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National Philanthropy Day

National philanthropy day Sophisticated Living Columbus OH
The Sophisticated Living Columbus tables guests at the 2018 National Philanthropy Day Luncheon (l-r): Betsy Ross, Amelia Jeffers, Susie Liebert, Connie Leal Ballenger, Lori Wengerd, and Charlotte Joseph.

For many years, I was grateful to kick off my Thanksgiving week celebrations by attending the National Philanthropy Day (NPD) Luncheon presented by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). One of the largest events of its kind in the country, the Columbus NPD luncheon saw more than 800 people come together annually for one efficient, fun-filled hour jam-packed with the recognition and celebration of individuals, corporations, and organizations for their making a positive impact and inspiring change in our community.

My first few experiences of NPD were as the table-guest of an organization I had long-supported as a donor. However, since 2018, Sophisticated Giving Columbus has been a Media Sponsor of the NPD, proudly hosting friends and clients at our table and joyfully sharing with them the experience of learning about honorees whose names and stories we might not have otherwise known.

As with many beloved traditions, the pandemic has altered the way AFP is celebrating NPD and honorees. In 2020 and 2021, attendees tuned in virtually to watch the program and presentation of awards. In the pages that follow, please join us in recognizing and celebrating the class of 2021 National Philanthropy Day Columbus honorees - and let’s give thanks to live in a community where good people take time to recognize good deeds.

Warm wishes,


Monica Day, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

The 2021 National Philanthropy Day Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year is Monica Day, co-anchor of NBC4 Today. Monica is a graduate of Whitehall Yearling High School, where she was inducted in the Hall of Fame. She was crowned Miss Ohio USA 2008 and represented The Buckeye State in the Miss USA competition where she won the title of Miss Congeniality. Monica has also been recognized by Besa as a Community Champion and was a “40 under 40” honoree by Columbus Business First in 2020.

Monica has said that the thing she likes most about her job is the opportunity to be involved with local charities and events. Monica has been very active in raising awareness of ovarian cancer during her time at NBC4 and is an avid supporter of The Ronald McDonald House, Besa, and Harmony Project. She has also made it her mission to bring stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to NBC4 Today, focusing on grassroots efforts that are changing central Ohio for the better.

Monica lives in Columbus with her husband Sean, daughter Presley, son Palmer and their two fur-babies.

Zerqa Abid, The Columbus Foundation Outstanding Philanthropist

Zerqa Abid is the Founder and Executive Director of MY Project USA. Prior to starting MY Project USA, Zerqa co-founded and led Project Sakinah, a national initiative to address Domestic Violence within the Muslim Community. She is a mother, a philanthropist, a writer, a public speaker, a social/political activist, a community organizer, a campaign consultant and a small-business owner who has been recognized for her contributions to the community many times, including the Everyday Hero 2019 Award from the Dispatch Media Group and the 2018 People to Watch list from Columbus Alive.

Zerqa serves as a commissioner and Public Safety Chair to the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, is a founding member and the President of Muslims for Ohio PAC, a political organization of Muslims in Ohio, and has served on the Hilliard Education Advisory Council. She served as the PTO President of the Hilliard Weaver Middle School and is a member of Hilliard Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. Formerly with NBC News, she was the first General Manager of The City Channel of the ARY Digital Network of Pakistan. Through her overseas company, she also organized international trade and consumer shows.

Zerqa is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate of North Carolina State University. She received “Norma & Wally Ausley Merit Scholarship” for being “The Outstanding Student of Mass Communications” in 2000. She is also a member of Golden Key International Society.

Dana Lawrence, Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Dana Lawrence has spent 22 years devoted to professional fundraising for nonprofit organizations, serving as Development Director for various Catholic churches, schools, the Columbus Catholic Diocese, and the Ohio State University Medical Center. Her initiatives led to the building of a church, expanding a school, funding medical services, and sustaining revenues for continued services to the missions of the organizations she has served.

Dana is CFRE credentialed since 2014 with continuing certification pursuant to continuing education and professional activities. She also completed coursework through the American College of Financial Services to obtain an additional fundraising credential - Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP).

Currently, Dana serves as the Director of Development & Communication for the Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM). WARM’s mission is to provide “a hand up, not a hand out” through quality programs and services to facilitate positive change, and restore dignity and hope to make a difference in the lives of those WARM serves. Dana’s skills, knowledge, and positive management style contribute to WARM’s overall success. Under her leadership, staff is empowered to take initiative and be creative.

Recently, Dana created the first-ever comprehensive development plan for WARM that included improving WARM’s cash position by over $1 million. Her work is leading to the creation of an endowment, capital replacement reserves, and debt reduction for the organization. Her creative efforts will help ensure sustainable funding for the foreseeable future. By WARM’s 50th anniversary in 2022, WARM will be on track to attain a sustainable funding trajectory for the next 50 years.

