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Award Winners

  • (2018) Nicole Griffin
  • (2017) Donald Griffin, Jr.
  • (2016) Rev. Dennis Laffoon
  • (2015) Craig Brenner
  • (2014) Marlene and Donald Griffin, Sr.
  • (2013) Indiana University Office of Diversity Education
  • (2012) John Whikehart
  • (2011) Daniel Soto
  • (2010) Liz Mitchell
  • (2009) WHFB Community Radio
  • (2008) Ken Thomas (2007) Dr. Charlie Nelms
  • (2006) Dr. James Mumford (2005) Banneker History Project
  • (2004) Monroe County Racial Justice Task Force
  • (2003) The Rev. E. D. Butler
  • (2003) The Rev. Michael Anderson
  • (2002) Monroe County Branch of the NAACP
  • (2001) Guy and Connie Loftman
  • (2000) Bloomington United

Most Recent Award Winner Bios

2017 Award Winner: Donald Griffin, Jr.

During the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration on January 16th, the 2017 Legacy Award was presented by Mayor Hamilton to Donald Griffin, Jr. a businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, advocate, husband, father, son, and a Bloomingtonian. As his nominator said, he is more than a sum of all these things. “It’s how he uses his talents, resources, and gifts to make the community a better place that qualifies him for the 2017 Legacy Award. Congratulations again, Donald Griffin, Jr.

2016 Award Winner: Dennis Laffoon

It would have been easy for Rev. Dennis Laffoon to settle into Bloomington with his wife, Rochelle and their children, continue to work as a graphic designer for the Herald Times and enjoy what life had to offer. Instead, Rev. Laffoon responded to the call to ministry by attending seminary to prepare himself, serving two churches in southern Indiana and after being appointed to Bethel AME Church, came full circle back to serve the community where he'd matriculated and matured into manhood. For one to become a pastor, there are sacrifices to be made. Most people don't take ministry lightly or go into it ill-advised. In this role, Dennis has been able to reach out into the community to bring hope and inspiration to those in need. His life and his ministry are focused on issues of justice and race relations. He faces these issues with intelligence, compassion and a determination to make a difference.

Rev. Dennis Laffoon is a native of Gary, Indiana. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic design from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1993.After years of serving the church, he answered his call to preach in 1999, which led him to pursue higher education, earning his Masters of Divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Following ordination, he served as pastor of Bethel A.M.E Church in New Albany, Indiana for four years prior to his appointment here to Bloomington.

Rev. Laffoon is a published writer with the African American Lectionary through Vanderbilt University Divinity School and is a distinguished fellow of the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program, sponsored by the Lilly Endowment. He is husband to Rev. Rochelle Laffoon and together they have three wonderful children, Laurence Malik, Britanny Cherí (pronounced sher-ay), and Aubrey Xavier (pronounced Za-vee-er).With a love of the visual and performing arts, he brings a bevy of gifts and talents to his ministry and is committed to using them as a bridge to show the world God’s love. Rev. Laffoon loves his family, he loves his church, but more than anything; he loves the Lord.

2015 Award Winner: Craig Brenner

Craig Brenner spent twenty years as the Special Projects Coordinator in the City of Bloomington's Community and Family Resources Department. His contributions, in the words of his nominator, "have been meaningful to many individuals as well as the Bloomington community." Craig was nominated by a colleague at the Community and Family Resources Department, who has been able to watch firsthand for many years his efforts on behalf of the MLK Commission, the Commission on the Status of Black Males, and the Council on Community Accessibility. He has consistently planned numerous programs that were beneficial for the entire community.

Craig's personality and sense of humor welcomed each volunteer and commissioner and made them feel appreciated as well as a valuable part of the team on which they served. His knowledge of the community, ability to engage community partners, and attention to detail enabled commissioners to focus on the bigger goals of their commissions. Because of his knowledge and abilities, many individuals who had never previously served on a commission began their service and moved into leadership roles both on the commission and in other parts of their lives. Although advocacy was his profession, it was also his passion.

