Indianapolis – Today, Governor Mike Pence presented 10 outstanding African-American Hoosiers and community leaders from across the state with several different awards during the Indiana Black Expo, Inc. 45th Annual Summer Celebration (IBE) Governor’s Reception.
“The men and women we honor today are uniquely Hoosier and fully embody the Hoosier spirit,” said Governor Pence. “Their tireless efforts and dedication to their respective communities and this great Hoosier State deserve our utmost gratitude and respect, and I could not be more thrilled to honor them today.”
Eight individuals received the Governor’s Award for Achievement in the fields of physical fitness, education, military, religion, entrepreneurship, and community service. The Governor also awarded the Sam Jones Trailblazer Award and the Reverend Charles Williams Community Service Award.
Reverend Charles Williams Community Service Award – Former Representative Bill Crawford
Former Representative Bill Crawford served 40 years in the Indiana House of Representatives, after running for office in 1972 at the urging of late Congresswoman Julia Carson. He is currently Indiana’s longest serving African-American legislator. He authored many pieces of legislation and became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee before his retirement in 2012. He was President of the Black Expo for five years before passing it to longtime President Charles Williams.
Sam Jones Trailblazer Award – Genois Wilson Brabson
Genois Wilson Brabson is the first female firefighter of the city of Fort Wayne. In the fire department, she exemplified leadership and eventually became a District Chief before she retired. She inspired many other women to become a firefighter, and one of those women was named Chief of the Fort Wayne Fire Department in 2012.
Governor’s Award for Achievement in Physical Fitness – Cleveland Harp
For several years, Cleveland Harp has worked as an NBA usher at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He was also a former professional basketball player and played for the Harlem Globetrotters. During his tenure with the Harlem Globetrotters, Harp was known as “The Deacon” and played with ex-Trotters Marques Haynes and Goose Tatum.
Governor’s Award for Achievement in Civic Leadership: Education – Joyce Akridge
Joyce Akridge is a Lead Principal for Carl Wilde Indianapolis Public School-79. Under Akridge, Carl Wilde has been rated by the Indiana Department of Education as an “A” school four years in a row. She has been recognized in Who’s Who Among America’s Educators and has also been nominated by the Federal Department of Education for leading a nationally Distinguished Title I school to higher achievement.
Governor’s Award for Achievement in Civic Leadership: Military – Chaplain Obadiah Smith, Jr.
Chaplain (Capt) Obadiah Smith, Jr. is the senior chaplain with the 434th Air Refueling Wing, the largest reserve refueling wing in the United States Air Force. As senior chaplain, he leads a variety of activities at Grissom, including Sunday morning worship services during the primary Unit Training Assemblies for nearly 1,500 airmen. Among his many awards, he was recognized as the 2010 Outstanding USAFR Chaplain of the Year.
Governor’s Award for Achievement in Civic Leadership: Religion – Alphonso Bailey
Alphonso Bailey is the founder and Executive Director of the Down But Not Out, Inc. ministry. He’s an ordained minister and serves as a volunteer chaplain at the Marion County Jail #2, Marion County Juvenile Detention, and the Hamilton County Juvenile Services.
Governor’s Award for Achievement in Entrepreneurship – Gil Michel
Gil Michel is the CEO and President of Caleb Group, Inc., a small business solutions firm located in South Bend. Paying it forward, Michel has formed a financial literacy program for teens called TACTT, Inc. which empowers teens in five areas: business/real estate, banking, personal finance, investing, and positive life skills.
Governor’s Award for Achievement in Civic Leadership: Community Service – Jesse Moore, Frankye Calloway, Al Polin
Jesse Moore currently serves as the first Director of Supplier Diversity at Purdue University in West Lafayette. He comes to this position armed with many years of experience in economic development, diverse business advocacy, strategic planning, community involvement, and public policy.
Frankye Calloway is a retired educator with over 30 years of experience with the Evansville School Corporation. She primarily served minority and at-risk students and coached the Caze Academic Olympics for 15 years. Calloway is the director of the New Hope Baptist Church Vacation Bible School, the church tutoring program and the New Hope Church Youth Program.
Al Polin has been fighting crime in the Mapleton Fall Creek Neighborhood Association for 40 years as a block captain. He was part of the night patrol with the Mattie Coney Crime Watch Safe House Program and The IPD Ride Along Program. Polin helped organize several block clubs around the association and was the Weed and Seed Coordinator when it began under former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.
Award recipients were selected by the Governor in collaboration with state and community leaders. Governor Pence and IBE President and Chief Executive Officer Tanya Bell presented the awards during a ceremony at the Indiana Convention Center.