The Indiana Minority Business Magazine’s highly anticipated annual event Champions of Diversity took center stage, Friday Jan. 12. Champions of Diversity was a jam-packed night highlighting history and legacy at the JW Marriott in Downtown Indianapolis.

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2024 Champions of Diversity: Champions for change

“Our publications are intentional about ensuring the accomplishments of people of color are not only highlighted but brought to the forefront in a way that is fair, accurate and representative,” said Indianapolis Recorder Editor-in-Chief Camike Jones during the awards ceremony.

“We host this event every year for the exact same reasons: to tell the stories and promote the accomplishments of individuals, businesses and organizations who champion diversity and inclusion.”

Champions of Diversity

2024 Champions of Diversity: Champions for change

The 17th annual event has grown in popularity. This year its footprint expanded to a national level through the Minority Business Review alongside the Indiana Minority Business Magazine.

Host Ramon Ray, dubbed the Celebrity CEO, kept the energy up all night with his vivacious energy and hilarious commentary.

With a talkative audience, the large-scale event felt like a family reunion for many.

“I feel excited and elated that we had over 1,000 people. We had 20 awardees showcasing the great work that they have done over the years. So, me seeing the Recorder be a part of that history is amazing,” said Recorder Media Group President and CEO Robert Shegog.

2024 Champions of Diversity: Champions for change

Twenty people and organizations received different awards throughout the night, including the previous Newfields President and CEO Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, who received the Breaking Barriers Award with a standing ovation.

Pierce Burnette was brought to tears during her standing ovation, appreciative of the support she has received after recently stepping down from her role.

Haskell (Danny) D. Portee, president and CEO of Professional Management Enterprises, received the William G. Mays Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award presented by the late Williams G. Mays’ wife.

Diversity and inclusion

“This is why having this event is so important. Many people don’t get accolades or their flowers. Danny Portee said he met Mr. Mays many years ago, and Mr. Mays even helped him with fighting for diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Shegog.

“If it wasn’t for Mr. Mays and others pushing things forward, we would be stuck in our old ways, and doing the same things, and getting the same results.”

2024 Champions of Diversity: Champions for change

Carolene Mays received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom award and was given a standing ovation before and after her speech.

CIO of the Indiana Department of Child Services, Anushree M. Bag, received the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award, and her powerful speech touched on the work Parks did for civil rights and what work needs to be done today.

“I’m really appreciative of our staff. I always tell people we’re small but mighty. I also want to thank our sponsors. We [the Indianapolis Recorder] turn 129 years old this year,” said Shegog.

Sponsors included Northwest Bank, Mays Chemical and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON.