September 29, 2018 09:24 AM


Indian-born Rupal Thanawala was among the 12 "Amazing Women" who were selected and presented the 2018 Torchbearer Awards at a glittering function hosted by Indian Commission for Women at the Indiana Historical Society, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis. This year's Torchbearer Award winners were business women, community leaders, service women, healers and public servants. The awardees were given a standing ovation when they came on the podium to receive the award.

Rupal Thanawala earned the distinction of becoming the first Asian American recipient of the Torchbearer Awards. Rupal is degree holder in Biomedical Engineering from Mumbai University and MBA from Northwestern University. She has used her technology and non-profit knowledge to motivate women to take leadership position.

First Lady Janet Holcomb, Torchbearer Awards Honorary Chair, and the Board of Commissioners of the Indiana Commission for Women (ICW) felicitated the awardees. This prestigious award recognizes women from around the state who have broken down barriers, overcome obstacles to women’s full participation, and have made Indiana a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Rupal is a Senior Managing Director, Trident Services. Rupal is engaged in multiple community and corporate organizations to promote Youth and Women Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion, STEM Educations and Healthcare Awareness. Rupal Thanawala is a civic-minded business and IT Executive providing strategy and digital consulting services.

“This year’s list of nominees is impressive,” said Chair of ICW Board of Commissioners, Melissa Cotterill. “They have all made significant contributions to the state and to their communities; and we are excited to be recognizing them.”

Rupal is a Senior Managing Director, Trident Services. Rupal is engaged in multiple community and corporate organizations to promote Youth and Women Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion, STEM Educations and Healthcare Awareness. Rupal Thanawala is a civic-minded business and IT Executive providing strategy and digital consulting services.

Speaking on the occasion ICW Board member Maggie Daniels described Rupal Thanawala "a very passionate, selfless and strategic leader of Indiana and has extended her service in diverse ways. She has been a voice for women to engage in non-profit, commissions and organizational boards and speaks frequently on the importance of women to have a "Seat At The Table."

"She has been a voice of community for over 20 years and serves on boards as the Asian American Alliance Inc, TheSnapLink, BDPA, American Lung Association, Health Science Innovation and Techpoint Foundation for Youth as well as multiple committees of the United Way of Central Indiana, American Heart Association."She is an Op-Ed writer in Indianapolis Business Journal. Finally, I believe she has the distinction honor of being the first Asian American recipient of our Torchbearer Awards." Rupal lives in Fishers with her husband Amit, sons Ninad and Rahil and mom Gayaben.

This year’s other recipients were Dr. Kristina Box (Indianapolis), Indiana State Health Commissioner; Judy Brown (Hillsdale), American Legion; Tammy Butler Robinson (McCordsville), Engaging Solutions; Melinda Clark (Salem), St. Vincent Medical Group; Sarah Demmon (Fishers), Eli Lilly and Company; Brenda Gerber Vincent (Fort Wayne), Lifeline, Crosswinds, Lasting Change; Major Nila Miller-Cronk (Indianapolis), Indiana State Police; Jennifer Pope Baker (Carmel), Women’s Fund of Central Indiana; Kendra Vanzo (Evansville) Old National Bank; Tina Walters (Fort Wayne), Fort Wayne Smallest Winner and Donna Zimmerman (Evansville), Ivy Tech Community College.

The function began with a welcome address by IWC Second Vice-Chair Stephanie Moore. She said the awardees "have shown resilience and strength and demonstrated character and achievement. They have faced obstacles, fought battles and stood alone as they forged a path for other women to follow in their footsteps. Out of 12, eight would carry the title of Torchbearers and four would receive additional special distinction."

Stephanie Moore thanked The Kroger Company for their continued generosity. She also thanked Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Pam Blevins-Hinkle, Etta Biloon and Pete Dunbar for their valuable contributions.

First Lady Janet Holcomb was especially thanked for attending the function and serving as Honorary Chair, Governor Holcomb, Lt Governor Crouch and all Senators and representatives of the Indiana General Assembly.
ICW acts as the voice of women, communicating their needs and concerns as well as their successes and contributions. Melissa Cotterill, Indianapolis is Chair. Commissioners are: Commissioner Christine Altman, Hamilton County; Senator Vaneta Becker, Evansville, Commissioner Linda Bloom, Fort Wayne, Senator Jean Breaus, Indianapolis, Kori Chambers, Greenwood, Secretary, Molly Chavers, Indianapolis, Kayevonne Dailey, Fort Wayne, First Vice Chair, Margaret Daniels, Zionsville, Rachel Hoffmeyer, Press Secretary, Governor's Designee, Representative Sheila Klinker, Lafayette, Representative Peggy Mayfield, Martinsville, Stephanie Moore, Newburg, Second Vice Chair, Heather Willey, Indianapolis, Treasurer and Joie Winski, LaPorte County Auditor. Kristin Svyantek Garvey is the Executive Director.

