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Opinion: Honoring the inspired leaders among us

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For 22 years, Springfield Business Journal’s Economic Impact Awards have recognized the men and women who are building and shaping our community. SBJ founder Dianne Elizabeth Osis started the awards, in part, to celebrate the publication’s 20th anniversary, and each year they honor those who make Springfield a special place to live, work and give. Being part of that and receiving the Lifetime Achievement in Business Award in 2021 was truly an honor I never expected. 

While Springfield has a strong for-profit business community, it also has exceptional philanthropic organizations working tirelessly for social profit. So many phenomenal leaders contribute their talents and drive with compassion and caring, building a vibrant tapestry of wonderful resources that benefit us locally and support people around the world. This year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree, Convoy of Hope founder and CEO Hal Donaldson, exemplifies how far an inspired leader can reach to help others in times of need. 

Hal, along with committed family and friends, established Convoy of Hope in 1994, raising the bar on giving to extraordinary heights. He knows firsthand what a difference an act of kindness can make and has spent nearly three decades building a global organization that delivers love, dignity, service and support every single day. Whether reaching out to children and families in need, responding to a natural disaster or most recently a war, Convoy is often on the scene before others can find a way to get there. The faith-based organization, which is dedicated to feeding the hungry, embodies Hal’s generosity and compassion, as well as the support and commitment of his wife, my dear friend Doree, director of Convoy:Women.

Convoy has served more than 193 million people since its inception and delivered 17.1 million pounds of resources in 2021 alone. The past couple of years have challenged the best and brightest world leaders – with a number of events that have slowed or stopped many – but through it all, Hal and his team have taken an innovative approach, exhibiting extreme adaptability, and continue to deliver help and hope to the communities that need it most.

It takes people like Hal  and the other EIA honorees to make our community great. These individuals lead by example and give freely of their time, talent and experiences to help their employees, co-workers, friends, family and neighbors build great lives and careers. Springfield is the birthplace of so many outstanding, growing companies and powerful social-profit organizations. It is home to some of the most caring and giving hearts in the world, many of whom are being recognized by this year’s event. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. We are grateful for your journeys and for your dedication to our community.

Nancy O’Reilly, a licensed psychologist, is an author and the founder of nonprofit Women Connect4Good Inc. and the 2021 Lifetime Achievement in Business honoree from Springfield Business Journal.

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