In many ways, America has seen tremendous progress in areas of diversity and inclusion over the past few decades, yet simply reading last year’s top news headlines proves that we still have room to grow before we become a true melting pot of various cultures and ideas.
Despite the ever-present notion that the world is becoming more divided, there are numerous individuals, organizations and institutions that demonstrate a resolve to promote diversity throughout our state. Once a year, Indiana Minority Business Magazine, a sister-publication of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper, honors those who bring diverse values, backgrounds and abilities together for the benefit of consumers and employers. On Jan. 12, at 5:30 p.m., our Champions of Diversity awards dinner will take place at Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, honoring those who have fought for diversity within and beyond the realms of race and gender.
The following are profiles of the 13 IMBM Champions of Diversity 2018 recipients. Please join the Indianapolis Recorder in congratulating these companies and individuals for their continued commitment to diversity and equality.
Whether you have IT problems or just want to prevent them, AIS (Apex Infinite Solutions) has the answer for you. AIS prides itself on offering “big company solutions and support to countless small businesses across Indiana.” AIS works with leading partners in the industry such as Microsoft, Synology and Xerox to provide clients with the most current and effective IT solutions. Diversity has been a very important goal for the company, in both the composition of its staff and its outreach to the community.
Central Indiana Community Foundation
Known as a “catalyst for progress,” the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) has provided both the vision and resources for improvements in many central Indiana neighborhoods. As the steward of more than $720 million in charitable assets, it connects donors with causes they care about. CICF maintains a diverse focus at all levels of its community involvement, from planning to operations. People across America are familiar with the phrase “Hoosier hospitality,” and CICF ensures that all communities in central Indiana are touched by this kindness.
Citizens Energy Group
Citizens Energy Group’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce is evident in the company’s policies and practices. In 2014, the company introduced an initiative to reduce unemployment rates in Marion County and to expand the number of trained and qualified job candidates in the community. In addition, in 2011, Citizens Energy Group initiated a supplier diversity outreach campaign to promote the utilization of qualified minority-, women- and veteran-owned business enterprises for competitive access to opportunities. This database currently contains over 600 certified minority-, women- and veteran-owned business enterprises.
Tony Ezell is vice president and chief customer officer at Elanco US Inc. Before working with Elanco US Inc., he spent more than 20 years working with Eli Lilly and Company, with a focus on improving customer experience by helping the company move from product-centric outlook to one based on needs, tensions and frustrations customers face.
Financial Health Federal Credit Union
Financial Health Federal Credit Union, an organization that aims to help low-income individuals achieve fiscal freedom, has an “underserved area” designation, consisting of 10 ZIP codes in the urban core of Indianapolis. The credit union offers lending and financial wellness programs that assist inner-city residents of Indianapolis in navigating their financial situation by providing credit-builder loans, savings accounts with benefits that encourage saving for emergency situations, financial counseling, free tax preparation and financial wellness workshops.
Geoffrey A. Gaither
The Honorable Geoffrey A. Gaither, senior magistrate at the Marion County Juvenile Court in Indianapolis, is deeply committed to community service and uplifting minority youth and young adults. He is an adjunct professor at IUPUI and Martin University, as well as a motivational speaker with a passion for reaching young people. To that aim, he initiated The Young Women’s Empowerment Conference series targeted toward women in the juvenile justice system, as well as a Male Mentoring Conference to promote the impact mentorship can have on success. Gaither now leads the Dual Status Court in Indianapolis.
Danette Garza is CEO of Gary, Indiana-based Jack Gray Transport Inc., which provides bulk transportation, and Lakes & Rivers Logistics Inc., which offers bulk and break-bulk stevedore services at Buffington Harbor. Garza also owns Continental Languages LLC, a company that provides on-site and remote linguistic interpreters in more than 100 languages to attorneys, courts, local businesses and medical groups. Garza is a proven business leader and entrepreneur who has extensive executive experience in operations and driving results through management.
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, along with parent company Centaur Gaming, is committed to being a multi-cultural company. Indiana Grand ensures a culture of diversity and inclusion with required diversity education in annual team member training, thoughtful policy-making and more. Centaur Gaming is committed to purchasing from local minority- and women-owned businesses. As of Dec. 31, 2016, $64.8 million in local and regional purchases had been made from MBE vendors, with $61.7 million from WBE vendors.
The Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance (IUYA) is dedicated to empowering young immigrants by helping them reach their highest potential and become full members of American society. At the same time, it also fights for fair and just policies that affect undocumented and documented immigrant families. IUYA is unique from most organizations in its field, because it is youth-led and is organized at both the state and local level. Scholarships are provided for students in financial need, and meaningful alliances have been formed with diverse organizations across the state. By the very nature of its work, IUYA is a strong contributor to diversity throughout Indiana.
Peace Learning Center
Peace Learning Center, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, strives to educate, inspire and empower people to live peacefully with the aim of reducing violence and increasing kindness in the community. The Center works directly with schools, community nonprofits, businesses, juvenile correctional facilities and faith groups to facilitate peace education sessions. Since 1997, the Center has shared its values — peaceful resolution of all conflicts, strength of diversity in the community, the potential of youth, and responsible stewardship of the environment and community resources — with more than 175,000 people in Indianapolis and beyond.
Dawn R. Rosemond
Dawn R. Rosemond is a partner in Barnes & Thornburg’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, office and serves as the firm-wide director of diversity, professional development and inclusion. In that role, Rosemond spearheads the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and serves as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Rosemond is also a member of the firm’s Litigation Department and serves on the Pro Bono Committee. Rosemond, a published author, created leadership and personal development platform “REIGN” — designed to lead people to the realization that they were created to reign in this life —and hosts dynamic talks around the country to fulfill this purpose-driven agenda.
Salesforce is recognized as the world’s leading company offering the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. As an innovator in cloud computing, Salesforce specializes in providing convenient cloud-based applications for sales, service and marketing that don’t require monitoring by IT experts. Although based in California, Salesforce has also developed strong ties to Indiana and has adopted the state as a new home. Under the leadership of its founder, chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, Salesforce has led successful efforts in the business community to fight for legislation to prevent discrimination against Hoosiers based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation.
Dr. Nichole Wilson
Dr. Nichole Wilson has made it her mission to impact the lives of others through her leadership in health care and service to the Indianapolis community. Wilson is the vice president of retail health services for Community Health Network. The University of Indianapolis selected Wilson to be featured in their nationwide marketing campaign highlighting their most successful alumni. Wilson’s dedication to service and philanthropy is evident through her board involvement with College Mentors for Kids, the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, the Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation and the Madame Walker Theatre Center.