It is with great pleasure that the Board of Directors of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce presents the nominees for the 2021 Excellence in Business Awards. The award recipients will be announced at our ceremony on Wednesday, October 6 at the Skyline Club in downtown Indianapolis.

Tables and Individual tickets are now available and can be purchased HERE.

Below are the nominees in 4 categories. First, we will list all of the nominees in each category, then below this list will be a more in-depth description of the nominee for your review. To vote, simply reply to this email with your choice highlighted in the space provided. 

The deadline for voting is Thursday, September 16. Only IRCC members are allowed to vote on the winners. 

2021 Excellence in Business Award Nominations

Corporate Diversity Leader of the Year Award
Nominee: IU Health
Nominee: Salesforce
Nominee: Delta Faucet
Nominee: Eli Lilly & Company
Your Choice for Corporate Diversity Leader of the Year is:

Business Leader of the Year
Nominee: Angie Martinez, Shalom Health Center
Nominee: Amber Maynard, Corteva Agriscience
Nominee: Crystian Alatorre, RCI
Nominee: Calvin Knight-Nellis, Indiana Dept of Health
Your Choice for Business Leader of the Year is:

Entrepreneur of the Year
Nominee: Rae Parker, Rae Parker Art and Design
Nominee: Joshua Alexander Chandler, Hoosier Web Host
Nominee: Danielle Wolter Nolan, DNK Presents
Nominee: Jack Shepler, Ayokay
Your Choice for Entrepreneur of the Year is:

Community Leader of the Year Award: 
Nominee: Dr. Dustin Nowaskie, OutCare Health
Nominee: Sylvia Thomas, Step-Up
Nominee: Jenni White, Trinity Haven
Nominee: Jason Grisell, The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis
Nominee: Tiffany Hanson, Indy Pride
Your Choice for Community Leader of the Year is:

About the Nominees

Corporate Diversity Leader of the Year Award

IU Health
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, IU Health led the way to deliver compassionate and competent care to our LGBTQ+ community and continued to enhance benefits it’s LGBTQ+ employees enjoy. IU Health expanded HIV services access Indiana through Positive Link and LifeCare into 49 counties. Those services include risk reduction planning, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) navigation, outreach and community groups, and HIV testing. Case management, housing, food services, nutritional counseling and other services have been enhanced with funding from the IU Health Foundation. Diversity, equity, and inclusion became a center piece of IU Health’s 2021 and beyond initiatives to support team members, patients and our community. LGBTQ Health continues expend services in services and specialty care including Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health, Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health along with HIV prevention and treatment services. 

Salesforce
While facing the challenges that come with a virtual-only world, Salesforce and our Outforce Equality Group have managed to entertain, educate, and donate! Throughout the year, we’ve co-hosted with The Indy Rainbow Chamber as we welcomed discussions with Out Leadership, Step Up Indy, Pink Media, IndyPride, Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council, Trinity Haven, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, The Startup Ladies, and the Damien Center. In January, we hosted Stephen Lane from the Indianapolis Public Library Center for Black Culture & Literature as he educated us on the History of Black Drag in Indianapolis. In February, we hosted musician Joshua Thompson as he entertained us for our Music & Munchies series. During Pride month, we raised nearly $5,000 (before the employer match) for Trinity Haven while having some fun with Nailed It stars Selma Nilla and Lagoona Bloo. On September 15, we’re looking forward to co-hosting with The Indy Rainbow Chamber to raise awareness about Trans Solutions & Resource Center while hosting an internal fundraiser.

Delta Logo (PRNewsFoto/Delta)

Delta Faucet
Since proudly sponsoring the 2019 Indy Pride Parade, we have evolved how we advance our DE&I efforts in light of the global pandemic – yet we remain fiercely committed to our support of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community. We kept the momentum in 2020 by supporting virtual Pride events, and in 2021 expanded our Indy Pride Festival programming. New virtual experiences included interactive learning sessions with Out & Equal; a virtual baking show featuring vibrant Pride Cookies; shopping with LGBTQ-owned and -embracing businesses in the online vendor villages and engaging with Indy Pride community members in virtual meet-ups. We contributed to Pride Party Packs and gave away Prize Packs filled with Delta® faucet branded swag throughout the event. With the understanding that advancing Pride still means having real conversations with those who can help advance the cause, we were honored to participate when Indy Pride sat down with U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin Walsh to discuss LGBTQ+ issues in the workplace. And we built new relationships – after learning about Trinity Haven at the 2019 Indy Rainbow Chamber Awards and their mission to provide safe, affirming housing for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing housing instability, we were able to give several donations. With still more to do, we’re looking forward to getting back to in-person volunteering – our next chance to go beyond virtual and financial support to partnering and working alongside the LGBTQ+ community will be this fall when we help Indy Pride members with their LinkedIn profiles at an upcoming career event.

