Rose Awards 28th Show

2016 HONOREES


Quick Links to Winner Stories:

ROSE Award Winners


ROSE Award Nominees

Bruce Abeshaus
Indianapolis Indians

S. Clark Allen
Climb Time Indy

Elvia Anaya
Le Meridien Indianapolis

Paul Annee
Citizens Energy Group

Brenda Baird
Omni Severin Hotel

Justin Barrett
Morton’s The Steakhouse

Les Bobo
Holiday Inn Indianapolis Airport

Abdelghani Bouslim
Hyatt Regency Indianapolis

Melissa Brassard-Herold
Ivy Tech Community College

Thomas Bromstrup
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art

Lorris Brown
Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Keith Brown
Spoke & Steele, Le Meridien Indianapolis

Jane Ann Buchanan
Indiana State Museum

Martha Cabrera
HMS Host

Julian Cayo
ECU Staffing Multi-Services

Abrehet Debas
Conrad Indianapolis

Steve Dill
NCAA Hall of Champions

Karen Escobar
Indianapolis Marriott Downtown

Kelsey Evans
Hyatt Regency Indianapolis

Felicia Ferguson
Indiana Sports Corp

Oscar Fernandez
Conrad Indianapolis

Randy Fisher
Fern Exposition & Event Services

Darren Ford
Indianapolis Marriott Downtown & Champions Sports Bar

Veronica Freeman
JW Marriott Indianapolis

Kristine George
Residence Inn Indianapolis Northwest

Max Goller
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Jay Hemphill
Conner Prairie

Jaclyn Henry
Holiday Inn Express Indianapolis South

Julio Herrera
LGC Hospitality Staffing

Sarah Hogg
Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel

Marcus Jackson
Embassy Suites Indianapolis Downtown

Calvin Jackson
IndyGo

Ron Johnson
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown

Darlene Johnson
Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites

Hafedh Khemir
Indianapolis Airport Authority

Chris Kirksey
Prime 47

Josh Kitterman
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Jody Knox
Indianapolis Marriott East

Kea Kong
Morton's the Steakhouse

Ryan Krieg
Holiday Inn Express Northwest – Park 100

Jacqueline Lawrence
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Michael Locke
Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel

Anthony Lugenbeal
Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis Airport – Garden Grille and Bar

Mame Ly
The Westin Indianapolis

Daniel Marquis
Markey’s Rental & Staging

Anne McNevin
Ivy Tech Community College

Valerie Mings
Western Bowl

Rahel Molla
HMS Host

James Murry
Priority Press

Juan Navarrete
St. Elmo Steak House

Anthony Nichols
Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Airport

Kaitlin O’Brien
500 Festival, Inc.

Cooky O’Neil
Indiana State Museum

Brian Petersson
The Alexander

Linda Price
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Lana Putnam
Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium

Cory Reed
Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Sarah Richcreek
Conner Prairie

Deanna Roberts-Blair
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Crystal Rose
Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel

Dwight Sammy
IndyGo

Shayla Simpson
Osteria Pronto

Nick Simpson
Spoke & Steele, Le Meridien Indianapolis

David Slipher
Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Brandy Smith
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Dick Steinmetz
Schahet Hotels, Inc.

Bill Stewart
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Zach Stonerock
Indiana Historical Society

Kimberly Terry
Woodland Bowl

Michael Turman
Royal Transportation

Lisa Turner
Cambria Hotel & Suites Noblesville Indianapolis

Bill Uhrig
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, Inc.

Brittany Van Hook
Accent Indy, a DMC Network Company

Eric Warren
Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites

Dustin Watson
Homewood Suites Indianapolis Downtown

Larry Wheeler
Southern Bowl

Paul White
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Timothy Wiegand
Le Meridien Indianapolis

Elizabeth Wilson
Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis South

Sarah Wright
Harry & Izzy’s – North

Eusebio Zacatzontle
Homewood Suites Keystone at the Crossing


Jeffrey Bobbitt — Guest Service Agent
Indianapolis Marriott East

This ROSE Award recipient epitomizes impeccable customer care, but not because it's his job, it's in his DNA. 46 reviews from previous guests at the Indianapolis Marriott East identify Jeff as the best in the business and a key reason why this hotel consistently gets ranked on Trip Advisor as the 4th hotel out of 184 properties. He was sitting in the audience as an honoree in 2015 and became motivated to take his performance to an even higher level. His new career goal was to be recognized as a ROSE Award winner. Jeff has been with Indianapolis Marriott East as their front desk front man for the past two years, and has worked eight years in the industry.
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Bruce Abseshaus — Usher
Indianapolis Indians

