The Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change

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In 2006, Mary L. Thomas, chief operating officer of The Spartanburg County Foundation was honored by the Council on Foundations with the Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking.  This prestigious award is a memorial to the creative legacy left to the field of philanthropy by Robert W. Scrivner, long-time director of the Rockefeller Family Fund.  Mary was selected because she best exemplified the imagination, creativity and optimism that were the hallmarks of Scrivner’s distinguished career.  Mary had the courage to lead The Spartanburg County Foundation into a period of innovation and grassroots leadership that even today continues to change the fabric of the Spartanburg community.

With this award came a $10,000 prize, and in the spirit of the award, Mary used the $10,000 as seed money to open the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change Fund and start a similar recognition program in Spartanburg.  Through the support of numerous individuals and the Spartanburg community, Mary’s initial gift has continued to multiply, reaching the fund’s original goal of $100,000.  The Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change honors individuals who, like Mary, are community leaders, innovators, and contributors to community change by addressing critical issues in the Spartanburg community. 

Through the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change, The Spartanburg County Foundation seeks to recognize residents of Spartanburg County who are not typically in the limelight but who perform valuable public service at the community level. Individuals nominated should be connected to a Spartanburg County nonprofit organization either as a volunteer or through paid employment. Paid employees must demonstrate community impact beyond the scope of their job. When selecting the recipient, the committee will look for individuals or groups who, within the last year, have made a positive impact on the community through one or more innovative projects and who meet the following criteria:

Innovation: Bringing new ideas to fruition in tackling critical issues facing the Spartanburg community.

Community Leader: Adding value, providing leadership and being a change agent in the Spartanburg community.

Civic Participation, Engagement and Broad Community Impact: Demonstrating leadership in working with the Spartanburg community, and particularly the grassroots community, in bringing about positive community change; and effectively engaging all segments of the community in problem solving.

The recipient will receive an award at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting and will be honored with a $5,000 grant to be given to a charity selected by the recipient and the Foundation.

For more information, please contact Tara Weese.


A word from Sheila Breitweiser, VP/Executive Director of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Foundation (Retired)


Award Archives

2017 Award Recipient: Dr. Gloria Close

2016 Award Recipient: Marlanda Dekine and Scott Neely

2015 Award Recipient: Victor Durrah, Jr.

2013 Award Recipient:   Dr. Craig Burnette

2012 Award RecipientWanda Cheeks

2011 Award Recipient Jim Rutledge

2010 Award Recipient:  Kelley Ezell

2009 Award Recipient:  Benjamin Wright

2008 Award Recipient:  Teresa Loving

2007 Award Recipient:  Mary Ann Deku