Eli Lilly & Company
Lilly Pride’s goals include helping catalyze recruitment and retention of top diverse talent, fostering employee engagement at all levels of the company and within our communities, providing feedback for talent management considerations and discussions, and furthering both physical and psychological safety for employees in our city and state of headquarters as well as globally. The Lilly Pride group leads LGBTQ+ initiatives in five main areas: 1) Understanding the LGBTQ Employee Journey; 2) Seeking to improve internal and external efforts to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals are counted and represented; 3) Building our Global Allies Program; 3) Growing our Reverse Mentoring Program to bring together LGBTQ+ employees and senior leaders across the company; and 5) Community engagements and partnerships with organizations that support LGBTQ+ individuals. In 2021, Lilly was proud to be named No. 3 on DiversityInc’s list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity, including being recognized as a top company for LGBTQ employees.  

Business Leader of the Year
Nominee: Angie Martinez, Shalom Health Center
Angie Martinez (They/Them) has been an integral part of the HIV and general community of Indianapolis for the last few years. Angie has dedicated their time serving the most underserved and unrepresented populations in Indianapolis and has partnered with international grassroots movements for HIV prevention and care. They have been a key part of the LGBTQ+ community and health leadership. Collaborating with nonprofits and serving in Board with Indy Pride and Trinity Haven, to provide access to free HIV testing and education and working with grassroot movements to focus on breaking the stigma that surrounds HIV prevention and care. In the last year, Angie felt the lack of accessibility to HIV prevention due to language barriers and cultural awareness inspiring them to develop the first LATINX HIV focused prevention program called Mi Gente; launched in October 2020. Launching Mi Gente has been more successful than they could have imagined. In the first 3 months of the campaign there was a total of 33 individuals seeking HIV prevention services due to the Mi Gente's targeted outreach. Since its launch, Mi Gente's concept has begun to be adapted in other health clinics across the midwest and is going to be an integral part of the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) training program for organizations across the country. Through the success of Mi Gente, Angie helped developed a PrEP campaign For the Culture, prioritizing the Black/African American community from a cultural approach to HIV Prevention and began implementing HIV testing and COVID vaccination mobile events with Shalom Health Care center to bring COVID Vaccines and break HIV stigma.

Nominee: Amber Maynard, Corteva Agriscience
Amber Maynard, Global Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (ID&E) Consultant at Corteva Agriscience™, is a catalyst for driving progress, inspiring people to show-up fully in the world, embrace their authenticity, and share their stories. Passionate about inspiring inclusion and belonging, Amber is a leader setting inclusion and diversity strategy at Corteva.  In the past 12 months she has driven Corteva’s ID&E efforts in a variety of areas including, participating on the company’s CEO-driven ID&E Journey Acceleration Team cultivating a culture of belonging, driven inclusion awareness by facilitating more than a dozen global listening sessions, prepared DEI training for 20,000 employees, and grassroots work across the company engaging in brave conversations about inclusion, diversity, and equity in agriculture. Amber lead Corteva to consecutive perfect scores on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and the first 100% for the company on the HRC Equidad MX in Mexico, and a National LGBT Chamber of Commerce/National Business Inclusion Consortium Top 50 Best of the Best for Diversity & Inclusion award, all in the company’s first two years of existence.  Amber is a 4-time Out & Equal Workplace Summit speaker, including two Big Ideas Talks, a Lambda Legal Indiana Benefit Co-Chair (2020, 2021) and past Host Committee Member (2017-2019), a mentor to LGBTQIA+ youth, an Indiana Youth Group donor, a thought partner for employee resource groups across various industries, and an eight year member of the Circle City Pride Softball League…go, BMO!.

