At a ceremony November 1st 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 awarded by the two Foundations.
Sally Fisher Curran, executive director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, is the 2017 recipient of “The Kathy,” which is awarded to nonprofit leaders who are creative, collaborative and embrace 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’s personal use – whether for professional development or personal growth opportunities.
Curran is the Executive Director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc. (OnVLP), a pro bono legal services organization serving low-income people throughout Central New York. She has guided OnVLP through a spin off into an independent nonprofit, major technology upgrades, and expansion, including new programming to address immigration, family matters, LGBT rights, homeless needs and reentry work. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, teaching an LGBT Communities Practicum.
Curran serves on the Executive Committees of the Onondaga County Bar Association and the Central New York Women’s Bar Associations, is a member of NYSBA’s President’s Committee on Access to Justice, Committee on Legal Aid and Pro Bono Coordinators Network. Finally, she serves on many community-based committees such as the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York and the Syracuse Anti-Poverty Initiative.
“Sally’s nominator celebrated her community commitment, non-profit partnerships, embrace of new opportunities and belief in diversity, all qualities that Kathy Goldfarb-Findling shared,” 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.
A selection team made up of previous “Kathy” recipients, family members and representatives from the two foundations reviewed the seventeen nominations that were received for this honor. Nominees ranged from across the Central New York region.
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 (2015) and Melissa Spicer of Clear Path for Veterans (2016).