The Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award puts the spotlight on an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of philanthropy. First presented in 1984, this award celebrates those who embody the intellect, integrity, leadership, and accomplishment that define absolute excellence in the field of philanthropy.

If you have questions, please contact the Council at awards@cof.org or 703-879-0600.

Distinguished Service Award Recipients

(Affiliation is at time of nomination.)

2016

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Ira Hirschfield, President and Trustee, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
Hirschfield has served as president and trustee of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund for nearly 30 years, and under his leadership, the Haas, Jr. Fund has become a national leader in taking on issues of inequality and injustice.

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Carol Larson, President and CEO, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation
Larson has served the Packard Foundation for 26 years, the last twelve as its president. Under her leadership, the foundation has built collaborative philanthropic efforts with a wide variety of colleagues around some of today’s toughest challenges.

2014

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Darcy Oman, President and CEO, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia
Darcy has served in the executive leadership role at The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia since November 1985, when Oman was hired as the Foundation’s first full-time professional staff member. Over her 29 years of service to the community, Oman has served on numerous boards and leadership advisory committees.

2013

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York
Gregorian became president of the Carnegie Corporation in 1997 following a long and distinguished career in academia, and he continues to lead with integrity and innovative strategies. He is well known for his groundbreaking investment strategies, being a standard bearer for systems change, and his dedication to keeping Andrew Carnegie’s legend alive. 

2012

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Michele Prichard, Director, Common Agenda, Liberty Hill Foundation
Prichard began working with the Liberty Hill Foundation as a volunteer in 1982. As executive director from 1989 to 1997, she helped create new grant programs addressing poverty, racial justice, and environmental health. Today, Liberty Hill is considered one of the most innovative public foundations in the country. Prichard serves on the board of the Venice Community Housing Corporation and the steering committee of GREEN LA. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed her to the Harbor Community Benefit Foundation in 2011. She has served as a senior fellow in the UCLA School of Public Affairs since 2007.

2011

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Kathryn E. Merchant, President and CEO, Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Merchant joined the Greater Cincinnati Foundation in 1997. Before that, she was the director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Neighborhood Preservation Initiative and a partner in the New Haven, Connecticut-based consulting firm Holt, Wexler & Merchant. Among other leadership positions, Merchant spent six years on the board of the Council on Foundations and served as chair of its 2009 Annual Conference. She has received several awards, including the Ohio Philanthropy Award from the Ohio Grantmakers Forum, and was one of the “Top 50 Power and Influence” leaders selected in 2008 by The NonProfit Times.

2010

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Robert E. Eckardt, Senior Vice President for Programs and Evaluations, Cleveland Foundation
Eckardt has dedicated more than 25 years to overseeing the Cleveland Foundation’s grantmaking activities and has developed and led a host of collaborations—many of them nationally recognized—in economic development, the arts, education reform, neighborhood revitalization, health, human services, and youth development. He was a founding board member of both Grantmakers in Aging and Funders Concerned About AIDS. He served four terms on the board of Grantmakers in Health where he received their highest award in 2006.

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree in a Collaborative Effort: The National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a national effort designed to identify, strengthen, and expand high-impact local workforce development programs.

2009

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Robert Hohler, Executive Director, Melville Charitable Trust
Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree in a Collaborative Effort: State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI), a partnership of nonpartisan, independent, nonprofit organizations.

2008

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO, The California Endowment
Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree in a Collaborative Effort: Living Cities: The National Community Development Initiative

2007

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Diane Kaplan, President and CEO of the Rasmuson Foundation

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree in a Collaborative Effort: Action Greensboro, a partnership of seven foundations including the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the Joseph M .Bryan Foundation, the Cemala Foundation, the Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, the Toleo Foundation, the Moses Cone/Wesley Long Community Health Foundation, and the Weaver Foundation.

2006

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Barry D. Gaberman, Senior Vice President, Ford Foundation

2005

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Rien van Gendt, Executive Director, Van Leer Group Foundation

2004

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Charles Benton, Board Chair and Marjorie Craig Benton, Trustee of the Benton Foundation

2003

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Steven A. Minter, President and Executive Director of The Cleveland Foundation

2002

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: William S. White, President and CEO, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

2001

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Anna Faith Jones, President and CEO, Boston Foundation

2000

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Dorothy A. ("Dottie") Johnson, CEO, Council of Michigan Foundations

1999

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Colburn Wilbur, President, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

1998

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Irene Diamond, President, Aaron Diamond Foundation

1997

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Curtis W. Meadows, Jr., Director Emeritus, Meadows Foundation

1996

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Jane Lee Eddy, Executive Director, Taconic Foundation, Inc.

1995

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Franklin A. Thomas, President and CEO, The Ford Foundation

1994

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: David and Lucile Packard, Co-Founders, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
(awarded to Dave and Lucile Packard [posthumously])

1993

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Margaret Mahoney, President, The Commonwealth Fund

1992

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Russell Mawby, Chairman and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

1991

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Irwin Miller, former Chairman, Cummins Engine Foundation 
Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Clementine Miller Tangeman, Chair, Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation

1990

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Paul Ylvisaker, former staff member of The Ford Foundation and Trustee of numerous national and international foundations and corporations

1989

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: James Shannon, former Director, General Mills and Minneapolis Community Foundations and a Trustee of The Bush Foundation

1988

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Jean Fairfax, a donor and trustee of several foundations

1987

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Boisfeulliet Jones, President, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc.

1986

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Homer Wadsworth, former Director, The Cleveland Foundation

1985

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Ruth Chance, former Executive Director, Rosenberg Foundation

1984

Distinguished Service Award of the Year Honoree: Alan Pifer, President Emeritus, Carnegie Corporation of New York