Each year since 2010, the NGen Leadership Award has recognized one distinguished leader 40 or younger who has demonstrated transformative social impact, improved lives in their communities, and inspired us with bold visions for a better tomorrow. Here’s a look at the first nine leaders who have received this prestigious award. Now through this Thursday, June 6, we are accepting nominations for a prolific changemaker to add to this company as the 2019 awardee.
Darell Hammond (2010)
Most folks who followed KaBOOM! founder Darell Hammond’s career before he handed off the day-to-day management reins to James Siegal in 2015 are probably familiar with a story, but it bears retelling. Hammond launched KaBOOM! in 1996 after reading a story in the Washington Post about two small children—a four-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother—who suffocated while playing in an abandoned car. Their neighborhood in Southeast Washington, DC didn’t have a playground. When Hammond himself was four, he and his siblings were placed in a group home—his mother unable to care for her children after his father abandoned them. But the group home was on a thousand-acre facility in northern Illinois—something Hammond pinpoints as pivotal in his own development despite his inauspicious beginnings. Hammond stepped down from KaBOOM! in mid-2016 to join his wife on a PeaceCorps assignment that began early in the same year.
More on Darell:
Ai-jen Poo (2011)
Coincidentally, 1996 was an important year for both our first and second NGen Leadership Award recipients. For Hammond, it marked the start of KaBOOM!. For Ai-jen Poo, it was the first year she—then a fresh Columbia University grad—began organizing domestic workers. Poo’s name has become among the most recognized of U.S. activists in the years since she was formally recognized with the NGen Leadership Award. She received the award on the heels of championing a major legislative victory in 2010—the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. In 2014, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Last year, the Pittsburgh-born, Taiwanese-American was among the women activists who accompanied marquee-name actresses on the red carpet for the 2018 Golden Globes Award Ceremony.
More on Ai-jen:
- MacArthur genius Ai-jen Poo makes the economic case for listening February 2018 | Quartz
- I Was Meryl Streep’s “Plus One” at the Golden Globes January 2018 | Cosmopolitan
Jeff Edmondson (2012)
Sarah Johnson (2013)
Jeff Edmondson founded StriveTogether in 2006. Then, the fledgling nonprofit consisted of 300 local organizations in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky logging improvements in 40 of 53 measured outcomes for improving education. Two years before Edmondson was honored with the NGen Leadership Award (2010), StriveTogether became a national initiative. Edmondson stepped down from the helm of the nonprofit in 2017 to become managing director at The Ballmer Group, but not before expanding StriveTogether’s network to 73 communities. Shortly after transitioning into his role at Ballmer, Edmondson joined Annie E. Casey Foundation Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer Lisa Hamilton on the foundation’s CaseyCast. During the conversation, Jeff detailed some of the lessons about deploying data to improve outcomes for kids and families during his 12-year tenure at StriveTogether.
More on Jeff:
- Jeff Edmondson on Creating Collective Impact to Support Kids August 2017 | Annie E. Casey Foundation CaseyCast
- It’s About Results at Scale, Not Collective Impact March 2017 | Stanford Social Innovation Review
Sarah Johnson has led Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) since 2007. Weill Institute is the education and social impact arm of New York City’s 127-year-old performing arts venue, Carnegie Hall. Collectively, its programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year in New York City, across the US, and around the globe. Johnson herself grew up playing oboe, per her teacher’s encouragement that she had “the right personality” for the instrument. She shared more about the role of music in her childhood last year when she joined Bill McGlaughlin for an episode of “Exploring Music,” a program by Chicago’s classical and folk radio station WFMT. Johnson originally hails from Illinois, and left for New York to continue her musical education at Julliard. In her conversation with McGlaughlin, Johnson discusses what was initially a tough transition from rural Illinois to the bustle of New York City, as well as the frustration she felt, that as a musician, she had limited opportunities to also work on social issues she cared about. Her journey eventually led her squarely to the education and administration side of music, and ultimately to her role at Carnegie Hall’s WMI.
More on Sarah:
Sarah Kastelic (2014)
Julieta Garibay (2015)
We’ve been fortunate to retain close ties to Sarah Kastelic since recognizing her with the NGen Leadership Award in 2014. In 2015, she officially took the helm of an IS member National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA). She began transitioning into the leadership role in 2011 by serving as chief of staff and deputy director under the auspices of the organization’s founder Terry Cross. Subsequently, in 2016, Kastelic joined our board, and is currently serving out a three-year term. Kastelic entered an organization borne out of a bold vision for a stark community need. Before the organization had a national focus, it was a small, Northwest U.S.-focused operation launched by the Northwest Indian Child Welfare Institute in 1983 to address the dearth of American Indian/Alaska Native workers in child welfare programs. It became its own organization in 1987 and has been known as NICWA since 1994. Kastelic is Alutiiq, and an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie in Southern Alaska. Before taking the reins at NICWA, Kastelic completed a masters and doctorate in social work, and founded the Policy Research Center while leading the welfare reform program at the National Congress of American Indians.
