Retiring ICC leader hailed as a voice for the most vulnerable 

Angela Espada

By Victoria Arthur

Statehouse Correspondent for Indiana’s Catholic Newspapers

Following a history-making tenure as executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) — the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana — Angela Espada will retire next month and be succeeded by current associate director Alexander Mingus. 

The ICC leadership changes were announced June 7 by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on behalf of the bishops of Indiana. 

“We are grateful to Angela for leading the ICC during the past five years, and she will be greatly missed,” Archbishop Thompson said. “As the first woman to lead the ICC and the first woman of color to hold a Catholic conference directorship nationwide, Angela always embraced her role. She was committed to making sure the Catholic perspective was part of important discussions at the Statehouse, serving as the voice of our five bishops, doing her best to encourage legislators to shape public policy in the best interests of the common good. 

“She has led and served with great distinction.” 

Espada, a former Marion County deputy prosecutor and law school administrator, brought a unique skill set to the ICC upon her arrival in 2019 prior to the retirement of longtime executive director Glenn Tebbe. She ensured that the voice of the Catholic Church was heard in the Indiana public policy arena through a global pandemic and numerous high-profile issues and events, including a special session of the state legislature following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision.

With the addition of Mingus to the ICC in 2020, he and Espada have collaborated closely on issues most important to the Catholic Church and reflecting its long history of social teaching — from protecting the sanctity of life at all stages to fighting poverty. They also worked to engage more Catholics statewide on matters of public policy and hosted a regular podcast to keep the faithful informed on important issues and legislation.

Espada and Mingus are now focusing on a seamless transition when her retirement and his promotion become effective in July.

“Having served as associate director of the ICC, Alexander has benefited from a wonderful working relationship with Angela,” Archbishop Thompson said. “It has been a tremendous blessing to witness how well they have complemented one another’s gifts and skills in service to the Church and people of Indiana.” 

Mingus, who came to the ICC from the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Dayton, Ohio, points to numerous qualities that have made Espada an invaluable mentor over the past four years.

“Angela feels very strongly and passionately about important issues and has given our advocacy work strength and zeal,” Mingus said. “She feels deeply about advocating for the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. Angela is fiercely loyal and has a firm, unshakable commitment, and she is so quick to think on her feet — undoubtedly from her experience as a lawyer.

“She always speaks to the truth and always seeks the common good.”

‘A fierce advocate for social justice’

Born Angela Grigsby on the near-northeast side of Indianapolis, Espada traces her strong moral compass to her family and the parish of her birth. The Grigsbys were members of St. Rita Catholic Church, founded more than a century ago as the city’s first parish for black Catholics. 

A graduate of Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School, Espada earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Indianapolis and then headed to Indiana University in Bloomington, where she earned her J.D. at the Maurer School of Law as well as a master’s degree in higher education. 

Newly married to José Espada, she then launched her career as a deputy prosecutor in Marion County before moving to higher education administration at IU McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis while her husband also pursued a career in academia.

Her deep faith and varied experiences have informed Espada’s work at the ICC, where she gained respect on both sides of the political aisle and from numerous advocacy groups throughout the state.

“Angela is a fierce advocate for social justice,” said Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis). “I enjoyed working with her on several pieces of legislation, especially my affordable housing and tenants’ protection bill. Angela was always kind, professional and thoughtful. I will miss seeing Angela at the Statehouse, and I wish her the best with her next chapter in life.” 

As her predecessors did, Espada fought consistently for the poor and the marginalized in opposing predatory lending and advocating for measures to lift people out of poverty. One major win for the ICC and advocates for the poor came in 2023 when lawmakers passed the first meaningful update in decades for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in Indiana.

“We will miss Angela’s fierce advocacy to bring an end to poverty,” said Erin Macey, director of the Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute. “I especially appreciate her willingness to be front and center during the fight for just lending and supports for pregnant and parenting workers.”

Catholic lawmaker Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Evansville) has fond memories of the time that he and his wife, Margie, met with Espada and Bishop Joseph M. Siegel of the Diocese of Evansville to discuss important issues, including pro-life matters.

“Angela was always there during the legislative session when it came to supporting bills about life issues,” Sen. Tomes said. “There need to be more people like her at the Statehouse.”

One Catholic lawmaker would not even be in the state legislature — or in Indianapolis for that matter — if not for Espada. 

Sen. Cyndi Carrasco (R-Indianapolis) was a pre-law student at the University of Texas at El Paso when she received a call from Espada one day more than 20 years ago. Espada, then dean of students and admissions at IU McKinney School of Law, got straight to the point.  

“She said, ‘You’re coming to Indianapolis!’” recalls Carrasco, who had applied to McKinney among other schools but had never set foot in Indiana. “We still laugh about it to this day. I tell people all the time that Angela is the reason I’m here. Angela and her work have had a tremendous positive impact on our state and have helped shape our legal community for the better.”

Carrasco, who graduated from McKinney and then went on to serve as inspector general for the state of Indiana, arrived at the Statehouse in January as a new lawmaker. When she introduced her first bill — a measure aimed at increasing access to disaster relief for Hoosiers — Espada testified in committee in support of the legislation.

“What a full-circle moment,” said Carrasco, who serves as vice president and general counsel for the University of Indianapolis. “It’s hard to encapsulate the ripples that people set into motion, but truly, it all started with Angela.” 

‘Something I never would have imagined’

Espada reflects on her ICC tenure with deep appreciation. 

“I am extremely grateful for my time at the ICC,” said Espada, a longtime member of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis. “The opportunity to work with the bishops and on their behalf has been something I never would have imagined possible. There were times that the ‘politics’ of it was tiring, but I have been bolstered by the number of faithful who truly want to promote the common good. I was equally impressed by the many allies of different faiths who believe in solidarity and worked with the ICC to help improve the quality and dignity of life for Hoosiers.”

As she ponders the future, Espada looks forward to spending more time with her family. Since becoming executive director of the ICC, she has embraced a cherished new role: that of grandmother, or “Mimi.” Daughter Maya and son-in-law Winston, who reside in the Boston area, are now parents to sons Dorian, 3, and Camden, 5 months.


“I tried to retire in 2018,” Espada jokes. “But now, grandchildren and my husband retiring at the same time will make this retirement stick.” 

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