Nonprofit Awareness Day: A celebration of the sector

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From left to right: Emcee Kristy Lee  from NECN, Rick Musiol from presenting sponsor Citizens Bank, Public Official of the Year recipient Senate President Stan Rosenberg and MNN Board Chair David Shapiro

The excitement in the  Great Hall was palpable yesterday, as more than 250 nonprofit professionals from across Massachusetts gathered at the State House for MNN’s annual celebration of Nonprofit Awareness Day, presented by Citizens Bank. The event drew attention to the impact and importance of the nonprofit sector, as nine nonprofit organizations and professionals were presented with Nonprofit Excellence Awards for their accomplishments.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who has long understood the important relationship between government and the nonprofit sector, was presented with the Public Official of the Year Award. Sen. Rosenberg touted the force of the nonprofit sector and thanked the crowd for the work being done at nonprofits to support communities and residents across the Commonwealth.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The 32 impressive finalists were honored for their work and the nine awards were presented to nonprofit organizations and employees that exemplify the most innovative, creative, and effective work being done throughout the Commonwealth.

Congratulations to the 2015 Excellence Award Winners:

Advocacy: Changing the Game

Board Governance: Setting the Course

Collaboration: Collective Impact

Communications: Telling Your Story

Innovation: Finding New Ways

Leadership: Guiding the Ship

Small Nonprofit: Doing More with Less

Young Nonprofit Professional: Forging the Future

The impressive group of winners shared personal stories, words of wisdom and calls to action from the podium that reminded the audience of just how amazing the faces behind nonprofit organizations are. Varying in mission, size and region, the winning organizations ranged from a dynamic government-private partnership focused on improving literacy skills across Worcester to a group that successfully advocated for Massachusetts to have the strongest state-level sick time policy in the country.

Anh Vu Sawyer, who accepted the Excellence by a Small Nonprofit Award on behalf of the Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, shared her personal story of immigrating to America from Vietnam with the help of nonprofit organizations, a profound experience that led her to work in the sector. Cathy McGrath told the story of how her own battle with breast cancer prompted her to found A Little Easier Recovery, which won the Nonprofit Excellence in Innovation Award. Megan Donovan, who accepted the Excellence in Communications Award on behalf of Lovelane Special Needs Horseback Riding, expressed her passion for the organization and the joy she felt from helping the children in the program.

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Robbie Bergquist, co-founder of Cell Phones for Soldiers and winner of the Excellence Award by a Young Professional, with MA Secretary of Veterans Affairs Francisco Ureña

After The Theater Offensive was announced as the winner of the Excellence in Board Governance Award, Wesley Thompson and ViQuan Smith urged everyone in the room to continue to “speak up, and act out” for those who need it most, further expressing their determination to “continue to uplift magnificent voices and strengthen communities” through their own work at TTO. And in a surprise turn of events, the Excellence in Leadership award was presented to two local leaders, illustrating the different ways in which leaders showcase great passion, strategy and management at various stages of an organization’s life.

Keeping with the event’s theme of highlighting the work of dedicated nonprofit employees, the winners of the Light of Dawnn Awards were honored. On display next to the grand staircase was the remarkable mural of Dawnn Jaffier, painted by 18-year-old Oscar Aquino, to honor his friend and mentor.

We hope yesterday’s event, the Nonprofit Excellence Award winners, and the #nonprofitsmakesense social media campaign reminds you that the potential impact of our work, together as a sector, is limitless. MNN encourages you to celebrate your work, not just on Nonprofit Awareness Day, but every day.

Thank you to sponsors-5.28.15