Independent Sector Announces 2021 American Express NGen Leadership Award Winner

Maria Yuan, Founder and CEO of IssueVoter, a nonpartisan online platform with a mission
to increase voter engagement , to receive 2021 award

(WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 21, 2021) – Independent Sector announced today that Maria Yuan, Founder and CEO of IssueVoter, is the recipient of the 2021 American Express NGen Leadership Award.

The American Express NGen Leadership Award honors an accomplished charitable community leader age 40 or under who has demonstrated significant progress in addressing society’s critical needs. For over 10 years, Independent Sector has presented this prestigious award to one emerging leader whose creative and collaborative leadership is helping to solve an intractable community challenge.

“Maria Yuan’s commitment to giving a voice to all Americans in our political process exemplifies her national leadership on civic engagement,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “Maria’s work with IssueVoter goes beyond just making voices heard to address challenges of representation and trust in the democratic process. We are proud to honor her as the winner of the 2021 American Express NGen Leadership Award.”

As the founder and CEO of IssueVoter, Maria created and launched an online platform where individuals can become informed on key issues, make their voices heard, and track their representatives’ voting records. IssueVoter is a nonpartisan resource that makes civic engagement accessible..

In addition to supporting the American Express NGen Leadership Award since 2010, American Express has also partnered with Independent Sector to offer the NGen Fellows Program, part of the American Express Leadership Academy that provides training, networking opportunities, and skills-building resources to social purpose leaders.

“Maria’s mission to increase voter participation through IssueVoter shows how the efforts of emerging changemakers can improve civic engagement in communities across the nation,” said Richard Brown, Vice President of Philanthropy at American Express. “We are pleased to recognize Maria for her innovative and solution-oriented work.”

Maria was among a pool of applicants considered by IS staff and our Selection Committee. In addition to Maria, the group of finalists includes:

  • Richard Reyes, Executive Director, PLUS ME Project
  • Alejandro Gibes de Gac, CEO & Founder, Springboard Collaborative
  • Kashif Shaikh, Co-Founder and President, Pillars Fund
  • Andrew Plumley, Senior Director, Equity and Culture, American Alliance of Museums
  • Meghan Shea, Founder & Director, Persistent Productions
  • Nick Monzi, CEO & Co-Founder, Learn Fresh

Maria, along with the other American Express NGen Award finalists, will be featured in the program during the virtual Upswell Summit, October 20-22.


Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs working to ensure all people in the United States thrive.

Media Contacts:

Bradley Wong

Sarah Abebe

Types: Press Release
Global Topics: Civil Society, Election, Leadership Development
Policy Issues: Civil Society Infrastructure