We are pleased to present the 2019 Social Capital Hero Award to Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, for spurring a nonpartisan, grassroots movement that has mobilized moms, families and everyday Americans to advocate for stronger gun laws.
The Social Capital Hero Award honors an everyday hero doing social good who has made a profound impact for the greater good.
“Shannon Watts embodies the citizen activist—an everyday mom who turned outrage into action and sparked a grassroots movement that is giving others a way to stand up and speak out for what they believe in,” says Paula Berezin, Co-Founder and CEO of Social Capital. “Like Social Capital Heroes before her, she forged ahead with purpose, fueled by her convictions—and never daunted by the forces that might oppose her.”
"It's an honor to receive this award on behalf of Moms Demand Action's millions of supporters and volunteers," said Watts. "In the midst of companies taking an active role in the gun safety movement, it's especially poignant that Social Capital chose to celebrate how we can all make a difference—from organizing in our kitchens and living rooms, to advocating in statehouses and boardrooms."
A mother of five, Watts was a stay-at-home mom and former communications executive prior to founding Moms Demand Action. Her journey to activism began online, the day after the Sandy Hook tragedy when she started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can do more to reduce gun violence. Today, Moms Demand Action has established a chapter in every state of the country and is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country, with more than 5 million supporters.
In addition to her work with Moms Demand Action, Watts is an active board member of Emerge America, one of the nation’s leading organizations for recruiting and training women to run for office.
More than 30 years ago, a group of 31 dedicated, visionary individuals founded Best Friends Animal Society, an organization that today is leading the movement to end the killing of pets in America’s shelters by 2025. Best Friends and its partners have helped bring the number of shelter pets killed annually down from 17 million in 1984 to 1.5 million today.
It began in 1984, when the founders made a promise to one another and to the animals in their care that they would build an animal sanctuary in Southern Utah where they could dedicate their lives to housing and finding homes for abandoned and abused pets while advocating for the importance of no-kill. At that time, shelters across America routinely killed cats and dogs as the primary method of pet population control.
With little money, few construction skills and no master plan, this unconventional group set out to address a local aspect of a much larger problem. What they created instead was the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the world (a 3,800-acre sanctuary in Utah that cares for approximately 1,700 animals on any one day) and a national movement. Today, it is a $100 million nonprofit organization operating lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 2,000 rescue groups and shelters across the country and regional centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City. Nearly half of the founders remain directly involved with the organization’s daily operations today.
Thirty-six years ago, then-police chief, Richard LaMunyon, founded the Law Enforcement Torch Run® which has today become the largest public awareness vehicle and grassroots fundraiser for Special Olympics. This time-honored tradition was born out of LaMunyon’s desire to support the local Special Olympics in Kansas while giving law enforcement a way to be active in the community. Today it is a global movement. More than 97,000 dedicated law enforcement members participate annually in the Torch Run—and it has grown to 112 programs that are active in 45 countries.
Known honorably as Guardians of the Flame, these law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into the Opening Ceremony of local competitions, as well as into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games. But the Torch Run is more than a fundraising platform for Special Olympics. True to its founder’s original vision of giving back and uniting community, today it has opened millions of hearts and minds around the globe and helped spread a message of human dignity and inclusion for all.
Decades later, Chief LaMunyon is still a vital part of sustaining the program. In 1995, he became Chairman of the International Executive Council for the Torch Run and is today Chairman Emeritus. He remains a dedicated public servant in his community. A member of the Wichita Police Department for over 27 years—where he served as police chief from 1976 until 1989—today he is the city manager for Maize, Kansas, a suburb of Wichita, and he continues to act as an advisor for Law Enforcement to Wichita and the surrounding area.
Darell Hammond is the founder of KaBOOM! and led the organization as CEO for 20 years. Motivated by a deep desire to create safe places to play, Darell became a champion of children and the architect of a national movement to bring balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids.
Hammond was moved to build his first playground after reading the tragic story of a brother and sister who died after being trapped in an abandoned car while playing because there were no safe places for children to play in the community. In those early years, Hammond turned his vision into reality by developing the public-private partnership model that became the organization’s secret to success.
Under Hammond’s leadership, KaBOOM! has collaborated with partners to build, open or improve nearly 16,300 playgrounds, engaged more than one million volunteers and served 8.1 million kids.
His vision and national impact has garnered Hammond a string of prestigious awards and recognition. He has been named an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Hammond has also earned recognition for his leadership in social entrepreneurship, including the American Express NGEN Leadership Award, the Satter Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2011, Hammond released a New York Times best-selling memoir, KaBOOM!: A Movement to Save Play and was named one of the Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs by Forbes Magazine.
As director of the Center for Innovation & Social Impact for the 92nd Street Y, one of NY’s most prestigious cultural institutions, Asha Curran is spearheading projects with national and global reach, including the Social Good Summit; the national day of giving founded and led by 92Y, #GivingTuesday; the NYC Venture Fellows, an innovative fellowship for CEOs of NYC start-ups; and the 7 Days of Genius festival. Asha speaks publicly on philanthropy, technology, community building and maternal health issues. She is a member of The Li.st, a nonprofit advisor at NYU Stern School of Business, and serves on the Independent Sector C-Suite Advisory Committee, on the Board of Directors of the Scout Film Festival, and as Chair of the social media committee of UN Women for Peace Association.
