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Anna Allen — Senior Ticket Operations Coordinator
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Anna Allen has been working with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 13 years. During her time as a Senior Ticket Operations Coordinator, she has gone above and beyond to ensure each guest to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has an enjoyable and efficient visit. In her role, she provides customer service for all IMS events, including the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar Grand Prix, Big Machine Vodka 400, and the Red Bull Air Race. She has assisted many thankful patrons through the years and as built up a reputation as one of the most helpful personnel at the track, especially in how she handles ADA customer’s needs. Visitors from all over the world have marveled at her pleasant and collected attitude, thanking Anna for saving many of their racing days in short notice. She worked to provide comfortable seats for a fan with limited mobility, quickly replaced lost tickets for out-of-town guests, and has made it her mission to provide an unforgettably positive experience for each visitor to the IMS. One reviewer from Australia praised her, saying “G’Day, Anna… thank you for turning what could have been a disastrous weekend into a memorable experience.” In her free time, Anna is an active member of the Speedway High School Booster Club and supports her son Clayton’s high school events. She frequently serves as a mentor to many of her son’s friends, offering advice in humor as needed. Her mother, Shirley, has also worked at IMS for more than 30 years. One of her favorite times of year is when she hosts her Month of May Porch Party during the Indy 500. She is also involved in the Special Olympics as a softball coach and basketball scorekeeper.
Humberto Rene DeLeon — Driver
Humberto Rene DeLeon has a huge job each day. He is responsible for coordinating over 120 transfers of pilots and flight attendants to and from the Indianapolis International Airport. These airline employees from Southwest, United, Delta, and Alaska Airlines are in town just briefly during layovers, and it is critical they arrive to the airport on time for departure Rene works hard to efficiently transport these crewmembers, and in so doing, ensures departing flights leave on time. Rene has worked for Royal Transportation for 10 years, and has a collection of stories to tell. In one instance, Rene drove a pilot back to his hotel to retrieve his forgotten hat, needed before the plane could depart. Unable to transfer other crewmembers because of this delay, Rene paid an outside company to pick them up with his own tips for that day. It’s because of him that many of our flights leave the airport on time.
Misti-El Shabazz — Driver
Every time Misti-El Shabazz gets ready to driver her Professional Coach with IndyGo, she has a smile on her face. Misti has worked for IndyGo for 5 years and meet someone new every day. Helping people is her passion. She has been an active member of Word of Faith Christian Church for more than 22 years, and her generosity is reflected in how she treats her passengers. As an example, Misti offers one of her regular visually-impaired riders assistance crossing the street every time she rides Misti’s bus. “In my mind, she is something special, and always seems to be beyond the normal steps to assist a patron,” says the passenger. In another instance, Misti provided a bag of groceries to a grieving mother she had met just the day before. “She is a constant professional, there is always a smile on her face for every customer in every situation,” says IndyGo Service Quality Manager Rod Williams. She has worked in the tourism industry for seventeen years, previously excelling at American Trans Air (ATA) as a Reservation Sales Agent as well as a school bus driver. During her 5 years with IndyGo, Misti has advanced within the company and now serves as an instructor for incoming operators. Over 75% of all of IndyGo’s passengers are commuting to and from work, meaning that thousands of people rely on Misti for their livelihood. She has been IndyGo’s Employee of the Month for her busses being on time 90% of the time, making sure her passengers get where they need to go. She has three children, and volunteers for Indy Parks and Recreation and the Tamika Catchings Catch the Stars Annual Back to School Celebration.
Misti Figuerio — Server/Bartender
Misti Figuerio takes “being a team player” to a whole new level. She has worked at Seasons 52 for 2 years as a server and bartender, but occasionally helps out in the kitchen on the line if the situation calls for it. She always puts her teammates above herself. In one instance, she called in to take the day off to care for another employee’s children when that employee was unwell, sacrificing a day’s pay to make that mother feel comfortable her children were being taken care of. Not only is Misti a team player at Seasons 52, but she also makes it her mission to assist those in need all over Indianapolis. Homelessness and hunger are her two top priorities, and she has organized multiple food drive within the restaurant. She often drives to her coworkers’ homes to pick up donations, taking the burden off of them to bring the items into the restaurant. She has two sons, 10 and 7 years old, is a full time student at IUPUI, and owns a part-time catering company.
