News and HeadlinesPolitics


Indiana Republicans launch diversity leadership program

More than a dozen Hoosiers join program
Whitley Yates.JPG
Posted at 11:51 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 23:52:55-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's Republican leaders want Hoosiers to know their party is open to everyone. That's why Diversity and Engagement Director Whitley Yates is welcoming the inaugural class of the Indiana Republican Diversity Leadership Series.

"A lot of time in society we are shamed for identifying with the Republican Party and conservative views," Yates said. "For some reason, it seems as though based upon the color of our skin that our allegiance belongs in a different place."

The goal of the Diversity Leadership Series is simple, increase the engagement of Black and Brown Hoosiers in Indiana's GOP, a party that Yates said is a welcoming place for people of color.

"We should be at all tables and be palatable decision-makers on all sides of the coin," Yates said. "There should be balance in everything."

More than a dozen Hoosiers are getting involved. Some of them are familiar faces and names from multiple sectors. Among them is Air Force veteran and entrepreneur Tiffanie Ditlevson and cybersecurity company owner Tasha Phelps. They said it's time for people of color to play a bigger role in the party that controls much of the state's politics.

"I want to be able to recommended people for this program and build a networking coalition of minority Republicans who are able, ready and prepared to run for office," Ditlevson said.

For Ditlevson, Republican politics caught her attention more than 20 years ago. Now she's worked her way into helping with the 2020 campaigns. But it's a different story for Phelps who, 10 years ago, didn't identify with any party. The 6-month program gives both women a seat in the class of Politics 101 with lessons in communication, messaging, engagement and policy.

"This series for me is going to afford an opportunity to better understand how to do that, to better understand what our lawmakers are doing and how they do it," Phelps said.

Information on the Inaugural class for the Republican Diversity Leadership Series can be found here

Across the aisle, Indiana's Democratic Party didn't hold back when WRTV asked for a response to the Republican's plans to diversify the party, while also pointing to their already established training and recruitment programs to grow their political bench. You can see their programs here:

Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party, issued the following statement:

Much like its 2012 post-election autopsy, the Republicans' call for diversity rings hollow when their policies have added obstacles for minority communities and their rhetoric has done nothing but target them for discrimination, as well as economic and educational hardship.

Indiana Democrats are inherently diverse because we have been diverse from Day One. Constituencies are not just represented at the Party's leadership table and across our Party, but Democrats have also campaigned for and championed racial equity, LGBTQ acceptance, and women's equality — all areas where Indiana Republicans have consistently fallen short.

Hoosiers can just look at the receipts to know who really has their backs when it matters most: the Indiana Democratic Party.