Center for Leadership Development goes virtual for 40th Annual Minority Achievers Awards and Scholarship Gala

Historic virtual event celebrates scholars and Indianapolis minority professionals


INDIANAPOLIS – Yesterday evening, the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) hosted its first ever virtual Minority Achievers Awards and Scholarship Gala. In response to the spread of COVID-19, the virtual gala, which was CLD’s 40th annual celebration, streamed live on Facebook.

Setting a historic precedent, the virtual event was open to all viewers wishing to celebrate the academic, professional and personal achievements of members in the Indianapolis community. Title sponsor, and longtime supporter of CLD, OneAmerica kicked off the event with a welcome message from chairman, president and CEO J. Scott Davison.

“Each year this is an inspiring evening as we celebrate young professionals who are leaders in our community,” said Davison. “We’re grateful for the positive impact of CLD and the partnership we’ve developed over the decades.”

This year, $4.1 million is scholarships were awarded supporting more than 70 students as they pursue higher education. In addition to the awarded scholarships, CLD highlighted honorees and awarded minority professionals for their contributions to the community.

“Despite the current climate, we are proud to be able to showcase our scholars, honorees and award recipients.” said CLD President Dennis Bland. “The 40th Annual Minority Achievers Awards and Scholarship Gala has made its mark on CLD history and solidified the importance of coming together as a community to honor one another no matter the circumstance.”

The following awards and recipients were highlighted and honored at the virtual gala last evening:

  • Henry Bundles Award Recipient: Helen Baker Bundles, former Vice President of Administration and Curriculum at CLD and wife of CLD’s founder, the late S. Henry Bundles, Jr.
  • Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Kelvin Wade, Director of Patient and Visitor Services at Indiana University Health and 1996 CLD Alum
  • Madame C. J. Walker Outstanding Woman of the Year Recipient: Deborah Hearn Smith, former CEO of Girls Scouts of Central Indiana
  • Accomplished Achievement Award Recipient: William Shrewsberry, President and CEO of Shrewsberry and Associates
  • Achievement in Arts & Entertainment Award Recipient: Nichelle Hayes, Leader of the Center for Black Literature & Culture at the Indianapolis Public Library and Member of Delta Sigma theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Achievement in Business & Industry Award Recipient: Akilah Darden, President of the Darden Group and member of the Alpha Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Achievement in Communications/PR/Advertising Award Recipient: Kristian Stricklen, Chief Communications and Engagement Officer with Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Achievement in Education, K-12 Award Recipient: Shawn Bush, Director of Student Services with the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township
  • Achievement in Education, Postsecondary Award Recipient: Darren Henry, Director of Diversity Initiatives with Purdue University Krannert School of Management
  • Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award Recipient: Renee Pillow, Owner and Certified Fitness Trainer of F.I.T. with Renee
  • Achievement in Financial Services Award Recipient: Cynthia Newman, Regional Vice President and registered partner and principal of the Newman group of Indianapolis and member of the Alpha Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Achievement in Professions Award Recipient: Deborah Whitfield, Director of Network Diversity with Community Health Network
  • Achievement in Non-Profit and/or Public & Community Service Award Recipient: Matthew Steward, Unit Supervisor for Strategic Initiatives & Sergeant with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
  • Achievement in Science & Technical Disciplines Award Recipient: Kimberly Steward, Crop Protection Research & Development Fungicide Chemistry Leader with Corteva Agriscience
  • Up & Coming Achiever Award Recipient: Jonathan Jones, Manufacturing Representative for Project Management with Corteva Agriscience
  • Director’s Award Recipient: Jeanne Dickens, Geriatric Psychiatrist with Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center

Since 1977, CLD has provided enriching programs to supplement and reinforce tens of thousands of African American and minority youths’ learning and developmental experiences. The organization’s dynamic program model is committed to teaching five cornerstone values:  Character. Education. Leadership. Service. Career. CLD refers to these values as the Principles for Success, all driving toward one result:  Achievement.

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Center for Leadership Development

The Center for Leadership Development offers youth and adult participants an enriching and engaging experience that helps them achieve personal and academic success. Our programs encourage high, realistic expectations and equip youth with the skills, understanding, confidence and hands-on guidance they need to develop personally, excel academically and build a value system of achievement. Over 40 years, we have enriched the lives of more than 20,000 youths and their families. For more information, visit