Honorees


Mitch Daniels’ tenure as governor was marked by impressive achievements – both in magnitude and sheer number. Each was significant for its contribution to moving Indiana forward; all together they signaled to the outside world, and to ourselves, that Indiana is a state whose people are ambitious to be the best.

The Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation is created in honor and affirmation of the service of Mitch Daniels as Indiana’s 49th governor. The purpose of the Foundation is to encourage leadership that refuses to accept the status quo as good enough, constantly aims higher, and executes courageously resulting in lifting the arc of progress in Indiana.

The Daniels era may be a watershed moment in Indiana history, a period when the state broke free from a nearly century-old culture that emphasized being a “brake on change.” Leadership will be the decisive factor in whether or not the Daniels mindset becomes the cultural norm. The Foundation aims to promote that ideal and the leadership required to make it a reality.

2017 Daniels Prize Recipient





Scott Dorsey - Managing Partner, High Alpha

Scott Dorsey - 2017 Mitch Daniels Leadership Award Winner

Scott is currently Managing Partner of High Alpha, a leading venture studio that launches, scales and invests in enterprise cloud companies. Prior to High Alpha, Scott co-founded ExactTarget and led the company as CEO and Chairman from start-up to global marketing software leader. ExactTarget went public on the New York Stock Exchange in March of 2012 and was acquired by Salesforce in July of 2013 for $2.7 Billion. Post acquisition, he led the ExactTarget Salesforce Marketing Cloud which encompassed 3,000 employees and included the teams at ExactTarget, Buddy Media and Radian6. Scott credits the ExactTarget Orange culture as the company’s greatest differentiator and key to its success.

Dorsey is an acclaimed leader who has earned numerous accolades for his business and civic leadership, including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, American Business Awards Executive of the Year, TechPoint Trailblazer in Technology, MS Society Hope Award, two-time recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash, Central Indiana Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, Indiana Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year, Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forty Under 40, Junior Achievement’s Best and Brightest and Indiana University’s Distinguished Entrepreneur Award through the Kelley School of Business.

Scott serves on a number of non-profit boards including Chairman of the Indiana Sports Corp., Chairman of Nextech (former ExactTarget Foundation), Board and Executive Committee member of Techpoint, Global Advisory Board at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Emeritus Board member at Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. Scott is a business school graduate of Indiana University and earned an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

2015 Daniels Prize and Grant Recipients


James Morris - 2015 Mitch Daniels Leadership Award Winner

James T. Morris, 72, is vice chairman of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever. A universally recognized civic leader in Indianapolis and Indiana, Morris also is professor of philanthropy and public administration at Indiana University.

Morris has made an impact on Indiana and the world for much of his professional life. Most notably, Morris served as executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme from 2002-2007 in Rome, Italy. As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, the World Food Programme works to fight hunger and enhance nutrition for the poor. During his leadership, Morris visited with numerous heads of state throughout more than 80 countries and addressed numerous international meetings to discuss ways of reducing hunger and continuing his tireless campaign on behalf of the hungry poor, especially children.

During his time at the World Food Programme, Morris served as the UN Security General’s Special Envoy for Southern Africa, leading an effort to bring UN and humanitarian agencies together to address issues, including food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and the loss of capacity in Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. The effort affected more than 15 million people, especially women and children and was the impetus for significant reform at the UN.

Closer to home, Morris has worked tirelessly to make Indiana better through his leadership in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. For nearly 10 years, Morris has served in various leadership roles at Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which annually brings two million people to Indianapolis and hosts more than 500 events. In addition, he previously was president of Lilly Endowment Inc. (1984-1988), one of the world’s largest private philanthropic foundations; chairman and CEO of IWC Resources Corporation and Indianapolis Water Company (1989-2002); and chief of staff for former Indianapolis Mayor Richard G. Lugar (1967-1973).

An Eagle Scout, Morris has made a difference in the lives of others by serving in volunteer leadership roles at several Indiana institutions and organizations, including Indiana University, United Way of Central Indiana, Indiana Sports Corporation, Indiana State and Indianapolis Chambers of Commerce, Indiana Youth Institute, Gleaners Food Bank, and Indianapolis Urban League, among many others. Similarly, he has been involved on the national level with several nonprofit organizations, including American Red Cross, YWCA, Boy Scouts of America and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to name a few.