Craig graduated from Florida Southern College with a Political Science degree in 1970, taught and studied music in Miami, FL, then studied music at Indiana University. Other involvements include being a VISTA volunteer for the South Central Community Action Program and setting up Hoosier Hills Food Bank, being a VISTA Supervisor for Gleaners Food Bank of Indianapolis, serving as the first City of Bloomington liaison with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission, the Council for Community Accessibility, and the Commission on the Status of Women. He also served on various boards and committees including the IU MLK Birthday Committee and the IU Committee to End Rape and Relationship Violence. He received the Mayor's Award for the Council for Community Accessibility in Oct. 2014.

Craig is also a professional musician and has been called on many times to contribute his talent and skills as a musician to enhance various nonprofit events and functions. He has volunteered by performing music and/or raising funds at Middle Way House, Monroe County Jail, Indiana University, etc. His CD release parties provided funds and food for Community Kitchen and Hoosier Hills Food Bank.

2014 Award Winners: Marlene and Donald Griffin, Sr.

At the Jan. 20, 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, Mayor Mark Kruzan presented the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award to Marlene and Donald Griffin, Sr., lauding them as having "always been advocates for civil rights and social justice." Donald Griffin, Sr. was one of the first African-American police officers in Bloomington. He worked to resolve issues between people of different races, cultures and religions. The Griffins have been active in the Monroe County NAACP, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), Lions Club, Groups Student Advisory Board and numerous other organizations. Donald, Sr. is currently the pastor of Second Baptist Church in Bedford, IN, and both he and Marlene are continually helping others regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, location or age. "If someone needs help, they will be there," the mayor affirmed.

2013 Award Winner: IU Office of Diversity Education

The Office of Diversity Education serves as a resource for issues of diversity and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff. It helps students prepare for a global economy and increasingly diverse population by providing multicultural competence training and opportunities to interact with IU’s multicultural students.

2012 Award Winner: John Whikehart

John took office as the Chancellor of the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College on September 5, 2001. An employee of the College since 1991, he vacated the post of Executive Director for Administration at Ivy Tech's Region 5 at Kokomo to lead Ivy Tech's newest region based in Bloomington. In his previous position, John was responsible for financial, human resources, and the auxiliary service areas of the three campuses - Kokomo, Logansport and Wabash - in the Region 5 / Kokomo service area. In addition to those administrative duties, John taught courses in public policy and political science as an adjunct faculty member at both Ivy Tech Kokomo and Indiana University Kokomo.

Prior to his tenure with Ivy Tech, John served as Director of Staff in the Indiana State Senate, Director of Community Relations at Indiana University Kokomo, Personnel Director for the City of Kokomo, and Director of the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) program in Monroe, Lawrence, Orange, Washington and Jackson counties. In addition, he served as a member of the Board of Public Works for the City of Kokomo.

John earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Indiana University Bloomington, a Certificate in Public Management from the SPEA Graduate School at IUPUI and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Ball State University. He also has post-graduate work in a PhD program in Educational Administration from Indiana State University.

As impressive as his resume is, it does not begin to tell the story of what John Whikehart has meant and continues to mean to those with whom he interacts in his professional and personal relations. Whether it's encouraging students to return to or stay in school, administering arts programming in this region of the state, helping keep the John Waldron Arts Center open and making it thrive as the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, annually supporting the efforts of our own Dr. Martin Luther King Commission in whatever way he is asked. He started the Ivy Tech Center for Civic Engagement and the O'Bannon Institute, bringing to two such figures as Sen. Birch Bayh, Sen. George McGovern, Mary Matalin and James Carville, Laura Bush, Dors Kerns Goodwin, Arriana Huffington, Richard Dreyfuss, Eugene Robinson, and the list goes on - all to offer students and community alike access to these contemporary movers and shakers in American life.

He has been a transformative and inspirational figure in Bloomington, putting the community back in community college and involving Ivy Tech in many aspects of the civic life of our community. He is a cornerstone of the community in both his professional and personal life.