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Serve Indiana Awards For Excellence

The Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Ceremony (SIAE) is our most special event of the year. This ceremony is our opportunity to honor individuals in Indiana communities that volunteer or serve. 

The Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Ceremony

The awards ceremony took place at the Indiana Historical Society; Wednesday, November 15, 2023. This incredible night was filled with food, fun, and celebration of Hoosiers committed to doing good in their communities. We also continued to honor #AmeriCorps, as AmeriCorps celebrates its 30th year Anniversary! If you missed our show, you do not have to miss out! Check out the live recording of the event here.

Serve Indiana would like to extend an extra special thank you to our Keynote Speaker, Hector Morales, Special Guest Speaker Deputy Mayor Judith Thomas, and Special Musical Guest, The Indianapolis Men’s Chorus! Thank you to the  Indiana Historical Society and Jonathan Byrd's Events & Catering for a spectacular venue and amazing food!

Lastly, Serve Indiana would like to thank all our volunteer judges, presenters, and our outstanding audience for a truly special night! Click here to see the photo gallery.

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Corporate Volunteerism Award Winner - American College of Education (ACE)

Corporate Volunteerism is a pillar of corporate social responsibility that encourages employees to volunteer their time and give back to their community's nonprofits, charities, and other initiatives. All of the nominees in this category have a significant presence in Indiana that have made a substantial positive impact in Hoosier communities through contributions of time and talent. This year's Corporate Volunteerism  winner,  American College of Education (ACE) truly shined  bright with their exemplary service record!

ACE is a for-profit, Certified Benefit Corporation, online higher education institution. The College formally engaged in a partnership with Teachers’ Treasures, an Indianapolis non-profit that helps teachers by providing school supplies and other necessary items for their classrooms. The partnership not only provided dollars towards the organization’s mission, but it also provided volunteer hours in their store by ACE employees. Since that inaugural partnership, ACE has gone on to form partnerships with other like-minded non-profits around the country and has provided more than $570k in support of their missions. ACE has also offered more than $1.87 million in partnership grants and $2.5 million in total scholarships. Annually, all full-time employees are provided 16 personal volunteer hours to complete in their community to give back in an area that relates to their interests and passions. This added up to 159 ACE employees serving 2,024 volunteer hours in 2022. Congratulations, ACE!

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Government Entity Volunteerism Award Winner - City of Goshen

Former President Clinton once said, “Though government has an important role to play in meeting the many challenges that remain before us, we are coming to understand that no organization, including government, will fully succeed without the active participation of each of us." Volunteers are vital to enabling this country to live up to the true promise of its heritage.” The nominees in this category are shining examples of that promise. This category recognizes local and state government entities that have made a substantial positive impact in Hoosier communities through contributions of time and talent. Through this category, we celebrate government entities for their ongoing community and statewide impact through volunteerism and philanthropy.

The City of Goshen won the 2023 Government Entity Volunteerism Award. Goshen has always valued volunteerism and in 2022, the city partnered with Michiana Council of Governments to participate in an AmeriCorps program. Goshen developed a Climate Action Plan for Government Operations identifying key initiatives that were essential in reducing emissions and working toward a more sustainable Goshen. Their members served 2,600 hours working to increase climate resilience and reduce emissions in the City of Goshen. They planned, purchased, and planted 166 plants and trees in the Community Orchard. They helped pack 700 trees to giveaway for Arbor Day and removed over 80 tires from the local river! Thank you for your volunteerism and congratulations to the City of Goshen and Mayor Liechty!

2023  Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award Winner - Francis W. Price Jr., MD

The Lifetime Achievement Award is our most prestigious award. Anytime you serve and volunteer your time is commendable. And the individuals in this category have all made service their life’s work. Each nominee has exhibited a lifetime commitment to service in their communities, primarily in Indiana, contributing a minimum of 25 years of service to their community. This year's winner, Dr. Francis Price has served the Indianapolis community in his ophthalmology practice, Price Vision Group, for nearly 40 years. He is also the founder and president of the Cornea Research Foundation of America, an Indianapolis-based business. He is an internationally recognized ophthalmic surgeon and has served as principal investigator of more than 150 clinical studies to help improve eye care in Indiana and beyond. He has authored over 275 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, provided over 500 professional presentations, and taught nearly 1,000 surgeons advanced surgical techniques. He is also an inventor and holds several patents. Dr. Frank began volunteering as a boy at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School through tutoring inner-city kids. Access to education is a significant lifelong passion as a result of seeing the disparity between his own education and that of the students he helped. That commitment to imparting education endured throughout his career, Dr. Price has provided in-depth, months long, advanced cornea surgical training to 23 international ophthalmologists at no cost; so they may provide better surgical methods and techniques in their home countries.

