William Hazen — Coach Operator
It’s not by chance that William landed in his current role. With a long lineage of family who have dedicated their careers to getting people from point A to point B, it only seems right. With a great grandfather who was a line superintendent for the Santa Fe railway in Kansas, a grandfather who returned home from World War II and drove for the Triangle Transit, and then a father who drove for Fort Worth Transit, it’s evident that this family was bit by the transportation bug. Rumor has it that every wall in his house is covered in unique transit memorabilia like stop signs, fare boxes, field telephones, and roll signs that he’s collected from around the state. From home décor to social media posts, William has a deep love for transit. Daily, he shares historical transit photographs from his collection of nearly 4,000 photos. You might even see photos of one of his three retired buses that he often drives around the city in his free time. But, just as deep as his love for transit is, his love for his passengers runs even deeper. After seeing a passenger get hit and killed while on a bike, William knew he had to do something to teach bike safety to riders and bring awareness to those with whom we share the street. Out of his own pocket, he purchased bike lights to pass out to cyclists. It’s a law to have lights on your bike, however he realized that many couldn’t afford to buy the required equipment. Now, William always keeps at least two sets of bike lights on hand to give out to passengers with bicycles, when needed. So far, he has handed out fifty sets of lights. Most recently, he also donated two thousand dollars to Bike Lane Uprising, which provides 200 sets of bike lights that is then distributed through Bike Indianapolis. His advocacy comes from the heart and his level of hospitality to those he serves is unmatched. If there’s snow on the ground, you’ll find him up early each morning shoveling the sidewalks at bus stops. This is not part of the job description. He brings light to those on bikes and those on his bus and is a shining star in this industry. William Hazen has been a Coach Operator with IndyGo for the past two years and a member of the service industry for the past five years.
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Kay Hinds — Development Coordinator
Kay is directly responsible in securing over $68 million in grants for her organization. That looks good on paper, but perhaps it’s what is not on paper that makes her the most compassionate, approachable, and service-oriented individual in our industry. The Eiteljorg’s CEO talks about how she remembers the slightest detail with ease as if each individual has been her personal best friend. To watch her work is to watch magic happen. She pours much of her time into preparing welcome packets, weekend registration, and hotel accommodations for more than 300 out-of-state artists that descend on Indy annually. The event is a highlight on Indy’s yearly calendar, with art sales totaling over one million dollars in just forty-eight hours. There is not a single out-of-state visitor at this event who doesn’t know Kay and know her magic. One example of elevated service was with an artist traveling from the southwest to Indy. This would be the first-time this artist would be traveling without his wife, as she had passed away a year ago. The Eiteljorg and particularly Kay knew how big of a step this would be in his healing process. The couple had a strong relationship with the museum, and you never saw one without the other at this annual event. Kay took it upon herself to console this artist in his time of grief, but even one year later, she persuaded museum leadership to honor his late wife in a special way during the awards ceremony, the pinnacle of the weekend. Kay quickly went to work gathering photos of the couple and provided remarks for a speech that led to not a dry eye in the audience. This is one story of one visitor. Now duplicate that level of attention and hospitality to everyone she comes in contact with. And that level of care doesn’t stop at work. She is and was a caregiver for her elderly mother and two elderly aunts. Unfortunately, she lost one of her aunts in 2019 and the other in 2020. With all her time, love, and attention poured into caring for her mother – from doctor’s appointments to picking up medicine, caring for her home, staying overnight with her mother every other night, and beyond – she has no free time. She balances both her home life and work life with ease and you’ll never hear her complain about it either. Due to the lack of privacy work cubicles offer, colleagues unintentionally hear and comment on her patience, encouragement, and soothing voice towards her mother as she checks in with her. Her mother should certainly be proud of the amazing and loyal individual she raised. Kay Hinds serves as the Development Coordinator at Eiteljorg Museum. She has been an integral part of the hospitality community for forty years and this year will mark her 20th year with Eiteljorg Museum.