Nominee: Crystian Alatorre, RCI
It is with great honor to be considered for The Business Leader of the Year award. During the past 12 months, one of my proudest accomplishments was to complete the medical interpretation training. This training has allowed me to help people in the community by bridging the gap for those who do not speak English or English may be their second language. Another thing I'm delighted to be a part of is my continued participation with our Diversity & Inclusion resource group at my workplace. My involvement with the diversity resource group includes, but is not limited to, representing our LatinX DRG as the Co-President of FUERTE, whose mission is to connect associates with company leaders by facilitating professional development and improve business process while sharing our rich and diverse culture.  My goal as a leader of this resource group is to send a message of unity, respect, and equality within our organization. I’m also a Co-Director of talent for our LGBTQI+ Diversity Resource Group and liaison between the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and Travel + Leisure. In partnership with my workplace and within my community, my philanthropic efforts include raising funds for the students and volunteering my time by assisting teachers to prepare their classrooms at the beginning of each school year at Christel House. In addition to that, I am on the Board of Directors for Travel + Leisure Charitable Foundation and I am always on the lookout as to how we can give back to those in need. On a personal note, this year I am looking forward to completing my certification on Organizational Leadership by Harvard Business School.  

Nominee: Calvin Knight-Nellis, Indiana Dept of Health
I’ve worked for the Indiana Department of Health, Division of HIV/STD/Viral Hepatitis since 2017 and for the past two years I served as the PrEP Program Manager. In that role, I was responsible for the creation of PrEP MAP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Medical Assistance Program), the first statewide program in Indiana to provide medical assistance to Hoosiers for the uptake of and adherence to medications to prevent acquisition of HIV. Prior to spring of this year, the cost of medications, exams, screenings, labs, doctor’s visits, and insurance co-pays was prohibitive to many individuals most at-risk for HIV transmission.  Through my collaboration with clinicians, physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists, PrEP MAP was created to pay for all those necessary services, navigate eligible Hoosiers into available state-sponsored, marketplace or commercial insurance plans and work with drug manufacturers to obtain PrEP medications at reduced cost. I was a grant administrator for 12 PrEP-funded agencies around Indiana and provided guidance and technical assistance to them, encouraged collaboration, and facilitated a monthly call to exchange ideas, review best practices and consider solutions to challenges. From 07.01.2020 to 06.30.2021, 330 Hoosiers, many of whom self-identified as LGBTQ+, received assistance through PrEP MAP and the program paid over $117,000 in medical and prescription claims. In July, I accepted a new role within the Division as the Community Impact and Integrated Planning Manager and will be working with coalitions around Indiana as we strive to ensure fewer HIV and Viral Hepatitis (HCV) diagnoses; increase access to high quality and compassionate care and treatment for people living with HIV and HCV; and reduce stigma, discrimination, and healthcare inequity among Indiana residents in high-risk populations.

Entrepreneur of the Year
Nominee: Rae Parker, Rae Parker Art and Design
For the past 5 years I have focused more on inspiring my community and youth to follow their dreams. No matter their circumstances, they can achieve anything that they focus their minds to. As a Black queer artist here in Indy, there aren’t a lot of us being seen or getting the recognition we deserve. Majority of our art peers are cis artists. I continue to stay true to myself and my community by living as my authentic self unapologetically. Within the year, I have helped create the BLM mural on historic Indiana Ave. Which has led to me becoming the Program Coordinator for the 18 Art Collective. I have been featured at The Children’s Museum, Brightwood Library, Newfields, Indianapolis Art Center and upcoming exhibit, BUTTER. I have also been featured in the Indy Jazz documentary, “38th and Post Modernism” created by Indy’s own jazz band, Premium Blend. Recently I have created a mural at Ujaama Bookstore by Flanner House with Black Super Heroes to inspire the youth of that community. To show that they too can become a hero in their own way. To see heroes that look like them. Heroes that represent them.

