Charity leaders win $100,000 grants

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 27, 2010; 8:34 PM
The recession has not been kind to nonprofit organizations. Even as demand for their services has increased, many charities have struggled to keep individual and institutional contributions flowing.

So it is little wonder that when the Meyer Foundation went looking for some of the Washington area’s most inspiring nonprofit leaders, Jean-Michel Giraud ended up on the list.

Giraud, executive director of the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place, has managed to not only sustain his organization’s budget but also to increase it.

Instead of scaling back services, as many charities have, the council has been expanding and planning a new employment program to complement its efforts in temporary and permanent housing, mental health and other areas.

“We made the case to our donors: ‘These are tough times, you’re feeling it, but the people on the street are feeling it more than you, so can you come forward?’ and they did,” Giraud said.

Although public contracts fund much of the council’s work, private contributions are a sizable and significant piece of its budget.

When the council’s next fiscal year begins Friday, its budget will be $2.8 million, up by 34 percent, thanks in part to an increase in private support to a little more than $1 million, Giraud said.

If Giraud, 49, makes his work sound unremarkable, the Meyer Foundation decided it was anything but, selecting him as one of this year’s recipients of its Exponent Award for “visionary nonprofit leadership.”

In its fifth year, the award seeks to recognize promising executives in the Washington area nonprofit sector and to nurture them and their organizations. Each of the five nonprofits whose leaders are cited receives a $100,000 grant to pay for training and other organizational needs that might otherwise be pushed aside by more pressing concerns of the people they serve.

Julie L. Rogers, Meyer president and chief executive, said that by recognizing leaders such as Giraud, the foundation hopes to highlight the role that nonprofits and their leaders play.

“We believe that effective leaders make for especially effective nonprofits, and now more than ever, the community needs these nonprofits as people struggle and need services,” Rogers said.

This year’s other winners are from organizations working on HIV/AIDS, homelessness, immigrants’ rights and special education:

Kim Y. Jones, co-founder and executive director of Advocates for Justice and Education, which assists students with special needs and their families. After her brother was injured in a crash, Jones advocated on his behalf. That led her to help establish Advocates for Justice and Education, which has offices in Southeast and Northwest Washington.

Layli Miller-Muro, founder and executive director of Tahirih Justice Center. The center, based in Falls Church, provides legal counsel to women and girls who are victims of human trafficking, genital mutilation, torture and domestic violence.

Adam Tenner, executive director of Metro TeenAIDS. In the past two decades, the organization, which is based on Capitol Hill, has become one of the leading HIV/AIDS education and advocacy groups in the region.

Scott Schenkelberg, executive director of Miriam’s Kitchen. Under his leadership, the organization has expanded its evening services to accommodate an increasing need in the community.

The Meyer Foundation was founded in 1944 by Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer. Eugene Meyer bought The Washington Post in 1933 and was the publisher from 1933 to 1947. The foundation is independent of the newspaper.

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