Learn from the experiences of our 2020 finalists

The annual EXCEL Award not only recognizes outstanding nonprofit leadership in our region, but also provides an opportunity for all of us to learn from authentic paths toward excellence. The Center has produced a series of video shorts, Cultivating EXCELLENCE in Nonprofit Leadership, touching on four key issues identified in this year's competition. Each video stars one of the 2020 award finalists, focusing on a critical, highly relevant area of achievement where she was exceptionally successful.

Hosted by Sean Sweeney, the Center's Director of Education and Special Programs, the videos also include guest appearances from either Ian Shuman or Ricardo Trujillo, both representing GRF CPAs & Advisors, our EXCEL Award Sponsor.

All are free to watch at your convenience. We encourage you to learn from their experiences!

Cultivating EXCELLENCE in Nonprofit Leadership


Fourth release: Ethical Storytelling

Starring: Elizabeth Jones Valderrama
Executive Director of Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) and 2020 EXCEL Award winner

Elizabeth and her team created an innovative way to share the powerful stories of their clients while maintaining their anonymity and protecting them from the trauma of having to continuously relive difficult experiences. Learn how this impacted funding and outreach.


Third release: Centralizing Governance

Starring: Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro
CEO, USTA Mid-Atlantic Section and 2020 EXCEL Award honorable mention

Tara led USTA MAS through a significant transformation, uniting segmented district offices in DC, Maryland, Virginia and parts of West Virginia into a stronger centralized Section, one that embraces individuality, puts people first and rewards staff for challenging themselves. Learn how she did it.


Second release: Avoiding FOUNDERS Syndrome

Starring: Maya Martin Cadogan
Founder & Executive Director, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE) and 2020 EXCEL Award honorable mention

Maya founded PAVE in 2016, and has since grown the organization from a 1-person team with a budget of $50,000 to a 13-person team with an annual budget of nearly $2.5 million—all while staying true to PAVE's mission. Learn how she did it.


First release: DIVERSIFYING Your Staff & Board

Starring Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, Executive Director of Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), and 2020 EXCEL Award winner

Elizabeth moved beyond diversity and inclusion to transform OAR into an organization committed to anti-racism and racial justice. Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) now comprise 50% of OAR's board members and 80% of staff. Hear what steps she took to achieve this significant accomplishment.


Congratulations to the 2020 EXCEL Award winner!

Elizabeth Jones Valderrama

Executive Director
Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR)



And to our Honorable Mentions!

Maya Martin Cadogan

Founder & Executive Director
Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE)



Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro

USTA Mid-Atlantic


About the EXCEL Award

Awarded by the Center since 2005 and sponsored by GRF CPAs & Advisors since 2007, the EXCEL Award honors exceptional nonprofit chief executives in our region. The competition recognizes achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership.

As always, special thanks to
our annual sponsor and to our
hard-working selection committee!


At the Center, we believe the benefits of the EXCEL Award are well worth the time and effort of nomination, but don’t take our word for it. Hear what past participants have to say.

The EXCEL Award is an inspiration for us. The leadership characteristics that it recognizes and encourages are fundamental to the health, vitality and sustained impact of our sector. The Center membership and professional development funds that accompany this honor will enable us to continue to challenge ourselves, improving our skills and positioning us even better to lead CCH into its next phase.—Community Coalition for Haiti

Being highlighted by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement is a tremendous honor for us. The metro area is filled with amazing organizations doing unbelievably important work, and for us being on this platform is a great achievement.—Community Foodworks

The EXCEL Award is a mark of distinction. Such public recognition acknowledges our efforts as an institution and assures us – as well as our donors and partners — that we are on the right path, doing good work.—International Center for Research on Women

This award significantly contributes to our efforts to keep our team members informed of advancements taking place in the college access and success space by attending conferences and participating in programs that inform our work of providing support to low income, first generation college students.—College Success Foundation

“Hope for Henry is transforming from a high-performing local organization to one expanding to meet the needs of our country’s sickest kids. This transformation requires new skills. The opportunities afforded through the EXCEL award will give us the opportunity to elevate our skills and achieve our ambitious goals.” —HOPE for Henry Foundation

The competition is open to any chief executive of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the Greater Washington area with an annual budget under $10 million.

The Washington metropolitan area is defined as:

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, St. Mary's and Prince George's counties.
  • Virginia

Board members, staff members, volunteers, clients and community members may nominate chief executives.

One nominee is selected as the EXCEL winner and is given access to a $10,000 professional development account. The winner’s organization receives a $2,000 cash award to support professional development programs for its staff.

Up to two nominees may be selected as honorable mention recipients. Each of their organizations receives a $3,000 award to support professional development programs for the candidate and/or staff.

There is no fee to submit a nomination for the EXCEL Award.

The competition incorporates a three-part judging process that includes a written nomination and fact sheet, an invitation-only interview, and site visits for finalists.

To learn more about the nomination process download the Nomination Packet.

Meet the winners of the past few years:

Stephen Glaude, President and CEO, CNHED
Hugo Mogollon, Executive Director, Community Foodworks
Bridgette Stumpf, Executive Director, NVRDC

Bethany Rubin Henderson, Executive Director, DC SCORES
Sarah Degnan Kambou, President, International Center for Research on Women
Jo-Ann Wallace, President & CEO, National Legal Aid & Defender Association

Erin Carlson Mast, President Lincoln's Cottage
Natalia Marlow-Otero, DC SAFE
Herb Tillery, College Success Foundation

Christopher Fay of Homestretch
Scott Jackson of Global Impact
Laurie Strongin of HOPE for Henry

The selection committee is a group of local leaders in the nonprofit, foundation, corporate and government sectors. The committee’s purpose is to read, review and evaluate all applications for the award. Commitment includes in-person attendance at a minimum of three committee meetings, two site visits and the award ceremony.

Participation on the selection committee provides an excellent opportunity to make new connections and see first hand exceptional practices in action. To learn more or express interest in joining the selection committee, contact Sean Sweeney, Director of Education and Special Programs.