The Convo: Grassroots Activism

Where do we go from here and how do we work together to make it happen?

From the cloud of a global pandemic, uprisings and societal upheaval emerges a brilliant opportunity to build back better using the tools of collaboration and equity. This special edition of The Convo features a group of civic leaders who represent various industries and viewpoints responding to the question of where we’ve been and what it takes to move our community forward in a meaningful way.

Sayra Campos (Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance)
Jessica Louise (Indy10/BLM)
Sibeko Jywanza (Flanner House)

Leadership Indianapolis Awarded Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Share Stories of Impact

Leadership Indianapolis has received $50,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to share stories of impact and to explore hybrid program delivery strategies. This infusion of resources comes as LI is in the first year of its new three-year strategic plan.

This grant will enable Leadership Indianapolis to more effectively communicate its programmatic offerings and role in the community in an effort to better shape the narrative around leadership and ensure that a more inclusive leadership landscape in Indianapolis is encouraged and supported. In addition to the communications initiative, LI will use funds to do initial research on hybrid programming and existing strategies that accommodate both in-person and virtual participants simultaneously.

LI’s offerings have traditionally included programs such as LEAD (a three-session program where participants hone their collaborative leadership skills to become more effective community leaders) and Opportunity Indianapolis (a two-day crash course in the issues facing the greater Indianapolis community — such as education, public safety, growth of the city’s center — and the people working on them). In 2020, those offerings expanded to include virtual discussion series on mental health, poverty, housing insecurity and other topics as well as audiobook clubs and skill workshops to meet the growing needs and interests of community leaders.

The Lilly Endowment grant will help the organization tell a more full story of the impact civic leaders have on the city’s ability to thrive and the opportunities for more people to get engaged, according to Rebecca Hutton, President & CEO of Leadership Indianapolis

“At Leadership Indianapolis, we believe that community leadership is at its best when it is multicultural, multigenerational and collaborative. We want to ensure the leadership pipeline in our city reflects that. Through our programming, we bring together leaders from multiple sectors and varying walks of life – including corporate, non-profit, political, grassroots, and neighborhood leaders.  We recognize that all of these perspectives must be included and appreciated in order for Indianapolis to be the best city it can be,” Hutton, said.

“We are immensely grateful for this generous investment by Lilly Endowment and seek to use this opportunity to not only better position the work of our organization but to steward these resources for the greater good of our collective community.”

About Leadership Indianapolis

Leadership Indianapolis works to educate, inspire, connect, and mobilize community leaders to serve and strengthen greater Indianapolis. Leadership Indianapolis believes that community leadership is at its best when it is multi-generation, multi-cultural, and collaborative. Leadership Indianapolis convenes people with diverse points of view and lived experience in an environment that encourages authentic conversation and builds connections, thus assuring a diverse and robust pipeline of individuals is prepared for increasing levels of civic engagement and transformative influence. For more information, visit

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company.  While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location.  In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

LI Spotlight: Mosaic Fellowship

Mosaic Fellowship challenges organizations to build boards equitably.

There is a lack of diverse board leadership in Indianapolis organizations causing boards to remain overwhelmingly White and male. Even organizations who have mastered diversity often fail at true inclusion and power-sharing with BIPOC, women, young people, and the LGBTQ+ communities. As a result, the community continues to witness public organizational failures.

Applications are now open for the Mosaic Fellowship Pilot, established in partnership with The Indianapolis Foundation, an affiliate of Central Indiana Community Foundation, and Leadership Indianapolis to increase diversity on boards—not just so that boards look differently, but so they work differently. By providing support to both individuals and organizations, Mosaic aims to shift power, elevate new voices and grow the perspectives included on not-for-profit boards throughout our community.

Four individuals will be selected to be Mosaic Fellows. Fellows will:

  • be placed on not-for-profit boards that are actively working to address issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the board level
  • participate in cohort trainings, including Leadership Indianapolis programming, designed to support them in honing foundational board skills, building social capital, and using their gifts and power on an Indianapolis board
  • be provided financial resources to support their board commitments

The not-for-profit organizations involved must commit to having a member of their leadership participate in two annual development trainings on board equity. Organizations must also demonstrate meaningful work and changes to advance equity in their board operation, recruitment, and retention. Organizational application is by invitation only. Not-for-profits selected will have already demonstrated that they are engaged in ongoing work to achieve equity in their organizations and service to the community.

“In order for Indy’s not-for-profit organizations to truly serve the community, the decision-makers in those organizations must reflect the breadth of people living in the community. We are thrilled to partner with the Indianapolis Foundation on the Mosaic Fellowship to support talented leaders eager to be stewards of our community as well as organizations who are being intentional about making their leadership culture more inclusive and equitable,” says Rebecca Hutton, president and CEO of Leadership Indianapolis.

This pilot is an evolution of The Indianapolis Foundation Fellowship. At its centennial gala on Aug. 27, 2016, The Indianapolis Foundation announced the launch of a new program designed to reinvigorate the community by diversifying its leadership. The Indianapolis Foundation Fellowship placed a diverse group of 10 young civic leaders on prominent local boards and provided them with funds to activate annually, for three years, during their terms. The program, announced in honor of the Indianapolis Foundation’s 100th anniversary, also provided ongoing enrichment and networking opportunities.

