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As you consider planning your meeting in Indy, here are just a few local leaders, TV personalities, and government officials who can help sell, market, and engage with your attendees—as well as serve as emcees and speakers. To connect with these executives, and other local leaders to meet your event needs, contact Roberta Tisdul.
With a population of 875,929, Indy is the 14th largest city in the United States. One in eight people living in Central Indiana is African American, creating diverse and dynamic spaces for Black visitors and attendees.
Superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools
Aleesia Johnson has been an educator for 16 years. She was named superintendent for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) in June 2019 and is the first African-American woman to serve in this capacity. In this role, Aleesia oversees the strategic direction and operations of the school district in achieving the district's mission to empower and educate all students to think critically, creatively, and responsibly; to embrace diversity; and to pursue their dreams with purpose.
CEO, Alliance for Northeast Unification
As the CEO of Alliance for Northeast Unification, Ashley Gurvitz has a passion for community development. She previously served as the Community Development Manager for Eastern Star Chruch’s ROCK initiative which resulted in many high-level social impact projects. Ashley continues to serve her community through the Emerging Leaders Project, Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, North Community District Resource Council and the Damien Center. She is also involved in Indianapolis’ Citizens Police Complaint Board and is President of the Indianapolis Chapter of the Democrat African American Caucus.
Entrepreneur and Former Indianapolis Colts Linebacker
Gary Brackett is a former professional athlete turned motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and author. Gary was a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts from 2003-2011 and won Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears. For his success as the owner of Brackett Restaurant Group, he was awarded the Madame CJ Walker Legacy Award in 2015 and was named to the Indianapolis Business Journal's 2016 Class of 40 Under 40. Gary has been speaking consistently for the past 10 years, delivering various keynotes on leadership, personal development, and entrepreneurship to notable groups such as the NFL Player’s Association, Humana, True U, the Indianapolis Colts and many others.
Executive Director, Indiana Civil Rights Commission
Gregory L. Wilson, Sr. currently serves the state as Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. Greg has a longstanding public service career, including community engagement for then Lt. Gov. Holcomb and most recently as Special Assistant to the Governor. His previous roles included developing and growing relationships with local, state and federal officials, sustaining and enhancing engagement efforts with key community leaders and deepening collaboration with state agency representatives. Greg currently serves as a board member for Visit Indy, the International Advisory Board, and is Chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Supplier Diversity.
Sports Director, WISH-TV
Anthony Calhoun is an Emmy Award winner and Sports Director at WISH-TV in Indianapolis. During his nearly 20-year career, he has covered the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis 500, and Indiana University athletics. As one of the most versatile sportscasters in Indy, Anthony has also served as a play-by-play announcer for NCAA basketball on ESPN, as well as the voice of Butler basketball on WNDY-TV.
President and CEO, IndyGo
Inez Evans was selected as IndyGo’s President and CEO in summer 2019. She ushered in the opening of the Red Line and is working diligently to open future rapid transit lines in Indy and propel IndyGo forward in improved service. She began her transit career as a Customer Service Call Center Representative in the early 90’s and most recently served as a Chief Operating Officer for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) where she was responsible for leading 1,600 employees, maintaining nearly 700 vehicles and ensuring exceptional customer service for the VTA’s 43 million customers. With more than 25 years of experience, her leadership has always been focused on finding ways to build relationships and create a thriving environment for all those she serves.
Founder, President, and CEO, RISE INDY
Jasmin Shaheed-Young is the Founder, President, and CEO of RISE INDY which fights for educational equity for students in Indianapolis. She possesses a keen eye for strategy, long-term planning, and understanding the needs of constituencies, elected officials, and diverse perspectives. In RISE INDY’s first year, she was responsible for raising over $3 million from a diverse group of local and national funders. During a global pandemic, RISE engaged more than 5,000 Marion County residents, built 7 community-led coalitions with over 100 members, while also donating $50,000 to Indianapolis schools – including the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation, and launched the Circle City Leaders Fellowship for community members interested in learning to run campaigns for public office.