Nominee: Joshua Alexander Chandler, Hoosier Web Host
I neither had the best life nor the worst life. It's not always about what you get or receive in life, but more so, what you can make out of it. For most of my life, I worked as a server and bartender, I was without a diploma or even a GED, not to mention my support group, if you can call them that, always seemed fickle. So, I definitely lacked guidance and direction from anyone, and ultimately had to learn a lot of things on my own through experience. Now let's fast forward to 2019. Once Covid came to the US, I was already having problems finding stability and was still experiencing homelessness. But something had come over me to the point where my entire life went in a completely different direction once I had my out-of-body experience. It was as if my body was tired of being tired, and tired of the consistent negative outcomes that would always follow me wherever I went or go. I was so determined to leave that life behind me, to the point where I felt completely overwhelmed, but made of only sheer confidence. My journey began in late 2019 when I started to build websites for people who needed them and I started learning how to utilize Google workspace and during that time it was G suite. I was also pursuing my education and was building my business all during and since the beginning of the pandemic. Hoosier Web Host was born on April 14, 2020 as a web hosting company that specializes in digital marketing. As of now I am currently enrolled at Ivy Tech in Anderson majoring in software development as well as teaching, coaching, and consulting for minority-based communities.

Nominee: Danielle Wolter Nolan, DNK Presents
DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. We focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, try something new and in turn build confidence through experiential learning. Over the past 12 months like many other organizations, we've had to pivot and rethink how we do business. which was especially hard since we specialize in offering in person events and experiences. Last year though, we along with only 7 other small businesses across the country were chosen by Facebook to be in a new online series called, Boost My Business, presented by Facebook Watch. The show was hosted by Netflix's Queer Eye co-host, Tan France. Our episode shows how to use creative apps and strategies to grow your business through Facebook and Instagram ads. In October of 2020 DNK Presents formed a DBA called Brown County Bikes, the only full-service bike shop in downtown Nashville, IN. In 2020 Danielle formed a 501c3 called, Live Adventurously, that hosts our annual Women's Adventure Giveaway (formerly hosted and created by DNK Presents), a nomination-based program where we giveaway a free 4 day adventure to four very deserving women guided by myself and my wife Kate. We're so grateful to pursue our passions of being able to get more people back outside to live a more healthy adventurous life. 

Nominee: Jack Shepler, Ayokay
Jack Shepler is the Founder and CEO of Ayokay, a full-service digital marketing agency based in Indianapolis. In the last year, he has doubled the full-time team of the company, and his company partnered with various local nonprofits to help them achieve their missions. Some of those nonprofits include Damien Center, Regenstrief Institute, Children's Bureau + Families First, The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, Indiana NOFAS, Feeding Indiana's Hungry, and others. In addition to his accomplishments with Ayokay, Jack was recognized as the 2021 Volunteer of the Year by Indy Pride, Inc., named an Indy's Best and Brightest 2021 Finalist in the Technology category, and Ayokay was recognized as a Featured Business by NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce) in August 2021. Jack also DJs in the community and organizes annual fundraisers for LGBT causes. He is thankful to be considered by the Indy Rainbow Chamber for Entrepreneur of the Year for 2021.

Community Leader of the Year Award: 
Nominee: Dr. Dustin Nowaskie, OutCare Health
Since founding the national nonprofit, 501(c)(3) LGBTQ+ health equity organization OutCare Health, which provides access to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender (LGBTQ+) information, resources, mentorship, education, training, research, and providers for hundreds of thousands across the country, I have dedicated my career and life to
providing support and care for LGBTQ+ Hoosiers and many others across United States. Through OutCare Health, I am active in supporting the LGBTQ+ community on many levels with leadership, advocacy, inclusivity, and visibility. As the President, I operate and maintain national initiatives as well as local programs such as the OutList (a directory of 2500+ LGBTQ+ culturally competent providers), Public Resource Database (directory of 500+ resources), Mentorship Program (50+ mentors), Cultural Competency Trainings, Academic Research, OutTalk webinar series on diversity and intersectionality, and OutPost blogs. Results and impact from this work can be viewed here. As a psychiatrist and queer person, I intend to transform my personal identification and civic commitment into a powerful unicorn of social and public health change for LGBTQ+ people through community involvement, public service, education, training, and research. My personal convictions have led to local, regional, national, and international recognition and partnerships with groups such as L’Oréal, Apple, Optum, and UnitedHealthcare.

