Nonprofit Awareness Day: Celebrating the Now and Preparing for the Future

Yesterday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Secretary of Education Jim Peyser joined 250 business leaders and nonprofit professionals from across Massachusetts in the Great Hall of the State House to celebrate Nonprofit Awareness Day, presented by Citizens Bank.

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, who spent half of his career working for nonprofits, said that while “Massachusetts has one of the most vibrant and effective nonprofit sectors in the country,” that those in attendance must continue to “provide means and capacity to address some of our biggest issues.”

“Each and every one of you has risen to the challenge,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said, reminding those assembled of the invaluable contributions the nonprofit sector has made in helping Massachusetts to remain a fair, just, and caring Commonwealth. Speaker DeLeo further noted that “You’re on the front lines,” as he thanked those in attendance for the¬†essential work they take on day in and day out.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg joked that his “specialty is depressing large groups of people all at the same time,” but he nevertheless assured the attendees: “I depress you only to challenge you. Together we are going to face some very significant challenges in the Commonwealth.” He strongly¬†urged the nonprofit sector to to see these challenges as opportunities.
The 2016 Excellence Award Finalists on the Grand Staircase

“There’s a lot of power in this room,” Rick Musiol, Senior Vice President and Regional Director of Public Affairs, New England at Citizens Bank, said. And it was this power, this hope, that filled every face.

“We’re grateful to Citizens Bank,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, “For continuing their support of Nonprofit Awareness Day, which gives us a chance to recognize the essential role nonprofits play in strengthening the Commonwealth and celebrate their tremendous accomplishments through the Excellence Awards.”

The audience of gathered nonprofit leaders and business partners could hardly restrain their applause as the 30 finalists were honored for their work and the seven Nonprofit Excellence Award winners were announced. These seven organizations and professionals were recognized for the essential, creative, and passionate work they do throughout the Commonwealth.

Congratulations to the 2016 Excellence Award Winners:
Advocacy: Changing the Game
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

Intermingled with the jubilation at the accomplishments of the nonprofit sector, government and elected leaders highlighted the ongoing partnership between government and the nonprofit sector.

Personal and heartfelt stories and experiences accompanied each award winner as they mounted the stage to thunderous applause that set the flags of the Great Hall waving.
Thanks to everyone who told the world why #nonprofitsmakesense

Jeff Fatchaline, who accepted the Award in Communication on behalf of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, recounted the discrimination that the group faced recently when traveling abroad, a reminder of the work still to be done for LGBT equality. An impassioned Laurie “Duck” Caldwell of the Boston Area Gleaners accepted the award for Excellence by a Small Nonprofit on behalf of the one-in-ten individuals in Massachusetts who still do not have enough food. With tears in her eyes, Katrina Shaw of the Freedom House accepted the award for Excellence in Leadership and declared that “We need to do better” in order to provide a secure environment for children to discover their possibilities.

While the stories of the winners varied, the passion was universal, whether it was a commitment to improve children’s vision despite a scarcity of resources, a determination to fight for the rights of fishermen in the face of unfair legislation, a resolve to end alienation among gender nonconforming youth, or a desire to create safe and loving communities for foster children. All battles, according to the winners, that are far from over.

We hope that yesterday’s event, the stories of the Nonprofit Excellence Award winners, and the #nonprofitsmakesense social media campaign reminded you all of the breadth and depth of the state’s nonprofit sector and the unlimited potential we have as a sector when we stand together. More pictures of the event are to come.