CEO, Citizens Energy
Jeffrey Harrison is the president and chief executive officer of Citizens Energy Group and has served the utility industry for 30 years. In his role, he is responsible for establishing and maintaining the vision and strategic direction for the organization; ensuring a culture which maintains a strong focus on customer needs while demonstrating high regard for employees, teamwork, continual improvement, and integrity; ensuring operational and financial prowess; and ensuring a responsible commitment to the vitality and success of central Indiana.
Deputy Mayor, City of Indianapolis
Judith Thomas serves as the Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement for the City of Indianapolis. Before stepping into this role, she was President of the Madam Walker Legacy Center. With strong roots in Indiana, she has also previously worked with Visit Indy, Emmis Communications, the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Indiana Convention Center. She is on the board of directors for the Indiana Destination Development Corporation Foundation,The Cabaret, Indiana Destination Development Corporation Foundation, and NXG Next Generacers.
Creator & Founder, The S.H.E. Event - Indy
Katrina Washington is the founder of The S.H.E. Event, a marketplace that showcases minority-owned businesses. The S.H.E. Event is an ultimate networking experience for black entrepreneurs and kidtrepreneurs who own and operate their own businesses. The S.H.E. Event draws a crowd of over 5,000 guests and is held three times per year.
Co-Founder, Be Nimble
Kelli N. Jones is Co-Founder of Be Nimble Foundation, a social enterprise dedicated to accelerating diversity and inclusion initiatives in technology for Central Indiana. Be Nimble hosts two anchor events: The Pardi Gras Ball, a fundraiser for millennials where all the proceeds benefit Black and Latinx entrepreneurs; and #DisruptIndy a tech diversity conference meant to unpack the diversity problem and create actionable solutions for tech employers. In 2018, Be Nimble launched Black Hatch Fund, a seed-stage venture capital fund and accelerator for Black and Latinx founders.
Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis, CEO
After working in both the private and public sectors, Maggie A. Lewis is now CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. Her membership of the Indianapolis City-County Council is also notable as she was the first woman elected as president and majority leader of the Council. Over the past two decades, she has led the vision of local nonprofit organizations serving as executive director of the Dove Recovery House and COO at the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF). She is also involved in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and LINKS, Inc.
Chief of Police, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Randal Taylor was named Chief of Police of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) in December 2019. Prior to his appointment as Chief, he served as Assistant Chief of the IMPD. A 30-year law enforcement veteran, Chief Taylor has had a robust career in public safety, with extensive experience in investigations, victims’ services, and community relations.
President, Martin University
Dr. Sean L. Huddleston currently serves as the 5th President of Martin University. Prior to his appointment as President, his career in higher education focused on leading institutional efforts that create conditions of success for nontraditional students and those who have been historically underrepresented and underserved.
VP Basketball Operations, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
Independent Business Owner, Tea's Me Café Indy
Tamika Catchings completed 16 seasons in the WNBA, stepping away from her future-hall-of-fame-career following the 2016 season. Her naming as recipient of the very first ESPN Humanitarian Award in 2015 and a 14-year run of community service by her Catch The Stars Foundation are testament to her work off the court. Since her playing retirement, she serves as VP of Basketball Operations with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, a post that keeps her engaged working with all three Pacers franchises: the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, and Ft. Wayne Mad Ants. She operates the cozy Tea’s Me Café on the north side of downtown Indianapolis and continues her service as an ambassador with the NBA and WNBA.
President and CEO, Indianapolis Urban League
Anthony "Tony" Mason, is a visionary leader, has a passion for service, and has dedicated his entire career to initiatives designed to enhance the quality of life for Indianapolis residents. Tony has received several awards, including the Indianapolis Business Journal's "Forty under 40 - Indy's Bright Young Gems" Award, The Center for Leadership Development's Achievement in Business Award, the Black Coaches and Administrators' Images of Excellence Award, and The Rev. Charles Williams Award presented at Indiana Sport Corporation's 2012 Pathfinder Awards Luncheon.
