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Milan Ball: Fierce Black philanthropist—and Indy transplant—driving social impact

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Philanthropy, as defined by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, embodies voluntary actions undertaken for the betterment of the public. This noble endeavor is a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for selfless contribution to the welfare of society. Rooted in this principle, Milan Ball’s journey to Indianapolis took shape, and it’s one that melded personal growth, academic pursuit, and a deep, immediate love for this city.

When I met Milan, I was immediately drawn to her. Not only is she usually the best dressed in the room, but her presence is captivating. When interacting with Milan, I quickly learned that when she contributes, the entire room listens. She’s bold, dynamic, brilliant, and in so many ways, she’s just getting started.

Recently appointed, Milan now serves as the director of development and Marketing at Be Nimble Foundation, and she’ll be serving the Indy community in impactful ways—here locally and across the country. So, let’s get to know Milan.

How does a DMV-native, who completed her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York while also living abroad and launching her own tech company plant roots in Indianapolis, Indiana?

MB: During the pandemic, my mother held a role as a travel nurse stationed in Indianapolis. Before visiting her, I never considered Indiana as a place to plant roots. Little did I know, that visit had the potential to change everything. After one visit, I was charmed by Indy’s warm, welcoming and vibrant community. I quickly made the decision to pursue my master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and I’ve now been an Indy resident for one year now…

Social impact is such a large concept that touches on so many aspects of our community. Would you share what it is about social impact that you’re most passionate about impacting?

MB: Throughout my career thus far, I’ve often found myself at the helm of initiatives that transform lives through entrepreneurship and upskilling programs, fostering racial equity and strengthening economic development. All of those things illustrate social impact. And for me personally, I believe that changing the world begins with transforming the marketplace. From the businesses that emerge, the leaders and labor behind them, the lives transformed by their existence, and their potential to create everlasting good. What excites me most about social impact at the intersection of business and creative fields like fashion for instance, is helping people secure their futures, livelihoods, on the foundation of ethical and sustainable principles. If every business were socially and environmentally responsible, what would the world look like? How many problems that philanthropy exists to solve can be eradicated with better, equitable ecosystems?  

So, you’ve recently accepted a role with Be Nimble Foundation, a social enterprise committed to developing a blueprint for diversity and inclusion in tech. Tell us more about what you’ll be doing in this role.

MB: Accepting this role felt like a very natural next step as it enables me to draw on personal experiences as a business owner in the tech startup space. Through Be Nimble Foundation’s innovative business ecosystem, we’re helping Black & Latinx talent pivot into tech careers, launch businesses and scale enterprises. It’s not lost on me that there’s a symbiotic relationship between my personal journey and Be Nimble Foundation’s mission, one underscoring the significance of and gratitude I hold for this role. I have the good fortune of leading our fundraising and marketing efforts to grow our Nile Capital Fund, to support entrepreneurs in Indiana and the greater Midwest region.

What does it mean to be a Black woman in tech helping to pave paths for other, diverse tech talent?

MB: As a Black woman startup founder who transitioned from fashion into tech, I deeply connect with the mission at hand. Our organization’s efforts, through funding, accelerators and community engagement, serve as catalysts for transformative change, breaking down barriers and fostering a diverse, inclusive tech and entrepreneurial landscape—which I’m thrilled to play a role in this work.

Milan, for our readers who are just learning about Be Nimbe Foundation, could you share more about some of your recent projects and successes?

MB: Be Nimble’s commitment to holistic well-being and progress is critical to create and maintain vibrant and diverse communities where everyone has equitable access to opportunities.

Recent celebrations, such as the Exhale App Launch at Newfields and our partnership with Pacers Sports & Entertainment for the Indy Night Market underscore Be Nimble’s proactive approach to fostering unity and community development. Indy has never been more suited to align and act toward equity, and I’m thrilled to have a seat at the table and a voice to contribute as this work takes place.

Milan, as you assume this role, what are you most excited about?

There is so much on the horizon for our team. I’m excited for us to grow, but I am also just sitting with the gratitude of learning from our co-founders, Kelli N. Jones and Jeff Williams. I’m honored to join two power players who (true to our name) nimbly led our organization to a point where my role could exist. Discovering the five years of their labor, love and commitment to the cause leaves me excited for the new capacity to do more. From once in a lifetime partnership experiences like NBA All Star 2024 to our annual fundraiser Madame CJ’s Garden Pardi, I look forward to the journey of learning from our growing team and making my mark along the way.

Those interested in connecting with Milan are invited to find her on LinkedIn. Please visit the Be Nimble Foundation website to learn more about how they’re working to drive equity and inclusion in entrepreneurship and tech. For more local philanthropy news from the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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