Bruce is celebrating 20 years of service, alongside his place of employment. Twenty years ago Victory Field opened its doors to hopeful fans, ballpark hot dogs, sunny summer days, and just pure Americana. And ever since that fine day, one face has continued to stand above the crowd. If you're lucky enough to ever sit in section 108, you've seen Bruce replace guests' drinks if they get spilled by a fly ball, you've seen this recipient countlessly volunteer to take a family photo to help capture great moments, and you've even seen him gallop over rows of seats so that before you try to sit down he can ensure a dry seat after a rainy day. Several fans wrote in to say he is the reason they renew their season tickets. And these guests also unanimously said, "He remembers our name, asks about our family, and expresses deep appreciation for our patronage." One season ticket holder even wrote in to say that every time his family gets ready to go to a game, the kids say, "I hope Bruce is working tonight." Bruce has been ushering guests to their seats and creating smiles since Victory Field's opening pitch.
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Lisa Turner — Front Desk
Cambria Hotel & Suites Noblesville

Lisa's nomination says she's employed at the front desk, however, after reading her many customer and colleague letters of nomination, it's evident that she wears many hats. Without hesitation, she's been known to jump in and help out with parking during heavy Klipsch concert arrival days, bussing tables for breakfast, serving in banquets, picking up trash outside after concert nights, and was recently found helping housekeeping strip beds in order to flip 132 suites for four nights in a row. And after a very large sales event, she came back to work on her own accord at midnight to help some of the team reset all the hotel public space and meeting space for another event the following day. One regular guest at the Cambria wrote in to say, "I have the ability to stay at many different hotels in the area. However I would not stay anywhere else and she is the major reason for that." Another guest commented on how he was staying at another hotel for a conference, but drove all the way to the northside just to say hi to the consistently friendly Lisa. Another guest wrote in to let us know that her experience with Lisa was so genuine and thoughtful when she noticed this guest was not feeling well upon check-in. Lisa made it a point to check in on her later in the day to see if she needed to go to the doctor. It is evident that Lisa goes above and beyond what might be expected and demonstrates superior customer service. In addition, Lisa was awarded employee of the year in 2014, and nominated several times in 2015. She's been with the company for four outstanding years and in the industry for ten years.
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Lorris Brown and David Slipher — Head Ushers
Pacers Sports and Entertainment

These two are a dynamic duo. Two peas in a pod. Zig and zag. Salt and pepper. Mustard and ketchup. This duo is special because it's likely that, as head ushers, no two other men in Central Indiana's hospitality community have had more interaction with customers or visitors than these two. We've had the honor of seeing these two familiar faces at one of Indiana's most popular entertainment venues for 42 and 30 years. Lorris and David have formed a united bond of service excellence that is evident in their nightly work managing the entire building and troubleshooting all customer requests as they come in. It's unimaginable to think of the thousands of questions they've been asked or the hundreds of problems they've had to solve over the years, yet they treat each question as if they're hearing it for the first time and each problem as if it's a new one. Lorris has served in his role for 30 years while David has worked for 42 years with Pacers Sports & Entertainment throughout Market Square Arena and even State Fairgrounds Coliseum Days. These two are truly dedicated to their service of Hoosier Hospitality.
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Linda Price — Customer Service Representative
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

If there's one person you could quiz on Indy's history over the past 25 years, it's Linda. She has quite a memory, especially of the hundreds of thousands of people and their families that she interacts with each year at the IMS. One of her colleagues wrote in to say, "On my first day of work, I was going around the office and meeting people. One person in particular immediately made a lasting impression. I explained to her that I was a 3rd generation super fan. My grandmother lived near the facility and had started going to events shortly after WWII. Then she started bringing my dad and uncle, then my mom and aunt. My first event was in 1986. Before I could go on, my new colleague asked what my last name was. Immediately, she asks, "Oh, was your grandma Lola Shaw?" Unbelievable as my grandma passed away fourteen years ago and all she did was renew her tickets by mail each year. That's just how committed she is to her customers."vIt's not uncommon for ticket purchasers to ask for Linda by name. Once a ticket customer connects with her, she is their "ticket lady" for life. One colleague recalls a long-time ticket customer coming to the ticket counter and asking for her. The colleague told him that she was away for lunch and would be back in an hour. The customer said that was fine and he'd wait in the lobby until she returned as he needed to thank our recipient in person. She has a remarkable way of connecting and maintaining relationships with each fan she encounters whether in person, on the phone or by email. She even goes as far as to write a personalized note on their renewal forms. There are over 300,000 fans that come to the Indianapolis 500 each year, but Linda has just as many, especially after 42 years.
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Hafedh Khemir — Shuttle Driver
Indianapolis Airport Authority

