Recognizing outstanding nonprofit leaders
Nominations for the 2022 award are now closed. Stay tuned to see who wins!
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.
Nominations can be made by board members, staff members, volunteers, clients or community members, and can be made with or without the candidate’s knowledge.
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.
The call for nominations opens in July, and after an in depth review and selection process, winners are introduced at the Center's Annual Celebration in the fall.
If you have any questions about the process, please email email@example.com.
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.
"Personally, and for DASH, this award is recognition of all that it took to get here. The very nature and pace of direct service non-profits mean that we rarely get a chance to celebrate the wins and the journey truly. This award allows me to do just that, and as such, is a gift I’ll forever cherish."—Koube Ngaaje, President & CEO, DASH (2021)
"The differentiator for the EXCEL Award is that you are not just getting a plaque or award crystal, you receive the gift of professional development for your staff. Anything that I can do to benefit my staff is highly important to me, because their success, development, and satisfaction is the ultimate achievement."—Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, CEO, USTA MAS (2020)
"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."—Hugo Mogollon, Executive Director, Community Foodworks (2019)
"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."—Sarah Degnan Kambou, President,International Center for Research on Women (2018)
"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."—Herb Tillery, College Success Foundation (2017)
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.
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:
Winner: Koube Ngaaje, President and CEO, District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH)
Honorable Mention: Mark Chalfant, Artistic and Executive Director, Washington Improv Theater
Honorable Mention: Lisa Whetzel, Executive Director, Britepaths
Tara Fitzpatrick-Navarro, CEO, USTA Mid-Atlantic
Maya Martin Cadogan, Founder and Executive Director, Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE)
Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, Executive Director, Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR)
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
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.