Ed Sayres, a proven non-profit executive, is known for building high-performing organizations positioned for sustainable growth. Ed is currently President and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). Prior to joining PIJAC, Ed advised directors, chief executives and other senior leaders on fundraising as well as financial and crisis management, strategic planning and Board development. His approach, shown to be effective under the most challenging economic conditions, emphasized disciplined innovation, collaboration, transparency and accountability.
Ed, a longtime leader in the animal welfare community, was President and CEO of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) from 2003 to 2013. Under his leadership, the ASPCA significantly increased its brand equity, fundraising, corporate partnerships and mission outcomes. Private support grew 280%, making the ASPCA the top public charity for the period according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, membership tripled to 1.3 million and grant making jumped from $500,000 to $17 million. The ASPCA also developed valuable strategic partnerships with leading corporations including Subaru, Walmart, Target, CVS and Pottery Barn.
At the ASPCA, Ed introduced and expanded the collaborative no-kill animal shelter model he had developed as President of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF/SPCA). With his guidance, the ASPCA led a successful initiative, working with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, to reduce euthanasia in New York City shelters. As a result, adoptions of animals in these shelters surged from 25% to 75%. The ASPCA replicated the no-kill model in ten major cities across the country, collaborating with municipal and non-profit animal welfare agencies to provide funding and resources to save at-risk animals in those communities.
As President of SF/SPCA from 1998 to 2003, Ed championed the no-kill shelter model, proving its efficacy and exporting it to shelters across the country. These efforts involved developing a pioneering partnership with San Francisco Animal Care and Control that resulted in more adoptions, less euthanasia and fewer dogs and cats at risk, all improvements that have been sustained over time.
Before joining SF/SPCA, Ed was Director of PetSmart Charities, where he formalized and administered the grants program and managed in-store adoptions, leading to the placement of more than 150,000 animals annually. He also headed the Animal Protection Division of the American Humane Association, bringing attention to the importance of managing feral cat populations humanely and promoting the no-kill movement in the national debate on animal sheltering practices.
Ed began his career at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, a statewide animal protection agency based in Madison, New Jersey. While President of St. Hubert’s for 14 of his 20 years there, he created the country’s largest humane society-based dog training facility and formed and served as the first president of the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey, an alliance of 115 animal advocacy groups.
Ed serves on the Board of the Directors of Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the organization that upholds the standards of the Certified Humane Raised & Handled® program. He earned a Masters degree in psychology from Sonoma State University. He and his family live in Millbrook, New York with their rescued dog, a poodle mix named Jezebel, and once-stray cat Mr. B.
Jimmy Murray is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
Born in West Philadelphia, he is a 1960 alumnus of Villanova University. In 1969, Jimmy joined the Philadelphia Eagles’ public relations staff. Five years later, Murray was named general manager for the Eagles where he served for nine years and took the franchise to the first Super Bowl appearance against the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.
During his 14 years with the Eagles, Murray distinguished himself as a leader in a number of projects that served the community. In addition to co-founding the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, he helped start the Eagles Fly for Leukemia campaign. He also persuaded many of his peers in the NFL to become involved in the unique Ronald McDonald House concept across the country. He remains involved in the Philadelphia community and has won a number awards for his charitable work.
Jim Murray is currently the president of Jim Murray Ltd., a sports promotion and marketing firm located in the Philadelphia area for over twenty-five years.
Doug Montgomery has been in the food business his entire 37 year career, with the last seven as a fundraiser in the non-profit space. Doug considers those years to be both his most important and most rewarding. Currently Managing Director, New Partnerships at Feeding America, Doug has the privilege of working alongside some of the most passionate and talented people on the planet and is specifically charged with cultivating new corporate champions in the fight against domestic hunger.
Since joining Feeding America in 2007, Doug has shepherded more than 35 new prominent corporate donors into the Feeding America family, whose collective giving has now eclipsed $45 million dollars over that same period of time. Additionally, he managed Feeding America’s involvement in the annual “Stamp Out Hunger” letter carrier food drive for 4 years and in 2008, partnered with Campbell Soup Company to develop “Make Every Serving Count”, one of the first million dollar cause campaigns to advance the rebranded Feeding America.
Doug began his food industry career in 1977 as a controller for Swift and Company in New London, Connecticut. After 12 years with Swift (now ConAgra), Doug made the move into sales and marketing as the National Sales Manager for SYSCO in Houston, Texas. Since leaving SYSCO, Doug has held senior leadership positions with Hope’s Cookies, David’s Cookies, D’Lisi Foods and Clever Ideas.
Doug is married, the proud father of five beautiful daughters and lives in Naperville, Illinois. He attended Central Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University, Southern Oregon State University and DePaul University.
Social Capital 2019 registration is by invitation-only. To request an invitation, please contact Carey Hollensteiner at 301.325.9311 or firstname.lastname@example.org