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Indiana Historical Society Announces 2021 Indiana Living Legends

August 25, 2021

The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) is proud to announce A’Lelia Bundles, Albert Chen, Joseph and Sarah Ellen Mamlin, and Cynthia Simon Skjodt are being recognized as its 2021 Indiana Living Legends. This year’s class of Living Legends will be honored at the annual gala on Thursday, October 7, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, located at 650 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis.

Each year, IHS recognizes extraordinary Hoosiers for their local, statewide and national accomplishments in a variety of areas and disciplines. The gala is IHS’s signature fundraising event and helps IHS fulfill its mission to collect and preserve Indiana’s unique stories by supporting its statewide programs and services.

In addition to the generous corporate sponsorship of OneAmerica Financial Partners, Inc. and Lake City Bank, and supported by Hirtle Callaghan & Co. and Freixenet Mionetto USA, IHS welcomes individuals and companies to support the IHS by attending the event. Tables of 10 are available for Patrons ($3,500) or Event Benefactors ($5,000). Individual tickets are also available at the Patron ($350) and Event Benefactor ($500) level. Table and seating capacity may be reduced, and seating arrangements may be adjusted in order to comply with current CDC and local health guidelines.

Patrons and Event Benefactors will receive recognition in the program. All but $75 of each individual ticket price (and all but $750 of a Guest or Patron level table cost) is a tax-deductible gift in support of IHS’s educational programs throughout Indiana.

The black-tie gala will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. The program will begin at 7:45 p.m. It will be followed by coffee and desserts, during which time all attendees will have the opportunity to congratulate the honorees.

A selection committee of civic and corporate leaders performs the difficult, but rewarding, task of choosing the recipients. For additional information, or to purchase tickets to the 2021 Indiana Living Legends Gala, please call (317) 233-5658. 

2021 Living Legends

A’Lelia Bundles

Author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles is the great-great-granddaughter of an Indianapolis and American icon, Madam C.J. Walker, a self-made millionaire who built a beauty product empire in the early 20th century.

A’Lelia was a historical and script executive consultant for the 2020 Madam Walker Netflix Series based on her book, “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker.” The four-part series, “Self Made,” starred Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.

She continues the family legacy as founder of the Madam Walker Family Archives and by serving as a brand ambassador and historian for Madam, a line of Walker products manufactured by Sundial Brands, a division of Unilever.

A’Lelia is currently writing her fifth book, The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, a biography of her great-grandmother, whose parties and arts patronage helped define that era.

A’Lelia was a network television news executive and producer for 30 years at NBC News and then at ABC News, where she was Washington, D.C. deputy bureau chief and director of talent development. A recipient of an Emmy and a du Pont Gold Baton, she has participated in writing residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.

Her articles and essays have been published in the New York Times Book Review, Parade, Ms., O Magazine, Essence, several encyclopedias and books. As a speaker and emcee, she has appeared at universities, corporations and book festivals as well as on ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, PBS and BBC. She has served as an advisor for numerous documentaries, biographies, scholarly papers and history texts.

She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

She is a vice chairman emerita of Columbia University’s Board of Trustees and immediate past chair of the board of the National Archives Foundation. She also is a member of the boards of the March on Washington Film Festival, the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Indiana Historical Society’s Publications Committee, Digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis’s Editorial Board and Indiana Landmarks.

Ms. Bundles was born in Chicago and grew up in Indianapolis. She was the editor of Westlane Junior High School’s award-winning newspaper. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame at North Central High School, where she was co-editor of Northern Lights, vice president of student council and co-founder of the Human Rights Council.

Albert Chen

Albert Chen is the founder and executive chairman of the Telamon Corporation headquartered in Carmel, Indiana. Founded in 1985, Telamon leads the pack by designing, building and installing telecommunication networks enabling connectivity in all forms, from traditional mobile phone usage and connectivity in stadiums, hospitals and schools to connected safety in our cars with the industrial manufacturing of wire harnesses for airbag and seatbelt applications.

Telamon operates in 17 domestic and three international locations and has grown to a $770 million company with more than 2,000 employees in 2020. Albert is also the owner of Telamon Enterprise Ventures, LLC, which provides energy management, solar solutions and smart manufacturing. He credits the company’s growth to the dedication of his employees in keeping the same strategic vision and principles through H2S2 — honesty, harmony, simplicity and stewardship.

Albert is a graduate of the Executive Minority Business Program at Tuck School of Business. He also received a Master of Science in mathematical sciences from Portland State University and an LL.B. from National Cheng-Chi University in Taiwan. He is a founding member of the IU School of Informatics Dean’s Advisory Council. He established the school’s first scholarship, which is offered to undergraduates.

