Michael Cunningham is president, CEO and owner of Cunningham Restaurant Group. He opened his first full-service restaurant, Boulder Creek, in Brownsburg in 1997. Today, Cunningham Restaurant Group operates 42 locations in three states. The company’s two mainstay brands, Stone Creek Dining Co. and BRU Burger Bar, represent 19 of the current locations. CRG owns and operates seven restaurants in the Mass Ave Cultural District
First job: “One of my first jobs early in my career was assisting my brothers as a dishwasher in restaurants. It taught me that, with hard work and dedication, you can achieve just about anything. There is one mantra that I emphasized with our team and that is to ‘work hard and be kind.'”
Alan Bacon co-founded cultural not-for-profit GangGang with partner Mali Jeffers. He’s also co-curator for fine arts fair Butter and for the “We. The Culture” exhibit at Newfields. GangGang was among the groups that produced SWISH—an arts festival during the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis—and curated more than 263 performances over four weeks. GangGang is also working with the host committee of the NBA All-Star Game for 2024. Bacon was previously president of Harrison College’s northwest campus and worked as senior director of social innovation at United Way of Central Indiana.
Biggest challenge: “Launching a successful startup during
Advice for a young person: “I would share the importance of networking and relationship building. This has proven to be critical. I would also help them understand the power of the youth.”
Walk-up song: “Dream on,” by Aerosmith
Maurice Broaddus is a writer, community organizer and teacher who serves as the resident Afrofuturist at the Indianapolis-based Khewprw Institute and is editor at Apex Magazine. The author of sci-fi and fantasy novels (including “Pimp My Airship”), Broaddus was hired by Marvel Comics and publisher Smart Pop to write “Black Panther: T’Challa Declassified,” to be published in January. He is also a frequent guest of honor at fan conventions throughout the United States and created an annual gathering in Indianapolis known as Mo*Con, which is designed to bring artists of national stature to meet local artists in an informal setting.
In May 2021, Darrianne Christian became the first Black woman to chair the Newfields board of trustees. Christian started her career with the Central Intelligence Agency after being recruited into the Stokes Scholar program while still a high school student. She spent the remainder of her career working in information technology as a program manager and consultant before leaving the workforce to care for her children. She currently serves on the boards of Lake City Bank and the Eskenazi Health Foundation. She has been a member of the Newfields board since 2016.
First job: “Babysitter. I learned that babies are not only cute but a lot of work. It taught me to be patient and attentive.”
Toughest challenge: “Raising teenage girls. Not sure I have overcome it yet.”
Sabbatical topic: “Minimizing the wealth gap.”
As vice president of communications for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, Quinn Buckner is the organization’s liaison to the corporate community, leads the Pacers Youth Basketball Program, and is the analyst for Indiana Pacers television games. He serves on the board for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game. Before joining the Pacers, he was an analyst with the Cleveland Cavaliers, coached the Dallas Mavericks and played 10 seasons in the NBA. He was captain of Indiana University’s 1976 NCAA Championship team and the 1976 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team. He chairs the Indiana University board.
First job: “I worked for a janitor at my elementary school, as well as for Head Start delivering supplies (around 10-12 years old). It taught responsibility.”
Something surprising: “I’ve always had an interest in
Toughest challenge: “I grew up shy, so being in front of an audience is the toughest. I am private and shy, but people don’t necessarily see me that way. I overcome in order to give my best.”
As leader of the Northwest RDA, Sherri Ziller is responsible for formulating policy, planning and program strategies and making financial investment decisions to support economic development and redevelopment throughout the northwest Indiana region. She became CEO of the authority in 2021 after serving as chief operating officer managing daily operations. She has been with the RDA since it was formed in 2006 and has focused on securing funding for two major South Shore rail projects: the West Lake Corridor extension and the double tracking of the existing line from Gary to Michigan City.
Favorite thing about leading: “I want to be able to look back on this time in my life and be able to say that I was part of the positive transformation of Northwest Indiana. That guides me forward, and it gives me something to work towards every day.”
Advice for a young person: “I read somewhere that courage is not not feeling fear, but feeling fear and doing it, anyway. I would tell a young person that it’s OK to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”
Doug Boles became president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in June 2013, when the track was owned by Hulman & Co., and has continued to oversee the track’s daily operations as part of Penske Entertainment. He spearheads IMS events—including the Indianapolis 500, the GMR Grand Prix and the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard—and oversees work on the track’s facilities. Boles joined IMS as director of public relations in 2010 and moved up through the company. From 1992-1997, he served as director of governmental and corporate affairs for Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.
Job swap: “High school/college swimming coach or management for a rock band.”
Admires most: “My dad. Simple. Always had time for family, and watching him in his professional life, he cared deeply about his staff and knew the importance of team culture to that success.”
Michael Andretti is a former IndyCar driver who now leads Andretti Autosport, which fields multiple entries in the NTT IndyCar Series, Indy Lights Series and the IMSA Sportscar Championship LMP3 division, as well as programs in other series. Andretti teams have won 200 times, with four IndyCar Series championships, four Indy Lights titles and five Indianapolis 500 wins. Last year alone, Andretti Autosport won 20 races—with wins in six of the seven series the team competed in. As a driver, the eldest son of Mario Andretti raced in 16 Indy 500s, leading in nine of them, and won 42 races in the CART series. He also started the Michael Andretti Foundation. Last year, Andretti Global, the parent company of Andretti Autosport, announced it would build its motorsports headquarters in Fishers.
In 2019, Elaine Bedel was the first executive named to head the new Indiana Destination Development Corp. by Gov. Eric Holcomb. The organization replaced the Department of Tourism, and Bedel has led its transition to a broader mission that includes enhancing the state's economic development efforts by attracting new workforce talent. A certified financial planner, she also is founder and CEO of Bedel Financial Consulting, which manages more than $2 billion in investment portfolio assets. She is chair of the Hanover College board and has served in the past as chair of the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards and the Women's Fund and as vice board chair for Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana.
On leadership: "As a leader, put ethics above all else. Set a high standard for yourself. Build a strong reputation for being a good person and protect it. Then, when others want to make disparaging remarks/accusations, there is less chance those comments will be believed. Your reputation will speak louder than their words."
Before completing an MBA at Indiana University South Bend in 2000, Isaac Torres founded InterCambio Express Inc.—an international money transfer service provider. The Elkhart-based company now operates in 48 states and sends money to Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Torres subsequently launched the companies InterCambio Realty LLC and InterLoans. In 2019, he established the Isaac P. Torres Family School of Business and Economics Scholarship on IU’s South Bend campus. He serves on the boards of 1st Source Bank, IU Foundation, Women’s Care Center Elkhart and Community Foundation of Elkhart.
Job swap: PGA professional
Love about Indiana: “Welcoming community, pro-business environment and small-town feel.”
Indiana change: “Create better infrastructure designed to facilitate the growth of the Latino generations to come.”