Meet the judges.
Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges review and rank applications, interview nominees, and select the Mira Award winners as part of four-person panels for each category.
With 10+ years of marketing experience, Leanna has honed her ability to establish and grow brands. She’s passionate about helping companies identify and refine who they are, what they stand for and how to reach others with their message. Leanna has led brand and marketing strategy for clients ranging from non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 companies. She loves partnering with companies like Stanley Security, Purdue, and Cheetah Digital to identify how product brand and product marketing can support business objectives.
Steve Appel of Gregory & Appel Insurance, focuses his efforts on the Venture Capital/Private Equity, Technology and Life Sciences sectors, and works with many emerging growth company entrepreneurs. He is an Executive Committee/Board member of TechAssure, an organization of technology risk experts. He is also a past President and current board member of the Association for Corporate Growth, Indiana. Prior to Gregory & Appel, he worked for two portfolio companies of Santa Monica, CA-based Venture Fund/Incubator eCompanies. Earlier in his career, Steve was Legislative Director and Press Secretary for U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs, (CA-01). Steve is a Rollins College graduate, with a Masters Degree from Northwestern University.
Dave is an attorney and former big four accountant who helps companies catalyze growth and investors deploy capital. He advises clients on the legal, tax and general business issues that arise when raising capital, establishing incentive plans to encourage employee performance, entering into joint ventures and other strategic transactions, and engaging in mergers and acquisitions. His clients include technology companies of all stages, private and family-owned businesses both small and large, and both institutional and angel investors.
Appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb in 2019 to serve as Secretary of IDDC, a new quasi-government agency to brand and promote Indiana to attract and retain businesses, talent, students, and visitors. Prior to IDDC, Elaine served the Governor as President of the IEDC, appointed in 2017. Elaine is a business owner. Bedel Financial Consulting, a wealth management firm, was founded by Elaine in 1989. Lifelong Hoosier, currently residing in Indianapolis with husband, Eric. Undergraduate from Hanover College and MBA from Butler University.
Kyle Bender has long sought opportunities to blend interests in education, policy and technology. A graduate of Wabash College, Kyle’s career in Indy began as a Teach For America corps member teaching 7-12th grade technology courses. He worked at Finish Line in various IT Strategy roles before returning to TFA to lead fundraising and government affairs efforts. He is currently an MBA candidate at IU’s Kelley School of Business and will matriculate to Eli Lilly & Company as a Marketing Consultant in June 2021. Kyle and his wife Kathleen live in the Arden neighborhood with their dogs, Kopper and Kali.
Jay Black is Senior Director of Engineering at OpenText. In this role, Jay oversees the development and maintenance of Carbonite Endpoint, a data protection product that is deployed on over 1/2 million devices worldwide. Jay's efforts in the software development and data protection industries span several roles over his 20 year career, including Software Engineer, Product Manager, Project Manager and Scrum Master. While Indianapolis has been his home base since graduating from Hanover College, he has had the opportunity to support data protection products within several companies (NSI Software, DoubleTake, Carbonite, and OpenText) due to mergers and acquisitions.
Mitch Black is a high tech and telecom C-level executive with extensive experience in both public and private companies. As the CEO of Shiftlab, he focuses on creating solutions that empower the retail space to make strategic workforce management decisions that drives ROI.
Lori Boyer is an energetic Software Engineer with a solid track record in the design, development, and deployment of cloud-based applications and possesses excellent project management skills. Over the years, she has refined her coding skills and continues to enhance her C#, VB.NET, and SQL development skills. A graduate of Indiana University, Lori is always looking to learn new technology and recently earned a nanodegree in Android Development. Lori was recognized as a member of the 2018 #Tech25 class. She was a finalist for a Leading Light Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) from Women & Hi Tech. She was also a TechPoint Mira Award Finalist in the Technical Services Division. Lori currently serves on the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors. She lives in Indianapolis, with her husband, Marty.
Christopher Campbell is Senior Vice President, Product & Technology at Angie’s List. In this role, Mr. Campbell manages strategic product direction, software development, and technology for Angie’s List. Mr. Campbell previously served as the Vice President of Product for Angie’s List after working with two Chicago startups through successful exits. Mr. Campbell currently serves several local organizations, including TechPoint, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Women & Hi-Tech, and the WACF. Mr. Campbell received dual degrees in Computer Science and Marketing from Saint Joseph’s College.
I am a bilingual/bicultural digital media & learning technology strategist interested in exploring the impact of marketing, media technology, entertainment, & education on identity formation and using that information to create innovative community-based education models centered around active participation of local residents in communities that struggle to access reliable sources of information.