More on Sarah:
- Who Defines the “Good” in “Common Good”? June 2018 | Stanford Social Innovation Review
- Who Am I to Question My Ancestors? September 2015 | IS Blog
- Sarah Kastelic Named New Executive Director Of National Indian Child Welfare Association January 2015 | Native News Online
Around this time last year, our 2015 NGen Award recipient, Julieta Garibay,officially took the oath to become a U.S. citizen. Following the milestone, Garibay wrote candidly about living most of the 26 years she had been in the United States as an undocumented immigrant in the American-Statesmen—a newspaper in her hometown of Austin, Texas. In the piece, it’s evident that dream has always been a ripe word for Garibay. While studying for her dream career as a nurse, Garibay’s years of living in fear of being found out as undocumented came to a point in 2005. That’s when she and her sister began organizing the first immigrant youth-led organization in Texas to demand the DREAM Act. Garibay went on to found United We Dream, the first and largest national immigrant youth-led network. We had the honor of recognizing Garibay’s amazing courage to act and organize in 2015, then to hear her moving address in receiving the award in a city also known for its large and vibrant immigrant contingent—Miami.
More on Julieta:
- Commentary: From Dreamer to U.S. citizen, my 26-year journey May 2018 | Austin American-Statesman
- Texas Is Seen As Crucial For The Dream Act To Pass In Congress In December December 2017 | Houston Public Media
Diana Nambatya Nsubuga (2016)
Sarah Eagle Heart (2017)
There’s much to admire about our 2016 NGen Award recipient Diana Nambatya Nsubuga. But something perennially characteristic of the way Global Health Corps’s Uganda country manager goes about making a difference is her practicality. In 2016, we touted Nambatya Nsubuga’s impressive track record for reducing maternal deaths and improving perinatal health through her successful leadership in recruiting, training, and supporting leaders to implement family planning programs and reproductive health services. But mothers and babies also have to eat, and Nambatya Nsubuga also happens to know a thing or two about farming. In March of this year, Diana gave BBC Newsday’s Alan Kasujja a tour of a half-acre garden behind a family house. So efficient is Nambatya Nsubuga cultivation and use of space, that the half acre turns an annual profit equal to $30,000. For comparison, the average annual salary in Uganda is equivalent to less than $18,000. Nambatya Nsubuga’s one-two punch of addressing food insecurity and family planning continues to improve overall health outcomes in her community.
More on Diana:
- ‘Our biggest challenge was the cow dung’ March 2018 | BBC World Service Newsday
- Leadership Crossing Geographic, Cultural, and Sector Boundaries September 2016 | IS Blog
We’ve had the privilege of engaging with Sarah Eagle Heart as both an NGen Award recipient, and a leader of a valued member organization, Native Americans in Philanthropy. Sarah has led the important affinity group since fall of 2015. In that time, she has elevated its position in the sector, and enabled it to expand from its Minneapolis base to a second office in Los Angeles. Notable among Native Americans in Philanthropy’s programs during Eagle Heart’s tenure is Generation Indigenous, which is designed to cultivate the next generation of Native leaders. The range of Eagle Heart’s accomplishments are remarkable, and span roles in corporate, faith, and nonprofit sectors. She has been a strong voice and advocate on behalf of vulnerable communities. One of our favorite stories about Sarah involves one of her early activist gestures as a teen growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. That story and a look at some of the wisdom Eagle Heart lives by were captured in a fun, but powerful conversation she had with Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer for the Mash-Up Americans podcast in April 2017. Sarah also contributed her voice to the 2018 animated short Crow: The Legend, which notably took home three Daytime Emmys last month.
More on Sarah:
- Sarah Eagle Heart Awarded NGen Leadership Award August 2017 | Indian Country Today
- Sarah Eagle Heart to Receive 2017 American Express NGen Leadership Award July 2017 | IS Blog
- Are We All Immigrants? Nope. April 2017 | Mash-Up Americans Podcast
Stacy Stout (2018)
Last year, Stacy Stout became the first government official to win this award. As the Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Grand Rapids in Michigan, Stacy acts as a bridge between communities and City Hall. Prior to her current role for the City of Grand Rapids, Stacy had previous gigs with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Grand Rapid Public Schools. She’s an active member of initiatives empowering the Latinx community in Western Michigan, specifically as one of four co-founders of the women-focused collective Latina Network of West Michigan. The network was one of two nonprofits to whom Stacy designated the cash prize that came with her 2018 award. The other, Anishinaabe Circle, provides and promotes the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental welfare of Native Americans and their communities by coordinating and administering culturally relevant social services intended to increase self-sufficiency and promote Native American culture.
More on Stacy:
- Independent Sector Honors Stacy Stout with 2018 American Express NGen Leadership Award November 2018 | IS press release
- How an ‘organic collective of Latina support’ can bring more talent to the table July 2015 | Rapid Growth