While his passion to improve vision care for patients across Indiana and the world does occupy a majority of his time; he also passionately serves as President of Trustees of the Medical Practice Consortium, a volunteer position that he has spent considerable time in working to provide access to affordable healthcare. Additionally, he serves on the board of the Women’s Care Center Indianapolis providing access to free ultrasounds and education resources to expectant mothers. Dr. Price has been committed to giving back professionally the entirety of his career by never accepting the status quo; always pushing science forward on his own time, and often his own dime. Not only has he envisioned a life of improved vision for people, but one with equal access for all. Dr. Price, thank you for your devotion to serving your community and volunteering your time and talent around the world. Dr. Price, congratulations on receiving the Serve Indiana Lifetime Achievement Award!

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence National Service Member Award Winner - Nina Porter

AmeriCorps Members are vital to communities all over the country, Serve Indiana celebrates members for their volunteer service here in Indiana. A quote we use often in the AmeriCorps world is from Martin Luther King Jr. that says, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” The 2023 National Service Member Award winner, Nina Porter has undoubtedly achieved greatness through her service and her commitment is nothing short of amazing.

Nina is currently serving in her fourth AmeriCorps term with the Interfaith Enrichment Corps Program. Nina has used her lived experience to serve others through Mothers on the Rise. Twelve years ago, Nina left Indiana Women's Prison with nowhere to go. She was able to connect with another AmeriCorps member serving at Mothers on the Rise who inspired her to serve. Nina used her experience to design a maternal and child health curriculum for women in prison in Indiana, including the start of in-prison nurseries that are unique to the state. Nina has served countless women in prisons throughout Indiana and has carried her own caseload of 28 mothers per year. The mothers she teaches pass along their skills to other women in prison and continue the service of resource connection. Across the US 2,000  women each year, give birth while incarcerated but, Indiana is one of the few states that allow new mothers to raise their babies in prison.  With the training and resources of AmeriCorps Nina has built capacity in Indiana that will be carried through to women and children for many years to come. Congratulations, Nina Porter and thank you for your service!

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Outstanding AmeriCorps Alum Award Winners - Katherine L. Barrett, PhD. &  Willie Brooks

The unique experience of serving with AmeriCorps is the realization that your commitment to service is never truly done.  Once your term has ended, you immediately enter the prestigious club of AmeriCorps Alumni. Fueled by the passion our term of service has inspired, we join the workforce, pursue higher education, and find new ways to be forces of positive change in our communities as AmeriCorps alums. The nominees in this category have all taken their life after AmeriCorps to heart and made service their life’s work. There was a tie for the Outstanding AmeriCorps Alum Award, our two winners are Katherine L. Barrett, PhD. and Willie Brooks.

Katherine L. Barrett, PhD. served as an AmeriCorps service member with the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District, where she learned the values of talking to landowners to understand the connection between land and water. After completing her master’s degree, Kate attended Notre Dame, where she graduated with her PhD in Biological Sciences. After deciding to make the Michiana area her home, she started teaching at local universities and looking for a way to get involved in watershed management efforts in her area. Her program has provided new information on watershed health, increased the understanding of data collected by others, secured new funding for monitoring, and offered opportunities for young people and other volunteers to get involved. Kate is also a champion of AmeriCorps and National Service. She is currently the Site Supervisor for AmeriCorps members serving with the St. Joseph River Basin Commission. Kate helps members to explore how their service can lead to new pathways in STEM and community impact. Congratulations, Katherine Barrett and thank you for your commitment to service!

Wille Brooks served three full-time terms of service with AmeriCorps. Originally signing up not truly knowing what he had signed up for, this decision would be the catalyst that would inform his entire career. Ultimately, he ended up serving a total of 6,132 hours throughout his three terms.  From New York City, following Super Storm Sandy, to Lyons, Colorado flash floods to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Willie learned that being compassionate on the worst day of someone’s life can make all the difference in the world. Congratulations, Willie!