Jeff Corns is the President & COO of Schneider Geospatial. Corns has been a leader in the geospatial and GovTech market for over 25 years. In his career with Schneider, he has expanded and diversified the company’s geographic and vertical markets, including leading the successful acquisitions of ProMap (2005), qPublic (2014), and Elevate (2020). During his leadership, the company has launched several of its most successful products, including Beacon™ and GeoPermits™, platforms satisfying over 500 million requests for information annually. Schneider Geospatial is a past winner of multiple Mira Awards, and recognized as a Best Places to Work in Indiana.
After 25 years of executive leadership experience across a variety of business units and industries, Andy joined the IVM team in 2018 where he now serves as their CIO. “It’s exciting to be a non-technical CIO who is helping to bridge the gap between the business and the technology sides of an organization.” In 2020, Andy was selected as a CTO of the Year Honoree by the IBJ and TechPoint. Prior to IVM, Andy founded My Mobile Fans, a local app design and development firm, which was selected as a Finalist in the 2012 and 2013 MIRA Awards.
Christine DeWeese is a Senior Director, Salesforce Marketing Cloud Product Management focusing on product adoption and customer experience. Christine has worked in the software industry for 20+ years, the last 10 in the digital marketing space. Her passion is customer success, delivering solutions to help customers be successful, understanding their goals and challenges and how to bring solutions to market to address those needs. Christine holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Math, a traditional MBA and an altMBA with coursework from Seth Godin.
Joshua Driver is the recipient of the 2017 Techpoint Mira Award Community Champion of the Year Award and a member of the 2020 Class of “40 Under 40” by the Indiana Business Journal. Joshua founded the global nonprofit, Open for Service in 2015 to create a directory of businesses that pledge to not turn someone away for who they are. After managing the relationships between his nonprofit and corporate partners, Joshua launched Selfless.ly – a software platform to help companies and their employees manage their philanthropic goals and increase corporate social responsibility. Selfless.ly is Indiana’s first Domestic Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corp. Joshua serves on the City of Indianapolis’s Equal Opportunity Advisory Board and is Chairperson of the XBE Contract Compliance Committee.
Angela B. Freeman is an Intellectual Property/Patent Attorney and Partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Indianapolis. With over 15 years of experience as a “bench” biologist prior to her legal career, Ms. Freeman developed her passion for science and technology as a genetic researcher and clinical scientist at global pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly & Company. In addition to her legal, technical, and business acumen, as the first diverse President and the Past President of Women & Hi Tech, Ms. Freeman is also a recognized community leader and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst women in STEM in Indiana.
Steve enjoys helping birth ideas: visions, strategies, businesses, careers, missions and purposes! He has been a strategic advisor for over fifty Indianapolis area technology startups. Steve was an early leader of the finance teams of five of Indianapolis's most notable tech growth companies that resulted in successful exits: Software Artistry, ExactTarget, Compendium, Emerging Threats and PolicyStat. In 2018 he moved into the world of academia and became the Director of the McDermond Center for Management and Entrepreneurship at DePauw University. In this role, Steve helps develop tomorrow's business leaders and entrepreneurs from DePauw's student and alumni communities.
Larry is a nationally recognized economic development leader with 30 years of local and state government, not-for-profit and private sector experience. Throughout his career, Larry has worked on more than 500 economic development projects resulting in over $10 billion in capital investment, the creation of over 100,000 new jobs, and the retention of over 180,000 existing jobs. Larry is a member of The Site Selector’s Guild, an internationally recognized site selection organization, and is a regular speaker and panelist at conferences throughout North America.
Julie Heath is Executive Director of The Speak Easy, a 501(c)(3) economic- and community-impact coworking organization that lowers the barriers of entry to entrepreneurship via a low-cost membership and a community braintrust formed by idea-stage startups, entrepreneurs, and the individuals who support them. By way of a career path that includes the Smithsonian Institution (launch of a center), an advanced manufacturer (improved market position of a strategic product line), a cultural nonprofit (business model pivot), and the launch of a SaaS startup, Julie has found purpose in creating better business models for social enterprises.
