Celebrating mission-driven people or organizations that have helped push our tech community forward.

Our tech ecosystem may grow and expand because of the innovative products or solutions companies develop, but it thrives because the people who work in Indiana continually give back to the local communities in which they work and live.

The Community Impact Award celebrates mission-driven people or organizations that have helped to push our tech community forward—the impact makers of the year. Whether it’s through a corporation, an agency, a social enterprise, or through grit and determination as an individual, these inspiring champions have made a difference for all of us.

Diversity is an integral part of growing, cultivating, and sustaining tech in Indiana. This year’s Community Impact Award nominees are actively pursuing ways to break down barriers, working to reach underserved and underrepresented populations, and changing the landscape of tech so it more accurately mirrors the communities in Indiana.  

Our 2020 nominees are spread throughout Indiana, whether in Fort Wayne, encouraging rural communities to grow their tech or targeting minorities and facilitating workspaces throughout central Indiana to foster entrepreneurship. The common denominator between all of the nominees is they are passionately investing time and resources into Indiana, helping to grow native talent, support the tech ecosystem, and create even more opportunities.

The 2019 Community Impact Award recipient, Katie Birge (former Executive Director at Launch Indy at Union 525), was integral in fostering a communal workspace for tech start-ups and supporting them with the resources they need to thrive as entrepreneurs. Her tireless efforts went beyond “business hours” to try new ways of reaching community members with little knowledge and resources on how to move forward with great ideas.  With great success, Katie has since joined M25 Venture Capital where she launched their Indianapolis office and is working to bring and retain tech businesses in Indiana.

2018’s winner, Kristen Cooper, founder and CEO of The Startup Ladies, made waves as she paved the way for women in tech to find their footing. She created a structure for women to rise as an entrepreneurial force in Indiana tech. As Kristen continues to advocate and expand opportunities for women in tech, she’s also changing to meet our current climate challenges. She even helped facilitate a partnership of converting the IndyCar factory (Dallara) into a temporary production company for PPE gowns and protective masks by connecting two female entrepreneurs with Mayer Fabrics. As a result, design, product, and manufacturing resources came together so that more personal protective equipment (PPE) could be produced for medical professionals.

This year’s nominees include:

  • Eleven Fifty Academy (Indianapolis, Fishers, Ind.)  Eleven Fifty Academy is a nonprofit coding and cybersecurity school for individuals ready to transform their lives and career path in just three or six months.
  • Indiana Department of Correction (Indianapolis, Ind.) Knowledge is power. The opportunity provided by TLM through the Indiana Department of Correction empowers former offenders.
  • Indy Hackers (Indianapolis, Ind.)  — IndyHackers strives to help tech people in Indiana grow by fostering community connections and celebrating individual successes.
  • Code Black Indy Inc. (Indianapolis, Ind.)  — Code Black Indy is committed to building and strengthening a diverse workforce within the Indy tech community.
  • Kelli N. Jones and Jeff TD Williams, Co-Founders, Be Nimble Ventures & Black Hatch Fund (Indianapolis, Ind.) Be Nimble Foundation is a social enterprise dedicated to accelerating the growth of black tech ecosystems through the empowerment of tech career transitioners and black tech founders.
  • Chelsea Linder, gBETA Managing Director, gener8tor (Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Ind.) Chelsea is a tireless and passionate community builder and connector who supports the entire ecosystem with her leadership.
  • Jason Pennington, Executive Director, Indiana IoT Lab  (Fishers, Ind.) Jason Pennington, Executive Director of the Indiana IoT Lab, has spearheaded the Lab’s position as a leader of innovation in the Midwest.
  • The Polis Center at IUPUI (Indianapolis, Ind.) The SAVI Community Information System, powered by The Polis Center at IUPUI, provides data and research for Central Indiana communities to improve quality of life and address pressing issues.
  • Rural Innovation Network (Delphi, Ind.) The Rural Innovation Network is a revolutionary initiative that’s building a world class innovation ecosystem in Carroll County, Indiana.
  • The Speak Easy (Indianapolis, Ind.) The Speak Easy is a co-working space with a community mission: breaking down the barriers to entrepreneurship.
  • Women & Hi Tech (Indianapolis, Ind.) Since 1999, Women & Hi Tech promotes, advances, and champions women and girls to change the STEM landscape to be equally inclusive to all.
  • Luke Zhang, Data Scientist, DemandJump (Indianapolis, Ind.) A former XTern, Tech Fellow, and current Data Scientist at DemandJump, Luke Zhang is passionate about giving back to Indy‚Äôs tech ecosystem.

The 2020 Mira Award winners will be announced live on a special broadcast during the 21st gala on Thursday, June 18, with presenting sponsors Eli Lilly and Company, Genesys, Infosys, Raytheon Technologies and Salesforce. Thousands are expected to watch the live broadcast on social media platforms and via Zoom VIP room watch parties.
Get more information about the broadcast here. Join us on June 18 for the unveiling of the Community Impact Mira Award winner.