Recognizing Those Who Spark Generosity: ALDE Awards for Excellence in Philanthropy

October 2017
Lori Solyom

ALDE’s purpose is to spark generosity for mission, and the ALDE awards honor those who do the same. The call is out now for nominees for the ALDE Awards for Excellence in Philanthropy, which recognize those who go above and beyond in answering God’s call to serve others. But who are the people behind these awards? What is the story of the award namesakes? 

View the awards criteria and submit nominations now.

Virgil Anderson Award

Virgil-Anderson-GroupIn 1979, ALDE was born when a group of development officers created a network for training and mentoring Lutheran development and public relations executives. Merging with the Lutheran Public Relations and Development Guild (LPRDG) in 1982, they formed an association committed to enhancing the development of fundraising and public relations professionals. Virgil Anderson served as the founder and guiding spirit of the LPRDG. Infused with Anderson’s servant leadership, ALDE established its first award in 1987, The Virgil Anderson Award.

Hans SpringerThe prestigious Virgil Anderson Award is presented to an active or retired ALDE member who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and service in the field of development. In 2017, the award went to Hans Springer, CFRE, Associate Executive Director of Mission Advancement for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. 

“It was a complete surprise,” Springer said. “I’ve watched many other colleagues win this award — to me it’s like winning an Oscar! It is a blessing to be honored by one’s peers like this.” 

The most amazing thing, according to Springer, was that his coworkers and family members were able to keep it a secret. “I’ve a reputation for finding things out,” he said.

As a Charter Member of ALDE, Hans knew Virgil Anderson: “I did get to meet him and shake his hand — way back when, and last heard him speak near the end of his life.” 

Jay Bleeke Young Professional Award

Jay BleekeSometimes it doesn’t take decades of service to earn the respect and appreciation of one’s peers. Such is the case with Jay Bleeke, who passed away at the young age of 28, but not before leaving an indelible mark on the lives and hearts of those who knew him, and on ALDE.  

Born and raised in Texas, Bleeke began his career in Taiwan, teaching English as a second language at Concordia Middle School, then returned to the U.S. to serve as a Gift Planning Counselor for Lutheran Hour Ministries. Bleeke served on ALDE’s Membership Committee and was active with YALDE (an unofficial group of young members). He also served on his church Board of Directors, put his master’s degree in history to use in assembling an extensive library, and volunteered for political candidates. 

Because of congenital heart disease, Bleeke’s life was not always easy. His parents, Fred and Candace Bleeke, shared that “Jay’s grace, confidence, and tenacity in the face of constant adversity strengthened those around him. His gifts were humor and humility — he sought no special treatment.” 

In Jay’s honor, the Jay Bleeke Young Professional Award was established and first awarded in 2009. The award honors Jay’s spirit of leadership, networking, welcoming personality, drive for knowledge, and enthusiasm for ALDE. It is presented to a young ALDE member (under age 40) who has taken a leadership role within ALDE and demonstrated exemplary leadership and service to an organization within the development fields. As an inspiration to others for greater commitment and involvement, Bleeke’s light continues to shine. 

Schleicher With son Isaiah and Phyllis Castens Wiederhoeft, Executive Director, ALDEJonathan Schleicher, CFRE, is Director of Development at Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas, near Houston. To Schleicher, his job does not always seem like work. “I love the students, parents, faculty, and staff, and our dedication to making Concordia Lutheran High School a place where students thrive and Jesus can be praised on a daily and hourly basis,” he said.

Schleicher’s enthusiasm and surprise was evident to all when his young family joined him on stage at IGNITE: Norfolk 2017 to receive the Jay Bleeke Young Professional Award.

ALDE is currently accepting nominations from members for these and other ALDE Awards for Excellence in Philanthropy. Nominate today. The deadline is November 1, 2017. Awards will be presented at IGNITE: Minneapolis 2018, February 28-March 3.

Lori Solyom, a two-year ALDE member, is Director of Development for Voice of Care, a ministry equipping churches to reach people with disability, based in West Chicago, Illinois. She is pursuing her CFRE, and is Chair of the ALDE Communications Team.