“The Mosaic Fellowship is not about making women, young people, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ board members ‘better.’ There are already highly qualified candidates among all these groups who are routinely overlooked in traditional board processes and recruitment,” says Tamara Winfrey-Harris, vice president of community leadership and effective philanthropy at Central Indiana Community Foundation, who managed The Indianapolis Foundation Fellowship. “The goal of Mosaic is to make the way not-for-profits approach board development better—more equitable—and to foster relationships that connect great candidates with leadership opportunities and allow organizations to benefit from the breadth of talent that exists in our city.”

Additionally, the Mosaic program includes quarterly programming around organizational equity that will be open to all Central Indiana organizations.

Begin your application for the Mosaic Fellowship here. The deadline is Friday, Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:00 pm. Direct questions to

Leadership Indianapolis Welcomes New Vice President

We are thrilled to have Beth Perdue Outland join the Leadership Indianapolis staff as Vice President! 

For more than 30 years, Beth’s career and civic engagement have focused on building community through creative experience design, innovative programming and strategic problem solving. Prior to coming to Leadership Indianapolis, Beth served as the Vice President for Community Engagement and Strategic Innovation at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the arts and a desire to support an inclusive, equitable and thriving community, she is committed to building connections across sectors to catalyze personal, professional and community development.

Beth’s civic leadership roles include serving on the boards of Leadership Indianapolis and Centric and on the steering committees of Spirit and Place, TedX Indianapolis and the Music Crossroad’s Initiative. Beth is an alumni of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Program, class XXVIII. 

Help us welcome Beth to the team! 

COLUMN: More than a number

This column originally appeared on

Conversations around public safety and criminal justice seem to never end. When you turn on the news, open a paper, scroll social media or listen to the radio, chances are there is a conversation happening about how dangerous things are, how many people have perished, the injustice that pervades the justice system and the dire circumstances behind each tragedy.

A conversation has also begun to happen around whether or not crime statistics, which are often used to inform and legitimize this news as well as enact policies, are as reliable as we’ve been led to believe. However, what is undoubtedly important to focus on are the stories of those who are affected and impacted by the issues surrounding public safety and criminal justice. What is the true, human experience?

In planning our programming for this season, it became clear to us that this should be the focus.

On July 20 we will host a skill workshop facilitated by Duane Ingram of the Citizens’ Police Complaint Board and starting on Aug. 5 we will lead a book club using Ian Manuel’s riveting memoir “My Time will Come.”Ian was arrested at the age of 14 and sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide crime. Following the book club, is a three-part discussion series (held in September) centering the perspective of citizens with lived experience and those working to create change in our community. Attendees will learn about programs created to prevent recidivism for the formerly incarcerated, initiatives that provide community support in traumatic times and collaborative efforts around repairing the relationship between citizens and law enforcement.

One of the panelists for our discussion series is DeAndra Yates. Yates, the founder of Purpose4MyPain, got into this work after her teenaged son Dre was wounded by a stray bullet — changing their lives forever. DeAndra works alongside families with stories similar to hers and advocates on a national level for common sense gun laws. In a conversation with our staff, Yates said something that underscored how we have decided to approach these conversations. “It takes a lot when the numbers keep climbing,” she said adding that it is her goal to “make sure that the families of shooting victims know that their community is here to support them and that their loved ones’ cases are far beyond just another number.”

The numbers, as we have heard time and time again, are challenging but people like DeAndra and others demonstrate to us that the story doesn’t end at the statistic. There are always opportunities to fight for justice, amplify the voices of the marginalized, support those in grief and imagine a new way of being. It’s more than just the numbers. This is about the people.

Rebecca Hutton serves as President  & CEO of Leadership Indianapolis. Ebony Chappel is Program & Communications Manager. Leadership Indianapolis educates, inspires, connects and mobilizes community leaders to serve and strengthen greater Indianapolis. 

The Convo: Kristin Kohn

The Leadership Indianapolis series The Convo provides opportunities to learn more about community leaders, organizations, issues and opportunities in our city.

In this conversation, you will meet Kristin Kohn, owner of Silver in the City. Kristin talks with us about how the social justice uprisings of last summer impacted her business and the leadership lessons that inform their continued commitment to the community.

Learn more about Silver in the City:

LI Spotlight: Get on Board featured on Community Link

Each week on Community Link, Carolene Mays-Medley and Marco Dominguez take a look at an organization or business that is making a positive impact on the community.

This week, they were joined by Ebony Chappel, the program and communications manager for Leadership Indianapolis.

They discussed the organization’s mission, its Get on Board program and how community members can get involved.

To watch the entire segment, click here.

The Convo: Larry Williams (Indy Black Chamber of Commerce)

The Leadership Indianapolis series The Convo provides opportunities to learn more about community leaders, organizations, issues and opportunities in our city. In this conversation, you will meet Larry Williams, President and Founder of the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce. Larry talks to us about the Chamber’s founding over five years ago and their work to support Black businesses through grants and other funding.

Learn more about Indy Black Chamber of Commerce at

LI Spotlight: Get On Board featured on Inside Indiana Business

Since the onset of the pandemic, Leadership Indianapolis has had to pivot its Get On Board program from a one-day event to a series of virtual workshops to connect organizations with potential volunteers. This year, the organization is partnering with Indy tech company Selflessly to launch an online portal where residents can sign up to take advantage of volunteer opportunities.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Program and Communications Manager Ebony Chappel said the goal is to streamline those connections.

“There are so many different ways to get involved and sometimes, it can be a little bit difficult to parse through all the different opportunities and we’re hoping that our partnership with Selflessly can do that,” said Chappel. “We are bringing these nonprofit organizations together, even some corporate organizations together that are looking for that volunteerism. We are bringing them together with the people that are ready and willing to bring their time, talent and treasure to the table.”