Alpha Blackburn


IUPUI Chancellor's Medallion (2017)
IUPUI Chancellor's Medallion
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: Nasser H. Paydar
IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award (2012)


Alpha Blackburn is president and CEO of Blackburn Associates in Indianapolis. An award-winning designer and former TV host, Blackburn has shown her dedication to her community by serving on more than 60 boards and commissions. Currently she sits on the board of directors for One America Mutual Insurance Holding Company, Indianapolis Symphony Society, Key Bank Regional Board and the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission. She is a cum laude graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and art history.

In 1987, Blackburn was appointed by Governor Robert Orr as a commissioner at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. She was named chairperson of the Commission in 1990 and has been reappointed to the Commission by governors Evan Bayh, Frank O'Bannon and most recently Mitch Daniels. She is the owner's technical representative and co-coordinator for art for the Indianapolis International Airport. In addition to leading the Indiana Civil Rights Commission and Blackburn Architects, she is a freelance interior, product and fashion designer. Blackburn was the fashion editor of Indianapolis Monthly from 1980 to 1990 and hosted daily and weekly television talk shows in Indianapolis from 1972 to 1981.

Apart from her position as Indiana's Civil Rights Commission, Blackburn has participated in numerous activities that reflect her social and civic leadership. These include membership in the Indianapolis Arts Council, the American Pianists Association, and the Indianapolis Symphony Society. She has also served on the board of trustees of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and as the chairperson of the board of the Indiana Museum of African American History. She has contributed to many community efforts, including the Women's Fund of Indianapolis, United Negro College Fund Telethon, and the Cultural Development Commission.

Blackburn is the recipient of many awards, including the Hope Award from the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Indiana Torchbearers Award from Fashion Group International, Outstanding Woman of the Year, Trailblazer Award from Indiana Black Expo, and the Spirit of Freedom Award from the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. She was also the inaugural inductee to the Madame C.J. Walker Hall of Fame in 2006.

Blackburn has been an active supporter of the IU community. She was appointed to the IUPUI Board of Advisors in 1999. She also established the Alpha Blackburn Scholarship for the Arts at Herron School of Art and Design. The scholarship is given to incoming freshmen who exhibit outstanding talent, with special consideration given to students from underrepresented populations, including but not limited to students with diverse cultural experiences, African American students and financially challenged students. The scholarship helps Herron recruit and retain a diverse student population.