Thank you both for your service and your commitment to it, even beyond your AmeriCorps terms!

2023 Awards for Excellence ASN Program Director of the Year Award Winner - Amber Werner

For the first time ever, Serve Indiana celebrated our AmeriCorps State & National (ASN) grantee Program Directors (PD) through the Program Director of the Year Award category. This category is unique for several reasons, it is exclusively a peer vote category and each PD must have been acting PD for their program at least half of the 22-23 program year and will continue to be a program director for the forseable 23-24 program year in the Servei Indiana portfolio. The Program Director of the Year winner is Amber Werner of Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG). We celebrated her win at the private Serve Indiana Day of Training Event that took place the day after the awards ceremony.

Amber Werner is an experienced administrator with a demonstrated history of working in the nonprofit and governmental organization management industry. Amber is currently serving as the Indiana Association of AmeriCorps Directors (IADA) President. She is an Indiana University South Bend grad and an AmeriCorps Alum.

One of her colleagues had this to say about Amber, "I want to acknowledge Amber for all her hard work and dedication in running IADA, a key and underappreciated resource for all of our AmeriCorps programs in Indiana. IADA, and by extension, Amber, has consistently been a resource as I've taken over my role as Program Director." Congratulations, Amber!

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Volunteer Program Award Winner - Frankton High School Students In Action

The Volunteer Program Award was created to celebrate schools, faith-based organizations, mentoring programs, nonprofit organizations, and service clubs. The extraordinary work volunteers accomplish in communities is often driven by an organization or club. This award acknowledges the importance this support can establish in a community. Beyond a recognized need, above the resources secured, even in addition to finding like-minded individuals to serve beside you; you must have the passion for the work, a true heart for the cause. The 2023 Volunteer Program winner, Frankton High School Students In Action definitely serves with that kind of heart!

They are a club, part of the Indiana Students In Action or SIA program. SIA is a nation-wide service-learning leadership organization for 8th-12th grade students. They not only complete various service projects in their school, but they engage and the wider Frankton Community in days of service, trash clean up, and maintaining the community garden, which provides fresh produce for the entire community. One of their projects was to raise money for a more accessible playground. They set a goal of $25,000 and amazingly, between what they raised and were awarded through a match grant, the total sum was a whopping $67,000. They came up with a Slogan "Every Kid Deserves The Right To Play" and began to fundraise and crowd source funding in their community. In the end, they exceeded their goal AND the school responded with $300k to add to their efforts. They are a true TEAM, leading the way towards a community that is more inclusive and empathetic through service to others. Now that’s heart, Congratulations, Frankton High School Students in Action!

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Volunteerism Award Winner - Rupal Thanawala

The Volunteerism Award honors incredible Hoosiers that are individually committed to being forces of good in their communities. This category is for adult individuals who have sought to volunteer in spite of all the responsibilities that come with adulthood; these all the nominees in this category have sacrificed their time and energy to make their communities better. This description was no less true for this year’s outstanding Volunteerism Award winner, Rupal Thanawala.

Rupal Thanawala is a civic minded business leader serving Indiana for over two decades. She has been on the board of Asian American Alliance Inc. (AAAI) since 2008 and accepted the volunteer role of executive director since 2012. Asian American Alliance Inc is the only umbrella organization serving over 200,000 Asians in Indiana. She raised over $200,000 in cash and equipment donations for Afghan Refugee project. She partnered with Indiana Commission for Women to organize International Women’s Day where she chaired the event which had over 500 participants from across the State which included educational programming from top-notch industry leaders including Lt. Gov Crouch, Health Commissioner Lindsay Weave, and many others. Her list of achievements are simply astonishing and truly deserving of celebration. Congratulations, Rupal Thanawala!

2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Youth Volunteer of the Year Award Winner - Lauren Cochran

The Youth Volunteerism Award honors young people that have already shown a passion for voluntary service. The call to serve doesn’t just affect adults and we commend all who  begin volunteering at a young age. Serving and giving back to your community while you still have to worry about chemistry finals, prom committee, and making curfew; is not easy. The individuals in this category are all under the age of 18 at the time of their service and average no less than 60 volunteer hours a year. The 2023 Serve Indiana Youth Volunteerism Award winner is Lauren Cochran!

