Philanthropy Day Honors Generosity
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Some of the Washington region's most generous philanthropists were recognized last week for the impact they have made on their communities. A national law firm whose attorneys spent hundreds of hours on pro bono work for the needy. A commercial real estate executive from Bethesda who funds brain tumor research and dropout-prevention programs. A hospital board chairman who gives 50 percent of his income to charity.
"Just imagine what we could do if we modeled ourselves on our awardees," said Nancy Withbroe, president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Washington chapter, which organized lunch for 500 to mark its seventh annual National Capital Philanthropy Day.
The winners, including two from Maryland, came from the private and nonprofit sectors and included individuals as well as a law firm and the D.C. Bar Foundation. They gave millions of dollars and thousands of hours to causes including assisting senior citizens, feeding the hungry and tutoring children.
James W. Lintott, chairman of the Children's Hospital Foundation board, was honored as the year's outstanding foundation volunteer for his donations and volunteer efforts at the hospital, which treats more than 360,000 children from Maryland, Virginia, the District and elsewhere each year. As chairman, his efforts for the hospital have included donations to support neurology and several other departments, totaling more than $500,000, although his most prominent gift has been a life-size Mickey Mouse statue in the hospital atrium.
Lintott, whose family donates half of its income to Children's and a variety of other philanthropic causes, said the hospital is too important not to support.
"Children's National Medical Center provides care to every child that comes through its doors, whether or not the child or his or her parents can afford to pay," he said.
Robert M. Pinkard, chairman of Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers and a Bethesda resident, was recognized as the region's outstanding philanthropist, and the D.C. Bar Foundation was chosen as outstanding foundation partner. Chevy Chase resident Joseph T.N. Suarez, director of community relations for government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, received a new award from the group: outstanding diversity leader.
Dickstein Shapiro, one of the region's largest law firms, was recognized as outstanding corporate partner for its work with the D.C. nonprofit group Bread for the City. Although a downtown law firm might traditionally be better known for expense-account lunches than feeding homeless families, speakers emphasized that Dickstein Shapiro has earned its reputation for generosity.
"The cornerstone of Dickstein Shapiro's culture is its pro bono and community service program, through which the firm gives back to the communities in which it works," said Leon Harris, the WJLA (Channel 7) news anchor who emceed the event.
Paul R. Taskier, a Dickstein Shapiro partner who accepted the firm's award, passed most of the credit from the company to Bread for the City, which provides food, clothing, medical care and legal and social services to the needy. "It's very easy to be a partner for an organization so outstanding," he said.
Taskier drew applause when he related the story of a junior staff member at the firm who said he felt obligated to help Bread for the City because the group had provided his Thanksgiving turkeys when he was a child.
Harris had special commendations for those honored for fundraising, noting that asking people to donate must be especially challenging during tough economic times.
Deborah Peeples, executive director of IONA Senior Services in Northwest Washington, was recognized for raising money to support services for senior citizens. Through jobs in hospice care, public television and with the American Red Cross, Peeples has "worked to build strong development programs by empowering and engaging boards and volunteers . . . and respecting and appreciating donors and supporters," Harris said.
In accepting her award, Peeples said that every person in the room shares the same goals for the region.
"Like in 'The Wizard of Oz,' our work requires a heart, courage and brains," Peeples said. "That, and a plan for moving down our yellow brick road."