The Sadie Award is presented by The Children’s Guild Alliance and recognizes individuals who embody our spirit and vision of making the seemingly impossible possible. It is named in honor of one of our founders Sadie Dashew Ginsberg, a prominent Baltimore child advocate.
2021 Sadie Award Recipient
Andrew L. Ross, Ph.D., LCSW-C
A Visionary Leader of Innovation and Transformation
Dr. Andrew Ross came to The Children’s Guild in 1995 as President and CEO, following a distinguished career at Children’s Square, USA in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Bellefaire-Jewish Children’s Bureau in Cleveland, Ohio.
When Dr. Ross joined The Children’s Guild, the organization had a $6 million budget with two special needs schools and one group home. Today, The Children’s Guild Alliance has a budget of more than $80 million and serves approximately 6,000 children in Maryland and Washington D.C. through special needs schools, charter schools, therapeutic group homes, a treatment foster care program, and a behavioral health program that operates in 90 schools in Maryland.
Dr. Ross was also instrumental in developing TranZed Apprenticeships, returning pre-school programming to The Children’s Guild and establishing the Transformation Education Institute, which provides innovative ideas and makes the latest developments in neuroscience accessible to teachers, social workers, parents, and employees of child serving organizations all over the U.S. and several foreign countries.
When Dr. Ross steps down as President and CEO of The Children’s Guild Alliance in June 2021, his legacy will have set the stage for the organization’s continued growth. Among his greatest contributions have been the introduction of Transformation Education and caring for the whole child. Transformation Education puts the needs of the child ahead of the needs of the adult and creates a culture of learning to meet the individualized learning styles of each child using brain-based learning methods. Additionally, he launched the Kids First Campaign, a national movement to transform the way America cares for educates its children. Effective July 1,2021, he will transition to become senior advisor to the Kids First Initiative.
Dr. Ross received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania and his MSSA and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He has co-authored two books, The Upside Down Organization: Transforming Staff to Save Troubled Children and Reinventing Group Care: A Guide for Transformational Living. He has also authored numerous journal articles pertaining to the treatment of emotionally troubled children and the management of organizations designed to serve disadvantaged children.
Among his many honors, Dr. Ross was selected as one of the 10 Most Mannered Men in America, received an Innovator of the Year Award from The Daily Record for his work in child welfare and an Innovator of the Year Award from the National Association Special Education Centers for his work in special education as well as a Smart CEO Corporate Culture Award.
He has been active in many professional and civic organizations over the years to include serving as president of the Towsontowne Rotary Club and a trustee of Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church. He is also currently active in the Order of the Sons of Italy in America and the Association of Italian American Charities. Dr. Ross served on the Editorial Board of the Caring Journal, was chair of the University of the Child Health Specialty Clinic, Southwest, and was on the board of directors of the National Homes for Children and the District of Columbia Special Education Centers.
Past Sadie Awards Honorees
Dr. Levi Watkins*
Dr. Levi Watkins overcame prejudice to become Chief of Cardiology at Johns Hopkins then went on to invent the first implantable defibrillator. He also became a key player in the civil rights movement, was a prominent force for creating opportunity for minority students to be admitted to Johns Hopkins in medicine and was involved in philanthropic work throughout the community.
Donald Manekin throughout his life exhibits his desire to give back to the community. This is reflected in his philanthropy and his interest in improving education for those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. He took on the tremendous task of improving the business and financial operations of the Baltimore City School System.
Ron Shapiro has taken on challenges all of his life and worked to improve the community through using the law to promote civil rights, through his charity work, by creating civic pride in Baltimore, and as an educator and author. Ron’s philosophy of life is consistent with the values and principles that The Children’s Guild is founded upon.
Bill Struever exemplifies a “can do” spirit in everything he does, from revitalizing the landmarks of Baltimore to tackling the challenges of the Baltimore City School System. He has a special ability to not only rejuvenate antiquated structures, but also to rekindle a sense of neighborhood around the buildings he’s resurrected.
Walter Sondheim demonstrated the spirit of the Sadie Award by his ability to lead the desegregation of Baltimore City Schools without violence, to guide the development of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and by doing so initiating the renaissance of the city. In addition, he was a confidant and advisor to governors, mayors and business leaders. In doing so, he earned their respect and admiration and never lost his humility nor his willingness to serve when called upon.
