The Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change recognizes the contributions of individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to improving the quality of life in the community. In 2006, Mary L. Thomas, then serving as executive vice president of the Foundation, was awarded the prestigious Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grant Making. Selected because of her imagination, optimism, and leadership, Mary received a $10,000 prize as part of the award. Mary used the money to start the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change Fund. Through the fund, an award is given each March to honor community leaders, innovators, and contributors to community change.

Nominations for the 2024 award have closed.

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Identifying innovative solutions and implementing new ideas that successfully address critical issues facing the Spartanburg community.

Community Leader

Adding value, providing leadership, and acting as an agent of change in the Spartanburg community.

Civic Participation, Engagement and Broad Community Impact

Investing time and engaging others to contribute to positive community growth and transformation.

The Mary L. Thomas Award accepts nominations for individuals acting as leaders and innovators, who actively work to improve their communities. The Spartanburg County Foundation considers nominations based on the following criteria:


Residents of Spartanburg County, SC.


Must be in good standing ethically, possess a strong sense of integrity, and good character.

Recent Efforts

The efforts of nominees must be documented during the past 12 months, illustrating the impact made on the Spartanburg community – whether through direct service, philanthropy, or drawing attention to a community need.

Personal Impact

If the nominee is connected to a Spartanburg County nonprofit organization through paid employment, the individual must demonstrate community impact beyond the scope of his or her job.

Nominees are not typically in the limelight but perform valuable public service at the community level.

The 2023 Award recipient is Melissa France. Melissa has become a champion for meeting the needs of children and families across Spartanburg County through the Hand in Hand ministry she founded three years ago. From seeing the needs of a few to meeting the needs of hundreds by providing food, clothing, resources, and encouragement, Melissa’s work truly embodies the spirit of the award she has received.

For more information, please contact Ashley Whitt.
To learn more about Mary L. Thomas, visit her biography page.