2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
When Gerry Klingman took a phone call from Anthony Kennedy Shriver back in 1990 to discuss an emerging nonprofit, he did not realize the transformative effect the organization would have on hundreds of thousands of lives twenty-six years later. At that point in time, Best Buddies was a little-known organization with four staff members and a small operating budget. To Gerry, though, these facts did not matter – he had developed a strong friendship in high school with an individual who had Down’s syndrome and understood how powerful the organization’s mission would be for those with intellectual disabilities.
For a quarter of a century, Gerry has tirelessly served Best Buddies International, the world’s largest organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Armed with exceptional business expertise and leadership skills, his contributions to the group since the early 1990s as a Board member and volunteer have been substantial. Gerry has overseen the organization’s financial matters, from developing its first budget in 1990 to serving on its Audit Committee today. He currently chairs the Momentum Campaign (Best Buddies’ first formal capital campaign) and the Corporate Marketing and Development Committees. He has watched the nonprofit transform and grow into an organization represented in all 50 states and more than 50 countries with an annual budget of more than $30 million dollars. Gerry enjoys knowing that people who often did not have a voice now have the opportunity to build lifelong friendships and gain respect for their abilities rather than disabilities.