AAWGT gives two awards to members who have shown extraordinary contributions to our giving circle. Read about the Founders’ Award, the Laurie Sharp Running with Scissors Award and the winners of both below.
Purpose: To further the work and the ideals of the AAWGT by recognizing and celebrating the efforts of a member who has demonstrated exemplary service to the organization, the AAWGT Founders’ Award is presented to the recipient at the annual Members Only Meeting. The Award consists of a printed citation of thanks and a memento engraved with AAWGT and the name of the honoree and year.
History: The award was established in 2007 in keeping with the community-minded spirit and generosity shown in 2006 by AAWGT’s original 15 founders: Colleen Baldwin, Patricia Barland, Joy Beer, Kathleen Brooks, Shauna Chabot, Anna Greenberg, Barbara Hoffstein, Betsy Kimrey, Becki Kurdle, Debbie Daugherty, Lynda Salamon, Sharon Stewart, Susan Swayze, Helene Tenner and Abbie von Schlegel.
Criteria: The award is based on a member’s outstanding participation in the organization; length of service; specific initiatives and achievements and their impact; raising awareness about and broadening the image of AAWGT; innovation; and breadth and spirit to inspire and raise the capacity of other members for AAWGT’s collective good.
The 2022 Founders’ award was given this year to Cindy Whittle. Cindy was assistant chair of the Grants Committee in 2021 and chair in 2022. As assistant chair, she worked with then chair Susan Cook to completely rethink and revise the grant application. She spent hours researching best practices in the areas of grants, speaking with grant makers and grantees, and learning about trust-based philanthropy. Thanks to her efforts, our application was simplified with fewer questions and was targeted toward diversity, equity and inclusion.
It was a monumental task, but she deftly led the effort.
Cindy also led a meeting of our membership where she explained the ideas behind all the changes, thereby eliciting 100% support.
As Grants Committee chair in 2022, Cindy demonstrated time and again that she wouldn’t ask members to do anything she wouldn’t herself take the time to do. Thus, she was always available to answer questions and work through issues.
Cindy worked to educate grant reviewers on the new application process. She also helped streamline the review process. Her capacity to think creatively and explain these new ways of reviewing grant applications was amazing. Her calm demeanor and dedication to the giving circle were critical to the success of the changes her committee proposed.
She is now planning on moving onto the Grants Systems Committee – one that will certainly benefit from her many skills.
During the 15th Anniversary celebration on January 13, long-time member, Founder and current Education Chair Barbara Hoffstein received the 2020 Founders Award, given for exemplary commitment to the organization over a number of years. Barbara has generously contributed time, treasure, and talent to AAWGT and is very much appreciated by us all.
She led the Membership Committee in 2019 to developo new ways to attract new members and help them become engaged. Her passion for new ways to expand AAWGT membership translates into increased grant funding for nonprofits in our community.
In the community, she projects the best attributes of AAWGT—commitment to our mission, and the integrity of our grants process. In the past year, she has convened a task force to investigate other possible streams of revenue for the Giving Circle. She is always looking for ways to enhance and streamline the processes of the organization and ensure its continuity. She helped author and successfully shepard an article about AAWGT in What’s Up? magazine.
Linda has also convened a small group of AAWGT members to bring a program on racism to the Anne Arundel community. This group, called the Racial Equity Study Group, continues to meet monthly. She is devoted to keeping AAWGT relevant in our county. Her compassion and leadership have created innovative ways to profile the accomplishments of AAWGT in our community.
Caroline Purdy exemplifies the “Giving” in Anne Arundel Women Giving Together. Since she joined in 2010, Caroline has freely given her time and talents to AAWGT. She started as a grant reviewer, graduated to team leader, assistant chair, and then chair of the Grants Committee in 2016. She continues to be active on the Grants Committee, serving as a team leader. She also served for two years as a liaison on Post Grants, and currently is assistant chair of the Leadership Development and Nominating Committee. She will chair that committee next year. In addition, she has participated in the Book Club since 2013, as well as sandwich making for the Lighthouse Shelter.
Few members have made as much impact as Caroline on grantmaking. While she was a team leader, AAWGT converted its database to Foundant, an online grantmaking tool. Caroline spearheaded the transition from manual to online and dramatically increased the efficiency of the process. Caroline continues to be involved with the continual improvement of both the process and tool customization. Caroline was intimately involved with the subcommittee that recommended our new Momentum Grant, which was awarded for the first time in 2018. She coordinated the process to help determine the requirements and details of the new initiative. She thinks through the many facets of each change and is always coming up with new ideas on how to improve the grantmaking process.