Kelli N. Jones is Managing Partner for Sixty8 Capital, a pre-seed/seed-stage fund for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. For the last 4 years, Kelli has led the transformation of a more diverse tech ecosystem in Indiana, through her organization Be Nimble Foundation. Since starting Be Nimble, she has trained 30+ Black and LatinX founders through her accelerator has invested over $80k+ in capital and $250k+ in start-up resources. She’s held roles at Techstars, Givelify, Blavity, and HipHopDX and is on the board of Employ Indy, Vanguard Collegiate, Indiana Technology & Innovation Association, and The Venture Club’s NextGen group.
Sharmin Kent is Director of Professional Development at Kenzie Academy, an Indianapolis-based coding and design school. At Kenzie Academy, she's responsible for developing and teaching career pathing curriculum, professional development and placement. In addition to her role at Kenzie, Sharmin consults several Midwest tech companies on content marketing and communications. Sharmin holds and MA in English literature from IUPUI, and lives with her family in Noblesville, IN.
Shelley Klingerman is a managing partner of NEXT Studios. She received her BS in Marketing from Indiana State University and her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. She has demonstrated her progressive leadership over a 20+ year career providing marketing, brand awareness, and project management to a multitude of industries. Her entrepreneurial spirit has been captured through the opening of her own clothing boutique, Cocoa, in Downtown Terre Haute, Indiana, as well as a yoga studio and through the founding of the Stiletto Agency, a firm specializing in everyday vigilance, team building, and leadership development. She produced a school security documentary, “Terror in American Schools: Are Your Kids Safe?” She recently left her role as Executive Director of Launch Terre Haute, a co-work space and collaborative think tank for business leaders and start-ups, where she was also a cofounder. She currently serves on the Boards of the Indiana Chamber, Lugar Series, Wabash Valley Base Community Council, and Indiana Technology and Innovation Association. She completed a 100hr WarriorFit yoga certification in September ’16 to work specifically with Veterans. Shelley most recently published her book: Vigilance: A Savvy Woman’s Guide to Personal Safety, Self-Protections Measures, and Countermeasures.
Scott Kraege is a relentless tinkerer, Founder, Advisor, and Investor. He is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for the formula of amazing founders, extraordinary teams, and loyal customers. Scott co-founded Bluefish Wireless (3x Inc 500), MOBI (sold to Tangoe), and Opendate. Today, Scott is a Managing Director for Techstars and an Operating Partner for High Alpha Venture Studio. Scott and his wife of 20 years, Lisa, have four children who keep them spirited and busy.
Richard Leverett serves as Director of External Affairs, leading AT&T’s local, state and federal government relations and directs local philanthropic efforts in 21 Northern Indiana Counties including Gary, Hammond, South Bend, Elkhart and Fort Wayne. Richard connects government policy and decision-makers to AT&T initiatives around innovation in IoT, smart cities, digital literacy and inclusion, and IT workforce development. Richard previously served as Chief of Staff for Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson where he oversaw day to day operations and innovative projects including the Smart Cites, Smart Communities Program under the Obama Administration and the UChicago-Gary Urban Revitalization Project.
As Chief Operating Officer, Marie Mackintosh is responsible for the execution of EmployIndy's programs and initiatives to ensure established performance outcomes are achieved. She brings nearly a decade of workforce development experience, including strategy and education director roles with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Marie is an Indy native who has dedicated the majority of her professional career to helping people find a pathway to prosperity. Over the years of her career in higher education and workforce development, she has focused increasingly on designing education and workforce policies and programs that help Indiana’s vulnerable youth and adults. She believes that helping people of all ages to find meaningful work, especially those who have struggled to find employment, changes their lives and leads to economic mobility that ultimately helps Indiana’s economy as well.
Latif Majeed is a passionate leader at UKG, his role as a Practice Manager gives him an opportunity to focus on the development and mentorship of young professionals within the tech industry. From implementing HCM solutions across many industries to leading world-class professional service teams, he has made a career in the HCM SaaS market. Latif earned his Marketing undergraduate degree and Computer Science minor from Ball State University. He currently lives in Carmel, IN with his wife Jordan and son Jack.
Melanie Malott is a Senior Technical Recruiter at HubSpot where she partners with Engineering teams to deeply understand their hiring needs. Melanie currently serves on the board of Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC) as Vice President. Melanie a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington where she majored in Management with a minor in Human Resources and a Business Foundations Certificate from the Kelley School of Business.
