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Jefferson Award: Rupal Thanawala, a visionary and strategic servant leader in central Indiana

"My community is my passion."
Rupal Thanawala works to break barriers for women and minorities in central Indiana
Posted at 3:40 PM, Mar 24, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Every month, WRTV awards one person the prestigious Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good. This individual is nominated and selected by a committee for the work they do in our community to make central Indiana a better place for all of us to live, work and play.

WRTV surprised this month's winner at an event for Women's History Month, which is celebrated in March. Rupal Thanawala was a guest speaker at the International Women's Gathering in Indianapolis, sharing her experiences on breaking barriers in her field and helping other women do the same. It was a fitting topic for why she was selected to be this month's award winner.

We interviewed Thanawala on several different occasions this past year as she worked through the pandemic to break barriers and bridge the gap for females and minorities in central Indiana.

In her nomination, George Giltner, the CEO for TechPoint Foundation for Youth, called her a visionary and strategic servant leader who has an extraordinary ability to solve our community's problems in a productive and timely manner.

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Thanawala is a business and digital strategy executive who is passionate about her community.

"So much more to do. I think I can be busy for the next 30 years," said. Thanawala. "This is my passion. My community is my passion."

Thanawala has taken on many projects to support Operation Allies Welcome, as the war in Afghanistan ended and thousands of refugees found themselves at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh.

She used her background in tech, along with her experiences as an immigrant, to run multiple donation drives and develop education programs for our new neighbors.

In early September, within a week of the arrival of the refugees, Thanawala learned they could use education toys and games. She started an online campaign and raised more than $3,000 through the Asian American Alliance Inc.

After hearing about a refugee who needed a computer to complete coursework for school, she got an idea to reach out to WRTV and others in the tech field to donate laptops and devices to Camp Atterbury.

Within a week, she collected almost 100 laptops and tablets. A few weeks later, she upped that number to more than 500 devices with a value of $100,000. The technology donation program not only helped our new neighbors in the Hoosier state but also other bases across the country that served more than 53,000 refugees.

The program evolved into setting up computer labs where she helped refugees learn basic computer skills, English and more. The education helped refugees complete legal forms, write resumes, apply for jobs, search for housing and stay in touch with family members as they work to resettle in the United States.

WRTV would like to congratulate Rupal Thanawala, this month's Jefferson Award winner for Multiplying Good.

If you would like to nominate someone you know who is making a difference in our community, click here.

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