The Crusader Newspaper Group

Selection of four Indy award recipients exemplifies excellence

Photo caption: l to r: Steven Jones; Amy Conrad Warner; Karen L. Dace, PhD.; Pat Payne

Every now and again, something happens so right you just have to testify.

Awards presentations permeate every committee. It’s not that recipients aren’t worthy of recognition, it’s just that there are so many it’s hard to keep track.

People are given awards for a multiplicity of reasons. Some are rewarded for acts of valor or courage. Awards are given to those who either in professional, personal, or public life have managed to give above and beyond the average.

Many organizations encourage their internal infrastructure by designing awards that praise diligent workers within. Sometimes those organizations focus on individuals whose outside contributions help facilitate operations.

Awards are our way of saying your dedication doesn’t go unnoticed.

There is an organization in Indianapolis called Steward Speakers Powered by IUPUI. The organization has existed for 34 years. IUPUI has been title sponsor for the last six years. Essentially, the organization each year brings in nationally and Internet nationally renowned speakers to address local issues from a global perspective.

Retired police officer Sergeant Matthew Steward launched the project and has received overwhelming support from the community, volunteers, a board of directors, the media and hundreds of season ticket holders who trust him every year to bring high-quality individuals to address myriad concerns.

Each year, Steward organizers don’t disappoint.

Past speakers include Secretary of State Colin Powell, award-winning actress Viola Davis, gospel music icon Kirk Franklin, academy award-winning rapper and actor Common; comedian, author, radio and television personality Steve Harvey, educator and activist Eric Michael Dyson, syndicated radio personality Ricky Smiley and actress Phylicia Rashad… to name a few.

The keynote speaker for the climatic gala on April 13 will be famed actress Nia Long, well known for her iconic work in Boyz N the Hood, Friday, Love Jones, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Third Watch and The Best Man franchise; the latter two garnering her three NAACP Image Award wins.

The 2023 series finale comes with a twist. Along with star power, Steward is honoring four local individuals who have distinguished themselves as local stars in their own right. In this stellar selection of honorees, the Steward Speakers come up a winner. The civic, professional and personal achievements of each have had a positive influence on the community.

This year, Steward Speakers will honor change makers in education, diversity, equity, and inclusion. All four choices have deep footprints in the path that leads to what’s good and fair in Indianapolis. Their influence extends well beyond, impacting countless lives throughout the nation.

The worthy honorees are:

Steven Jones

Director of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies and Dean for Professional Development Wabash College

Amy Conrad Warner

IUPUI Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement

Karen L. Dace, PhD.

IUPUI Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Pat Payne

Lifetime Achievement

Director of the Racial Equity Office Indianapolis Public Schools

As I indicated earlier, sometimes those giving awards get it right. In this case, they struck gold on all four choices.

Vernon A. Williams
Vernon A. Williams

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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