Kristin Marcuccilli serves as the Chief Operating Officer of STAR Financial Bank and provides oversight and strategic direction for information technology, bank operations, digital banking, information security and project management. Marcuccilli is involved in numerous community organizations, serving as a board member for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, vice chair of the IEDC’s Entrepreneurship Committee, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Indiana Technology & Innovation Association and the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce. Kristin earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Indiana University. She has completed the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking, through which she is a Wharton Leadership Certificate recipient. Marcuccilli resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
José Martínez is accountable for all IT and Cybersecurity planning, program, development and support functions. He has over 20 years of experience in the IT sector and extensive experience in strategic sourcing, vendor management, relationship management, project management and IT engineering design and support. Prior to this position, he served at OneAmerica® as vice president, IT infrastructure and application support, and vice president, business relationship management and enterprise architecture. Since joining OneAmerica in 2014, Martínez has led multiple strategic initiatives to transform the IT support model. In 2014 he led the OneAmerica contract negotiations and transition of services from the prior infrastructure outsource service provider to the current provider. In 2016 he was part of an executive team that led an end-to-end reorganization effort within IT to shift to a Plan-Build-Run delivery model, creating new IT functions, such as business relationship and service management. In 2020 he implemented DevOps and Agile modern frameworks into the IT operating model. Prior to joining OneAmerica, Martínez served as vice president, communications as a service (CaaS) for Interactive Intelligence, managing all data centers worldwide for the company’s cloud product. In addition, he served as a senior global delivery executive at IBM, accountable for the delivery of a broad range of IT outsourced services for corporate clients. Martínez holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also completed an advanced management executive program from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Christine McDonnell is Co-Founder and CEO of Codelicious, a provider of full-year, customizable computer science curriculum for K-12. Christine graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She then earned her MBA in Corporate Strategy and Marketing from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Prior to her role at Codelicious, she worked as a managing partner and founder of McDonnell & Associates. She has also dedicated time to McKinsey & Company, DuPont, and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Simone is the Founder and Executive Director of DirectEmployers Institute (DEI). With 12 years of HR recruitment, sales, and client services experience, Simone is well equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to bring learning to life by uniting public and private employers, schools, and nonprofit organizations that have a passion for creating a diversified workforce. Prior to her work at DEI, Simone was the VP of Member Services at DirectEmployers Association where she was responsible for developing strategic goals and initiatives that enabled the organization to achieve continued success and sustainability.
I've been with SEP (a software design and development firm) for my entire professional career. I started as a software engineer and have worked all the jobs up through this one including organization development, recruiting, sales, and engineering management. SEP has been active with TechPoint and Mira for years, and I've been on the TechPoint board for the last couple years.
Most college students ignore academic counseling. Not San. During his freshman year at Purdue, an advisor suggested Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology. San listened, and quickly discovered a passion for technology. Over the next decade, San learned how to code on numerous platforms – everything from microprocessors and mobile to desktop and cloud-based systems. As a Software Engineer and later VP of Engineering, San developed a reputation for knowing how to manage giant projects from concept to completion, granting his developers the flexibility to be creative without sacrificing quality.
Wayne is an Advisor & Angel Investor. Wayne was VP of IT for fortune 500 Financial Company. He founded and lead his own IT Consulting Company, Professional Data Dimensions to exit. He has been an advisor to multiple companies including Work Here, ClearObject, SmarterHQ, Givelify and Donaide. He received the Sagamore of the Wabash in 1992. In 1998 he was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel. In 2000 he was a finalist for the E&Y Entrepreneur of the year award. He has a BS EE from Rose Hulman, an MBA from Butler University and an Executive MBA from Dartmouth. Wayne has been very active and involved in the Indianapolis community throughout his career where he has served with the following organizations: Advisor to Governor Joe Kernan Chairman, Indiana Small Business Development Corporation TechPoint – Founding Member TechPoint Foundation – Founding Member Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Executive Committee and Chairman of the Economic Growth Council Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee Indiana Chamber of Commerce Independent Colleges of Indiana United Way of Greater Indianapolis Butler University Kelly School of Business Marian University School of Business Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory High School Sycamore School – Founding Member Indianapolis Red Cross Goodwill Industries Mid-States Minority Business Council Chairman, Indianapolis Coalition for Minority Business Development Athenaeum YMCA
Tasha Phelps is a nationally recognized authority on information technology and cyber security. She has managed high-profile projects for federal, state, and local government agencies, and worked with many private-sector clients in her 30-year career. An early proponent of anti-terrorist cyber defense systems, Ms. Phelps completed Anti-Terrorism Awareness training with the US Department of Homeland Security. She has been called upon to design and implement sophisticated security solutions for clients across the country. Ms. Phelps’ experience extends to managing IT and communications deployments of all sizes and functionalities. She is also a valued consultant, employing her unique portfolio of experiences to help her clients with new systems architecture, policy design, and business analysis. Tasha dedicates significant time to law enforcement causes and local civic committees, and is well known for her many compelling industry and business speaking engagements.