Caroline’s enthusiasm for AAWGT and grantmaking is contagious. She works tirelessly to recruit grant application reviewers and team leaders, working with each to adjust the application updates, expectations of the teams, and detail of reviewer input, always keeping the highest level of integrity in the review discussions and decisions.
Caroline has presented multiple times in the January applicant training session. She worked throughout the year on editing and improving the application and the training presentations to clarify the basics and the updates to both educate applicants to submit better applications and to improve the thoroughness and quality of member reviews.
In 2014 she became president of the organization and brought her positive and professional approach to reviewing and improving functioning of all committees and systems. She made a special effort to reach out to new members and to mentor and encourage them to engage in AAWGT's work, thereby broadening the ideas and perspectives coming in.
In 2016, she was asked to chair the 10th Anniversary Committee, charged with creating celebratory materials and events marking our tenth year. She pulled together a group of longtime and new members to produce, among other things, an especially successful leadership event at St. John’s College in March of that year, and a retrospective of AAWGT’s history and impact that was presented at the September Grants Showcase.
Karen served on the Governance Committee in 2017 as it worked on conflict of interest issues and committee charters. This year she has been an active member of the Membership and Outreach Committee and LDN. She has been recruited as assistant chair of LDN for 2018.
To work with Karen is to join in her delight in the possibilities of this organization and in attracting talented and passionate women to join us; to be exposed to a fountain of new ideas offered in a thoughtful way but cheerfully withdrawn if other ideas prevail; to learn how to embrace process but not let it derail effective and timely decision-making. We could not have a better ambassador for AAWGT and our mission than Karen.
Melanie was deeply involved in 2007 in developing criteria for nonprofits to apply for AAWGT grants and was active in the process of first distributing grant applications. She has gone on to serve on the Grants Committee and as a reviewer and team leader. The individual who nominated her said it this way: “Her involvement with the Grants, Post-Grants and Grantee Connect Committees during AAWGT’s formative and later years helped ground our organization’s professionalism and image.”
In addition, Melanie created a number of policies, documents, and presentations designed to train applicants to understand the requirements of AAWGT funding and learn to write comprehensive, well-thought-out proposals. This preparation has been instrumental, particularly with smaller organizations, in helping them “up their game” when applying for funding from any source. She also developed a grant reviewer worksheet with a comprehensive list of questions for reviewers to use in evaluating applicants as well as a tutorial for reviewers on preparing for and completing an efficient, thorough, fact finding site visit.
Most recently, Melanie served on the 10th Anniversary Committee to plan events to commemorate AAWGT’s first decade of service to Anne Arundel County. Again quoting from her nomination: “Melanie’s selfless and steady involvement in AAWGT represents the bookends of the organization from its fledgling start in 2006 to its now robust state in 2016. Melanie inspires all to be and do their best.”
Sandy has an uncanny ability to see the “big picture” and then fill in the pieces to create a complete, professional, transparent system. She has taken the Grants Committee to new levels in the two years she has been Chair. Using group facilitation techniques to get consensus and buy in, Sandy has resolved issues and improved the grants process to add a new layer of fairness and transparency.
In 2015, our new online grant management system Foundant was implemented. The development of this system took over a year. Training ensured applicants understood the new process and reviewers were able to get into the system easily. Sandy worked tirelessly with her partners Judy Coughlin, Barbara Haight and Bronwyn Belling to accomplish this. Sandy also developed stronger voting criteria by enhancing the language on the ballot to give members real outcomes for each grant application choice. Sandy’s leadership has also brought in many new reviewers. She also produced a new Grants Policy that is a culmination of the last ten years of grant making.
Sandy’s quiet, dependable, creative, and thoughtful leadership has elevated our professional standing in the community and made our members more educated and informed grant makers.
This year’s first awardee’s accomplishments include:
This year’s second awardee’s specific accomplishments include:
It is my honor to announce that the AAWGT 2014 Founders’ Award recipients are Eve-Marie Lacroix and Diana Rode. Unfortunately, neither one of them was able to be here this evening. They have been notified and are deeply honored to receive this award.
