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Celebrating the 2024 Champions of Diversity

The 2024 Champions of Diversity Awards was a night to remember with over a 1000 guests in attendance. This year we recognized 20 individuals and entities who through their professional and civic efforts have demonstrated what it truly means to embrace differences, build inclusion, and foster unity. 

Carolene Mays – Founder & President, Black Leadership + Legacies was awarded with the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Award; Haskell D. Portee (Danny) President & CEO, Professional Management Enterprises was awarded the William G. Mays Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award; Anushree M. Bag – Chief Information Officer, Indiana Department of Child Services was awarded the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award.

The Lifetime Education Advocate Award went to Building Blocks Academy; The Amos Brown went to Deon Levingston – Regional Vice President, Radio One

The president choice award went to Jennifer Pace Robinson President & CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; The community Impact award went to Brian Payne – Principal,  Creative Strategies Executive Coaching, Carve; The Golden Heart Award went to Dr. Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds – Vice President & Chief Health Equity Officer, Indiana University Health and School of Medicine; The Visionary Impact Award went to Dr. Nicky Ali Jackson – Executive Director, Center of Justice at Purdue Northwest; The Breaking Barriers Award went to Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette; The Social Justice Leader Award went to Terry J. Morris – Associate Vice President, Lilly; The Rising Star Award went to LaMar Holliday – CEO, The Holliday Collaborative Agency.

MBR is excited to have partnered with the Recorder to honor notable companies whose commitment  to Diversity Equity and Inclusion, can be seen across all levels in their organizations.

The Champions of Diversity in Consumer Goods and Retail Award went to Procter & Gamble because of their tireless efforts in creating an intentional approach to diversity, equity and inclusion that spreads across the organization, brands, partners and in various communities.

The Champions of Diversity in Transportation Award was awarded to Delta Air Lines because of their continued efforts to create a more inclusive workplace, their social initiatives to positively impact underprivileged communities, and their supplier diversity efforts to support a more inclusive business ecosystem under your “Lifting As We Climb” commitment.

The Champions of Diversity Excellence in Sports & Entertainment Award was awarded to the Pacers Sports & Entertainment  whose tireless efforts to support local initiatives in the community, supplier diversity and youth programs.

The Champions of Diversity in Finance Award was awarded to JP Morgan Chase & Co for their tireless efforts to advance economic opportunities for Black and Latinx communities, the $30 Billion towards racial equity, supporting minority-owned businesses, and promoting workforce diversity at all levels of the firm.

The Champions of Diversity in Technology Award was awarded to Google for their efforts to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in the workforce, create an inclusive workplace culture, and focus on STEM initiatives and opportunities for underrepresented groups.

We also recognized three individuals for their exemplary leadership who through their roles have broken barriers. Who continue to lead the charge in fostering sustainable change  through their work.

Geordan C. Coleman Vice President, Market Executive, Bank of America was awarded the Stewardship Young Leader Award

Geordan Coleman is the Vice President, Market Executive for the Indianapolis Market at Bank of America. Geordan will work in partnership with the president of the market and local leadership to help connect businesses, families and individuals to the banking and investment teams that will help improve their

financial lives. He will also support our efforts to deploy Bank of America’s resources in the market to address social and economic concerns and build strong communities. More specifically, Geordan will be responsible for the development and execution of the market plan designed to drive revenue work employee engagement, and corporate reputation.

Active in the community, Geordan, volunteers for organizations such as 100 Black Men, Gleaners, Newfields, Faye Biccard Glick Community Center and many more. Geordan also has coached Middle School and High School basketball, including an Indiana Class A State Championship in 2017 with Charles A. Tindley Accelerated High School. Geordan’s last coaching stint was at KIPP Indy Legacy High on the Eastside of Indianapolis. Geordan has been instrumental in bringing the Bank of America Employee Network, Black Professional Group to the local Indiana Market and has served as the Communication Chair for the group and now Chair. He has also been awarded 2 of the highest awards from Bank of America. The Pinnacle Award due to his energies with the Payroll Protection Plan, as well as a 2022 Volunteer Award where Geordan was 1 of 70 awardees out of 200,000 employees due to his efforts with the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis.

Geordan has been with Bank of America for 5 years and brings more than 13 years’ experience in the financial services industry, having held roles in Retail Banking, KYC, Treasury Solutions, Sales Support, and Business Banking Advisory role for Credit, Treasury, and Business Integration. Geordan is very passionate in his community service as you have heard and looks forward to more opportunities. Geordan Currently resides in McCordsville, IN with his wife Jordan and daughter Nova.

What does “diversity” mean to you?

Diversity to me means acceptance. It means regardless of where a person comes from, regardless of their skin color, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of who that person is, you accept them. The bible says clearly to love thy neighbor as thyself. It does not continue to say to only love a certain group, race, gender, but thy neighbor.

Please share a short success story or example of how you have made a positive impact in promoting diversity and inclusion.