Director, Marion County Public Health Department
Dr. Virginia Caine works tirelessly to promote and advance public health through innovative programs and unprecedented collaborations. With a national reputation for her work in public health, she was instrumental in setting up the first nationwide physician educational program regarding AIDS for the National Medical Association, which was later duplicated by the American Medical Association. She led a countywide process with local primary care agencies dealing with HIV/AIDS, to create the city's first integrated HIV health care delivery system. She was principal investigator for the Ryan White Title III funds, which established the first AIDS clinics in major city hospitals, 10 community health centers, and resources for community-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
President, Indianapolis City-County Council
Vop Osili is President of the Indianapolis City-County Council, representing District 11. He is currently Chairman of the Council’s Rules & Public Policy Committee and also serves on the Parks and Recreation Committee. Working with his fellow public servants on both sides of the aisle, President Osili is committed to addressing the important issues – equity, fair and affordable housing, homelessness, reentry, police/community engagement, inclusive urban development – impacting the daily lives of Indianapolis citizens.
President & CEO, Newfields
Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette brings decades of higher education expertise, including time serving as President of Huston-Tillotson University, to her new role as President & CEO of Newfields. As a people-person at her core, Dr. Burnette wants to act as a vessel for change and will be including outreach to the vision of Newfields. Part of this expanded mission means that Newfields will showcase an exhibit to promote the work of Newfields employees. Even with her numerous achievements, Dr. Burnette’s biggest strengths are being genuine, fun, and making people feel good about themselves.
President & CEO Indiana Black Expo, Inc.
Alice Watson has been named the President & CEO of the Indiana Black Expo after serving many different roles for the Indianapolis community including Deputy Commissioner for the Indiana Department of Administration, where she led the Department of Minority and Women. For the past decade, Alice has served as Indiana Black Expo’s Senior Vice President, leading day-to-day operations. Alice is looking forward to getting out into the community and educating the public on the Expo’s plans for the coming years which include expanding the program under its four pillars: economic equity, youth/family empowerment, community empowerment, and health equity.
President, Madam Walker Legacy Center
Kristian Little Stricklen serves as the President of the Madame Walker Legacy Center. Previously the Chief Communications/Engagement Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools, Kristian has a 25 year career transforming strategic solutions to workable partnerships. As an Indy native, Kristian enjoys leading and relationship building, particularly through her memberships in various organizations including The Indiana Black Expo, Autism Speaks, and the National Association of Black Journalists. She also is the founder of Jacob’s Ladder, and autism initiative, which was created in honor of her son.
Chancellor, Saint Joseph’s College of Marian University
Dr. Leon Jackson was most recently the Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives for Marian University, but his new promotion to Chancellor of Saint Joseph’s College for Marian was just an inevitable next step in his journey. Dr. Jackson has worked on a Diversity in Leadership program to prepare diverse leaders for executive roles in Indiana corporations and businesses, and he plans on bringing the same energetic and innovative leadership to his new role. Dr. Jackson’s goal is to prepare diverse talent for success in higher education while forming connections with the local community.
As the Co-Founder of what has become Indiana’s largest IT solutions and staffing company, Justin Christian knows how to develop a winning corporate strategy. A 2021 Trailblazer Award recipient from TechPoint, Justin’s knowledge is often sought, and he serves as a board member for the Lumina Foundation, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, AAA Hoosier Motor Club, and the Depauw Board of Trustees, among others. Justin’s passion is fighting systematic racism, and because of this BCforward gave $100,000 to the Central Indiana Community Foundation to help dismantle systematic racism.
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis
An expert at generating philanthropic and institutional capacity to support student access, completion, and career readiness, Chancellor Lorenzo Lamar Esters has all the tools to serve as Ivy Tech Community College’s next leader. With deep ties to the Indianapolis community, Chancellor Esters has served as the Vice President for Advancement/Member Engagement with the Association of American Colleges and Universities and as the Director for Higher Education Partnerships within the Global Education Division of Education Testing Services. His scholarly publications examine entrepreneurial leadership in community colleges and discuss equity, access, and completion in higher education for marginalized groups.