Center for Leadership Development hosts 41st Annual Minority Achievers Awards and Scholarship Gala

Annual event celebrates scholars and Indianapolis minority professionals

INDIANAPOLIS – Thursday evening, the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) celebrated its 41st Minority Achievers Awards and Scholarship Gala. The annual event, hosted this year by Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson, Sr., of Eastern Star Church, paid tribute to exceptional minority professionals in Central Indiana and honored the educational excellence of CLD Scholars.

Presented virtually by Cargill, the event was open to all viewers wishing to celebrate the academic, professional and personal achievement of nominees, award recipients and local minority students. Over 800 individuals from 24 states registered to participate in this inspiring evening of excellence.

“We are proud to be able to showcase our scholars, honorees and award recipients,” said CLD President Dennis Bland. “Thank you to our many community partners, the higher education institutions welcoming CLD Scholars and the many generous sponsors who contribute to CLD’s mission of fostering the advancement of minority youth in Central Indiana as future professional, business and community leaders by providing experiences that encourage personal development and educational attainment.”

This year, more than $2.8 million in scholarships was awarded to 43 students to support their pursuit of educational excellence and higher education. Those numbers will grow as schools continue to make their decisions and CLD scholars accept.

In addition, CLD highlighted nominees and recognized minority professionals for their contributions to the community. Award recipients include:

• S. Henry Bundles Jr. Award for Service to the Center for Leadership Development: Derica Rice and Robin Nelson-Rice, philanthropists and board member and CLD Alumna, respectively

• Madame C. J. Walker Outstanding Woman of the Year: Marta Bell, domestic violence advocate and preventionist for violence against women

• Accomplished Achievement Award: John Thompson, chairman and CEO of Thompson Distribution Company, First Electric Supply Company, CMID and BC Countertops

• Lifetime Achievement Award: Pamela Carter, Indiana’s first Black female attorney general

• Achievement in Business & Industry Award: Howard Stevenson, founder and partner of Stevenson Legal Group

• Achievement in Education, K-12 Award: Dr. Crystal Thorpe, principal of Fishers Junior High School

• Achievement in Education, Postsecondary Award: Dr. LaWanda Jobe, executive director of the Instructional Site in Lawrence for Ivy Tech Community College

• Essential Worker Award: Dr. Indy Lane, physician executive for Product Line, staff obstetrician and gynecologist for Community Health Network and chief medical director of the Fishers Health Department

• Up & Coming Achiever Award: Sherie Scott, director of schools for the Indiana Charter School Board

• CLD Alumni of the Year Award: Sisters Stacy Lawrence Grooms (CLD ‘78) and Kimberley Lawrence Curry (CLD ‘79)

The Essential Worker Award was new in 2021 and sought nominees who showed extraordinary resilience during a global pandemic while performing in essential infrastructure operations (law enforcement and public safety, food agriculture/production/service, health care and emergency services, transportation, energy).

Additionally, all donations made during the gala were matched 2:1 by Lilly Endowment, with an initial estimate of more than $115,000 raised during the evening. CLD encourages the public to continue contributing to the endowment campaign, which has a $1 million goal and ends Sept. 30, 2021.

CLD is especially appreciative of its new partner, RCI, for a special $10,000 check presentation and for kicking off an employee-match giving campaign announced at the event.

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.