(INDIANAPOLIS) — At the organization’s 29th Annual Awards Dinner, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce honored four prominent business, government and community leaders for their dedication to business excellence in 2018. The award winners, who all took the stage at the Indiana Convention Center, were previously announced in September.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels is the Ogletree Deakins Business Leader of the Year. Daniels has redefined what a modern institution of higher education can look like through incorporating a business mindset and taking calculated risks. Among his efforts: emphasizing value via tuition freezes, establishing the Purdue Global online institution and the Discovery Park District live-work-play venture.

The Government Leader of the Year is Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, who has expanded the use of technology to allow the court system statewide to operate more efficiently. She is also a national voice on the opioid crisis; under her leadership, Indiana’s courts have taken important steps to support the expansion of drug treatment efforts.

Jim Hallett, CEO and chairman of the board of KAR Auction Services, is the Dynamic Leader of the Year. He is the driving force behind the innovative and highly successful enterprise that employs 17,500 worldwide and is Indiana’s 12th largest public company. An enthusiastic champion of the state’s attributes, he is also the owner of the Indy Fuel hockey team.

The Republic Airways and Lift Academy Community of the Year is Jasper, which is both embracing its rich German heritage and manufacturing history while also demonstrating a willingness to adapt and look ahead. Approximately $200 million in current projects is propelling the city, including: Jasper River Centre, a $30 million mixed use development along the Patoka Riverfront, and the 75-acre Parklands of Jasper.

“These honorees should serve as an inspiration for all. They are innovators, visionaries – and most of all, achievers. Indiana and its residents are the beneficiaries of their work, their accomplishments and their leadership,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

More information – including a press release, BizVoice® magazine story and award video – is available for each honoree at www.indianachamber.com/18awards.

The dinner – presented by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield — featured guest speaker J.D. Vance, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Hillbilly Elegy.

Earlier in the day, the Indiana Chamber held its fall board meeting, where Terre Haute businessman Paul Thrift was welcomed as the new chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

Thrift, who will serve a one-year term as board chair, is CEO of real estate development and construction company Thompson Thrift and president of its development division. He co-founded Thompson Thrift in 1986; the company now has three divisions, four offices, projects in a dozen states and more than 250 employees.

Thrift joined the Indiana Chamber’s board in 2001 and has served on various committees, including the executive committee and the Chamber’s political action group, Indiana Business for Responsive Government.

“Paul has proven to be a strong and influential leader – not only with his company, but in his community and the region. We know the Indiana Chamber and its members will benefit from the experience and passion he brings to improving our state,” Brinegar offers.

The Indiana Chamber also honored two Volunteers of the Year during a luncheon in the afternoon: JoAnn Brouillette, president and CEO of Demeter LP in Fowler, Indiana; and Paul Perkins, president and CEO of Jeffersonville-based Amatrol.

The 29th Annual Awards Dinner opening reception sponsor was PNC, while the speaker reception sponsor was Hirons.

Corporate sponsors were AT&T Indiana; CBRE; French Lick Resort; NIPSCO; OneAmerica; Tilson; and Zimmer Biomet.

Contributing sponsors were AECOM Hunt; Allison Transmission; Community Health Network; Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont; DISHER; FedEx; Fineline Printing Group; IGT Indiana; Indiana Soybean Alliance/Indiana Corn Marketing Council; Indiana Wesleyan University; Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick; KERAMIDA Inc.; The Kroger Co.; Lightbound; Markey’s Rental & Staging; MCM CPAs & Advisors; Pacers Sports & Entertainment; Roche Diagnostics Corporation; Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.; Trilogy Health Services; Vectren; Vera Bradley; WFYI Productions; and WGU Indiana.


The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”