Every other year, the eyes of the world turn to Indianapolis to recognize the heroic conservationists who are saving the earth’s endangered species. The Indianapolis Prize Gala is an inspiring evening celebrating the incredible victories of the Prize Winners and the DeHaan Finalists, the Emerging Conservationist Winner alongside Global Wildlife Ambassadors and leaders in their field. Hosted in downtown Indianapolis, the Gala was never intended to be a quiet, academic, science-focused affair. Each event has been an energetic and spectacular merriment of conservation triumphs, taking audiences on a journey around the world through films shot on location with the conservationists. The Gala was fashioned to inspire guests to care more about animal conservation and place these dedicated heroes on the pedestal usually reserved for sports and entertainment stars.
Award-winning journalist Anne Thompson has appeared on all platforms of NBC News including NBC Nightly News, TODAY and MSNBC. Over the years she has covered economics, presidential campaigns, and was part of a team Emmy award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, she was named NBC News’ chief environmental affairs correspondent. In that role, her coverage of the Gulf oil spill made her the NBC news correspondent with the most airtime in 2010. A longtime friend of the Indianapolis Prize, Thompson has covered special in-depth features with Indianapolis Prize Winners Dr. Steven Amstrup and Dr. Patricia Wright. Before joining NBC News, Thompson was a general assignment reporter for WDIV-TV in Detroit, where she was honored with seven Emmy Awards on a variety of topics. She has of Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from University of Notre Dame. She was also a Gala co-host in 2016, 2018 and 2021.
Danni Washington is the first African American woman/woman of color to ever host an American science TV show! That initial show, Xploration Station: “Nature Knows Best”, is a STEM educational TV show which features the most current advances in bio-inspired technology and design and is syndicated nationwide on FOX. In her latest science communication project, Danni is a featured correspondent on CBS “Mission Unstoppable” which is hosted by Miranda Cosgrove and airs nationwide on CBS. Danni has also hosted STEM shows like “Science the $#!* Out Of It” alongside comedian Krystyna Hutchinson and has also served as an on-camera personality with Untamed Science and Ocean GEMS. She is currently working on several exciting film projects, a book project & continues to be a sought-after Influencer on social media.
In 2017, Danni was selected as one of the TOP 10 young rising innovators and was profiled in the CA Technologies #STEM10 initiative, alongside Jaden Smith and other rising stars in the space. Danni has also served as a spokesperson for the nation’s largest celebration of STEM at the 2018 USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Marine Science & Biology — she is also the co-founder of 501C3 “THE Big Blue & You”, a certified scuba diver, co-creator of “Sea Youth Rise Up”, a motivational/inspirational speaker, a science communicator, digital influencer, and overall lover of Nature. She was also a Gala co-host in 2021.
AES Indiana purchases carbon offsets in an amount sufficient to balance all carbon emissions associated with the event. The carbon offsets purchased are verified by an accredited third party and are from projects including renewable energy facilities (wind farms), and methane or landfill gas capture. These projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing fossil-fueled power from traditional coal-fired generating facilities.
The Winners, DeHaan Finalists and Nominees of the Indianapolis Prize are extraordinary conservationists. Meet the team behind the Gala films.
All Gala and event attendees agree to allow their likeness to be recorded and used by the Indianapolis Zoological Society, Inc. and its affiliates in photos/video.
Gala Photography is captured by Chris Bergin and Brian Ach (AP Photographer).