Lauren is a 14-year-old Freshman from Bloomington, IN. She began her volunteerism at PALS in 2021. PALS stands for People and Animal Learning Services, which is a nonprofit adaptive riding center located in Bloomington. They provide equine-assisted services to people with disabilities, veterans, senior citizens, and at-risk youth. The therapeutic power of the horse can offer many physical, emotional, and social benefits for a diverse population. Lauren goes above and beyond in her service to PALS; she has volunteered a total of 378 hours there. Her work ethic and dedication, at such a young age, is very commendable. She’s already building an incredible volunteer legacy right now! Congratulations, Lauren!

Congratulations to all the 2023 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Nominees!  Click Here to meet them all.


  • National Service Member Award Winner, Rachel Biddle
  • Volunteerism Award Winner, Dr. Barbara Haehner
  • Youth Volunteerism Award Winner, Isaac Hertenstein
  • Volunteer Program Award Winner, Ready2BSocial Program
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, James (JB) Boyd
  • Outstanding AmeriCorps Alum Award Winner, Nicole Messmore
  • Corporate Volunteerism Award Winner, SuperATV (not pictured)
November 3, 2022,  Serve Indiana hosted the 2022 Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Ceremony at the Indiana Historical Society. We honored amazing Hoosier working diligently in their communities better.
View the 2022 ceremony: Serve Indiana Awards for Excellence Ceremony.



  • Corporate Volunteerism Award Winner, OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Cordelia Lewis Burks
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Bruce Bender
  • National Service Member Award Winner,  Alena Finnell
  • Volunteer Program Award Winner, ProAct Indy
  • Volunteerism Award Winner, Maggie Sikora-Black
  • Youth Volunteerism Award Winner,  Vani Sharma


  • National Service Member Award - Katie Sutton for Immigrant & Refugee Service Corps, Indianapolis, IN
  • Youth Volunteerism Award - Abigail Naumann, Thomas A. Edison Jr./Sr. High School, Lake Station, IN
  • Corporate Volunteerism Award - Starbucks Foundation, DeShonne Jackson, Regional Director of Operations, Indianapolis, IN
  • Volunteer Program Award - Volunteer University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - Neil Winn, Howard County Emergency Management Agency, Kokomo, IN
  • Government Entity Volunteer Award - Department of Revenue, Indianapolis, IN
  • Volunteerism Award - Stephen Long, Science Central, Fort Wayne, IN


  • Service Learning Award – DJ Center for Youth, Inc., Indianapolis, IN
  • Corporate Service Award – Old National, Terre Haute, IN
  • Nonprofit Volunteer Program – Bloomington Meals on Wheels, Bloomington, IN
  • Faith-Based Volunteer – Reova Meredith, Bloomington, IN
  • Lifetime Achievement – Trena Roudebush, Indianapolis, IN
  • National Service – Carlee LaRue, Bloomington, IN
  • Individual Volunteer – Alex Rowan, Indianapolis, IN
  • Youth Volunteer - Joy Sera Bhattacharya, Bloomington, IN


  • Service Learning Award – Take Ten-Robinson Community Learning Center, South Bend, IN
  • Corporate Service Award – Finish Line Youth Foundation, Indianapolis, IN
  • Nonprofit Volunteer Program – The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Northwest Indiana, Valparaiso, IN
  • Faith-Based Volunteer – Matthew Pope, Greenfield, IN
  • Lifetime Achievement – Kenneth Yahne, Fort Wayne, IN
  • National Service – Brandon Million, Greensburg, IN
  • Individual Volunteer – Natalia Rekhter, Carmel, IN
  • Youth Volunteer - Olivia Keith, Fishers, IN


  • Service Learning Award – Navari Student Outreach Clinic, South Bend, IN
  • Nonprofit Volunteer Program – Study Connection, Franklin, IN
  • Faith-Based Volunteer – Arletha Dabney, Bloomington, IN
  • Lifetime Achievement – George Flowers, Sr., Evansville, IN
  • National Service – Pamela Weiss, Columbus, IN
  • Individual Volunteer – Kroi Brown, Bunker Hill, IN
  • Youth Volunteer - Drake Abramson, Lake Station, IN