has announced co-founder Constance L. Rice as the recipient of the .
Established in 1985 to honor IS founding chair John W. Gardner, the annual award recognizes individuals whose leadership in the nonprofit community has been transformative; who have mobilized and unified people, institutions, or causes that improve the lives of others; and who exemplify the leadership and ideals of the award's namesake.
In 1999, Rice, a former co-director of the Los Angeles office of the , co-founded the Advancement Project, which works to create large-scale systems change aimed at remedying inequality, expanding opportunity, and opening paths to upward mobility for low-income Americans. Her efforts to bring together former gang members, law enforcement officials, nonprofit service organizations, families, and community stakeholder have been instrumental in transforming the City of Los Angeles' approach to policing and its longstanding gang epidemic, and the violence-reduction strategy she helped develop now serves as a model for cities across the country, including Memphis, Seattle, and Columbus, Ohio.
"Connie's background, her vision, and her passion make her an ideal recipient for Independent Sector's most prestigious award," said Bernard J. Milano, president and trustee of and chair of the 2013 John W. Gardner Leadership Award Committee. "Her unconventional, outside-of-the-box thinking, coupled with her desire to collaborate with key partners, has illustrated that solving our toughest societal problems requires a multi-faceted approach." Rice will be presented with the award at the IS National Conference on September 30 in New York City.
In a statement, Rice noted that her proudest achievement was helping to establish a hundred and forty-seven schools in low-income Los Angeles communities. "It's amazing what you can do when you get the military community to sit down with the public sector and the school board, together with families and communities," she said. "We raised $40 billion in new school construction bonds. And my proudest moment came when, on a visit to one of these brand new schools, a Mexican-American child stopped me and said, 'You know, they really do care about us. I used to think they didn't.'"