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Prosperity Indiana Announces Winners of Leadership and Program Awards

24 Feb 2020 2:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

INDIANAPOLIS – On February 18, Prosperity Indiana announced the winners of its annual leadership and program awards at its 2020 Summit. The Prosperity Indiana Summit was an occasion to celebrate the leaders and innovators in the community economic development field. The 2020 winners came from a pool of committed community leaders and innovative programs across Indiana. Winners were nominated by their peers and chosen by a judging committee, based on criteria established for each award.

Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Jessica Love said, “Each year, we’re honored to recognize the amazing work of our members and partners across the state. In their own, innovative ways, each recipient has made a significant impact on the quality of life for the people and places they serve. We know they often do this work without much recognition. So, we’re pleased to congratulate the winners of the 2020 Prosperity Indiana awards.”

Award winners include: Food Prescription for Better Health; Albert Brownlee, Genesis Outreach, Inc.; Michelle Pitcher, Pace Community Action Agency, Inc.; and Bruce Baird, Renew Indianapolis.

Michael Carroll Community Economic Development Leadership Award - Sponsored by Fifth Third Bank

Presented to Bruce Baird, Renew Indianapolis


This Leadership Award, jointly presented by Prosperity Indiana and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, honors an individual who has exhibited exceptional advocacy to further support the community economic development field.

Bruce Baird has committed over 28 years to community economic development service. He has served in a variety of community development leadership positions, including roles at Eastside Community Investments, Mayor Bart Peterson’s administration, Insight Development Corporation, and Renew Indianapolis. Not only does Baird work in these neighborhoods, he lives in them. His work and leadership has brought significant change and made a positive impact on the City of Indianapolis. 

Other Leadership Award nominees:

  • Wendy Dant Chesser, One Southern Indiana

John Niederman Rural Development Leadership Award - Sponsored by First Financial Bank

Presented to Michelle Pitcher, Pace Community Action Agency, Inc.


The Rural Development Leadership Award honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in improving the quality of life, influencing policies, and fostering opportunities for growth and development for the betterment of rural Indiana.

Michelle Pitcher serves as the Clinical Services Director for Pace Community Action Agency, Inc. and has continuously worked to improve her community, her organization, and herself. She has expanded the reach of Pace’s health clinics to three additional counties, created partnerships to provide health insurance navigator services in five counties, obtained her Family Nurse Practitioner license and is currently working on a doctorate degree. Her work has helped thousands of rural Hoosiers improve their health outcomes.

Other Rural Development Leadership Award nominees:

  • Joe Micon, Lafayette Urban Ministry

Robert O. Zdenek Staff Member of the Year Award - Sponsored by Brightpoint

Presented to Albert Brownlee, Genesis Outreach, Inc.


The Staff Member of the Year Award honors an extraordinary individual who contributes to his or her organization and to the community economic development field as a whole. This person shows leadership, personal initiative, and is a public servant.

Albert Brownlee is a distinguished community servant-leader with 20 years of service to Genesis Outreach, Inc. In that time, Albert helped to change the landscape of northeast Indiana and the city of Fort Wayne through his work creating multiple new housing and community development opportunities throughout the region.

Other Staff Member of the Year Award nominees:

  • Joe Bowling, Englewood Community Development Corporation
  • Albert Brownlee, Genesis Outreach, Inc.
  • Willie Dearing, South Bend Mutual Homes Cooperative
  • Bob Goodrum, Wellspring
  • Jennifer Layton, LTHC Homeless Services
  • Wallace McLaughlin, Fathers and Families Center
  • Natalie Powell, Hoosier Uplands
  • Evan Tester, King Park Development Corporation/Renew Indianapolis
  • Mark Wuellner, Indiana Bond Bank

Key Award for Program of the Year - Sponsored by Merchants Bank of Indiana

Presented to Food Prescription for Better Health


The Program of the Year Award honors excellence and innovation in a service-oriented community development initiative. This award recognizes a unique program model that leads in the area of service provision and/or volunteerism.

The Food Prescription for Better Health program partnership included the Wabash Valley Health Center, Indiana State University, Purdue Extension, and United Way of the Wabash Valley. This collaborative effort aimed to increase healthy food consumption and improve health outcomes by increasing access to fruits and vegetables in combination with healthy living education sessions and cooking demonstrations.

Other Key Award nominees:

  • Crooked Creek Food Pantry
  • Indianapolis Community Building Initiative
  • Stability Builders Network
  • Strong Fathers Program
  • Trusted Mentors

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About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana

Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. Prosperity Indiana builds a better future for our communities by providing advocacy, leveraging resources, and engaging an empowered network of members to create inclusive opportunities that build assets and improve lives. Since its founding in 1986, Prosperity Indiana has grown to approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Prosperity Indiana
1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 170
Indianapolis, IN 46204 
Phone // 317.222.1221 
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