At IndyHub, we believe that leadership thats all forms and that our city requires all types of leaders. That’s why we work every day to empower, engage and connect the extraordinary young people who call Indy home, encouraging them to channel their skills and talents into shaping our city for generations to come. Today, we’re thrilled to announce a cohort of leaders who are prepared to do just that: Class XIII of The 1828 Leadership Project presented by Citizens Energy Group.
Now in its 13th year, the 1828 Leadership Project has maintained its fundamental philosophy: young leaders are ready to lead and have ideas ready to implement now. Over the next nine months, these leaders will connect to deepen their understanding of the challenges facing our city, meet the many individuals who are shaping policy and practice in our community, and identify ways in which they can have an impactful role moving forward. Through 1828, IndyHub will seek to assist in the development of these projects and passions by connecting these individuals with resources and people who can help them fully realize their big ideas.
Program participants – which represent a wide range of sectors – are nominated by community leaders and selected by a committee of program alumni and community stakeholders. Class members participate in this leadership development program at absolutely no cost to them. The 2023-2024 program will be moderated by Greg Stowers of City of Indianapolis and Taylor Schaffer of Downtown Indy, Inc.. To date, The 1828 Leadership Project has served over 150 alumni. Class XIII will meet for the first time in late September.
Please join us in welcoming Class XIII of The 1828 Leadership Project presented by Citizens Energy Group!
Lillian Barkes, Listen to Our Future Inc.
Lillian Barkes is the co-founder and CEO of Listen to Our Future Inc. She was born in China and grew up in Indianapolis. Lillian graduated from IUPUI in 2019 with a degree in Elementary Education. She has worked as an after-school youth worker, cheerleading coach, and summer camp counselor on the near east side of Indy. Lillian worked in IPS as a second and third-grade teacher. Now she manages a team of 30 tutors dedicated to providing high-quality educational support for students. She enjoys helping others problem solve and reach their goals. Lillian uses my passion and entrepreneurial spirit to help others as a consultant and coach.
Daria Clark, JP Morgan Chase
Daria Clark is a 2nd year Commerical Banking Analyst in Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries (MMBSI). In her role, she works with Bankers, Underwriters, Treasury Officers, and Product Partners to provide a variety of financing solutions and advising for companies with annual revenues of $20 million to $500 million. In addition, she serves as Treasurer for BOLD Indiana (Black Organization of Leadership and Development). BOLD Indiana is a segment of the firm wide Business Resource Group, BOLD. As Treasurer, she helps manage expenses and event planning for the organization. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a double major in Public Policy and Business Economics. She has a personal passion for community engagement and development – particularly with regard to education and youth mentorship. Daria is originally from St. Louis and enjoys spending time with her sisters, watching movies, and going to concerts.
Arianna Cruz, Long-Sharp Gallery & MORE Magazine
Meet Arianna Cruz, a 27-year-old community connector who resides in the Indianapolis area with her fiancé and two dogs. As the Creative Strategist at Long-Sharp Gallery, she’s constantly unleashing her creativity and elevating the marketing game. She’s also the founder and owner of MORE, which stands to Make Opportunities Reachable for Everyone. Her passion for education and inspiration inspired her to start a magazine, calling on readers to get involved and make a difference in their communities.
In her free time, Arianna is always on the go. You can catch her hanging out with her friends, shopping local, and rocking fun fits. She’s a big believer in supporting local businesses and trying new things that exercise her mind and body. Arianna is a true Renaissance woman, always eager to learn and grow in every aspect of life. Get to know her and watch her spread her magic everywhere she goes.
Alli Donovan, Miller Brooks
Alli Donovan is an Indiana native, born and raised in Vincennes, IN. Indy has been her home for the last 8 years, as she has grown both personally and professionally in the community. She is a 2018 graduate from the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, and now works as an Account Executive at Miller Brooks, an ad agency in Broad Ripple. Alli is the president of the Indianapolis chapter of the American Marketing Association, an Indyfluencer with Life in Indy, the VP of Operations with Indy Design Week, and she is on the Fan & Athlete Experience committee for the upcoming 2024 USA Swimming Olympic Trials. Alli is a freelance writer for Towne Post Network, specifically for Carmel Magazine, Boone County Magazine, Westfield Magazine, and Noblesville Magazine. When she’s not working, she’s exploring. By the age of 22, she had traveled to all 50 states – and she can easily say Indy is one of the best places to be. Seeing what the city has to offer and being a tourist in her own town.