Renowned artist Kanwal Prakash Singh, Danish Punjabi singer Anita Lerche and Journalist Young-Hee Yedinak were among those who attended the function. Meanwhile, Rupal Thanawala is receiving congratulatory messages for receiving the prestigious award.

Brief Bios of 2018 Torchbearer Awards Recipients

Kristina Box, MD, Indiana State Health Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health: In 2017, Kristina Box, MD, FACOG was appointed by Governor Eric J. Holcomb as the Indiana State Health Commissioner. As Commissioner, she directs and manages the Indiana State Department of Health, which is responsible for providing quality healthcare for all Hoosiers to ensure a healthier and safer Indiana.

Krishtina Box was presented a "very special Torchbearter Award for a Lifetime of Achievement. As Krishtina Box was in Washington DC, her daughter Lauren Box accepted the award on behalf of her mother.

Judy Brown, Legislative Chairperson, American Legion: Judy started work young and is a two time Army Veteran.Judy served in the 1990’s and again after 9/11 and was designated a female combat veteran. Although her service was cut short by injury, Judy continues to serve in her local community, serving veterans and at the Indiana State House and advocating to Congress on behalf of her brothers and sisters who serve.

Tammy Butler Robinson, Managing Principal, Engaging Solutions: She is Managing Principal with Engaging Solutions and has successfully led the company’s call center and co-managed the firm’s planning and community outreach sector. Prior to that, Tammy spent over a decade in State government as a fiscal analyst for the Indiana House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. She was Assistant Director of the Indiana State Budget Agency; Director of Claims Management for the Family and Social Services Agency; and Data Director for the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. She is the Immediate Past President of NAWBO-Indy.

Melinda Clark, Nurse Practitioner, Campbellsburg Clinic: Melinda began her career as a Nurse’s aide, while working her way up to a Nurse Practitioner. When she realized there was no clinic in Salem, the small town where she lived, she began her own clinic.

Sarah Demmon, Senior Research Scientist, Eli Lilly and Company: Coach for Indy Surviveoars, Indiana’s only Dragon Boat Team for Breast Cancer Survivors; published author of Thanks for the Mammaries: A Breast Cancer Survivor Story.

Brenda Gerber Vincent, Chief Development Officer, Lifeline, Crosswinds, Lasting Change: Currently serves on the board of governors of the Richard G. Lugar Leadership Series and is a pioneer in the world of mental health. She is the Co-Founder of the Fort Wayne Carriage House, a “clubhouse” model facility that serves over 1600 members of her community who struggle with severe mental illness.

Major Nila Miller-Cronk, Major, Indiana State Police: Nila began her career in law enforcement during the mid-1980s and graduated from the 44th Recruit Academy Class as one of only four female recruits.
Jennifer Pope Baker, Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana: Jennifer has been the executive director of the Women’s Fund since 1998 and under her leadership, the Women’s Fund has become an expert in women’s issues in central Indiana.

Rupal Thanawala, Senior Managing Director, Trident Services: Rupal is engaged in multiple community and corporate organizations to promote Youth and Women Empowerment, Diversity and Inclusion, STEM Educations and Healthcare Awareness.

Kendra Vanzo, EVP, Associate Engagement & Integration, Old National Bank: Kendra Vanzo is EVP, Associate Engagement and Integration for Old National Bancorp (ONB). She has managed Old National’s Human Resources department since 2010 and was named the Ogletree Deakins Human Resources Professional of the Year in 2017.
Tina Walters, Founder, Fort Wayne’s Smallest Winner: Tina started Ft. Wayne’s Smallest Winner to combat obesity in her community. She works with women who may otherwise not be able to afford help needed to lose weight and live healthier lives.

Donna Zimmerman, Asst. Professor/Program Chair Advanced Automation and Robotics: As an Engineer herself, Donna is a visible example of what these girls might become. She spends every day in her lab and/or within the community teaching women of all ages the skills needed to successfully compete within this sector.

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