Morris has received numerous honors and awards. They include Indiana University’s President’s Medal for Excellence; Michael A. Carroll Award for Outstanding Community Service; Charles L. Whistler Award from the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee; Indiana Black Expo’s Spirit of Freedom Award, Rotary International Humanitarian Award, Sagamore of the Wabash Award from several Indiana governors; and multiple honorary doctorates from several Indiana colleges and universities.

A native of Terre Haute, Morris is married to Jacqueline and has three children and eight grandchildren.




James T. Morris - Vice Chairman of Pacers Sports & Entertainment




Dave Miner - Chair, Indy Hunger Network

Dave Miner - 2015 Mitch Daniels Leadership Grant Winner

The Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation and civic leader Jim Morris, the 2015 Daniels Prize winner, presented a $100,000 grant award to Dave Miner of the Indy Hunger Network on December 10 to enable a collaboration to eliminate child hunger and increase infant health in Central Indiana.

The Indy Hunger Network is a volunteer-led group of organizations in Greater Indianapolis that promotes access for all to nutritious food through a sustainable hunger relief system. The selection aims to further close the hunger gap in the region by supporting the Network’s collaboration with others to put a special focus on prenatal and infant nutrition.

“We are pleased Jim has chosen an organization that embodies his leadership to drive constructive change that improves the lives of Hoosier citizens, from birth on,” said Harry L. Gonso, president of the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation. “The Hunger Network partners are well positioned to work in collaboration with local, regional and state health providers and civic resources to eliminate the impact hunger has on infant health.”

The Hunger Network is chaired by Dave Miner, who has dedicated more than 30 years to reducing hunger. Previously an executive at Eli Lilly and Company and Elanco, Miner has served in leadership capacities at several local and national anti-hunger organizations including Interfaith Hunger Initiative, Bread for the World, and the Alliance to End Hunger.

Miner earned a doctoral degree in analytical chemistry from Purdue University. He joined Eli Lilly and Company upon graduation where he held a series of management roles. He retired in 2008 as a senior executive with Elanco, Lilly’s animal health subsidiary.

The Indy Hunger Network has made enormous progress toward assuring that no one in Indianapolis goes hungry. The system is now providing 40 million more meals per year in Indianapolis than it did five years ago. Among the most crucial aspects of the hunger issue is its nexus with infant mortality – the nutrition needs of expectant mothers and newborn children. Proper nutrition during the 1,000 days from conception to age 2 is among the most important factors determining everything else in the lifetime that follows.

Therefore, Jim Morris has aimed the Daniels Prize grant at closing the hunger gap in Indianapolis with a special focus on prenatal and infant nutrition, and he believes strongly that Miner is the one who can help achieve that goal.

“Dave Miner has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to bring groups and people together to solve the hunger issue,” Morris said. “I have tremendous confidence that we will make great progress with the resources of this grant.”

“I’m deeply honored that Jim has chosen the Indy Hunger Network to further his vision of solving the child hunger issue,” Miner said. “The partners in the Indy Hunger Network have made dramatic progress, both individually and collectively, towards providing enough healthy meals for all who need them. This award will enable exciting new collaborations to tackle one of the most important of actions – assuring good nutrition for mothers and their infants.”

A group of corporate, healthcare and nonprofit leaders, including Miner and Morris, already has met several times over the last few months to delve more deeply into collaborative efforts to leverage their knowledge, resources and reach to address the hunger issues involved in infant health.

Morris was selected to receive the Daniels Prize by a jury of eight distinguished men and women leaders assembled by the Foundation and chaired by Randall Shepard, former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. He has impacted Indiana and the world throughout his professional life. Most notably, Morris served as executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme from 2002-2007 in Rome, Italy. As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, the World Food Programme works to fight hunger and enhance nutrition for the poor.

During his leadership, Morris visited more than 80 countries and addressed numerous international meetings to address ways to reduce hunger on behalf of the poor, especially children.

Morris also has worked to improve Indiana through his leadership in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. For nearly 10 years, Morris has served in various leadership roles at Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which annually brings two million people to Indianapolis and hosts more than 500 events. He previously was president of Lilly Endowment Inc. (1984-1988); chairman and CEO of IWC Resources Corporation and Indianapolis Water Company (1989-2002); and chief of staff for former Indianapolis Mayor Richard G. Lugar (1967-1973).