Abigail Edwards, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
Abigail Edwards serves as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager for Pacers Sports and Entertainment. In her role, she supports the implementation of the organization’s DEI strategy and develops, operationalizes and manages programs and initiatives related to DEI across PS&E’s brands. Prior to joining PS&E, she served as coordinator of inclusion at the NCAA. A native of New York City, NY, Edwards graduated from Smith College, where she was a lacrosse student-athlete, with a self-designed major in Race, Health, and Society. Abigail immigrated to the United States from India when she was seven years old and is passionate about advocating for and empowering historically marginalized and minoritized communities.
Michael Etter, United Way of Central Indiana
Michael Etter serves as the Community Research and Database Analytics Director for United Way of Central Indiana. In this work, Michael leads a small team of research analysts which execute on community data initiatives for the Strategic Intelligence and Information team and United Way’s impact strategy. His priorities are focused on the analysis of external community data research and implementation of the Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) case management software. ETO is built to track client outcomes and services over time specifically for non-profit organizations. Currently, over 25 community-based organizations utilize the United Way ETO instance as a data collection and reporting tool. Michael’s work and passion is focused on the use of community data to inform and support the human services sector. Prior to joining United Way of Central Indiana, Michael completed a dual master’s degree in public affairs and environmental science at the Indiana University Bloomington O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Chunia Graves, Easterseals Crossroads
Chunia Graves is a solution-focused, civic leader, and equitable resource advocate. She is passionate about serving the community and providing voices for the youth. Chunia obtained her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, with emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University, but not before being inducted into the International Honors Society, Psi Chi. Chunia spends her leisure time serving on advisory boards and committees, using her studies to address underlying issues impacting various communities, often using her platform to advocate for socio-economic solutions and equitable access as it relates to mental health care. Chunia Graves also attended Jacksonville University where she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and competed as an NCAA D1 multi-sport athlete. Chunia completed both her Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences (with a minor is Sociology) and her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Chunia currently serves a varying demographic of children, young adults, and their families, as a bilingual Behavioral Health Therapist.
Riley Hill-Kartel, Indianapolis Cultural Trail
Riley Hill-Kartel is a dynamic nonprofit professional with a passion for the arts and community connections. Hailing from Champaign, Illinois, Riley’s journey to Indianapolis began at Butler University (go dawgs) where she studied Arts Administration, Theater and Strategic Communications. Riley’s career in the nonprofit arts sector began at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields where she led the corporate fundraising efforts that generated over $1M of support for exhibitions, festivals, and educational programs. Currently, Riley is the Director of Advancement leading the fundraising efforts at the Indianapolis Cultural Trail as the organization expands by adding three additional miles of Trail to better connect people and neighborhoods to cultural districts, public art, and popular attractions in Indianapolis on a safe and beautiful bike and pedestrian path. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Riley’s zest for life extends to her personal pursuits. She cherishes quality moments with her beloved pet, Maisie, named after her favorite oyster bar in Brooklyn and favorite TV show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Her creative spirit shines through in her dedication to tackling DIY projects, where she combines her artistic flair with hands-on crafting skills (she even started a small hand-made earring business during the pandemic!) Riley’s adventurous side comes alive through her love for travel, constantly seeking new horizons to explore and broaden her perspective. Last, but certainly not least, you can always catch her at the latest bar or restaurant exploring new culinary finds, or experimenting at home with new recipes.
Lauren Kenny, Indy Chamber
Lauren Kenny grew up in Fishers, Indiana and is a proud graduate of Marian University. She is a Class of 2022 Orr Fellow and is deeply committed to helping fellows make Indy home during their 2-year commitment to their partner companies. Lauren also spearheads the Indyfluencer Network, an integral component of the Indy Chamber’s Life in Indy Initiative, which provides the unique opportunity for prospective residents to get a glimpse of what life in the Indianapolis region could look like for them. On the weekends, you’ll find Lauren sipping on a latte while shopping at a handmade market.
