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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Eric Holcomb awarded 78-year-old civic leader James Morris on Friday with the 2021 Sachem Award, the state's highest honor.

Morris, of Indianapolis, is vice chairman of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever. He is also an Indiana University trustee and the U.S. permanent representative to the UNICEF executive board.

Morris previously served as executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, the world's largest humanitarian agency, during which he visited more than 80 countries to advocate for the hungry. He additionally served as a U.N. special envoy for Southern Africa, addressing food insecurity and HIV/AIDS.

In his home state, Morris has served in various leadership roles at Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the Lilly Endowment and Indianapolis Water Co. He was a chief of staff to late former Indianapolis Mayor Richard G. Lugar.

Holcomb says Morris "has lived an extraordinary life with a constant focus on serving mankind at home and abroad."

"His philanthropy and heart for improving the human experience, especially the lives of disadvantaged children in our state and on different continents has in turn inspired a countless army of those who seek to create positive generational change," Holcomb said.

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