INDY'S BLACK LEADERSHIP
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.
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.
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.
Director, Office of Minority and Women Business Development
As the Director of the Office of Minority & Women Business Development, Camille Blunt guides the office’s mission to promote a culture of inclusiveness in business opportunities and economic growth, and further the sustainability of business enterprises owned by minorities, women, veterans, and people living with disabilities. Camille previously served as legislative director for the City of Indianapolis, a role she began in January 2016. In this role, she was liaison to the City-County Council and oversaw the execution of the city’s legislative strategy on the state and federal level. She also previously served as vice president with Bose Public Affairs Group.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Belonging, Ivy Tech Community College
Doneisha Posey is a civil rights attorney and diversity thought leader and currently serves as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Belonging at Ivy Tech Community College. As the nation’s largest community college system and the state’s largest post-secondary institution, she works to ensure all students, staff, faculty, and community members have access and opportunity. Her background includes litigation before state and federal administrative agencies, particularly the Executive Office of Immigration Review within the Department of Justice, and state and federal courts.
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.
GREGORY L. WILSON, SR.
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.
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.
KELLI N. JONES
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.
MAGGIE A. LEWIS
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.
Robin Shackleford has dedicated her life to the principles of servant leadership. She has extensive experience in government, community, and diversity affairs coupled with a strong background in project management, supervision, training, and budgeting. First elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2012, Robin represents the citizens of Indiana House District 98 and serves as ranking minority member of the Public Health Committee. She is also the current chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.
SEAN L. HUDDLESTON
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, Indiana Black Expo
As Indiana Back Expo’s President and general counsel for more than 10 years, Tanya McKinzie oversees day-to-day operations and supervises various programs and initiatives as well as Summer Celebration and Circle City Classic. Tanya is also responsible for sponsorship sales and activations for more than 150 companies and has served on the Board of Directors for IBE from 2001 until 2007.
Chief of Staff and General Counsel, Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County
Tavonna Harris Askew plans and directs the administrative and operational activities for the organization's President and CEO, as well as Board of Directors. She provides oversight and guidance to projects of high importance and directs the workflow of other individuals within the organization. She also assists in the fiscal oversight of the corporation by providing direction to the Grants Department that manages over $38 million in local, federal, and private grants yearly. In addition to being an accomplished leader in the legal and business communities, she has been a public speaker and educator for over 10 years.
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.
VIRGINIA A. CAINE, M.D.
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.