Julia Martinez, Indiana Sports Corp
Julia Martinez joined Indiana Sports Corp’s staff in May of 2022 as the Volunteer Coordinator. In this role, Julia manages the volunteer program including implementing recruitment efforts, track and execute volunteer administrative projects, implement committee leadership, and manage of volunteers on site.In addition to her position with Indiana Sports Corp, Julia is currently expanding her professional knowledge and skill as a co-lead on the 2024 NBA All Star Host Committee for the Indy Experience Committee and on the IndyHub IndyVolved Planning Committee as a Vendor Coordinator. She remains an active member of the Central Indiana Association of Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) and the Central Indiana Women in Business Center (CIWBC) for the annual Women in Business Retreat. Prior to her time at Indiana Sports Corp, Julia served in roles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Super Bowl LV and LVI, and overseas as an Event Operations Assistant at Tough Mudder Scotland. A 2018 graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Julia earned her degree in Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management and achieved a Kelley School of Business certificate.
Taylor Melangton, Visit Indy
Taylor Melangton joined the Visit Indy staff, as the Events and Communications Manager in February of 2022. She creates and coordinates events including but not limited to ROSE Awards, State of Tourism, Hotel Symposium, and many of Visit Indy’s Familiarization Trips throughout the year. Taylor also supports those events by incorporating her graphic design skills for marketing and promotional collateral. Taylor recently worked with the 2022 CFP – Indianapolis Host Committee staff, as a Project Coordinator and assisted with the functions of the Administrative and Event Execution divisions of the Host Committee. Prior to College Football Playoff, Taylor served as the Event Services Assistant with the NBA All-Star, just prior to COVID-19. She has experiences at the Indianapolis Zoological Society and was an intern at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Indians. Taylor is currently an involved committee member of the NBA All-Star 2024 Host Committee and a co-chair of the Airport Activations for the 2024 USA Swim Trials Host Committee. Taylor is an active member of the Indiana Chapter, Education Committee of the Meeting Professionals International, which she was just honored with the One To Watch award in the Spring of 2023. Taylor continuously serves on the Board of her local church for women’s and youth’s discipleship retreats. In 2017, Taylor was honored as a 500 Festival Princess Ambassador in 2017, planning statewide outreach programs, including hospital visits, school, and youth programs and in 2018, Taylor graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and a double minor in Hospitality and Event Management. Taylor is a wife, a woman of faith, and a dog mom to Winnie. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering, playing soccer and being outdoors.
Jenny Menelas, City of Indianapolis: Mayor’s Office
Jenny S. Menelas was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and has been living in the U.S. since the age of 6. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana University – Bloomington and is in the process of obtaining her Master of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. Jenny is passionate abut her faith, family, friends and standing up for others in all areas of life.
Juan Padilla, Immigrant Welcome Center
Juan Padilla was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, where he majored in International Relations and Finance at the Universidad de la Costa. Having close family connections in Indianapolis, he came to pursue his master’s degree for language teachers at the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts in Indianapolis, which he completed in 2022. Juan has an extensive background in humanitarian work related to translation and interpretation in more than eight countries in Central and South America. In Indianapolis, he has helped communities like second, third, and fourth-generation Spanish language learners, intentionally including them in the language learning agenda, with efforts that go from altruistically translating children’s books to the creation of more inclusive higher education lectures and resources. Currently, he works as the Manager of English at Workplace with the Immigrant Welcome Center. During his free time, Juan enjoys walks with his wife, photography, watching soccer and playing his guitar.
Austin Reed, Indianapolis Colts
Austin currently serves as the Director of Digital Marketing for the Indianapolis Colts. He lives in Broad Ripple with his dog, Benny, and loves getting a good walk in down the Monon. Originally from Michigan, Austin has found his home in Indy, having moved here in May 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his free time, Austin is exploring the city, going on outdoor adventures, watching his favorite team, or hanging by a bonfire.