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Juvenal Valdez — Banquet Cook
Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites Downtown
We all have our own pandemic stories. Stories of grief, perseverance, new perspectives, gratitude. When the team at the downtown Hilton met to discuss this year’s ROSE Award nominations, there was one name that unanimously rose to the top. The team reminisced about the past two years and all the hardships they faced together in their personal and professional worlds. And, when it came to the hotel surviving and keeping their doors open day by day, it was Juvenal who was the constant face of HOPE. He watched his team and friends lose their jobs as working hours dwindled. He watched his hotel get damaged with shards of glass strewn throughout the lobby while the exterior was marked in spray paint as social unrest played out until the wee hours of the morning. He watched as fewer and fewer food and beverage orders came through. And much like the spirit of this city, he met tragedy with resiliency and immediately got to work. In an effort to hold on to any food and beverage business, he got creative in finding safe ways for visitors to dine. He re-worked menus to include items that wouldn’t magnify labor shortage and supply chain issues. In 2020, he was the only banquet cook left, yet helped land $500,000 in food revenue. And last year, nearly a million dollars in revenue. The one constant person who kept their team hopeful. Juvenal moved his family from Mexico to Indianapolis over two decades ago, immediately finding his role at the hotel as a way to support his family. And he never left. For twenty-one years, he has served as Banquet Cook, preparing meals for all events, the hotel restaurant, and employee meals. He cooks for his hotel family by day, and by night, he brings his culinary passions home to his wife. To our culinary industry hero, tonight’s meal is in honor of you.
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Caity Withers — Arts Program and Marketing Specialist
Indianapolis Airport Authority
Food & Wine Magazine just named Indy one of “America’s Next Great Food Cities” and the Indianapolis International Airport has been named the Best Airport in North America for the tenth year in a row. What is the secret? After reading all the kudos for Caity Withers, she may be a big part of the Airport's success. And, what’s also remarkable is that she conquered it all while growing her family. She works in the one place where more visitors to this city come in and out and, for many, the Airport is the first impression of our city. And with much thanks to Caity, those common spaces are ones that impress. With such intentionality, you help create public spaces that reflect who we are as a community, that inspire guests, and create an oasis of calm in a hectic arena. She's been the cheerleader for spotlighting diverse voices and representation through the arts at the airport. Caity’s contributions to the spirit and service of our #1 airport is hidden in plain sight. When pandemic losses and staff shortages forced the rethinking of concessions in terminals, she coordinated artists to create murals for the temporary walls. She spearheaded the creation of the Kind Gallery and curated thoughtful displays of art by underrepresented groups. Most recently, the airport announced that a mural painted by Afghan refugees will be on display in Civic Plaza first, before setting out to be on exhibit across the country. After Caity visited Camp Atterbury in the fall of 2021 and heard the harrowing story of the 7,000 Afghan evacuees’ journey to the Camp, she knew their story through their art must be shown in one of Indy’s most public places. Caity leaves every situation she enters better than she found it, rarely stopping to accept praise. She has a personal commitment in ensuring that people feel valued and goes out of her way to create inclusive environments. It’s why you saw Caity front and center for airport events like Soaring for Autism or Wings for All, as well as her commitment to opening the Sensory Rooms in the terminal. Chapter two of Caity’s lengthy nomination form goes on to describe times like an Indy 500 Race Week, where the airport had six inaugural flights across three different airlines all within two days of each other. Not only did Caity organize and plan these events, she “manned the booth” at many of these launches, working early mornings into late nights. Her smile never wavered. Chapter three of Caity’s nomination form discussed the impact she makes to the numerous organizations for which she volunteers. For a decade Caity has served as a Special Needs Buddy, she’s a member of Impact 100 (a charitable women’s giving circle), she’s a board member on the Conner Prairie Horizon Council and chairs the History on Tap event there, she's an active member of Junior League, and serves Indy Gateway, an organization dedicated to the revitalization of the west side of Indy. From her monthly book clubs to taking center stage at local theatres or lending her voice talents to audiobooks, it’s evident that Caity fits more hours into her day and more items on a resume than most people. Caity has served as the Arts Program and Marketing Specialist for Indianapolis Airport Authority for the past three years.
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Keith Crawford — Utility Service Specialist
Citizens Energy Group
The past two years have shed light on the importance and resiliency of our nation’s first responders. Some of those people literally had to keep the water, lights, and gas on in Indy. Earlier this year, Keith was sent to a duplex home on a gas leak investigation. He found the leak and shut off the gas immediately. Simultaneously, he was alarmed to hear the man on the other side of the duplex running out of the home, screaming and on fire. Keith went into quick action, took off his jacket, and attempted to smother the fire on the individual. The home went up in flames. Keith went to reinspect the gas lines and assist the other family in escaping the home. The mother was resisting as she wanted to gather their belongings, especially the photos of her deceased son. Keith knew it was too late and too dangerous to remain in the home and proceeded to escort the mother and her daughters away from the scene. While fire and emergency personnel quickly arrived, Keith stayed with the mom, daughters, and the injured man, reassuring them that all would be okay. Citizen Energy Group’s very own hero, Keith Crawford, is a 15-year veteran of the service industry. He has served as a Utility Service Specialist for the past eight years.