Steve and Mindy Geppi
Steve and Mindy Geppi. Steve made the impossible possible by rising from a school drop out to becoming a mailman to being the “Comic Book King” and a community leader who has played a key role in Baltimore’s renaissance. He has been a a partial owner of the Baltimore Orioles, the owner of Baltimore Magazine and helped scores of charities. Mindy emanates a “can do” spirit through her volunteer efforts and has chaired numerous galas for charities.
Lou Grasmick demonstrated his ability to make the impossible possible over and over again through making it from the sand lots to the big leagues, overcoming poverty and family hardships. He was known for his entrepreneurial skills, helping to rejuvenate Baltimore’s image, exhibiting quiet heroism to help individuals in need, and helping scores of charities raise funds to benefit people in the community.
Nick Tsakalos* and Jeanne Tsakalos
Nick Tsakalos and Jeanne Tsakalos manifested their spirit of making the impossible possible through helping to expand H&S Bakery. As the children of first- generation immigrants, they grew H&S Bakery from a small bakery to a national business. Their philanthropy helped to improve Baltimore and further the mission of the Greek Orthodox Church locally, nationally and internationally.
Leroy Merritt was a man who represents the concept of what it means to be a “True American.” An Eagle Scout, a soap box derby winner, the boy entrepreneur, the athlete, the teacher, the builder, the philanthropist who cares about children, women and education, and a block layer who transformed himself into a major real estate developer. These are just a few of the descriptors that give credence to his status as a “True American”.
Ray Lewis and Sunseria “Buffy” Smith
Ray Lewis and Sunseria “Buffy” Smith were honored as a mother-son team. Ray for becoming one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history and his commitment to family, community and for providing personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth. His mother, Buffy, was honored for being a single mom who overcame tremendous odds to raise her children to overcome whatever adversity they faced in life. Both of them make the impossible possible every day.
Frank Kelly and Janet Kelly
Frank Kelly and Janet Kelly embody the spirit of the Sadie Award having established a business in the basement of their home that became a company responsible for over $1.4 billion in insurance premiums and 13,000 clients. Frank also created the Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and was named one of the most effective members of the Maryland State Senate. He continues to be a driving force for change in Maryland. Both Janet and Frank have made major gifts to charities, served on many not-for-profit boards, and took in a foster child.
Sheela Murthy works to improve the lives of society’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised people in both India and the United States, especially women, children and immigrants. She established the largest immigration law firm in the world through the internet. Sheila is helping to transform India through establishing United Ways across India and has founded a school and an orphanage there, and has also played a major role in women’s rights through her work with the Girl Scouts of America.
Lee Warner is a true leader in the field of financial services. Known as the man you can always count on ,he is aware of the importance of giving back to the community. He knows that the success of his business is built on strong relationships with his clients and providing the highest possible level of service. He has a passionate dedication to professionalism, education and high ethical standards.
Ellen Yankellow is a visionary, philanthropist, and entrepreneur and has a strong commitment to delivering the highest quality service to the many lives she impacts as a national leader in the advancement of clinical pharmacy services. She is one of the leading women pharmacists in the country. She is also committed to a culture of caring and has a passion for community service as reflected in her philanthropic activities and the many board seats she holds.
Stephen J. Woerner
Stephen J. Woerner is an industry leader, civic leader and philanthropist and is president and chief operating officer of BGE. He has a tremendous sense of responsibility and instills in his employees the commitment to service and accountability to the people of Maryland who depend on them. He actively participates in community affairs by giving his time, talent, and support to many causes and is a strong believer in giving back to the community and making a difference and embodies the spirit
Guy E. Flynn & Nupur Parekh Flynn
Guy E. Flynn
Guy E. Flynn practices law at DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest law firms, where he serves as chairman of the firm’s Maryland Real Estate Practice and partner-in-charge of the firm’s Baltimore office. He has been consistently named one of America’s leading business lawyers and has been recognized globally, nationally and regionally.
Mr. Flynn is also distinguished by his service to the community. He serves as trustee and board president-elect of The Walters Art Museum; a trustee of the Baltimore Community Foundation; a trustee of the Living Classrooms Foundation; a director of Maryland Legal Aid; a governor of The Center Club; and a member of the Baltimore City Board of Ethics.
Nupur Parekh Flynn
Nupur Parekh Flynn is one of the foremost women in the Baltimore area whose skills in board leadership have garnered respect throughout the region. She is currently a trustee of LifeBridge Health; a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art; a trustee of the Open Society Institute – Baltimore; and actively involved with the United Way of Central Maryland.
Ms. Flynn has had a distinguished career in business and government, having served as a managing director of marketing and public relations at Brown Capital Management and DLA Piper and as a political appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).