Hafedh is said to have a way of touching lives and leaving his mark on every customer he serves. As a shuttle driver, he is not only an exceptional driver, but also ensures that people know where they're going, assists with their bags, and offers a genuine smile and a friendly conversation to everyone he meets. His employers receive consistent compliments about his service, especially on their online feedback form, which is mainly used for customer complaints. One customer went on to say, "by far the best, most friendly service I have experienced with a bus driver in years of flying." One frequent flyer wrote to say that on a night she was traveling back home from a majorly delayed flight, she arrived to Indy at 2:17 am, at which time the airport was a ghost town. She had the fortune of meeting Hafedh on the shuttle that took her back to her car. She admitted she – and everyone else was crabby – after such a late flight, but somehow he managed to turn everyone's crabbiness into smiles. He was upbeat, professional and a bright ray of sunshine at 2:17 a.m. One customer went on and on about how appreciative he was of Hafedh's hospitality and at the end of his online feedback form he says, "I asked his name and did not catch it; he said just call him what sounds like "come here." Hafedh has been in the hospitality industry for eight plus years and has served as the shuttle driver with the contagious smile for two years now with the Indianapolis Airport Authority.
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Sarah Wright — Guest Relations and Event Coordinator
Harry & Izzy's Northside

Sarah keeps everyone on their toes as she always over delivers and reminds everyone that there is no limit to what she can do. This was quite evident in a recent surprise sweet 16 party that she helped plan. Book the space, decide on the menu and sign the contract, right? Not even close! Sarah scoured the 16-year-old's Pinterest board to see what ideas for the party she had pinned – and then, she made it happen. Our recipient asked the mom what the budget was for the event – and then, she made it happen. She booked a limo for the girl and her friends, designed and created the exact centerpieces the girl wanted, picked up the flowers, decorated the private room and absolutely blew the guests away. Rumor has it that it was also under budget. The mom and the 16 year old were so ecstatic with the above and beyond service that she wrote the president of the company and said Sarah made the group of 16-year-old girls feel like 20 high powered execs. It doesn't stop there. A woman recently reached out to Sarah to ask her to plan her husband's 65th birthday party, even though he had a rare bone disease and might not be able to make it to the party. Sarah talked with the woman at length about her husband and his life and then used all of that information to plan the party – including magicians, flowers, balloons and the best cake in Indy. Because Sarah is so well connected in the industry, many of the vendors were happy to provide their services free of charge. It's evident that she is both creative and fearless in making every event top notch. She is said to be the quintessential employee. Sarah has been delighting guests since the Harry & Izzy's opened on the northside in November 2011. She's served a total of 13 years in the hospitality industry.
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Brittany VanHook — Events
Accent Indy, a DMC Network Company

Name any big event and Brittany's been there, serviced that. From working with the Kentucky Derby to the NCAA Final Four, she's helped put her hospitality touch on hundreds of events. From catering and hotel staff, to drivers, to A/V guys, to Marilyn Monroe performers, florists, band members, mind readers, stilt walkers, freak show members, she knows them all. In fact, she was one of 27 individuals who interned with the NFL Experience at the Super Bowl in 2012, working with the interactive games, the volunteer room, and assisting with the transition for the game day entrance. At the wrap-up celebration, she was the only one from the group who was presented with a commemorative Super Bowl coin for doing an exceptional job. Brittany is said to have a passion for people like no one else. Her team teases her about being able to strike up a conversation with anyone. One conversation that led to a life-changing moment and a moment that epitomizes her pure zest for life was back in May of 2011, when she was volunteering for an air show in Terre Haute. She met a family from Beech Grove who had lost their son to cancer and were making it their mission to get as many people as possible to register with the national bone marrow registry. After listening to their story, she instantly signed up, never imagining that just over a year later in June of 2012 she would get a call saying she was a perfect match. So, on August 30, 2012, she donated her bone marrow to a then six-year-old boy. To this day, he is alive and thriving -- all thanks to a small town girl who can strike up a conversation with anyone. Brittany has worked on the events team for Accent Indy, a DMC Network Company for the past eight years and has served in the hospitality industry for the past 12 years.
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Crystal Rose — Bartender
Grille 39, Renaissance Hotel

Once upon a time, in a land called Indianapolis, there was a man who had a difficult job that constantly took him away from his home, his wife, and his two young sons. There were times when he was on the road 11 out of 12 weeks, and he was always lonely, and often sad. When he traveled, he stayed at a hotel just a few blocks from his office. After putting in 12-hour days, he would come back to the hotel and go downstairs with a book to read while he ate dinner. There was a woman who worked at the restaurant as a bartender. She soon knew him by sight and always greeted him by name. She asked about his family and told him about hers. She discussed his books. She smiled when he was happy and sympathized when he was sad. They talked about philospophy, raising precocious sons, love, life, gardening, and things they both hoped to do before they died. She made the hotel and restaurant his home away from home. A few years later, the man decided to leave his job to pursue some of his passions. She cheered him on and encouraged him to be happy. The day he quit, he lost the few friends he'd had at the job and then came to the restaurant more sad than usual. After setting down his book, he walked away from the bar to wash his hands. When he came back, there was a handwritten note sitting at his place. It said, "Congratulations! You're FREE! No matter what you do, I know you'll be successful." On the day this man left his executive career with its unlimited expense account, six-figure salary, private jet, and other things that are used to measure success by most people in our society, he was terrified and wondering if he'd made a mistake. It's incredible to learn that this man who wrote us about Crystal still has the note. It's taped to his wall above his desk at home. He says her note reminds him daily that someone appreciates his brand of success, even if it's not conventional in our world. When asked, he says the only thing that he misses about his corporate job is Crystal's smile and friendship. That wasn't the only letter sent acknowledging her genuine care. Many regulars admit that they could stay at any hotel, but they choose her hotel. She lives an hour away to be closer to her son's dad, and despite the distance she's never late, never called off, and is always willing to come in and cover for coworkers. Crystal has been at the Renaissance Hotel for the past four years as Grille 39's bartender. She has worked seventeen years in the industry.
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Kati O'Brien — Customer Experience Coordinator
500 Festival

Providing great customer service on a daily basis just isn't good enough. Kati is always looking for that extra angle to make a customer's experience extra special. Here's one example of how she does just that. Leading up to one of the city's mini-marathons, she kept a log of all the people she had communicated with, as well as their interesting stories. She wanted each of those participants to know how much they meant to the marathon's organization, so she hand wrote each of those individuals a personal note. She then sorted through more than 30,000 bibs and attached the notes to those bibs, so when it came time for the race, each participant had a personalized note wishing them luck and thanking them for their participation. Even this wasn't enough. She went on to research everyone who had a birthday during the week of the race, and saw to it that they each had a Happy Birthday notecard from her and her organization. She also wrote personalized thank you notes to those who had participated in the race for either 10, 20 or 30-plus years. By the time Kati decided to put down her pen, thousands of the participants received some sort of a note from tonight's winner. Taking the time to complete a project like this, on top of all her other responsibilities makes this a truly remarkable accomplisment. Kati has been with the 500 Festival for almost two years and within the industry for the past three.
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Abrehet Debas — Room Attendant
Conrad Indianapolis

Abrehet is one of our industry's most patient and caring people and those who get to work alongside her daily know that it's a privilege. So many notes arrived from guests across the country raving about her. One guest acknowledged that they stayed at the Conrad for more than a month and had become so fond of their housekeeper that they did not take service in their room unless she was working. Another note went on to say, "she has been an absolute delight. Today she said to us, my highest honor is to serve you and make your stay feel like home. Her attitude and spirit reminded my wife and I that we've all got to show up every day, give our best to others and make this world, our world, a better place." Another incredible story regards a hotel guest that seemed to be sad and appeared to have been crying. Abrehet took the time to ask the guest if she was okay and if there was anything she could do to make her happy. They talked for some time and the guest felt very comfortable with her. The guest shared that her mother was very ill and in the hospital. The guest cried on this room attendant's shoulders while she comforted her by talking about her own mother and empathizing. The guest was so blown away by her room attendant's care that she insisted on seeing her again before she checked out to give her a hand-written note and a gift. The note said, "Hello beautiful light, this is a little help for phone calls to your mother. I will see you again when I return next month." Abrehet was moved to tears by the kind gesture, but because she's selfless, she didn't realize that her words and her time and her complete and genuine concern resulted in far more value than the dollars her new loyal guest left behind. In hospitality, we often use the phrase, 'it's my pleasure' as a way to convey our appreciation for the opportunity to be of service. Abrehet's colleagues have never heard anyone say those words with more conviction and sincerity. She loves people, she loves life and she loves her work. Her new industry family knows that she's away from her family in Africa and knows that she misses them very much. She waits for her husband to join her in the U.S., yet in spite of all of this, she makes it her mission to improve the lives of those around her every day. In fact, her name translates to "light," and she couldn't be more aptly named. Abrehet has been a room atttendant at the Conrad Indianapolis for the past two and a half years.
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If you have questions about ROSE Awards nominations, please contact:
Missy Berg
Senior Event Marketing Manager
317.262.8234
MBerg@VisitIndy.com


Rose Awards Honorees

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

“When I was chosen as one of the recipients, my years in the hospitality field had so much more meaning. Can you imagine how great it feels to meet people who still remember me as a winner? It is a truly humbling experience.”

Patty Camerone

Patty Camerone
Ruth's Chris Steak House