The Indiana Academy hosted its 52nd annual gala at the Carmichael Hotel on Tuesday, October 17. The four members of the Class of 2023 honored at this year’s gala are featured below. Learn more about the Indiana Academy here.
Indiana Academy Class of 2023
Justin P. Christian
CEO and founder, BCforward
Nominated by: Dr. Lori White, President, DePauw University
Read about Justin P. Christian
Justin P. Christian is a prominent figure in Indiana known for his outstanding contributions to the state’s technology and business sectors. A 1995 graduate of DePauw University with a degree in computer science, Mr. Christian is a visionary entrepreneur who co-founded BCforward, an IT services and staffing firm headquartered in Indianapolis. Mr. Christian leads the overall BCforward corporate strategy and develops executive-level relationships with its customers and corporate partners.
Mr. Christian and his wife Darrianne provided a significant gift to establish the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at DePauw University which was dedicated and officially opened in November 2017. The center is home to the Association of African American Students and the Dorothy Brown Cultural Resource Center. It offers academic and cultural programming and services for students, advocates for social justice, and assists in fostering a safe and affirming campus climate for all students.
Mr. Christian serves as a member of the boards of the Lumina Foundation, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, AAA Hoosier Motor Club, and The DePauw University Board of Trustees, among others. He is also a member of the Business Equity for Indianapolis Taskforce. In 2020, Ernst & Young (EY) named Mr. Christian as a National Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner. He was also named to Indianapolis Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list in 2004 and received TechPoint’s Trailblazer award in 2021.
Mr. Christian resides in Zionsville with his wife Darrianne and their four daughters.
William K. McGowan, Jr.
Retired President and CEO, Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association
Nominated by: Jim Morris, Vice Chairman, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
Read about William K. McGowan, Jr.
William K. “Bill” McGowan, Jr. is renowned for his pivotal role in shaping the city as a premier destination for conventions, tourism, and sports. Serving as the president and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (now Visit Indy) from 1984 to 2002, he was instrumental in securing major events such as the 1982 National Sports Festival and the 1987 Pan American Games. Mr. McGowan’s efforts also contributed to the construction of the Hoosier Dome and the subsequent development of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Under his leadership, Indianapolis witnessed remarkable growth in its convention business, including a substantial expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. Mr. McGowan’s dedication to the city earned him the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash award from four different Indiana governors.
Mr. McGowan holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Notre Dame University. He has served as a member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, the Advisory Council for the Snite Museum of Art, and the Alumni Association Board of Directors, where he was national president from 1973 to 1974. He was also honored as a former Notre Dame Club of Indianapolis Man of the Year.
Mr. McGowan resides in Indianapolis with his wife Joan. They have three children and 11 grandchildren.
Board Member, Lilly Endowment Inc.
Nominated by: Jim Danko, President, Butler University
Pictured: Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge, Indiana Academy Regent
Read about Clarence Crain
Clarence Crain boasts a distinguished career marked by significant contributions to both education and community service in Indiana. After serving at General Motors Corp. for 30 years, he transitioned to Lilly Endowment Inc., where he retired as a program director in the Education and Youth Programs Division in August 2020.
Mr. Crain’s dedication to education is exemplified by his involvement with Butler University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1973. A three-year letter winner for Butler’s mens basketball team, he earned both Most Valuable Player recognition and the Hilton U. Brown Mental Attitude Award in 1973. He was also initiated into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. Mr. Crain served as a Butler Trustee from 2000 to 2006 and became a Trustee Emeritus in 2010. He was a charter member of the Minority Alumni Council, now the Black Alumni Association, and has also served as a member of the Alumni Board and LSB Dean’s Advisory Council.
Mr. Crain has been an active member of various civic and philanthropic organizations, including the 100 Black Men of America, United Way, and the Indianapolis Urban League. His legacy as an advocate for education and civic engagement is a testament to his dedication to Indiana’s future.
Mr. Crain resides in Indianapolis with his wife Fabiola and they have three adult children and three grandsons.
Dr. Nichole Wilson
Vice President of Community Health Operations
Nominated by: Dr. Sean Huddleston, President, Martin University
Read about Dr. Nichole Wilson
Dr. Nichole Wilson is a trailblazing healthcare executive who has left a lasting mark on Indiana’s healthcare landscape. Currently serving as the vice president of Community Health Operations at IU Health, Dr. Wilson leads transformative efforts to enhance the state’s overall health. Her work centers on key priorities such as behavioral health, social determinants of health, infant and maternal health, hypertension, and tobacco/nicotine cessation.
Dr. Wilson is a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a member of several prestigious healthcare associations. Notably, she received the Regent’s Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives in 2020 and was recognized by Modern Healthcare Magazine as one of the Top Minority Healthcare Executives to Watch nationally.
A dedicated philanthropist, Dr. Wilson is involved with numerous organizations, including the Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation and the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis. Her extensive academic background, coupled with her passion for health equity, reflects her unwavering commitment to Indiana’s well-being.
Dr. Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree in sport medicine from DePauw University, master’s and doctoral degrees in physical therapy from the University of Indianapolis, and a master’s of business administration from Purdue University.
Dr. Wilson resides in Indianapolis with her husband Corey and daughter Nahla.