West Virginians recognized with 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Awards

The 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Critical Impact Award was presented to the Charleston Creativity Connections, one of several awards presented Nov 30. Pictured (from left) – Callen McJunkin, Susie Salisbury, Dr. Michelle Foster, Bryan Cooper – Charleston Creativity Connections Executive Director, Sue Sergi, Stephanie Hyre, and Kensie Hamilton Fauber.

Philanthropy West Virginia presented the 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Awards, the state’s highest award in philanthropy, by hosting small awards presentations in three West Virginia cities.

“Every day in West Virginia should be Giving Tuesday,” shares Paul D. Daugherty, president and CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia. He adds, “West Virginians are naturally generous and philanthropic in so many ways so we take this occasion of the National Giving Tuesday to celebrate those who are outstanding examples of generosity and leadership by awarding the 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Awards.” 

Daugherty, along with board members and members of  Philanthropy WV, presented the awards on Tuesday, November 30. Philanthropy WV postponed their annual West Virginia Spirit of Philanthropy Awards Ceremony in October due to rising COVID cases. In the interim, the organization hosted these three smaller award presentations with plans to host a proper celebration of the honorees in May 2022 as part of Philanthropy WV’s Annual Conference & Members Meeting.

Daugherty added, “This year marks the 15th anniversary of the awards being presented recognizing excellence and inspiration in philanthropy. The honorees showcase the best of West Virginia through their generosity, community involvement, and impact on generations to come.”  The award is given in the categories of: (1) Lifetime Achievement – Individual Philanthropist, (2) Critical Impact, (3) Staff Leadership, (4) Individual Philanthropist, and (5) Corporate Responsibility Leader.  

2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement in Individual Philanthropy Award was presented to Major General Kenneth D. Gray, joined by his wife Carolyn (to his left) and his two granddaughters.

Morgantown, West Virginia: The 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement in Individual Philanthropy Award was presented to Major General Kenneth D. Gray.  Daugherty shared, “General Gray is an incredible West Virginian, philanthropist, veteran, and leader contributing his time, talent, and treasure to so many important causes in our state.”  General Gray and his wife Carolyn’s generosity has impacted many lives with his service as Past President of the West Virginia Bar Foundation, 20 plus years on the Salvation Army Board of Directors, creating an emergency fund at WVU to help students experiencing unexpected financial hardship, the WVU Veterans Legal Clinic at the WVU College of Law, and numerous other community organizations. 

The WV Spirit of Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement Award is only presented on special occasions to those who exemplify the values of Philanthropy West Virginia and have made an outstanding impact on the people and communities of the Mountain State through their philanthropy.  General Gray was joined by his wife Carolyn and his granddaughters for the presentation. 

The 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Critical Impact Award was presented to the Charleston Creativity Connections. From left – Dr. Michelle Foster, Sue Sergi, Bryan Cooper, Paul Daugherty, and Stephanie Hyre.

Charleston, West Virginia:   The 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Critical Impact Award was presented to the Charleston Creativity Connections. The Critical Impact Award celebrates collaborations and local grantmaking, big and small. The awards go to the initiatives that demonstrates creativity, innovation, sustainability, and cross sector collaborations. Charleston Creativity Connections for their work in supporting West Virginia artists, connecting local businesses to the arts scene, and creating opportunities for the community to get involved in the arts.

Although it is a relatively new collaboration, Charleston Creativity Connections has already hosted many events, launched a mini grant program to support artists impacted by the pandemic, and brokered major commissions between businesses and artists. Charleston Creativity Connections Executive Director Bryan Cooper along with funders, business leaders, government, and nonprofit partners participated in the awards ceremony. Daugherty noted, “The collaborative work of Charleston Creativity Connections has fostered economic growth through the arts for downtown Charleston. It is a wonderful model for other West Virginia and Appalachian cities to replicate.” 

In Parkersburg, Reed Byers (left) was presented with the 2021 Individual Philanthropist Award, and Bob Boone (right) was presented with the 2021 Staff Leader Award by Philanthropy WV President and CEO Paul Daugherty (center)

Parkersburg, West Virginia:  The presentations in Parkersburg, WV included two honorees receiving the 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Staff Leader Award and the Individual Philanthropist Award.  

Robert “Bob” Boone, President of the Bernard McDonough Foundation was presented with the 2021 Staff Leader Award for his tremendous leadership and service to connect those in need with resources to create systemic solutions in the Mountain State. Bob leads the McDonough Foundation in their statewide grantmaking and collaborative efforts to develop systemic, replicable solutions in focus areas like substance use disorder recovery, supporting youth in foster care, basic human needs, and community development.

In addition to his job, Bob is involved in giving through the Parkersburg Rotary Club, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation investment committee, and the Boy Scouts of America. “Bob is a remarkable connector, contributor, and collaborator locally, regionally, and statewide. We are fortunate to have his vision working every day to strengthen our state to pursue West Virginia’s greatest opportunities and improve our challenges,” shared Daugherty.

Reed Byers was presented with the 2021 Individual Philanthropist Award.  Reed is an active young leader in the Mid-Ohio Valley community.  He is honored for his work as a peer recovery coach, volunteering with Friendship Kitchen, the Healthy Kids Running Series and more. Through the GiveMore Connections and their How to Save a Life Program, Byers has worked as a peer mentor and completed many charity fundraising challenges. He works every day to inspire and build philanthropy to support individuals and families in need.  Daugherty noted, “The Mid-Ohio Valley and West Virginia is fortunate to have such a generous, committed, and innovative young leader in Reed showcasing that our young leaders will and are transforming our communities for the better. 

The 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Corporate Responsibility Leader award was presented to the Elm Grove store of Riesbeck’s Food Markets. Pictured are Justin Boynes, Manager of the Elm Grove store(third from left, back row) with the store’s team.

Earlier in October, Philanthropy West Virginia presented the 2021 WV Spirit of Philanthropy Corporate Responsibility Leader to the Elm Grove store of Riesbeck’s Food Markets.  They were nominated by Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center for their generosity and ongoing support through their feeding program.  The Elm Grove store donates more than 1,800 pounds of food each week to serve those most in need.  “Particularly in the past year and a half, food donations have become a lifeline for the most vulnerable, and this local Riesbeck’s team has been extraordinary,” says Daugherty. 

The WV Spirit of Philanthropy Awards was started in 2007 to inspire, recognize, and celebrate the generosity of West Virginians, organizations, businesses, foundations, and collaborations that are transforming the Mountain State.  While the awards celebration luncheon was postponed to May 20, 2022, Philanthropy WV is pleased to recognize each of the honorees with the smaller interim awards presentations. They are exceptional examples for others to emulate to encourage giving and creating solutions in our communities. 

To learn more about the 2021 honorees, visit the Spirit of Philanthropy Awards homepage.


For more information about Philanthropy West Virginia, visit: www.phlianthropywv.org, call 304.517.1450, or follow @PhilanthropyWV (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).

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