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Keenan Wilson — Night Auditor
Fairfield Inn and Suites Fishers
Many people say they feel they've met Keenan before or have known him forever because that’s the level of comfort and care he brings to any guest interaction. He’s the employee that knows everyone on staff and the employee that gets to know every guest that walks through the doors. And some of those guests had no idea they needed his company as much as they did before they walked through those lobby doors. He’s the vivacious personality that calms kids after long days with surprise treats from the snack bar, he’s the employee that anticipates guestroom needs before a visitor even asks, and he’s the employee that will stay by a guest’s side until their tears subside and a smile forms. On a day a mother never wishes to know, a woman walked through the doors of the Fairfield as it would be her new home base for the course of the next few days as she made plans for her son’s funeral. Family quickly poured into Indy, booking rooms adjacent to the mother’s room. The whole family would sit with her and reminisce about her son and help pass the time with joyful stories. The mother’s sister writes in her blog, “Well after midnight everyone leaves the hotel room full of empty bottles, dirty plates, and pizza boxes. Sleep comes to those who want it and welcome it. But for some, sleep does not come. My sister roams the lobby, drinks the midnight coffee, seeks peace for her heart. Peace only comes through the living.” And the living was Keenan – he stood proudly behind the lobby desk, but for her, would come out from behind the desk and just talk for hours and hours. He offered moments of reflection and optimism. The day of the funeral came and when the family returned, the hotel had a dozen yellow flowers and a card waiting. In fact, in her blog the sister goes on to commend the incredible level of service from the hotel and remind readers that, “We are still here among the living with a purpose. Yes, kindness and gratitude is our mantra … for all of us.” Keenan will tell you to live each day like it’s your last. And he’s always on the go to squeeze everything out of every hour. Even driving to Louisville on the weekend to teach kids dance lessons only to turn around and commute from his Greenwood home to the Fishers Fairfield to work an 11 pm to 7 am shift. It’s the shift that is oftentimes the toughest to fill. In fact, Keenan overheard a colleague talking about how difficult it has been for her to work the night shift and she was really struggling with the demands and hours and trying to keep up at home. He thought, well that’s something I could do to help her out. Without hesitation, he switched her shifts. When asked where he aspires to be in ten years, he’ll tell you he seeks to grow into a management position within hospitality. It’s in his DNA to always serve others. He’ll tell you he’s a military kid, with his father having serving in the Army. It’s also where he gets his drive to fight for what he believes in – like LGBTQ rights. And all along the way, he’ll be dancing, as it’s one of his greatest passions. TikTok sensation by day and one of Indy’s most compassionate hospitality employees by night, Keenan has worked as Night Auditor for the Fairfield Inn and Suites Fishers for the past two years and has been in the industry for the past six years. Follow him at KJW Flawless Glow on TikTok.
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Denise Cummings — Service Operator
Marion County Building Authority
For 45 years Neece has positioned herself proudly inside a windowless 10 foot by 10 foot space, but has filled that tiny footprint with more joy than imaginable. For 45 years those elevator doors have opened and there she is, with the most welcoming, “How you doing, baby?” For F45 years she has served as the crucial force in ensuring Indy’s CEO of the city gets from point A to point B on time, every time. For 45 years, she has served six Indianapolis mayors – from Richard Lugar to Joe Hogsett – and has been the friend, guide, and confidant when they need a lift – literally and figuratively. For 38 of those years, Neece would be in her position downtown by 7 am. She would sit in her 10 foot by 10 foot elevator until her shift ended at 3 pm – her smile and cheery personality never wavering in that time. And then, she would head to her second job in housekeeping until 10 pm each night. She’s the backbone of the entire City-County Building. And even behind a mask, her smile is the biggest. She defines hospitality and the thousands of people that come through the building every single day feel it too. Some of the city’s biggest VIPs come to the City-County Building and take the ride to the 25th floor to meet with our Mayor. Neece has made sure that the 36 seconds it takes to get from ground floor to floor 25 is the most delightful. From everyday visitors scouting the observation deck to college coach Nick Saban to musical sensation Dionne Warwick, and countless dignitaries, community leaders, and visiting business executives, the visitors are diverse, and to her, everyone is a VIP. Perhaps for her, one of her most special elevator rides came on March 28, 1984. An ordinary day to start and even more ordinary to see Mayor Bill Hudnut step on to the elevator. But then, he leaned over to our winner and asked if she watched the news. With a smirk, he said, “We’ve got something coming in.” And with that, she was looped in on one of Indy’s best kept secrets. A fleet of Mayflower trucks made their way through the streets, after making the overnight departure from Baltimore. It was a new National Football League team that would bear the name Indianapolis Colts. She is known by many names to the familiar faces of the City-County Building, but she’s also known as the Deputy Mayor of Sporting Fandom due to incredible loyalty to Indy’s sports teams. Mayor Hogsett was apparently scolded in the early weeks of his job by Neece when, unbeknownst to him, it was a Mayoral duty to send out the all-staff email to wear your Pacers blue and gold on Game Day. Word on the street is that she has taught our Mayor dance moves and has also given him additional duties such as notifying city employees that they can head home a bit early ahead of holidays. When talking about her to the Indy Star, Mayor Hogsett said this, “She is an incredibly dedicated public servant. Many might think what she does is rather routine. Many might characterize it as pretty easy work. It’s not. She has to deal with all types of personalities. And she does it all, at least from my observation, with incredible aplomb…..I love her.” Denise Cummings has worked for the Marion County Building Authority for forty-five remarkable years.
