Alumni Spotlight: Hillary (Spike) Close ’96

Hillary Close is a member of the Indiana Academy’s Class of 1996. She came to the Academy from Lincoln Jr.-Sr. High School in Wayne County, Indiana to take advantage of the broader course offerings, including the opportunity to study both Russian and Spanish. What she got was much more. While at the Indiana Academy she was able to continue feeding her love of ballet through classes at Ball State University, piano through private lessons from a then-doctoral student at the University and even her equestrian riding lessons at a nearby stable in Muncie.

While Hillary remained connected to her home community after moving to the Academy, it was her experience at the Academy that allowed her to make the leap from small town Indiana to University of California, Berkeley for her undergraduate studies. Her foreign language, literature and history studies from her Academy days blossomed into a double major in Comparative Literature (the study of literature in both English and, in her case, Spanish) and History. Her AP credits for English, math and science achieved at the Academy made it possible to complete her double major in four years. She even spent her junior year of college in Barcelona, Spain!

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree, with distinction, from UC Berkeley, Hillary again made a cross-country move—this time back to Ann Arbor, Michigan (which she says is like Berkeley with snow) to attend University of Michigan Law School. While at U of M Law, Hillary served as Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Journal of International Law.

After law school, Hillary closed the loop and came back to Indiana. She is now an attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Indianapolis. She started out her practice in 2004 in the firm’s corporate department doing transactional and securities regulation work. She then made a shift about five years ago to the firm’s Governmental Services Department where she represents energy, water and wastewater utilities, local governments and other business entities. Her practice includes rate cases, financings, investigations, rulemakings and acquisitions before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and municipal annexations. She also continues to advise utility and non-utility clients on transactional matters, including mergers, acquisitions and debt and equity offerings. In 2009, she was selected for inclusion as an “Indiana Rising Star” by Indiana Super Lawyers®. Also in 2009, she married her husband, Dustin—a former classmate from Lincoln High School in Cambridge City, Indiana.

Hillary credits the Indiana Academy with teaching her to adapt quickly and seamlessly—a skill that has served her well through the many changes and opportunities she has experienced. That includes adapting to working full time and having two small children (Henry and Harper). In addition to keeping up with her family, she enjoys yoga and sewing, and even a little bit of playing the piano (though never without interruption).