What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “rise up” and how does it make you feel?

Because I’m a theatre nerd, the first thing I think of is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical Hamilton. The “rise up” phrase is used to great effect in the show, and those six simple letters are so powerful together that they have spawned entire lines of Hamilton-related clothing and other merchandise. If you want to see just how pervasive the phrase has become, search for “Hamilton Rise Up” in your browser and look at the images.

There are numerous ways this theme applies to what we experienced as a community in 2020. I’m certain some of you reading this right now are singing or humming the inspiring pop song “Rise Up” by Andra Day. There are also strong ties for “rise up” relating to diversity, equity and inclusion; to taking the high ground in our political discourse; as a continuation of last year’s “Be Bold” message; as a call to action in the face of economic adversity; and as individuals suffering loss or mental distress due to the tragic events of 2020.

We have all been through a lot as individuals and as leaders of our organizations and communities in 2020. Many people have suffered tremendous losses—lost lives, lost livelihoods, lost security, lost dignity. It’s important that we acknowledge these losses as the nucleus of the tech ecosystem, but we must not abdicate our responsibility to be the clarion voice promoting and celebrating our successes and lifting them up as examples.

In fact, we need these examples of success and achievement now more than ever, which is why we work so hard to spread the word about the Mira Awards nomination and application process. We want the opportunity to present our independent judging panels (52 volunteer judges in all) with the absolute best, most innovative, newest, hottest, most fascinating, promising and outright coolest people, places, products and companies to consider for the award nominees and winners.

After 16 years of being involved with the Mira Awards program in some capacity and managing the application and judging processes, I can tell you that the important role this platform plays in the psyche of the state of Indiana is tremendous. Yes, it is an awards program that has really taken on the flavor of the Oscars for tech in Indiana, but it is so much more. It’s a powerful experience for everyone involved and it truly brings us together as a community to recognize excellence and innovation as well as to take stock of both where we are and where we are going.

I think it’s also important to note that the Mira Awards gala, while a significant event in its own right, is not the full measure of the Mira Awards experience. The Mira Awards program is a year-round effort with heavy activity taking place January through April. The opportunities to make meaningful connections throughout the Mira Awards season are tremendous and the application and judging processes can be formative, prepare you for future investor pitches, and generally raise awareness of you, your achievements and your brand.

Last year we called on our community to “Be Bold” in the face of adversity, to make bold moves and blaze a trail to success. Following the events of 2020 on multiple fronts, we believe we have arrived at a theme for 2021 that is both appropriate and inspirational with powerful meaning at a time when we need each other’s support and a rallying cry for ourselves as individuals, for our teams and companies, and for our Indiana tech community.