(INDIANAPOLIS) — The best in business, politics and community were on full display tonight at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 26th Annual Awards Dinner.

Governor Mike Pence kicked off the event before a crowd of 1,500 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Acclaimed political strategists James Carville and Karl Rove matched wits and exchanged good-natured barbs.

But the real stars of the show were the four honorees: Fort Wayne hospital executive Mike Packnett (Business Leader of the Year), State Sen. Brandt Hershman (Government Leader of the Year), TinderBox CEO Dustin Sapp (Indiana Vision 2025 Leader of the Year) and the city of Carmel (Community of the Year).

“Each one is building a remarkable legacy for their industry and region,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “They represent the many good efforts going on throughout the state to make Indiana a better place to live and work.”

Videos honoring the award winners can be viewed at www.indianachamber.com/winners. Full stories about the winners are at www.bizvoicemagazine.com (brief summaries of why they were selected follow below).

The event was presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Ivy Tech Community College served as the speaker sponsor, while the opening reception sponsor was Uzelac & Associates. The speaker reception sponsor was Hirons & Company Advertising + Public Relations.

The Indiana Chamber Foundation sponsored the inaugural Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year award. Indiana Vision 2025 is the Indiana Chamber’s long-range economic development plan and the new award emphasizes entrepreneurship and others facets of the plan’s Dynamic and Creative Culture driver.

The awards dinner followed the Indiana Chamber’s fall board of directors and annual membership meetings. Indiana Chamber Volunteers of the Year Byron Myers (Ice Miller, Indianapolis); Kay Nelson (Northwest Indiana Forum, Portage); and Vince Plank and the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (Indianapolis) were announced during a luncheon ceremony.

Tom Hirons – president, CEO and founder of Hirons & Company Advertising + Public Relations of Indianapolis – was elected the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 chair of the board of directors.

Business Leader of the Year: Mike Packnett, Parkview Health, Fort Wayne
When Mike Packnett came to Indiana less than a decade ago as the leader of Parkview Health, his mission extended beyond health care to the economic well-being of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. Today, the prognosis is excellent for all.

Packnett is tireless in his work to both solve today’s challenges and enthusiastically articulate a vision for the future. On the way: more personalized health care journeys and population growth for a region that has turned around its per capita income challenge.

He embraces servant leadership and is comfortable with his position as “chief among equals.”

Packnett, on the investment in downtown’s Parkview Field: “It has exceeded everyone’s expectations. It’s more about an experience downtown than a baseball game. It helped change our psyche. That is part of what we were hoping, but you never know. People are proud of Parkview Field, the restaurants downtown, the mayor’s vision for the riverfront. It was that rallying project that brought people together like never before.”

Government Leader of the Year: State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek)
A willingness to tackle the difficult topics, work through the details and deliver an outcome with long-term benefits for Indiana begins to describe the accomplishments of state Sen. Brandt Hershman.

Hershman has authored or guided various pieces of tax legislation through the legislative process since becoming a senator in 2000. Telecommunications reform and this year’s efforts on the bidding process for public construction projects are among many other highlights.

As majority floor leader and chair of the Senate’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, Hershman is often called on to elaborate on key issues during Senate floor debate.

Hershman: “A lot of the issues that we face are increasingly complicated. So I’ve always been one of those policy-oriented folks who really enjoys sweating the details. Because when I go to my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – to ask for their support, I want them to have confidence in knowing that someone has done the due diligence.”

Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year: Dustin Sapp, TinderBox, Indianapolis
Our state’s economic future depends, in part, on entrepreneurial success to drive business and job growth. Dustin Sapp is helping make that happen through his current company, TinderBox, and his part in developing an ecosystem of entrepreneurial leaders.

Sapp’s personal game plan underwent a change in college, leading to successful start-ups NoInk Communications and Vontoo. Today, TinderBox is changing the way business operates by helping companies sell smarter and close deals faster.

And while success – for the company and team members – is important, so is investing in the community and giving back.

Sapp: “When it comes to burnout, a pattern we see is that it’s most often those who are the most career driven. They pour everything they have into career, and it’s all that exists for them. So a requirement that I have for people is that they have something that’s more important than this business in their lives. For me, it’s straightforward: It’s my God and it’s my family.”

Community of the Year: Carmel
In the last 20 years, Carmel has reinvented itself. The once-small town is today among the fastest-growing cities in the country.

Restaurants, shops and a variety of residential and business projects form the new downtown. A focus on the arts and business advantages – particularly in the software and health care industries – also are fueling success.

The powerful combination of business growth and quality of life amenities that make the city a great place to work and live is rarely seen. Mayor Jim Brainard says the philosophy is try to do things just a little bit better than everyone else.

Brainard: “We’re trying to build a city that is able to compete. If we can’t compete with the most beautiful and most fun places on Earth, we’re not going to be able to get those people to Indiana and we’re not going to then be able to attract the corporations that want to hire those people.”


Business Leader of the Year
Mike Kubacki, Lake City Bank, Warsaw – 2014
Steve Ferguson, Cook Group, Inc., Bloomington – 2013
Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget, Indianapolis – 2012
Jean Wojtowicz, Cambridge Capital Management Corp., Indianapolis – 2011
Mike Wells, REI Real Estate Services, Indianapolis – 2010

Government Leader of the Year
Congresswoman Susan Brooks – 2014
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar – 2013
Sen. Carlin Yoder and Rep. Jerry Torr – 2012
Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – 2011
Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction – 2010

Community of the Year
Bloomington – 2014
Bedford – 2013
Indianapolis – 2012
Kokomo – 2011
Terre Haute – 2010

2015 Annual Dinner corporate sponsors: AT&T; French Lick Resort; Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino; NIPSCO; Ogletree Deakins; OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc.; Tilson; Wellness Council of Indiana; and Zimmer Biomet.

Contributing sponsors: Allison Transmission; City Securities Corporation; Community Health Network; Dow AgroSciences; Fineline Printing Group; Harman International Industries, Inc.; Hunt Construction Group, An AECOM Company; Indiana Soybean Alliance/Indiana Corn Marketing Council; Indy Eleven; Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; KERAMIDA Inc.; Markey’s Rental & Staging; Pacers Sports & Entertainment; Roche Diagnostics Corporation; Steel Dynamics, Inc.; Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.; The Kroger Co.; Vectren; 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.”