Children & Youth

Meet the 2012 Purpose Prize Winners

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are five stories that reveal the power of social innovation – and the capacity of individuals in their encore careers.



Charles Fletcher , SpiritHorse International
Founder and CEO
SpiritHorse International
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

Charles Fletcher rode his first horse at age 5, which sparked a lifelong love of the animal. But it wasn’t until he was in his 40s and visited a horse ranch offering specialized therapy to disabled people that he realized horses could help heal.

He vowed to return to such a place when he retired. And he did. When he stepped down as the head of his own telecommunications company at age 63, he began volunteering at a Dallas-area equine therapy center.


Clark "Corky" Graham , LET'S GO Boys & Girls
Founder and CEO
LET'S GO Boys & Girls
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

The United States lags behind other industrialized countries in science, technology, engineering and math college graduates. The problem is especially severe among low-income black and Hispanic students.

For Clark “Corky” Graham, that situation threatens American prosperity and national security.

He speaks from experience. A retired commanding officer for the U.S. Navy and a mechanical engineer, Graham spent 30 years overseeing research and development projects for the Navy and another 14 as an executive in the maritime private sector.


Robert Hildreth , Families United in Educational Leadership
Founder and Chairman
Families United in Educational Leadership
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

Growing up, Robert J. Hildreth knew the value of education. Raised by public school teachers, he earned degrees from three universities, including Harvard, and rose to prominence in Latin American finance with his own brokerage company.

Hildreth also had a strong philanthropic streak – and his own foundation – that brought him in contact with low-income families, often immigrants. The parents often worked such long hours they had little time to help their kids navigate college prep, or much knowledge about the process themselves. They saved money, but not enough.


Barbara Gardner  and Ed Moscovitch , Bay State Reading Institute
Co-founders
Bay State Reading Institute
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

Barbara Gardner and Ed Moscovitch hoped for big changes when they helped write Massachusetts’ 1993 sweeping education reform law. But years later, Gardner, then a state education official, and Moscovitch, a former state budget director, were disappointed by the limited results.

On classroom visits, Gardner saw children who were “disengaged or barely listening as the teacher droned on,” she recalls. “That experience and the image of bored faces and stale environments was my moment of revelation. I kept thinking, ‘There has to be a better way.’”


Leslie Meacham Saunders , KitchenKids!
Co-founder
KitchenKids!
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

A longtime manager in charge of creating diverse workplaces, Leslie Meacham Saunders’ life abruptly changed in 2001 when her father suffered a series of strokes and her youngest sister committed suicide, leaving a 7-year-old daughter behind. “Literally overnight I became responsible for caring for a disabled parent and a hearing-impaired child,” Saunders says.


Sondra Forsyth , Ballet Ambassadors
Artistic Director
Ballet Ambassadors
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

By the late 1990s, Sondra Forsyth had been teaching ballet to affluent students for decades and worked at studios in two of Manhattan’s toniest neighborhoods. “I loved my students, but I couldn't shake the feeling that my true purpose in life was to share my passion for ballet with less fortunate young people,” she says.


Wynona Ward , Have Justice – Will Travel
Founder and President
Have Justice – Will Travel
Purpose Prize Fellow 2012

Decades after her father physically and sexually abused her, Wynona Ward received a call from her sister with horrific news. Ward’s 7-year-old niece had been abused by Ward’s brother. He was charged with sexual assault.

“This has to stop,” Ward thought – not just for her family, but for women and children suffering everywhere.


Lorraine Decker , Financial Mentors of America Inc.
President
Financial Mentors of America Inc.
Purpose Prize Winner 2012

On Sept 11, 2001, Lorraine Decker and her husband, Ken, were ready to fly to the Middle East to teach financial, tax and estate planning workshops across the region. It was supposed to be a routine trip for them, both financial consultants who had brought their seminars to major companies all over the world.

But as the Deckers packed their bags in a hotel near the Newark, N.J., airport, the first of the planes hit the World Trade Center. They wouldn’t be going to the Middle East.


Judy Cockerton , Treehouse Foundation
Founder and Executive Director
Treehouse Foundation
Purpose Prize Winner 2012

A news story about a 5-month-old boy living in foster care who’d been kidnapped right out of his crib – never to be found – shook Judy Cockerton.

She thought about all the other kids in foster care, the ones no one hears about until something awful happens.

Soon after, Cockerton called a family meeting with her husband, son and daughter, then 18 and 12 years old, and together they talked about how they could help. Within months, in 1999, they became a foster family to two sisters, ages 5 months and 17 months. Eventually they adopted the younger girl.

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