Jury members who made the selection include former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton; Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President of Notre Dame; Clark Kellogg, former member of the Indiana Pacers; former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan; Martha Lamkin, civic leader and former CEO of Lumina Foundation; former U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar; Pat Miller, civic leader and founder of Vera Bradley; and Woodrow A. Myers, Jr., M.D., M.B.A.

Inaugural Daniels Prize and Grant Recipients


Tim Solso - Inaugural Mitch Daniels Leadership Award Winner

Tim Solso, 65, joined Cummins Inc. in 1971 and was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from January 2000 until his retirement on December 31, 2011. Prior to his current role, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer from 1995 through 1999 and was Vice-President in charge of the Engine Business from 1988 to 1995.

Under his leadership, Cummins became a Fortune 250 company that designs, produces and sells diesel engines, power generation equipment and related components worldwide. The Company currently does business in more than 190 countries and territories. In 2011, Cummins generated more than $18 billion in sales, more than half of which were to customers outside the United States.

Among his recent honors, Mr. Solso was named a top five finalist to Marketwatch’s CEO of the Decade and to the Barron’s list of the 30 Most Respected CEOs for 2010 and 2011. He received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2008, was selected as the national Six Sigma CEO of the year in 2007 and in early 2009 was awarded the William R. Laws Human Rights Award by the Human Rights Commission of Columbus, IN, where Cummins is headquartered.

Mr. Solso is a Director of Ball Corp., General Motors Corp., the MasterCard Foundation, and serves on the Board of EARTH University and the EARTH University Foundation.

He formerly served as a member of the Boards of Amoco Corporation, Ashland Inc., the American Transportation Research Institute, Cyprus AMAX Minerals Inc., the Initiative for Global Development, Irwin Financial Corporation, the Trustees of DePauw University, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County. Mr. Solso served as U.S. Chairman of the U.S. – Brazil CEO Forum and was a member of the Business Roundtable. He also served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Management Advisory Board and was a Principal on the American Energy Innovation Council.

An Oregon native, Mr. Solso earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePauw University in 1969 and an MBA from Harvard University in 1971. He was the recipient of the DePauw Distinguished Alumni Award for Management and Entrepreneurship and Old Gold Goblet. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from DePauw University, Rose-Hulman University, Franklin College and EARTH University. He and his wife, Denny Manning Solso, have three children and six grandchildren.




Tim Solso - Retired Chairman and CEO, Cummins Inc




Earl Martin Phalen - CEO and Founder, Summer Advantage USA and Reach Out and Read; Founder, Phalen Academy

Earl Martin Phalen - Inaugural Mitch Daniels Leadership Grant Winner

The Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation awarded transformative educator Earl Martin Phalen as its first recipient of a $50,000 grant and Tim Solso, retired chairman and CEO of Cummins, Inc. as the inaugural recipient of the Daniels Prize at an awards dinner at the J.W. Marriott in Downtown Indianapolis on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

Beginning this year and occurring biennially, the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation will award a Daniels Prize to one Indiana leader and a grant of at least $50,000 to a person or organization that is doing work that can markedly advance the state. The Foundation is created in honor and affirmation of the service of Mitch Daniels as Indiana’s 49th governor. The purpose of the Foundation is to encourage leadership that refuses to accept the status quo as good enough, constantly aims higher, and executes courageously resulting in lifting the arc of progress in Indiana.

The Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation announced earlier that Tim Solso, retired chairman and CEO of Cummins, Inc. would receive the inaugural Daniels Prize for which a bronze custom-made sculpture commemorates the honor. Mr. Solso then selected Mr. Phalen to receive the grant.

Mr. Phalen is the CEO and Founder of the nationally-renowned Summer Advantage USA and Reach Out and Read programs and is also the founder of the Phalen Academy charter school in Indianapolis. Phalen knows firsthand how a child can succeed thanks to the limitless opportunities of education.

Born in 1967, Phalen was abandoned at birth and quickly adopted into a large white Irish Catholic family. Phalen’s parents, George and Veronica Phalen, raised him and their seven other children in a loving environment with exacting standards and high expectations for scholastic and extracurricular achievements. Phalen knew from an early age that exciting learning opportunities could not survive and thrive in empty classrooms or without parental involvement and the diligent assistance from caring communities.

