Akilah W. Darden, MBA LEED BD+C, is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Indiana University Health Design & Construction. She is intentional about providing equitable opportunities to diverse vendors in construction. She is also the Founder of The Darden Group, LLC an award-winning Executive Construction Management company assisting leadership teams in strategy, process, and management of large complex commercial projects. The Darden Group, LLC is a certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE).
With over 23 years of management experience on commercial projects up to $1 Billion, Akilah's experience has offered her the ability to develop long-lasting client relationships which has given us an expansive multi- level network. Passion for building relationships both internally and externally for project pursuits, she has built a company focused on understanding a client’s needs and then engaging the appropriate subject matter experts to meet and exceed both needs and expectations. Akilah has managed nearly $2B in commercial construction projects located in Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Washington, and Arkansas. Most recently, Akilah served as an Owner’s representative to successfully achieve a goal of 100% participation for a $16 million dollar manufacturing facility. 97% of the construction subcontractors were owned by people of color.
While maintaining a full-time career in managing the construction management company, Akilah is very active in the community. She is currently serving as President of the Board of Directors for ACE Mentoring of America Indianapolis affiliate, Vice Chair of Pass The Torch for Women, active on the advisory board for Stand for Children, and treasurer for her families' 501c3 organization, Donald White / Mandla Ndwanya Memorial Fund. She is past President of her children’s PTO and speaks regularly to high school students about Construction, Architecture and Engineering.
Akilah Darden was recently awarded the ‘You Inspire Us’ Leading Light Award from Women & Hi Tech. She is also part of the Inaugural Indiana 250 awarded to the most influential business leaders in Indiana. The Darden Group, LLC has been the recipient of many awards to include 2022 Techpoint MIRA Award for Community Impact, 2022 Techpoint MIRA Award nominee for Rising Entrepreneur, 2021 City of Indianapolis Office of Minority, Women, Business Development - Minority Business of the Year, 2021 IBJ Women of Influence, and in her first year of business, Akilah was the award recipient of the 2020 CLD Business & Industry achievement award. The Darden Group, LLC has been featured in over 110 news affiliates including American Reporter, MarketWatch, Fox News, NBC news, and Indianapolis Recorder. Yahoo! Finance just named Akilah on of the Top 10 Most Powerful Women of 2021, Chicago Journal named her Top 20 Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2020 and US Insider named Akilah Top 20 Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021.
Akilah is a proud wife of 15 years to Travis Darden and mother of four children: eight-year-old identical twin girls Alana and Tiana and two boys: Aiden and Travis Darden, Jr. (JR) ages ten and twelve. The Darden kids inspired the newly pre-released book: My Mom is a Construction Manager at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and on AkilahDarden.com.