2013 Young Nonprofit Professional Award Winner: Marquis Cabrera, Founder and Chairman, Foster Skills, Inc.
Marquis is the Founder and Chairman of Foster Skills, Inc. In that role, he is responsible for major gift fundraising, corporate partnership development, recruiting senior staffers, and piloting new programs. Prior to founding Foster Skills, Marquis wrote a 50-page interdisciplinary manual on all things foster care, conducted national focus groups with 27 successful foster youths, and wrote the organization’s strategic plan. He served as Chief Executive Officer from 2010 until 2013. Under his leadership, Foster Skills worked directly with 456 youth, put on over 80 life skills workshops that teach soft and hard life skills, established 22 partnerships with like-minded organizations, put on a social protest and wrote legislation (S. 27 and S. 657) to advocate for educational and judicial stability, developed a web portal of resources for kids in foster care (MyHome), and launched the Foster Youth In Action Initiative to engage and share stories of successful foster youth. Marquis was in foster care until he was adopted at 15 years old. He beat the odds; he graduated from both high school (in the top 5% of class) and college (magna cum laude) with a strong track record of leadership. Marquis postponed graduate school to equip foster children with the practical life skills needed to become productive citizens and systematically innovate the foster care system.
Elissa Spelman, Executive Director, Breakthrough Greater Boston
Elissa Spelman is the Executive Director of Breakthrough Greater Boston (BTGB). In that role, she is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s two sites in Cambridge and Boston, including raising a $1.2M annual budget; working extensively with the Board of Directors; and overseeing program development and evaluation as BTGB grows to serve over 500 students and 100 teacher interns. BTGB provides year-round, tuition-free academic and college access programming for at-risk middle and high school students. BTGB recruits, trains, and inspires college and high-school students to teach Breakthrough students during the summer, with the goal of pursuing careers in education post graduation. Since Elissa joined Breakthrough, she has grown the annual budget from under $500,000 to over $1M. This increased capacity has led to stellar programmatic results, including 97% of students matriculating to four-year college over the past five years, and 81% of graduating teacher interns entering careers in education.
Kathryn Libby, Director of Special Programs, Reader to Reader
Kathryn Libby is the Director of Special Programs at Reader to Reader, responsible for the development, management and implementation for all direct-service programs outside of the online mentoring program. Her responsibilities also include grant writing, fundraising, social media and communications, human resources, and strategic planning for the organization’s expansion and growth. Since Reader to Reader’s founding in 2001, it has donated over $45,000,000 worth of books and computers to over 500 schools and libraries nationwide. Reader to Reader’s direct service programs serve over 500 individuals in Massachusetts and the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico. This year Reader to Reader has five full-time employees. In Kathryn’s first year of full-time employment, the staff nearly tripled in size thanks to her infrastructure development and fundraising. Kathryn has substantially added to Reader to Reader’s giving base, by thorough research into foundations and improving social media use. Her first successful narrative brought in the largest grant ever won in Reader to Reader’s history, and she continues to break her own records with continued work in prospect identification and grant writing. Because of her diligent investment in fundraising, Reader to Reader’s funding is more diverse and its revenue has nearly doubled since she came on board.
Vivien Wu, Director of Programs, Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC)
Vivien Wu, as the Director of Programs at ACDC, oversees housing counseling, financial literacy, community organizing, participatory planning, resident engagement, and youth development programs for Boston’s Chinatown and the Asian-American and Asian immigrant populations of the Greater Boston area. Vivien oversees the implementation, strategic planning, fundraising, and reporting for these programs. ACDC is a 26-year-old nonprofit and community-based organization founded in Boston’s Chinatown to revitalize and preserve the neighborhood, develop physical community assets and leadership potential in residents, and promote housing options for affordable rental and homeownership. Under Vivien’s leadership in 2012, ACDC served over 340 housing counseling clients and 50 homeless clients; 200 participants in a community planning project for historically under-represented populations in urban planning; and 25 youth in a leadership and empowerment youth program. The sum of Vivien’s efforts has been to bring ACDC from a provider of housing and classes to a more effective, impactful organization that has measurably improved Chinatown and the Greater Boston Asian populations. The resident and client constituency that Vivien organized and built up has made a Chinatown housing property adopt a smoke-free housing policy, revitalize common spaces by implementing a reading room and venue, and advocate for housing and financial literacy programs to elected officials and government agencies.