Nominee: Sylvia Thomas, Step-Up
Sylvia Thomas is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Step Up Inc. She developed and created a program, Real Time Education, to break down stigma, address barriers, and provide accessible sexual health education. She has specialized in bringing her expertise of the transgender and sex worker populations to bettering community health outcomes. Excelling in her career, she was part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic Committee in Indiana and the Ryan White Part A Planning Council. Through a partnership with GenderNexus and MATEC (Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center) she has provided her training, INcreasing HIV TLC: Trans Loving Care, to hundreds of providers across Indiana and the Midwest, so they can be better equipped in providing care and treatment for the Transgender Community. Sylvia has been dedicated to HIV prevention since graduating college in 2018. Outside of her work she is also an artist who just accomplished a milestone in performing as the poet for Copenhagen 2021: World Pride and Eurogames Closing Ceremony. She will have a collection of poems published October 2021. Sylvia is honored to have received this nomination for her work as a Community Leader.

Nominee: Jenni White, Trinity Haven
Every night, an estimated 40% of the homeless youth in our city are LGBTQ. Where do they go? They sleep on park benches and in cars. They ride the bus all night, hoping to stay safe and warm. They couch-surf, often in dangerous conditions. It’s heartbreaking. But thanks to the support of many of you in the Rainbow Chamber, Trinity Haven opened its doors in April 2021 to provide safe, affirming housing for these vulnerable young people. As Trinity Haven’s Executive Director, I’ve spent the past two and a half years overseeing the financial, operational, programmatic, legal, staffing, and site development aspects of our new organization. This means that I’ve done everything from overseeing a total property renovation to building a dream team of LGBTQ staff to developing a program that’s based on cutting-edge research into the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing housing instability. I’m proud that even during the hard times of the pandemic, I led Trinity Haven to open its flagship Transitional Living Program for LGBTQ youth ages 16-21. But we didn’t stop there! Under my leadership, Trinity Haven also found a way to open a second program, which offers host homes tailored to the needs of LGBTQ youth ages 16-24. It has been my pleasure and privilege to create the Trinity Haven community of staff and residents.

Nominee: Jason Grisell, The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis
When I reflect on the past twelve months, I find myself thinking about the impact Covid-19 has made on our community and the individuals and agencies that the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis’ serves. In the past 12 months, I helped execute $150,000+ in emergency Information Technology (IT) grants to support HIV serving agencies and their efforts to transition to tele-commuting to continue to serve clients with lifesaving case management, mental health services, and medical care. I also initiated a pilot project for Telehealth through the distribution of tablets to clients who did not have access to technology to remain connected to their HIV care team. Since that pilot project, approximately 400+ tablets have been distributed to patients statewide. My team also initiated a new HIV prevention program internally, PEAR – Prevention, Engagement, and Retention. This new fund provides support grants to regional agencies working with Hoosiers who are at high risk for HIV transmission. This PEAR fund provides emergency assistance funds to help ensure individuals remain HIV negative. We were also responsible for facilitating and leading a 50+ person TaskForce to support the development of the Marion County Ending the HIV Epidemic Plan to support CDC guided process that resulted in $2 million a year for five-years of additional HIV prevention and intervention resources

Nominee: Tiffany Hanson, Indy Pride
I work with Indy Pride as the Director of Marketing and Communications and over the past 12 months I have been able to contribute to virtual engagement and community building through Indy Pride's social media channels. I built awareness and engagement campaigns powered by our community such as #ShopWithPride to showcase local LGBTQ-owned and supportive businesses, #PeopleOfPride to showcase what Pride means to so many of our community members, and our #TDOV2021 campaign to showcase accomplishments of some of the trans members of our Indy Pride family. I also supported Indy Pride's virtual programming efforts such as assisting with the planning and execution of the 2020 Indy Pride Virtual Career Fair, an annual event that I created in 2018 that has continued to grow over the past three years to connect LGBTQ+ professionals with LGBTQ+ welcoming employers. I am also passionate about serving nonprofit organizations on a deeper level. I sit on the board of directors for the Diversity Roundtable of Central Indiana as the director of professional development and I’m on the board of the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation, raising funds to help support IPS. I serve on the editorial board of Indy Maven, a digital media company that creates content by women and for women. Lastly, I serve on the board of directors of the Indiana Latino Expo and participate as a mentor in their Axis Leadership Development Program for young Latinx professionals.

Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

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