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Agnes Tsang — Server
For 23 years Mikado proudly claimed one of Indy’s prominent corners, right in the heart of the convention center campus. Locally and family-owned, it brought diverse culinary offerings to visitors just 40 steps away from their day of tradeshow booths and professional development. Unfortunately, as the proverb says, all good things must come to an end. And with that, Mikado closed its doors at the end of last year. From opening day, Agnes made this restaurant a haven for hospitality and home for so many repeat visitors. You can read reviews about Mikado and without a doubt find our honoree’s name praised within them. In fact, one social post says, “this server is the best server in Indianapolis. I think I’m in love and my girlfriend knows it.” One particular review made headlines. For the past 23 years, Adam Schefter, a senior NFL reporter and podcast host, descended on Indy every winter, timed with hosting the NFL Combine. There’s a good chance many of you are one of his 9.4 million Twitter followers. Every year on night one of Adam’s Indy trip, he would find a table at Mikado. For the first couple years, it was the convenient stop near the convention center, but after meeting Agnes who welcomed him to Indy with the biggest of open arms – and even kisses – this became his Indy staple. Seeing her was a must. You can imagine Adam’s dismay when he returned to Indy for the 24th year of the NFL Combine this past February only to find his restaurant gone. And his favorite all-time server not there to give him his annual kiss. He took to Twitter and his 9.4 million followers to share the story of his favorite server and to find his friend. The Indy Star caught wind of the tweet and set out to find her. In no time, the team had found this shining star, and luckily, still in the industry at a newer restaurant just north of Indy. It’s quite remarkable that one server can be the welcoming committee for the same visitor for 23 years in a row. Her name and service made Indy Star headlines and numerous tweets. Agnes Tsang served at Mikado for 23 years and now works at Harmony Steakhouse in Whitestown, Indiana.
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Jeanne Moore — Night Auditor
Residence Inn on the Canal
We’ve seen and met guardian angels in the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives, and that is how many describe Jeanne. When the city is sleeping, she’s a very special night auditor making her mark on people’s lives probably well beyond what she will ever know. The Residence Inn is often home base for many guests who are receiving treatments at local hospitals, including guests that have children receiving lifesaving procedures at nearby Riley Children’s Hospital. Jeanne spends time getting to know each family during their often long-term stay. She uses her own money to buy cards, flowers, and trinkets for the families. She believes strongly in the power of prayer and prays for each family, adding them to prayer lists. Recently a gentleman was transferred to a nearby hospital after he was involved in a tragic accident. The gentleman’s family stayed at the Residence Inn where Jeanne would become the comforting and familiar face each night as the family returned from long and emotional days at the hospital. When she learned the news of his death, she took time on her day off to pay respects to his wife and family. She’s so protective of her guests. She recently had a guest who was attempting to buy a puppy for her two young daughters. The more she talked to the lady the more she feared the lady was the victim of a scam. She flagged down a police officer to ask for help. Together, they determined the lady was in fact being scammed and for safety reasons stopped her from proceeding the rest of the way to Louisville. Her nomination came from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, noting her sincere work in the care and safety of her guests. Jeanne has been the guardian angel for so many at the Residence Inn on the Canal for 14 years and has worked in hospitality for the past 20-plus years.
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