One success story with Diversity and Inclusion is that in Indianapolis, we don’t have an employee Network group for our Latin X group. Knowing that we have roughly a 20% make up I decided to do a couple community service efforts with Indiana Latino Institute. The blessing of this was that afterwards an associate came to me and simply said “thank you. Thank you for thinking about us. Thank you for bringing me along to see this. Seeing youth that look like me wanting to further their education is so important. Hopefully seeing me will allow them to look to the finance industry once they’re finished with college.”

What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?

Current book that I am reading is 11 Rings “The Soul of Success” by Phil Jackson.

Heidi Pellerano Chief Commercial Officer, Concacaf was awarded the Emerald Leadership Award

Heidi Pellerano joined Concacaf in February 2019 and is responsible for leading the Commercial division. In this capacity, Pellerano is responsible for developing and managing strategic partnerships to maximize the commercial opportunities of the organization. She has direct oversight of the departments of Business Development, Partnership Marketing, Digital and Emerging Technologies, Strategy, Media Distribution, and Broadcast Productions. She is also a member of the executive leadership of the Confederation.

Prior to Concacaf, Pellerano was an Executive Vice President at sports marketing agency Wasserman where she was responsible for leading Wasserman’s brands consulting division and multicultural practice. During her time at Wasserman, Pellerano consulted for leading brand retainer and projects clients such as AT&T, American Express, and Target on a wide range of business challenges including sponsorship strategies, negotiations, and measurement across sports, entertainment, and music. Additionally, she led Wasserman’s multicultural team in Miami with a focus on developing partnership and activation strategies for clients targeting the Hispanic segment in the United States as well as Mexico.

 Previously, Pellerano served as a Director with Raleigh, North Carolina-based sports, and entertainment consulting agency OnSport, which was acquired in 2007 by Wasserman. In that role, Pellerano was responsible for strategy and client management for Nokia’s sports and music properties including the development of a comprehensive music strategy that resulted in the successful launch of two venue partnerships including the Nokia Theatre LA LIVE and Club Nokia. Pellerano joined OnSport in 2004 as a member of the American Express team, where she was involved with the analysis of American Express’ portfolio of sports, venue, entertainment, and ticketing partnerships including the NBA, USTA and Madison Square Garden.

What are some steps a company or organization can take to help promote diversity?

It starts with eliminating the barriers that lead to not identifying enough diverse candidates. The filters we use in evaluating resumes.

What does winning a Champions of Diversity Award mean to you?

It is fuel to my fire as it means that what I am doing is being recognized for making a difference so I need to continue to do more to effect real change.

What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?

What Would Ted Lasso Do

Alan Mills Partner, Barnes & Thornburg was awarded the Sapphire Diversity Maverick Award

Alan’s extensive business law practice includes selling and acquiring commercial real estate and other critical assets. He also represents clients in complex commercial litigation and bankruptcy matters, including financial institutions, special servicers, equity and hedge funds and secured creditors. A formidable litigator, Alan has served as lead counsel in the resolution of disputes involving common law fraud, mechanics’ liens, construction defects, lender liability, breach of contract, tort, premium recovery, RICO, conversion, product liability and commercial fraud. In addition, he guides secured and unsecured creditors through bankruptcy proceedings involving relief from the automatic stay, confirmation, cash collateral and valuation disputes, and reclamation and preference claims.

Clients of all kinds turn to Alan to manage the full scope of their legal affairs. A dedicated team player and committed relationship manager, Alan serves as outside general counsel to businesses and other organizations of all sizes and market segments. He is appreciated for his magnanimous personality and attentiveness to each client’s often distinct and unique needs. Alan is known for his ability to represent sophisticated clients in all areas of commercial law and for developing even the most extensive legal teams— with a focus on productivity at every turn.

Notably, Alan currently serves as official financial institutions counsel to the government of Mexico. A former chair of the firm’s Finance, Insolvency and Restructuring practice, Alan has also served on the firm’s management, recruiting and client relations committees, where he helped develop the firm’s diversity goals.

What does “diversity” mean to you?

To me, diversity means finding opportunities for historically underrepresented people. While I worry that the recent scrutiny of DEI programs will cause the legal industry and our country to regress, I remain hopeful that the commitment to DEI continues. Although I have my concerns, I feel strongly that this commitment will continue at Barnes & Thornburg under the leadership of Andrew Detherage and Dawn Rosemond. The commitment to DEI started at Barnes & Thornburg about 20 years ago when four African American partners– Harold Bickham, Tony Prather, Dawn Rosemond and I – met with the management committee to discuss creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment. The firm has made significant progress since that meeting, which has been wonderful to witness.

What are some steps a company or organization can take to help promote diversity?

You’ve got to have the leaders in your organization connected with your diverse talent. These leaders need to buy into their careers – if they buy into the careers of diverse talent then they’ll be successful with the promotion and retention of that talent. I also think that you have to take transition planning seriously. Every organization has transitions that take place, whether it’s due to people leaving or retiring. When companies create these transition plans, they need to think through how they’ll bring in more diverse talent to take over the work from those people transitioning out. Transition planning, especially when it pertains to retirement, has not historically been executed well.

What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?

I am rereading Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth because I’ve always admired his thinking. I am also reading the work, The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois. I prefer nonfiction over fiction.

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