India Rhodes, Meijer
India Rhodes is currently a human resource representative living in Indianapolis, IN. Since obtaining her BA in Organizational Leadership, India is looking forward to gaining more management experience by spearheading projects in the future. Although leadership is important to India, she understands that a great leader knows when to lead and when to follow. Having over seven years of experience in human resources, some of India’s passions are resume writing and assisting with the development of young professionals in the city of Indianapolis. For instance, India is the treasurer for The Exchange at the Indianapolis Urban League where she maintains a budget for dollars raised and spent by the organization. She takes pride in volunteering with various organizations in the surrounding area in hopes of bettering her community. India also enjoys learning new crafting techniques, playing recreational volleyball, cooking, and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Madison Russo, Citizens Energy Group
Madison works at Citizens Energy Group as an Engineering Analyst. She has worked at Citizens for eight years. Outside of work, she is a mom and a wife. She enjoys being with her family and sisters, as well as crafting.
Leslie Salazar, ColoresCreative.Co
Leslie Salazar, a first-generation Latina, is dedicated to fostering equity through communications and community engagement. She’s held roles with community organizations such as United Way of Central Indiana, The 500 Festival, and The Mind Trust. In 2022, Leslie served as a campaign manager for a first-time candidate running for Indiana House Representative, leading to their election. Inspired by the campaign, Leslie launched Colores Creative, a full-service creative partner amplifying voices of change and progress. Leslie holds board positions with the Latinas Welding Guild and the Indiana Latino Democratic Caucus. In 2023, she became part of Hoosier Women Forward’s sixth class. Leslie earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from IUPUI and possesses fundraising and event Management certifications. She resides in Indianapolis with her family.
Carrington Sanders, City of Indianapolis: Mayor’s Office
Carrington Sanders is the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advocate for the Center Northeast area of Indianapolis. He has worked for the Office of the Mayor for over a year starting his career as a legislative intern. Carrington graduated from Indiana University in May of 2022, with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and minors in Sociology and African American Studies. As Mayor’s Neighborhood Advocate for the Center Northeast area, he is driven to advocate for residents across his area and inspiring positive change within the City of Indianapolis. Carrington has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge in municipal government and the important rule local government has in shaping the lives of Indianapolis’ next generation.
Serena Srun, UKG
Serena graduated from the Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis with a degree in Human Resouces Management and Business Management and work for UKG as a Program Manager. She manages timelines for award programs and support teams’ involvement in large company events. Outside of her work, she continues her support for the Vietnamese Student Association at IUPUI, the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of the Midwest, and the Alpha Omicron Charter of Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority, Incorporated. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, gaming, and spending time with her cats, Komi and Bunki.
Eunjune You, Indianapolis Airport Authority
June has lived in Indiana for most of his life. During his time here he has resided in Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, and now Avon. He received his degree in Accounting and Finance at the Kelley School of Business and now works for the Indianapolis Airport. He enjoys tinkering in his free time and learning about the stock market.
Class XIII Moderators
Greg Stowers, City of Indianapolis
Greg Stowers is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis and has been focused on find ways to engage, exposure and empower people throughout his career. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the office of the City-County Council and provides policy strategy and analysis to all 25 city councilors. He’s spent time in the public, non-profit and private sector which has provided him with unique opportunities to learn, grow and build relationships with leaders around the state. He believes in the importance of community and culture, which is evident in his non-profit and volunteer efforts for various initiatives. He currently serves on boards for Indy Hub, Washington Township Schools Foundation, Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation, NBA All-Star 2024 Host Committee and the Public Health and Safety Board for the City of Indianapolis. He also directs Hashtag Lunchbag Indianapolis, which has provided more than 35,000 meals for Indianapolis residents in need. He is a graduate of Indiana State University and an 1828 Class VI alum.
Taylor Schaffer, Downtown Indy
Taylor Schaffer is the President and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc., a nonprofit civic organization focused on improving Downtown Indianapolis. Prior to her role at Downtown Indy, Inc., she has served in a variety of roles within city government — most recently as Chief of Staff and Chief Deputy Mayor for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. Before joining the Hogsett administration, Schaffer worked in the private sector for clients ranging from non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 Companies, developing communications, branding, and marketing strategies. Schaffer currently serves on the board of directors for Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, The Athenaeum Foundation, Visit Indy, and the 2024 NBA All-Star Game Local Organizing Committee. She is a former board member of the Indy Hub Foundation, and is a passionate advocate for attracting, retaining, and engaging young talent in Indianapolis. Schaffer is a proud graduate of Indiana State University and a member of Class 44 of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series.