Dr. Rothrock invests in early to growth stage companies developing advanced materials and systems for sustainability, transportation infrastructure, environmental services and specialty chemicals. Before joining HG Ventures, Ginger Rothrock served as Vice President of Technology and Commercialization at RTI International, one of the largest contract research organizations in the world. In that role she oversaw the commercialization of a $1B portfolio of R&D, led a science and engineering research group with products in the energy, environmental health and advanced materials sector, and served as a mentor and coach to numerous scientific innovators. She is also a serial entrepreneur, active in Women in STEM organizations and is extremely passionate about mentoring scientific entrepreneurs.
Harlan enjoys bringing his entrepreneurial talent and business experience to the companies he is involved with. Harlan has worked in the financial and manufacturing sectors, been COO of a public company and has owned/operated 3 different companies. In 2007, Harlan started ExactHire, a SAS company that provides technology for hiring. In 2008 Harlan Schafir became majority owner and the CEO/CVO of Human Capital Concepts (HCC), a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and HR outsourcing company. He is actively involved in both companies today. Throughout his working career, Harlan has focused on developing high performance teams to deliver fast growth, enhanced operating efficiencies and increased profitability. Creating a culture that attracts and retains the best talent is instrumental to the success of his companies. We must identify the needs of clients and develop a delivery model that is #1 in the market. How we treat our employees is how they will treat our clients. Harlan and his wife Peggy have two sons.
Jacob Schpok serves as Vice President of Entrepreneurial Services and Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Elevate Ventures. His primary responsibility includes delivering world-class venture coaching and training to entrepreneurs through Elevate's EIR network and training programs. Before joining Elevate, Mr. Schpok co-founded two startups in the SaaS and logistics industries and worked in a senior leadership role for a telecommunications startup in Indianapolis. Mr. Schpok also has an extensive background in state government, where he served as State Director of the Indiana Small Business Development Center and Executive Director of the Indiana Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Rupal Thanawala is a community minded business, strategy and digital leader. She has over 20 years of experience in leading large scale global transformation projects for fortune 100 companies with responsibilities ranging from business development, sales and marketing, resource and client management, project management and technical architecture. Rupal has deep passion for STEM, Diversity, Inclusion and Healthcare and serves on multiple boards in Central Indiana.
A passionate strategic planner with strong interpersonal communication skills, Judith focuses on connecting stakeholders and audiences through strong consistent messaging and brand awareness. The focus produces outcomes and results that build strong relationships through listening and understanding stakeholder's needs and goals. Over 30 years of experience in tourism, convention planning, sports marketing, and the art & culture community in Indianapolis, the State of Indiana and across the country. Born in Gary, Indiana, Judith Thomas attended North Central High School in Indianapolis and graduated from Butler University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public and Corporate Communications. Judith worked as an event coordinator at the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome from 1992 to 1998. She spent 1998-1999 at Emmis Communications as an account executive for the flagship station 97.1 WENS. In the fall of 1999, Judith became Director of Marketing at the National Federation of State High School Associations. In 2005 Judith joined Visit Indy as Director of Convention Services and in 2018 became President of the Madam Walker Legacy Center. In July of 2020 Judith established herself as a Cultural Architect by creating Judith & Co., a consulting firm focused on celebrating the rich diversity of Arts, Culture & Tourism. She currently serves as Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement for the City of Indianapolis.
Karrie Wozniak is the CMO of OneCause, a technology company committed to helping cause-driven organizations raise more for their mission. Karrie combines her 20+ years of experience in marketing with her passion for helping nonprofits expand their reach, leading industry research, marketing strategy, and fundraising consulting initiatives. As one of the early-stage executives, she played a key role in building and leading the nationwide sales team, event consulting, client success and overall marketing for the company. Karrie previously held management positions at Ford Motor Company and Dominion Enterprises. She has an MBA from DePaul University and a BS degree from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management.
Felix Wyss leads a group of researchers and engineers in Genesys’ AI Group. Our mission is to advance the state of the art of personalized customer service experiences through innovative application of artificial intelligence. For over 20 years, first at Interactive Intelligence and now Genesys, Felix’s passion is solving hard technical challenges. He is inventor on more than 20 granted and many pending patents. Felix also serves as a member and vice chair on the Industry Advisory Board of the IUPUI Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.