Phalen would go on to graduate from Yale University and Harvard Law School, where in 1993 he co-founded BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a program that began as a local community service project and became a national multi-million dollar non-profit. This experience helped him understand that collaborating with parents, educators and community leaders and developing and implementing a revolutionary model for educating children could change the course of a child’s life.

In 2009, with the support of the Indianapolis-based The Mind Trust, Phalen launched Summer Advantage USA, an organization geared toward keeping the summer learning loss at bay. This program works with schools in Indiana and throughout the country to increase student achievement through rigorous academic instruction, enrichment classes, mentoring activities and physical fitness.

“I first met Earl when Cummins became a supporter and sponsor of his Summer Advantage program in Indiana,” said Tim Solso, recipient of the first Mitch Daniels Leadership Prize. “As a bright and tireless trailblazer who has improved the lives of countless children in Indiana and nationally, as a mentor to young entrepreneurs, as a leader whose efforts have been honored by President Clinton and whose advice is sought by President Obama, I recognize that he humbly emulates the leadership and aspirational mindset of Governor Daniels and I am honored to designate Earl as the recipient of the Daniels Prize $50,000 cash award.”

“This award means so much because it carries the name of a man leads with passion and vision,” said Phalen. “Mr. Daniels has proven that leadership requires courage and the strength to blaze new paths because helping others find their way is always worth the effort.”

In September, the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation announced that Mr. Solso would receive the inaugural Daniels Prize.

Under Solso’s leadership, Cummins experienced record growth; became a Fortune 250 company that designs, produces and sells diesel engines, power generation equipment and related components worldwide; and became a global product provider to more than 190 countries and territories. His support of robust diversity in the workplace also sparked progress among Cummins’ customers and suppliers.

His leadership ensured that employment opportunities were accessible to all citizens. He opened worldwide markets for Indiana businesses, doubled Cummins’ revenue, and tripled its international business sales. Because of his bold guidance, even Cummins’ suppliers enjoyed employment growth and new economic opportunities. He worked tirelessly to lead Cummins to prominence and success and the significance of his achievements have helped solidify Indiana’s place on the world stage.

A jury of eight of the most respected men and women in Indiana selected Solso because he represents the Daniels mindset of leadership that improved the arc of progress in Indiana. Retired Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, Randall Shepard, is chairman of the Daniels’ Prize Jury. Serving with Shepard are former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton; Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President of Notre Dame; Clark Kellogg, CBS Sports broadcaster and former player for the Indiana Pacers; former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan; Martha Lamkin, civic leader and former CEO of Lumina Foundation; former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar; and Pat Miller, civic leader and founder of Vera Bradley.

Daniels Leadership Scholarship Winners


Hoosier Boys State June 2014 Daniels Leadership Scholarship Winner – Nicholas Wernert

Winning Essay

One of the biggest challenges facing my generation is the pervasive sense of cynicism and disillusionment fueling a general lack of interest in leadership at the state and national levels. My cohort has been fed a steady diet of partisanship (exacerbated by irresponsible social media outlets), has consumed news from comedians viewed as more credible than mainstream journalists, and has experienced near-constant conflicts, both domestic and foreign, ranging from the events of 9/11 and the ensuing “War on Terror,” to the collapse of our financial systems and the subsequent “occupation” of Wall Street. My generation also suffers from a sense of entitlement and instant gratification, many not knowing the value of work hard or the pride of reaching goals over time. It’s easy to be a “distant expert,” hurling sarcastic comments into the blog-o-sphere or making snarky memes in hopes that they will “go viral,” assuming others will step forward and take the actions necessary to ignite change.

I believe we must each take ownership for breaking this cycle of cynicism and examine whether our words and actions are exacerbating the problem or contributing to the solution. Starting n a small scale – whether through a local organization, church, or school – when everyone does little, it can come together to be something great, and individuals can see that their contributions make a different. Whether volunteering at a recycling center, working on a Habitat for Humanity build, or organizing a holiday food drive, everyone can do something to turn things around.




