At a ceremony on November 1, 2018 at the Marriott Hotel Syracuse Downtown, Allyn Family Foundation executive director Meg O’Connell and Gifford Foundation executive director Dirk Sonneborn announced the recipient of this year’s Kathy Goldfarb-Findling Leadership Award, jointly presented by the two Foundations.
Hasan Stephens, executive director of the Good Life Youth Foundation, is the 2018 recipient of “The Kathy,” which is awarded to a nonprofit leader who is creative, collaborative and embraces change. Named in honor of the late executive director of Gifford, who also served as director of strategic initiatives at the Allyn Foundation, the award provides a $3,000 honorarium for the recipient.
Stephens is the Executive Director of the Good Life Youth Foundation, an organization cultivating a movement of entrepreneurial thinking and action among at-risk youth by combining life coaching, financial literacy and entrepreneurial training. This work is done to interrupt the cycle of poverty, violence and incarceration and improve academic performance in the lives of youth in Central New York. Stephens founded Good Life in 2009 and has grown the organization to serve over 200 youth in the last nine years. His curriculum has been adopted by other major youth-focused entities in New York State.
Stephens serves on the Onondaga County Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Steering Committee, the Central New York State Regional Youth Justice Team, the Onondaga County Racial and Ethnic Disparities Work Group and the School-Arrest Diversion Workgroup for Onondaga County. He currently serves as a professor of Africana studies and hip-hop at The State University of New York College at Cortland. Finally, he is a leadership consultant for the Central New York Community Foundation and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
“Hasan’s his deep commitment to collaboration over competition, convening local partners to work for the betterment of our youth, and embracing change and risk are all qualities that Kathy had,” notes Mr. Sonneborn.
The Kathy award was created in 2011 at the time of Ms. Goldfarb-Findling’s retirement from the Gifford Foundation. The goal is to recognize her special approach to leadership: to be nimble and creative; to encourage lifelong learning; to embrace leaps of faith and not fear failure; to work “with” not do “for”; to fully engage in collaborative approaches and to at all times believe passionately in the power of change and personal growth.
Previous recipients of “The Kathy” are Catholic Charities executive director Michael Melara (2011), Mary Ellen Clausen, founding director of Ophelia’s Place (2012), Randi Bregman of Vera House and Mary Beth Frey of Samaritan Center (both 2013), Kerry Quaglia of Home HeadQuarters (2014), Sharon Owens of Southwest Community Center and the City of Syracuse (2015), Melissa Spicer of Clear Path for Veterans (2016) and Sally Fisher Curran of the Onondaga County Volunteer Lawyers Project (2017).