Additionally, Albert is the founder of two nonprofit organizations: Asian American Alliance (AAAI) and the America China Society of Indiana (ACSI). AAAI trains Asian Americans for leadership positions, while ACSI focuses on building trade relationships between Indiana and China.

His past board service includes the International Center of Indianapolis, Indiana University School of Informatics, Butler University, Purdue University’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Rose International and Commissioner for Indiana Integrated Public Safety Commission. Currently, he serves on the board of the Lingnan Foundation and Old National Bank Center for Closely Held Business at Butler University.

Some of Albert’s recent awards include Vanguard Award by Conexus (2020); The Best of Tech in Indiana: Corporate Innovator of the Year (2016); National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Clarion Award (2015); NMSDC AT&T Success Partner Medallion (2013); Inductee into Junior Achievement Indiana Business Hall of Fame (2013); Sagamore of the Wabash (2013); Cisco Best Diverse Supplier Award (2012); and CTIA Telecom Industry Group TIG DiversityNXTSolution Supplier Award (2012).

Joseph and Sarah Ellen Mamlin

College sweethearts Joseph and Sarah Ellen Mamlin are heroes in the field of health care. For roughly the past 20 years, the Hoosier couple called Kenya home, leading strides to build a stronger health care system and turn the tide against HIV and AIDS.

Joseph and Sarah Ellen met at Mars Hill College in 1954 and tied the knot shortly after their graduation from Wake Forest University, where they majored in pre-med and nursing, respectively. After having two daughters and a son, the couple joined the Peace Corps and started a medical school in Afghanistan, maintaining a connection to it even after returning to the home they built in Indianapolis. Joseph stepped into a faculty position at IU School of Medicine, while Sarah Ellen completed her master’s degree in education and began teaching elementary school.

In the late 1980s, Joseph collaborated with fellow IU School of Medicine faculty members to develop a medical exchange program at the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya. During the ’90s, student enrollment grew along with student and faculty exchange. But it was Joseph’s service in the 2000s that turned the IU-Kenya partnership into what it is today — AMPATH (Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV), one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. Caring for more than 200,000 HIV-infected patients across Africa, AMPATH has been praised by medical experts from the Center for Disease Control as the best program for treating HIV and AIDS in the developing world. It has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize multiple times.

While Joseph served as AMPATH field director, Sarah Ellen ran the Sally Test Child Life Center she founded as part of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. The center provides shelter for abandoned children as well as a nurturing, educational environment for children undergoing treatment in the hospital. Among other things, Sarah Ellen also started a rape crisis center and proved to be instrumental in the growth of a legal aid program and system of orphanages in the Kenyan town of Eldoret.

Joseph and Sarah Ellen returned to Indiana in 2019, using their retirement to spend more time with their children and grandchildren. 

Cynthia Simon Skjodt

Cynthia Simon Skjodt has spent most of her adult life serving Hoosiers, the country and the world. Within the last 25 years, she has served on 43 local boards of directors, 27 action committees and 13 advisory councils. Twice she has been awarded the highest honor in the state of Indiana by the governor, the Sagamore of the Wabash.

Cynthia continues to dedicate her time, attention, leadership and financial resources to central Indiana nonprofit charity boards as well as a few national and international charities that have touched her heart. She is often called upon to lead local philanthropic initiatives and campaigns because of her unparalleled track record of success as a leader and her fierce determination to make a difference.

Cynthia was a founding director of the Pacers Foundation in 1981 and remains actively involved today. She also meets the demands of her beloved Samerian Foundation, of which she is chairman.

Besides striving to make the world a better place, her commitment to community has improved the lives of the underserved youth, filled the shelves of food pantries, championed for youth sports activities, and she has been a true advocate for the needs of mental health and psychotherapy.

She has also been bestowed the honor of “Cynthia Simon Skjodt Day” on three separate occasions by three separate Indianapolis mayors. Her honors are numerous and include Herman B Wells Visionary, Profiles in Leadership, Woman of the Year, Anne Frank Award, Living Legacy, Major Benefactors Award and the Pathfinder Award. The list of her awards for philanthropic endeavors and community leadership is unending and continues to grow annually. Her passion for helping others is well known. Cynthia’s network of colleagues, family, friends and business associates have been beneficial in her pursuit of empowerment of women. She has shared her generosity with nearly everyone in her life. She has channeled her talents and intelligence in positive directions to raise much-needed funds for the charities and causes near and dear to her heart.

Born in January 1958 in Indianapolis to Melvin and Bess Simon, she graduated from Carmel High School in 1976 and earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1980. Cynthia later earned her master’s degree in family and marriage therapy from Butler University in 1996.

The most important aspect of her life is family. Cynthia married Paul Skjodt in 1987 and raised her family, including children Erik, Samantha and Ian, in the Indianapolis area.

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