16 honoured at the 15th Annual Champions of Diversity Awards

Rosa Parks Trailblazer Awardees pose for a group photo at the 15th annual Champions of Diversity Awards Dinner in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS, JAN 18: Mumbai-born Rupal Thanawala was among 16 individuals and organizations, who were felicitated at the 15th annual Champions of Diversity Awards Dinner, hosted by Recorder Media Group which is the 3rd largest minority magazine and newspaper in its 125th year, in Marriott Downtown, Indianapolis, on Friday night.

Watched by more than 1000 guests and others, Rupal Thanawala, Managing Director of Trident Systems, was presented the prestigious Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award. She has been a leader in emerging technologies, life sciences and corporate responsibility for years. Thanawala’s previous positions included Indiana market director for Accenture, client director for PwC and a former partner at Tenthpin Management Consultants.

Asian American Alliance President Rupal is a Mitch Daniels Foundation Fellow, serves on the TechPoint board of directors, the Lung Association of Indiana Chapter and vice president of Strategic Partnership for Black Data Professional Association Indiana.

Speaking on the occasion, Rupal Thanawala said “It is a gratifying feeling for me and the award comes not with honour but an obligation as well. Being a trailblazer means to guide others and in particular girls and underserved population to achieve their dreams. Together, we will get a seat at the table, help break the glass ceiling and we will not be hidden figures anymore. It is my responsibility to mentor them to get an education, financial stability and achieve professional success.

Trailblazer Award winner Rupal Thanawala from Mumbai with her family members.

The 16 individuals and organizations exemplified diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in Indiana. From hiring practices to community outreach, the award recipients continue to push for a better Indiana by ensuring more people aren’t just tokens of diversity but have meaningful roles.

2020 Champion of Diversity Winnie Bulaya was presented by Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Bulaya has worked nights as a custodian at IUPUI for six years, and she delivers donations during the day through her ministry, “Welcome Basket Inc.”

Elizabeth J. Henry received William G. Mays Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. Elizabeth J. Henry owns and operates three McDonald’s restaurants. She is the recipient of the Golden Arch Award, one of the highest honours given to a McDonald’s owner/operator.

Laurie Ann Henry was felicitated with William G Meys Excellence Entrepreneurship Award. Laurie has received six outstanding GM awards, Black History Makers of Today and Tomorrow Award and the Ray Kroc Award, given to top one per cent performing managers in the USA. She is an executive board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana.

Eugene White was conferred with the Lifetime Education Advocate Award. Eugene White retired from Martin University in March 2019 after a  47-year career in education in Indiana.   After a short retirement, White became the fourth president of Martin University in 2013. He was named president emeritus in May 2019.

INDIVIDUAL HONOREES: Tavonna Harris Askew, Jeffrey Harrison, Candy King, Mario Rodriguez, Mariama Shaheed and Vernon Williams.

ORGANIZATION HONOREES:  Bloom Project (Arnetta Scruggs), Evansville African American Museum (Ashley Jordan), Indiana Donor Network (Kellie Hanner), Indianapolis Urban League (Tony Mason) and Special Olympics (Jeff Mohler).