, Ball State alumna Tina McIntosh, BS ‘94 ‘MA 95, enjoyed her work as an event planner. But after a couple of personal tragedies, her life’s passion—which she originally discovered while attending Ball State—resurfaced. At 27 years old, she quit her event planning job and started Joy’s House—a nonprofit organization that offers daytime care to adults with life-altering diagnoses, plus services for caregivers.
Twenty-four years later, Joy’s House is still operating and has two locations in Indianapolis. Ms. McIntosh remains the president and CEO of this organization she founded.
Ms. McIntosh has clearly left an impact on those she serves each day. Recently she was named one of USA TODAY’s “Women of the Year” for 2023, a distinction that recognizes women who have made significant impacts in their communities and nationwide.
The fulfilling career and meaningful life Ms. McIntosh found by changing career paths did not come without some major ups and downs, however.
“We’ve seen a lot. Recessions. Growth. Having to restructure. We’ve made it through a worldwide pandemic,” she said. “During my time at Joy’s House, I’ve birthed three children, and my husband and I lost three babies. I’ve had cancer twice. My husband has had cancer twice. I’ve had more surgeries and treatments than I care to tally up. And somehow—to me, it was due truly to the grace of God—we continued to do the work at Joy’s House and provide these services that are so desperately needed.”
Finding Her Passion and Place at Ball State
While she was a student at Ball State, Ms. McIntosh engaged in numerous volunteer opportunities that helped people. One of those opportunities was at an adult day service in Muncie, a philanthropic outreach effort done through her sorority, Delta Zeta.
“The majority of adults we served—the ones that stuck with me in my heart—were the adults who were living with some form of dementia,” Ms. McIntosh said. “There was something about working with all of the older adults that just stuck in my spirit. Throughout the years, I carried with me those moments I spent with them.”
In addition to being the backdrop for discovering how she can make a difference in the lives of others, Ball State is where Ms. McIntosh made significant personal growth as a student.
“I was the first college student in my family,” she explained. “With that experience of being away from home but finding a home at Ball State, I found my place in my studies for sure. I found my place with friends that I met and when I lived in the dorms. And I learned that help was there if I needed it. On campus, all we have to do make a phone call or step into an office and there is someone who can help.
“I went through therapy when I was at Ball State. I wouldn’t have that opportunity the same way if I hadn’t been at this campus,” she added. “For that and so many other reasons, I was lucky that I chose Ball State and Ball State chose me. I found my people and my place at Ball State University. I will forever be grateful to the people there who took a chance on me, to the people that saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself at that time, and to the people who encouraged me then and continue to encourage me now.”
Ms. McIntosh earned her bachelor’s degree in English through the College of Sciences and Humanities, and her master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education through Teachers College.
Who Inspires This Inspirational Person?
Just as Ms. McIntosh is an inspiration to many people, she has been inspired by several individuals throughout her life.
“If I had to only pick one person, one source of inspiration, I would pick my grandma Ethel,” Ms. McIntosh said. “She passed away when I was in high school. Grandma Ethel was tough, spunky, and so cool. She made friends wherever she went. She was the first person to step in and take care of anyone in need of help. I learned a lot of lessons in life from her.”
Ms. McIntosh has shared those and other life lessons in her recently released book, “Embrace the Imbalance,” which has the tagline: “Things You Need to Know from People I Wish You Knew.” The book was published March 20.
Despite how busy she is with her work, home life, and writing pursuits, Ms. McIntosh continues to look for ways to give back to the Ball State community.
“It’s just the right thing to do. College-age students are wonderful to work with,” she said. “Ball State students have grit. They’re smart and charismatic. They care about the world around them and want to make a positive difference. I’m just so honored to be part of this University.”