— Gloria Martin-Pressman, AAWGT Past President and Chair of the Founders Award Committee, December, 2014
Since 2005, Susan has been engaged with AAWGT as one of the 15 original Founders. She served as a member of the original Grants Committee and then went on to serve as a grants reviewer, review team leader, Assistant Chair and Chair. She has also served on Steering Committee, Fundraising/Leadership Development and Nominations Committee and the Endowment Committee.
Former Leadership Award recipient Tara Clifford, who chaired the nominations committee, announced this year’s awardee, saying, “Never willing to say no, [Susan] has been extremely generous with her time and her talents. The entire AAWGT organization has benefited from her leadership and her unselfish devotion.”
Photo: Tara Clifford (r) presents Founders’ Award to Susan Swayze.
Tara Clifford has been a model of resourcefulness, leadership, and enthusiasm—the qualities that have helped to make AAWGT what it is today. And she has done all of this with a most humble and generous spirit.
Laurie Sharp Running with Scissors Award
Laurie Sharp was a woman who saw no barriers to success. She always had an idea and a plan! A plan that included creativity, problem solving, inclusiveness, transparency, and implementation. She had a desire to improve the world and create opportunities for leadership. In doing all of this – and with her wild and zany sense of humor – Laurie would say she was “running with scissors.” She did run with scissors, but always with the best of intents and for the right reasons! She left a wonderful legacy for AAWGT and we honor her contributions with this award. (Laurie Sharp – AAWGT Member from December 31, 2007 – March 21, 2014 and President 2013).
As an evolving women’s giving circle, AAWGT has been developing its grant program for eight years. Lo and behold there came a time when the complexity and growth of the system clashed with the ability of AAWGT to keep track of its process using paper and pens and clunky IT. But it came to pass that several visionaries in AAWGT had a glimmer of an idea. Would it be possible to change the course of the grants cycle by placing it on a new and stronger platform. First, there was the need to get buy in from strategic leaders! Following that, were many months of rigorous research as well as miles traveled for discovery! Finally, there was the quest for funding for the first three years of operation. The initial process took well over a year and yet another to implement the plan. Persistence and patience dominated!
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The “running with scissors” idea has blossomed from plan to reality! AAWGT now has a brand new on-line grant process that ensures a future of procedural integrity as well as continuing historical and statistical perspective for our philanthropy.
Judy Coughlin: for her vision of seeing the need for sustainability of the grants process.
DATE: May 13, 2015
Since the very beginning, AAWGT and CFAAC (Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County) have been closely intertwined. CFAAC board members Becki Kurdle and Anna Greenberg were intimately involved as founding members who recruited other community leaders and helped get AAWGT off the ground. In 2007, CFAAC lost its then Executive Director and for a short period considered dissolving the foundation and making it a Donor Advised Fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation. Would Anne Arundel County no longer have its own community foundation? Then, in steps Bess Langbein – a dynamic young woman who had already made a name for herself in the community through her fundraising consulting with a number of nonprofits, including the Boys & Girls Club. As the interim executive director during that time, I had the pleasure of meeting with Bess and being blown away by her maturity and abilities. Fortunately, the community foundation board agreed, too. Taking over as Executive Director in February 2007, Bess immediately set to work making CFAAC a well-known name in the community. In many ways, her style was very “Laurie Sharp Running With Scissors” – doing what needed to be done, but with an engaging and playful spirit that comes from her deep love for our community. She has an incredible gift of connecting with people from all walks of life and instilling in them a desire to “make a difference.” Like the little red-haired girl in the comic strip Peanuts, Bess has a special place in our hearts. We all admire her and hope that she admires us, too.
In the midst of transforming CFAAC, Bess also was very involved in supporting AAWGT. CFAAC provided support as our fiscal agent, partnered with us on community events and grantmaking, and helped recruit new members. In fact, it has sometimes been difficult to remember whether CFAAC board members were involved first with the giving circle or the community foundation! But, that’s the joy of the symbiotic relationship that has developed between AAWGT and CFAAC.
Bess, we hope that you will continue to be a member of AAWGT and part of our wonderful family of smart women. Like Laurie Sharp, in your role as Executive Director of CFAAC, you have left a wonderful legacy for our group as we enter our second decade.
Citation: AAWGT is forever grateful to Bess for advancing philanthropy in Anne Arundel County, making our community a better place for all, and supporting and expanding the work of AAWGT.
We hereby designate Bess Langbein as the recipient of the Laurie Sharp Running with Scissors Award.