Darnell Hillman — Community Relations
Pacers Sports and Entertainment
The Indiana Pacers would not be the same without Darnell Hillman. Darnell has been with the Pacers franchise for over 20 years. His days as a player and being dubbed “Doctor Dunk” gave way to a career on the Community Relations team. He now coordinates Pacers’ youth camps and clinics, such as the Jr. NBA program, Fit Like a Pro, and the Summer Hoops Tour. He is eager to volunteer as Pacers representative and motivational speaker, often visiting schools and camps to talk about the values of education and sport. Though he has a large personality – possibly due to his 6’10” height – Darnell knows when to adjust his attitude for specific circumstances. For example, during a Pacers game, Darnell took a break from enthusiastically selling raffle ticket to comfort a crying toddler in the stands. His demeanor completely changed, providing relief to the parents and a great memory for the family. A United States veteran, Darnell serves as the franchise host of both the Sideline Soldiers and Hoops for Troops programs, which bring active military personnel to Pacers games and practices. It’s estimated that Darnell participates in more than 300,000 community outreaches each year. Jim Morris, Vice Chairman of the Pacers Franchise, state that Darnell “is one of the finest, nicest, most positive ambassadors for Indianapolis and Indiana.” Darnell spends his free time volunteering for the Indianapolis-based Dropping Dimes Foundation, which raises money to support former American Basketball Association players who have fallen on difficult times or have health issues. He’s an avid car buff, particularly corvettes!
Mike Israel — Maintenance
Home2 Suites Indianapolis Downtown
Mike Israel has worked at the Home2 Suites Indianapolis Downtown for three years, but has already shown his dedication to hospitality a number of times. The only maintenance man on site, Mike has been called “the dream maintenance technician.” He’s been described as “knowledgeable, cooperative, and devoted to his property.” This devotion can be seen how Mike handled a unforeseen restroom issue. Rather than wait for a professional team to arrive to clean up a backed up pipe, Mike donned a hazmat suit, gloves, and mask and took care of the entire mess. He preferred to clean up the mess right then and there so visiting guest would not see the issue. Additionally, Mike will go out of his way to help someone in need. He has changed multiple flat tires for both guests and fellow employees, creating a hospitable atmosphere in which people can rest as well as work. In his free time, Mike enjoys riding his motorcycle and helping out at charity events throughout the city. He often grills right out of the back of his truck and sells his food at these events, directly donating the profits back to the charity in question. He also enjoys coordinating charity motorcycle rides in honor of different nonprofits.
Chris Lafave — Curator
Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
Chris Lafave lives and breathes Kurt Vonnegut and has worked at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML) since 2011. He started as a volunteer, and now serves a curator for the museum, undertaking archival and preservation work. While anyone could be an expert, Chris is said to actually channel the essence of Vonnegut to visitors. His witty and engaging banter with guests bring Vonnegut’s work to life. He inspires both curiosity and a love of learning in all museum guests. He often speaks to fans at events in libraries, schools, prisons, community events, and festivals. Chris even goes out of his way to provide each guest with an unforgettable experience. He has driven elderly patron to and from special events, provided books and extra learning materials to interested guests, and even kept the museum open late one night to accommodate a bucket-lister’s dream. Chris has the ability to “light a fire in guests that keeps burning long after they say goodbye, and it’s not uncommon for them to return for continued conversation about Vonnegut, literature, music, and more.” He has a baby son, Wesley, and plans to instill in him the joy of reading as soon as he can.
DeAnn Milliken — Special Events Coordinator
City Department of Business and Neighborhood Services
If you’ve been to a safe and fun public event in downtown Indy in the past fourteen years, chances are that you have DeAnn Milliken to thank. DeAnn has been with the City Department of Business and Neighborhood Services for 14 years. She has been described as the “glue behind every civic event” for her outstanding role as Special Events Coordinator. Not only does she chair the City Event Advisory Board and permit, analyze, and guided over 1000 events annually, but she personally ensures that each event is safe for all in attendance. On more than one occasion, DeAnn has risked her own safety to direct traffic during events before proper security could arrive, making sure that pedestrians were not injured. The success of events is DeAnn’s main priority. She has given up Saturdays to “check in” on events, oftentimes saving the day when she least expected to. Above all, however, DeAnn acts with an very distinguished professionalism. She always confirms local businesses are aware of events, and is truly an advocate for those visiting Indianapolis. In her free time, she is an avid scrapbooker and enthusiastic grandmother to her two twin grandchildren.
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