Get Out and Give Back: Fundraisers Honored on National Philanthropy Day

Winners showcase the impact of giving back.

Back L to R: Co-chair Gregg Kelley, Margaret O'Bryon (Consumer Health Foundation), Frankie Blackburn, Martin Klepper (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP), Pam King Sams, co-chair Lisa Harter. Front row L to R: Dr. Jaylee Montague Mead, Rosemary Tran Lauer. Photo courtesy Jill James

Back L to R: Co-chair , Margaret O'Bryon (Consumer Health Foundation), , (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP), , co-chair . Front row L to R: Dr. , . Photo courtesy Jill James.

“We’re given a limited time on this planet, and there’s so much to do!” Spoken by Outstanding Fundraising Professional winner Pam King Sams, she echoed what thousands of fundraisers across the country undoubtedly believe. Sams was speaking to nearly 400 professionals and organizations gathered at the Washington Hilton on November 18 to celebrate the Washington DC Metro Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP/DC) National Capital Philanthropy Day: The Power of Giving Back.

Although the theme was “A Celebration of Giving,” AFP/DC president emphasized that the celebration was really about “celebrating the amazing results that donors, volunteers and professionals can achieve when working together.” “When people join together, incredible things can happen,” she said.

ABC 7/WJLA-TV news anchor emceed the ceremony and implored the audience to keep up the good work. “We need you to keep doing what you do,” he said. Harris recognized each of the award nominees before calling the winners to the stage.

And the winners are:

Outstanding Corporate Partner: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP. This law firm pledged three percent of their billable hours toward pro bono work and counsel to nonprofit charitable and cultural organizations. Nominator: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

Outstanding Foundation Partner: Consumer Health Foundation. This foundation has provided nearly $16 million to improve access to health care for the area’s most vulnerable population. Nominator: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

Outstanding Diversity Leader: Frankie Blackburn, co-founder and executive director of IMPACT Silver Spring. Blackburn’s work focused mainly on support and services to the homeless, and among her many honors, the best-sounding award was the Comcast Cool Woman Award. Blackburn challenged the audience to leave their “place of fear” and to have lunch once a week throughout the next year “with someone who isn’t like you.” Nominator: Ramundo Consulting Group.

Outstanding Fundraising Volunteer: Rosemary Tran Lauer, co-founder and chair of Devotion to Children. A Vietnamese immigrant who arrived in the United States with two toddlers and little command of English, Lauer’s Devotion to Children has raised over $67,000 to help families in need. Nominator: Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center.

Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Pam King Sams, CFRE, Children’s National Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Foundation. Sams spearheaded the $500 million Transforming Children’s Health campaign, which included a $150 million gift to fund the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. ‘Nuff said. Nominator: Children’s National Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Outstanding Philanthropist: Dr. Jaylee Montague Mead and the late . Both NASA scientists, Dr. Mead and her husband shared a love of musical theater, and even performed in NASA’s Music and Drama Club. The last award recipient of the ceremony, Dr. Mead encouraged the attendees to “give to your passion” as she and her husband have for decades. Nominator: Arena Stage.

Dr. Mead also offered the wisest advice of the afternoon. “If people can’t manage their money,” she said, “you don’t want to give your money to them.”

Jane Hess Collins is a former Air Force colonel who writes to inspire people to contribute. She is also a coach, public speaker, conducts workshops for clients to discover their most intrinsic way to serve, and has established game nights for at-risk families throughout the country. You can contact her for speaking engagements or workshops at


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