Meyer Announces 2011 Exponent Award Recipients

November 17, 2011

The Meyer Foundation, a leading funder of nonprofits serving the Washington, DC region, today announced the recipients of its 2011 Exponent Awards, which recognize outstanding nonprofit executive directors.

The 2011 Exponent Award recipients are:

  • Manny Hidalgo, Executive Director of the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC). The son of Cuban immigrants, Manny Hidalgo now leads an organization that equips Latino and other DC-area residents with the skills and financial tools to create a better future for their families and communities. LEDC helps people buy and stay in their homes, take control of the decisions affecting their apartment buildings, and start or expand small businesses. LEDC was one of the first nonprofits in the region to respond to the foreclosure crisis, and the organization now has four full-time foreclosure counselors in Montgomery County working with hundreds of families each year. www.ledcmetro.org
  • Lecester Johnson, Executive Director of Academy of Hope. A former special education teacher and adult education and workforce development specialist, Lecester Johnson has led Academy of Hope on an ambitious path of expansion despite the challenging economy. At three sites in Wards 5, 6, and 8 in the District, the organization helps adult learners improve their basic reading, writing, and math skills and earn their high school diplomas or GEDs as a first step to securing a better future for themselves and their families. www.aohdc.org
  • Amy Nakamoto, Executive Director, DC SCORES. A lifelong athlete and former college soccer coach, Amy Nakamoto had a natural affinity for DC SCORES, an organization that works to ensure that DC public school students have opportunities to play sports, express themselves creatively, and make a lasting impact on their communities. Under Amy’s leadership, DC SCORES has expanded to 27 elementary and middle schools, and now serves more than 800 students with an after-school curriculum that combines soccer, poetry, and service learning to increase participants’ physical fitness, sense of self-worth, and school and community engagement. www.americascores.org/affiliates/dc

The Meyer Foundation created the Exponent Awards in 2006 to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of some of the DC region’s most talented, visionary, and effective nonprofit executives—and to provide funds to sustain and further develop their leadership and their organizations. Recipients’ organizations receive a grant of $100,000 over two years to support leadership development.

Each year, the Foundation solicits nominations through an open process, although nominees must lead an organization that receives Meyer Foundation funding and meet other eligibility criteria. In selecting the recipients, the Foundation considered each nominee’s success at increasing the impact of the organization’s work, instituting sound management, and serving as a collaborative community leader.

“Despite the challenging economy, each of these leaders has exhibited creativity and perseverance in expanding the reach and impact of their organization’s work,” says Meyer Foundation President and CEO Julie Rogers. “We are honored to recognize three visionary and talented leaders who are working to address some of our region’s most urgent and compelling needs.”

The Meyer Foundation has a long history of supporting and investing in nonprofit leaders. Earlier this year, the Foundation released Daring to Lead 2011, a national study of more than 3,000 nonprofit executive directors in 12 cities across the country. Two out of three respondents said they were likely to leave their jobs within five years, citing the challenges of fundraising, weak boards of directors, and unsustainable financial models as factors that contribute to burnout and turnover.

Daring to Lead 2011 is the third national survey of executive directors Meyer has conducted, in partnership with CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, since 2001. Meyer created the Exponent Award in 2006 as a response to Daring to Lead 2006, which reported even higher rates of burnout and projected turnover.

For more information about the Exponent Award and profiles of previous recipients, visit www.meyerfoundation.org/exponent/.

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The Meyer Foundation identifies and invests in visionary leaders and effective community-based nonprofit organizations that are working to create lasting improvements in the lives of low-income people in the Washington, DC metropolitan region, and works to strengthen the region’s nonprofit sector as a vital and respected partner in meeting community needs.