Shining Stars of D.C. Government Recognized by The Cafritz Foundation

August 24, 2019

Calvin Cafritz with GW leadership team

Left to right: CEPL Director James Robinson, GW VP for Development and Alumni Relations Donna Arbide, Calvin Cafritz, and Thomas and Anne LeBlanc at the Cafritz Awards Gala. (Jessica Yurinko Photography)

A team of public workers who help parents searching for the right school, an emergency service worker and his dog who provide closure to families in the worst of circumstances and a boiler plant operator who kept building temperatures comfortable while saving the city money were among the public employees honored by The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Awards for Distinguished D.C. Government Employees.

GW President Thomas LeBlanc and the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (CEPL) hosted the 18th Annual Cafritz Awards Gala Dinner in GW’s Marvin Center this past June to celebrate the extraordinary public servants receiving this year’s awards.

The Cafritz Foundation has been honoring the unsung heroes of D.C. public service since 2000, with an annual program designed to recognize and reward outstanding performance by D.C. government employees.

The Cafritz Awards program is made possible by a grant from The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation. It was created by DC Agenda and the George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (GW-CEPL) and is currently managed by GW-CEPL.

“When the Cafritz Awards were established in 2000, the Foundation wanted to shine a light on the contributions of extraordinary government employees. We hoped to let the public know about these outstanding individuals and also to send a message to other excellent government employees that their dedication and considerable accomplishments are valued,” said Calvin Cafritz, President and CEO, The Cafritz Foundation.

James Robinson, CEPL executive director, served as master of ceremonies, introducing Mr. Cafritz, the president of the Cafritz Foundation, as the man who created the idea to award D.C. government employees when it was not very popular.

Since the year 2000, the Cafritz Awards have been presented to 92 individuals and four teams. 

As each recipient came forward, Mr. Cafritz stood and presented them with a trophy. This year the following five individuals each will receive $7,500, while the new Team Innovation Award went to an eight-member team that will receive a $15,000 prize:

Congratulating the nominees and winners during the ceremony, GW President Thomas LeBlanc said that the program “is particularly meaningful to me as both a resident of the District and as the president of an institution that is committed to the D.C. community and passionate about public service.”

In addition, Dr. LeBlanc expressed a special appreciation for Calvin and Jane Cafritz and the Cafritz Foundation, which sponsors the awards program. Under Mr. Cafritz’s leadership, the foundation has awarded more than $454 million to 10,433 projects in Washington, D.C.

“We are incredibly thankful for your many contributions to community services, education, the arts and humanities, health and the environment in the District of Columbia and the greater Washington metropolitan area, and for your generosity to the George Washington University,” he said.

Read about the 2019 awardees in the full GW Today story