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The Scoop

Ernest Coleman | For The Journal Gazette

Governor honors Voices of Unity director

Statement as issued Tuesday by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ office:

INDIANAPOLIS (July 17, 2012) – Governor Mitch Daniels today recognized seven education, business and community leaders from across the state at the Indiana Black Expo, Inc.’s (IBE) 42nd Annual Summer Celebration Governor’s Reception.

“The honorees, and all those that came before them, make up such a rich tapestry of this state,” said Daniels. “The people we honor today have inspired and motivated folks they will never meet by their achievement, by their character and by their largeness of spirit. They never wall anyone off and have always invited people in to share in leadership and in faith.”

Award recipients were selected by the governor in collaboration with state and community leaders. Daniels and IBE Chief Executive Officer and President Tanya Bell presented the awards during a ceremony at the State House.

Reverend Charles R. Williams Community Service Award recipient: Marshall White

Marshall White is the founder of the United Performing Arts Foundation (UPAF) and director of the Voices of Unity Youth Choir. UPAF is a community-based multi-faceted performing arts organization in Fort Wayne. Voices of Unity provides urban and suburban children in the Fort Wayne area the opportunity to learn, study and perform mainstream soulful music that is interesting and relevant to their generation. Music styles taught include jazz, spirituals, gospel, rhythm and blues, hip-hop, pop and country. White is the former music director at True Love Baptist Church and former director of Black Voices of Inspiration at Purdue University. He has directed choirs for special events with artists such as Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow and Paul Anka. He is a 2008 Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Great Men Great Women Honoree for his outstanding commitment to diversity.

Sam Jones Trailblazer Award recipient: Max Siegel

Max Siegel was recently named the fourth CEO of USA Track & Field. Siegel has over 20 years of experience in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Prior to joining USA Track & Field, Siegel was president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt, Inc, making him the highest-ranking African-American executive in NASCAR. He represented hall of fame athletes Tony Gwynn and Reggie White and graduated with honors from the Notre Dame Law School. Siegel is the author of “Know What Makes Them Tick: How to Successfully Negotiate Almost Any Situation.”

Governor’s Award for Achievement in Health and Physical Fitness recipient: Gary Brackett

Gary Brackett was a member of the Indianapolis Colts from 2003 until 2012. Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003, Brackett became defensive captain and started for the Colts in their Super Bowl XLI win over the Chicago Bears. He was a freshman walk-on to the Rutgers University football team and was selected defensive captain and defensive MVP by his senior year. In 2009 Brackett was the 11th annual recipient of the Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award, presented to an NFL player “whose contributions to the community and charitable organizations are especially outstanding.” He won the award for his work with the IMPACT Foundation, a charity he founded in the spring of 2007 to promote health and education for underprivileged youth.

Governor’s Award for Achievement in Civic Leadership recipient: Dr. Vercena Stewart

Dr. Vercena Stewart is the principal of Ambassador Christian Academy in Gary. Born and raised in Gary, Dr. Stewart graduated from the Gary School Corporation, Indiana University Northwest and the Chicago Theological Seminary, where she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in pastoral care and counseling. Dr. Stewart has worked tirelessly with children and their families in the area of education and social services for over 40 years. She believes strongly that for a child to have a successful educational experience there must be a synergetic partnership between home, school and church. Dr. Stewart is the recent widow of Deacon Leroy Stewart and has four children and 26 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Governor’s Award for Achievement in Business and Entrepreneurship recipients: Gordon and Darquia Biffle and Rosevelt Colvin III

Gordon and Darquia Biffle began their barbeque business with a tent in the Market City Flea Market in 2008. Starting with one grill and selling only rib tips, the Biffles experienced rapid success and opened Big Daddy’s BBQ in Gary less than a year later. Big Daddy’s BBQ earned national recognition by winning the American Express OPEN 2011 Big Break Contest, a program designed to help small businesses achieve success through the use of social media. The Biffles are active in their church and community by providing food and monetary donations to area families in need and giving jobs and training to unemployed workers in the community.

Rosevelt Colvin III graduated from Broad Ripple High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University. During an eight-year NFL career, Colvin was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. Following his football career, Colvin and his wife Tiffany opened two UPS Store franchises and SweeTies Gourmet Treats, a specialty dessert and catering store in Broad Ripple. For his accomplishments on and off the field, Colvin was voted Broad Ripple High School’s Most Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2005.

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