Nicholas Wernert




Eyob Moges

Evansville, IN – September 2014 Daniels Leadership Scholarship Winner – Eyob Moges

Winning Essay

Simply put, Indiana’s future will be determined by the quality of its education system. There is no way around this point for education penetrates all aspects of life, from economics to ecology, politics to social psychology, health to humanitarianism. In everything that our next generation of Hoosier leaders hope to do and achieve, education offers the foundation that these dreams are built on, and as our foundation is frail, shaky, and uncertain, so too is our future. While it’s true there are other questions that our state’s leaders will face—including those of energy usage to bolster our states vitality, environmental stability to support the agrarian sector of our economy, or even how to free ourselves from evils such as poverty or drug use— we must understand that these are simply symptoms of a greater disease. As President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “If you look deep enough, education is the root 
of all problems,” and as such, we need to realize that unless we alleviate the cause, we will continue to suffer from its effects. As shown by today’s problems, the thinking of the past does not work, and unless our education system undergoes a radical reformation, our future leaders will continue to come together and struggle with these same issues. By investing in education, we will teach the next generation how to think critically, and equip them with the necessary tools to face tomorrow’s problems. Granted, working on education will require an investment into our future rather than our present, but if our goal is to truly and finally resolve our state’s problems, only education offers us the tools necessary.

With all this being said, I feel like it is important to note the progress that our state has already made. Throughout its 2013 evaluation of national and state educational programs (Report Card on American Education) the American Legislative Exchange Council repeatedly and emphatically praised many aspects of Indiana’s educational reforms, specifically noting its efforts in: (1) reevaluating teacher and school accountability for student performance, (2) expanding school voucher programs, (3) supporting charter schools, and (4) creating transparency in reporting school performance. But, despite the progress made so far, it is important that our next generation continues in these efforts. Throughout history, a general trend occurs in which the action and innovation of one generation leads to the complacency and indolence of the next. The issue of remaining educationally alert must be at the forefront of Indiana’s future agenda; essentially, if we’re not moving forward, we might as well be moving backward. The world continues to change at an accelerated rate and the problems we face will change with it, and as such, our ability to cultivate an educated populace to deal with these issues is imperative to the future of our social institutions, our economy, and especially our democracy. To leave you with a quote by Benjamin Franklin which I believe perfectly encapsulates and summarizes this idea, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

Butler University – Indianapolis, IN March 2015 Daniels Leadership Scholarship Winner – Ben McArdle

Winning Essay

In deciding what the biggest leadership challenge that my generation will face in the State of Indiana, I thought of such things as education, economics, and environmental sustainability. However, all of those subjects have one thing linking them: the start. Each one of these fields starts with my generation, the Hoosiers who are about to embark into adulthood. It doesn’t start with us because of the things that we might accomplish, but rather because of the things we can push our children to accomplish. The most important way for my generation to lead Indiana over the next twenty years is through parenting.

Think, what impacts people most in their life? The answer is the way they are brought up. Most people do the things that they do and the way they do them because it is the way their parents do it. How do you brush your teeth, mow the lawn, or pay your bills? What is your mindset as you strive to reach your goals? I’d bet that it’s exactly like that of your parents. We do things because our parents did them. Our parents were the first and largest influence in our lives. We look at our parents as examples our entire lives.

With this reasoning, it’s up to my generation to lead through parenting, particularly fathers. The current trend is for fathers to not be there for their children. More and more children are being raised by single mothers. This isn’t conducive to anything. Having been raised by a single mother, I know the extra tribulations inflicted on a one parent family. Money is harder to come by with one income instead of two. I was fortunate enough that my mother had a job that could support the two of us, but I have friends who have had to get a job after school to help support themselves or their family. And with more time spent at work comes less time spent on homework, leading to a drop in grades. Thus, our education system fails that particular individual, not because of what they did, nor because of what their mother did, but because the father of this child chose to be selfish and leave his family to fend for themselves. It is hard for children to value their education when they constantly have to worry about their situation at home.

Furthermore, the absence of a father in the household leaves children, particularly boys, without a central father figure. They don’t have someone to teach them how to be a good man. Many boys turn to gangs or other individuals of crime because these are the only older males who have ever even pretended to take interest in their life. This too can be avoided by the presence of a father in the household.

What fixes Indiana’s education system? How do you increase the supply of brilliant, home-grown Hoosier minds that are capable of changing the world and decrease the crime rate? The answer, quite simply, is parenting. Parents are the number one influence on an individual. They have the power to set their children down the right path for the rest of their life. If you want to really change the outlook of our state, it starts with how we, the millennials, impact our children’s lives. If we want to improve our state, it has to start from the beginning; it has to start with parenting.




Ben McArdle