The John and Mary Alford Foundation, Outstanding Foundation

The John and Mary Alford Foundation was created and founded in 1996 by Ronald B. Alford and Barbara Alford Cantlin to carry on the charitable and philanthropic giving activities of their parents. During their lifetimes, John and Mary Alford were dedicated and committed to making Newark and the Licking County community a better place to live. The Foundation has now awarded over $5.2 million in grants to non-profits primarily in the Licking County area, supporting educational, social, religious, and cultural programs with a particular interest in funding projects that positively affect a broad segment of the community, capital projects with broad-based community support, and seed money for innovative programs that demonstrate new approaches and techniques for solving important community needs and/or problems.

Zoe and Jack Johnstone, Charitable Gift Planners of Central Ohio Leave a Legacy Award

Jack and Zoe Johnstone are longtime supporters of the arts in central Ohio. Residents of the Short North, their exemplary leadership and support have stimulated the growth and vitality of Columbus’ creative culture. They have empowered arts organizations to collaborate, take creative risks, attract world-renowned talent, experiment with non-traditional venues, and open their doors to new and diverse audiences and artists.

The Columbus Foundation nominated Jack and Zoe for this year’s Leave a Legacy award to honor their thoughtful vision and remarkable impact—stimulating creativity, fostering collaboration, positioning central Ohio as a powerful arts incubator, revitalizing neighborhoods through the arts, and making various art forms—especially new music—accessible to all. Through their vision, trust, and creativity, they have committed to carrying on this great work well into the future.

CoverMyMeds, Outstanding Large Corporation

CoverMyMeds, part of McKesson Corporation, is a fast-growing healthcare technology company that has been recognized as a “Best Place to Work” by Glassdoor and a “Best Company to Work For” by FORTUNE. Through innovation and collaboration, CoverMyMeds’ solutions help people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives by seamlessly connecting the healthcare network to improve medication access; thereby increasing speed to therapy and reducing prescription abandonment.

CoverMyMeds has demonstrated a commitment to integrating and engaging with the Franklinton community, where their new 12 acre campus has been designed to incorporate space for nonprofits community members, an art gallery, and an expanded network of trails that connects the community to campus (including plenty of bike racks and EV charging stations). Team members are encouraged to learn more or get involved with one of their many community partners including COSI, the Homeless Families Foundation, Franklinton Farms, Gladden Community House, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

CoverMyMeds has been recognized as a Company That Cares by People Magazine, and locally CoverMyMeds has supported the efforts of the Columbus Urban League, Equitas, and YMCA of Central Ohio among many others.

Hexion, Outstanding Small Business

Hexion is more than just a specialty chemical company whose products are often used in the building and creation of new and exciting products and landmarks. Based in Columbus since 1972, Hexion is a company committed to building a stronger community, resilient families, thriving children, and a promising and healthy future. With approximately 225 associates in Columbus, Hexion has been a strong and long-time supporter of many Central Ohio nonprofit organizations.

Pre-pandemic, Hexion hosted “Hexion Cares Day”, a full-day, company-supported volunteer event that allowed associates to select from a list of nonprofits in Columbus and more than 10 locations across the United States. Participants experienced a unique and impactful volunteer opportunity with opportunities to build homes, paint murals, plant community gardens, host pop-up petting zoos for children, cook and serve meals for the homeless, and provide book bags and school supplies to children in need.

Beyond leading their team to donate time, Hexion has made significant financial contributions to organizations that build a stronger community, including more than $6 million to United Way of Central Ohio and nearly $900,000 to BalletMet. They also sponsor non-profits that are dedicated to improving physical health including the American Heart Association, Pelotonia, and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Hexion isn’t only about bonding molecules; they are bonding members of the community – to each other and to the resources they need to be as superior as their innovative products.

Westerville Otterbein Women's Club, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraising Group

In 1921, thirty five women from Dayton and Westerville met at Maramor Restaurant in Columbus with a simple goal: to plan how they could help the students of Otterbein College (now Otterbein University). Since the earliest days of the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club (WOWC), tireless volunteers have conducted teas, potluck meetings, and picnics; a hardcover cookbook was produced and sold; speakers have been hosted; and a thriving thrift-shop was created and maintained. Money raised by the Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club has been used to benefit the Alumni Gymnasium, Howard House, the Student Health Center, and individual students via seven endowed scholarships and an annual grant for a student in need of financial aid.

The Otterbein Thrift Shop continues to be operated by the WOWC at 177 W. Park Street. Shop hours are Wednesdays 10a - 5p and Saturdays 10a - 2p. Donations of clothing, jewelry, shoes, household items, CDs, books and DVDs are sold with proceeds from the shop going directly to the University to support student scholarships and awards. To learn more about volunteering, stop by the shop during store hours.


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