Nonprofit Excellence Awards

The Nonprofit Excellence Awards recognize the nonprofits and individuals driving social change through outstanding achievements impacting our communities. The 2015 winners will be revealed and celebrated at Greenlights' Party for Good on November 17. Nonprofit honorees receive a $2,000 cash award.


2015 Award Categories and Finalists

Libby Malone Community Leader of the Year

The Libby Malone Community Leader of the Year award, named in recognition of its inaugural recipient, honors individuals who have made significant contributions to lead transformational change in our community.

Through passionate leadership and inspiring investment in our community, these individuals are champions for social change who work across traditional boundaries to address our community’s greatest challenges

2015 Winner! Jeff and Deanna Serra


It is our great honor to recognize Jeff & Deanna Serra as this year’s Libby Malone Community Leaders of the Year. Longtime Austin philanthropists, the Serras are recognized most recently for their transformational support around the complex issue of homelessness. Since 2013, Jeff and Deanna have served as co-chairs of the capital campaign for the Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ Community First! Village, leading the charge to break the cycle of chronic homelessness in Austin. Together, through years of personal service and support from their family foundation, The ABE Charitable Foundation, Inc., they have generously given of themselves in ways that inspire others to do the same. In 2011, Jeff and Deanna were jointly named Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Greater Austin Association of Fundraising Professionals. Also notable is their board service to a variety of local organizations, including Jeff’s work with Austin Habitat for Humanity and Deanna’s work with ZACH Theatre. Deanna, recognized in 2011 as a Girl Scouts of Central Texas Woman of Distinction, is the owner and director of Art for the People Gallery, “a community center of good works” with a mission to educate about and eliminate homelessness through art. Additionally, she is a volunteer co-director of Art House, a program of Mobile Loaves & Fishes that supports struggling, homeless artists by providing a place to create and sell their work, and by fostering creative expression through emotional and community support for the chance at a better life. The 2011 RISE Austin Serial Entrepreneur of the Year, Jeff co-founded Vida Capital, Inc., a leading asset manager in the life settlement industry, and he is a Master Teacher at the Acton Graduate School of Business.

Nonprofit Executive of the Year

The Nonprofit Executive of the Year award is presented to a current nonprofit staff leader (CEO, Executive Director or equivalent) whose distinguished achievements have resulted in significant progress toward resolving a critical community issue.

Recognized by peers as a leader in the sector, he/she demonstrates excellence in leadership and management, and inspires others to achieve meaningful, measurable and sustainable results. 

2015 Finalists:

  • Al Lopez, Economic Growth Business Incubator
  • Amy Mills, Emancipet
  • Karen LaShelle, Creative Action

Excellence in Impact

The Excellence in Impact award is presented to a high-performing nonprofit whose programs and services set a high standard of quality and create meaningful social change in the Central Texas community.

This organization clearly defines its vision and aligns its mission and priorities with its end goal, maximizing its ability to achieve social change. This organization is relentless in its focus on results and can demonstrate evidence-based, measurable outcomes.

2015 Finalists:

  • Breakthrough Austin
  • Foundation Communities
  • Refugee Services of Texas


Excellence in Innovation

The Excellence in Innovation award is presented to a nonprofit that takes a novel or ground-breaking approach to better meet its mission. This pioneering organization demonstrates entrepreneurial thinking combined with calculated risks to disrupt traditional modes of operation and create powerful social change.

Examples of innovation may include, but are not limited to, a program that takes an unconventional approach to addressing a community need, a creative business model, or an alternative funding model.

2015 Finalists:

  • Forklift Danceworks
  • Goodwill Central Texas
  • Sustainable Food Center


Excellence in Collaboration

The Excellence in Collaboration award is presented to two or more mission-driven groups (i.e. a nonprofit, government agency, for-profit entity, funder, etc.), whose collective work is creating system-wide change on a complex social issue in our community.

By joining forces and leveraging combined resources, these strategic, ongoing partnerships achieve greater results than one organization could have achieved on its own.

Nominations for this award should be submitted by one nonprofit on behalf of the partnership, which must involve at least one other significant partner.

2015 Finalists:

  • Austin Voices for Education & Youth
  • Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin
  • Dove Springs District Park Collaborative


2014 Award Winners

Libby Malone Community Leader of the Year

Earl Maxwell, St. David's Foundation
This year, we are honored to recognize Earl Maxwell for the tremendous impact he has made, and continues to effect, in Central Texas by presenting him with the Libby Malone Community Leader of the Year Award! Earl Maxwell has served as the CEO of St. David’s Foundation since 2007. The Foundation believes that good health returns great benefits, and is focused on investing in a healthy community. Through a unique partnership, the Foundation reinvests proceeds from St. David’s HealthCare to help build the healthiest community in the world. The Foundation helps people in every corner of the community through signature programs and collaborations with more than 60 nonprofit partners.

Nonprofit Executive of the Year Award

Mark Kiester, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area
Mark joined the Boys & Girls Clubs in 2006, and has grown the number of Austin clubs from 3 to 22, now serving 12,000 kids from tough circumstances. Mark has built dozens of community partnerships, and been nationally recognized by the Boys & Girls Clubs for his leadership. He inspires his staff to grow personally and professionally, so together they can help underserved youth in Austin.

Nonprofit of the Year Award

Small category: Hays County Food Bank
Fighting food insecurity since 1984, Hays County Food Bank makes donated food available at six public distribution sites and works with over 40 partner agencies to ensure no one in Hays County goes hungry. Serving 4,400 families a week, including many senior citizens and hard-working families, they creatively incorporate volunteerism, community gardens, and nutrition into their services.

Medium category: Capital Area Dental Foundation
The Capital Area Dental Foundation provides dental services to underserved individuals who need it most. By closely partnering with other area organizations, Capital Area Dental Foundation makes dental care accessible, and avoids duplicating existing efforts. Last year alone, they served over 700 low-income individuals, giving those people the confidence to gain employment and move up the ladder.

Large category: Communities In Schools of Central Texas
Communities In Schools believes “education is the golden ticket” and supports at-risk students in realizing their full academic potential. Through campus-based programs and special projects, Communities In Schools creates a local network of support to develop a custom plan unique to each child. This year alone, Communities in Schools is serving more than 41,000 students in 60 schools, helping them to achieve in school, graduate and go on to bright futures. Communities In Schools builds its programs on an evidence-based model, focusing on key elements for success including basic needs, enrichment, academic assistance, life skills, behavioral interventions, and family engagement.

Hear from last year's honorees: