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Indianapolis Colts

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Dennis Bland 

Dennis Bland is president of the Center for Leadership Development (CLD), an Indianapolis nonprofit dedicated to empowering Black youth for the highest academic, college and career success. Founded in 1977, CLD is a cornerstone institution in the Indiana education landscape and one of the most well-respected and effective nonprofits in the entire state.

Before leading CLD, Dennis had a successful nine-year law practice, specializing in medical malpractice litigation and insurance law. Like many in the legal profession, he could have chosen to remain a full-time practicing attorney with an extremely lucrative career. Instead, Dennis – himself a 1982 graduate of CLD when he was in high school – understood the benefits CLD provided him and his journey to attend and graduate from college and law school. His own personal experience, combined with his passion for helping the next generation of young Black leaders emerge, made him the perfect leader for CLD. As such, he jumped at the chance to come full circle and join CLD as president.

Under Dennis' leadership, CLD has expanded to offer 15 curriculum-based youth development experiences, as well as the unique College Prep Institute, which together help prepare more than 6,000 youth and parents per year for academic, college and career achievement. CLD has built partnerships with scores of Indiana businesses and virtually every college and university in Indiana, becoming one of the preeminent pipelines for young Black talent to enter higher education in Indiana.

What's more, Dennis has become a statewide leader and respected voice in secondary and higher education in addition to his work with CLD in Indianapolis. He was appointed to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education by governors of different parties, and eventually served as commission chairman for several years. He also was a gubernatorial appointee to the Indiana Education Roundtable. In both positions, he has continued to be a strong advocate for educational opportunity for all students across Indiana.

Dennis earned his bachelor's degree in economics from DePauw University and a law degree from the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. A native of Indianapolis, he is a deacon, trustee, and eighth grade Sunday school teacher at his church.