As the 2021 Indyfluence passed its halfway point, all of our Indyfluence interns came together for the Doers and Changemakers Event! Early Wednesday morning, our interns tuned in to learn from some of Indy’s most influential leaders about why they chose Indianapolis and how they’re shaping the future of our community!
The event was broadcast live from Fountain Square and hosted by none other than Lexie Manor—local Indyfluence intern and host of Lexie’s Life in Indy. Lexie started by outlining the day’s event, revealing that there would be three mini-panels over the next hour . Each panel focused on a different topic and featured panelists who were civic leaders, local advocates, and true changemakers.
But before the panels began, Lexie gave everyone a sneak peek into our upcoming GIVE BACK event. Next week, our Indyfluence interns will be donating $14,000 to the local Indianapolis nonprofit of their choice—based on which organization receives the most of their votes! We introduced our interns to our four finalist organizations: The Joseph Maley Foundation, Trinity Haven, Exodus Refugee Immigration, and Project Azul! And then, we opened the polls for voting! The polls will remain open until the beginning of the GIVE BACK event on July 21st, when we will announce the winner LIVE!
With the introduction out of the way, it was finally time to begin the panel discussions!
“Having An Instant Impact” Panel
The first Doers and Changemakers panel focused on how you can make an instant impact in your community, even as a young professional. Our three panelists were all incredibly successful young professionals who are making a major impact here in Indy—and they’re only a few years older than our Indyfluence interns!
The first panel featured
- Sara Hindi: a graduate assistant with the Center for Service and Learning at IUPUI, who is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Affairs at IUPUI with a concentration in Innovation and Social Change.
- Representative Mitch Gore: who was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2020, making him the youngest member of the Indiana General Assembly! He is now the Captain and Public Information Officer at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
- And Jo Garcia: the Community Outreach Manager for the Indianapolis Indians. She oversees the day-to-day activities of their nonprofit, the Indianapolis Indians Charities.
Lexie started by asking each panelist to share their story and the journey that led them to where they are today! Although their stories were all very different, there was one clear, overarching theme. The Indianapolis community helped them get their foot in the door early on in their careers.
In fact, all three panelists said that, if anything, their youth was an asset here in Indianapolis because everyone they connected with truly cared about helping them along the way! This truly showed our interns that networking makes a difference, and those connections become lasting relationships here. After all, Indy is a place where you can have a seat at the table—regardless of your age!
“Finding Meaning in the Middle” Panel
Our second panel showcased three revolutionary leaders who’ve found meaning and purpose through their community work and advocacy.
These inspirational leaders are:
- Blair Milo: who previously served as the Mayor of La Porte, Indiana, and then became the state’s first Secretary of Career Connections and Talent. Now, Blair is the Founding Director of The Center for Talent and Opportunity at the Sagamore Institute, an initiative focused on closing the wealth gap by cultivating inclusive startup communities and entrepreneurial ecosystems.
- Mark Minner: the President & Chief Strategy Officer at First Person Advisors, an Indianapolis-based benefits, compensation, and organizational health advisory firm. He helps develop the firm’s vision and collaborates with clients to build innovative benefit and compensation strategies.
- And Mali Simone Jeffers: who started her career by organizing performance events for the spoken word community. Now, among a plethora of civic duties, Mali is the co-founder of GANGGANG, a cultural development firm based in Indy.
Lexie began the panel by asking them about their stories and how Indy helped them discover their strengths as a leader. In their answers, all three panelists credited the older mentors they met here in Indianapolis, explaining how those leaders helped transform them into the people they are today. They talked about how Indy’s leaders make themselves accessible and always approach mentorship with a unique intentionality—and that’s what makes Indy so special.
“Looking For Legacy” Panel
Finally, our last panel featured two local leaders who talked about how they’re building a lasting legacy here in Indy.
The last panel of the morning included:
- Angela Smith Jones: the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Health & Hospital Corporation. She oversees the strategic implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to ensure that all employees, patients, clients, and vendors feel welcome and valued.
- And Darryl Lockett: an Indianapolis native and the Executive Director of The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative. This initiative focuses on encouraging difficult conversations around race, equity, social justice, and community building.
Darryl Lockett explained that he left Indianapolis for Washington D.C. right after he graduated. Back then, he wanted “to get as far away from Indy as possible.” However, he ended up coming back to Indianapolis later on, and he said that if he could do it all over again, he would have never left! When he came back, Daryll was amazed by all the things his colleagues had accomplished here while he was gone!
Darryl and Angela talked a lot about how Indy has grown and changed over the years, becoming a more diverse and inclusive city. They said that they’re especially hopeful for the future of this city and the impact that our interns will have as the next generation of leaders!
All in all, our interns learned a lot from these remarkable doers and changemakers about how they work together to lead, serve, and shape this city—and how our interns can do the same!
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