Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Honors Omari Rush, Ruth Ellis Center with Awards

Omari Rush // Courtesy of CultureSource
Omari Rush // Courtesy of CultureSource

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in Detroit recently awarded two nonprofit with honors. The Omari Rush received the 2022 Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership and the Ruth Ellis Center received the 2022 Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence.

Rush is the executive director for Detroit’s CultureSource, a member association for non-profit arts and cultural organizations in southeast Michigan serving Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, Monroe, and St. Clair counties.

“We’re proud to honor Ruth Ellis Center and Omari Rush of CultureSource for their efforts to support inclusive, equitable, and sustainable organizations and programming in their respective spaces,” says Ric DeVore, president of the Community Foundation.

“Omari has been a leader in the arts and culture community during COVID-19, connecting organizations throughout our region with the resources they needed to not only survive, but thrive. Ruth Ellis Center, meanwhile, has been a trusted resource for the LGBTQ+ community for many years and continues to expand the scope of its services as it looks to the future.”

The Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership, named after the Community Foundation’s first president, recognizes a nonprofit executive in southeast Michigan whose service exemplifies the importance of leadership in their organization and the nonprofit community.

Rush was honored for his efforts to nurture creative and cultural expression and build inclusivity in southeast Michigan’s arts sector. Since 2017 at CultureSource, he has lead a regional organization that assists artists and more than 170 arts and culture nonprofits with their shared needs for capacity building, advocacy, and marketing resources. Rush also has been a vital partner to the Community Foundation, co-managing the COVID-19 Arts and Creative Community Assistance Fund and consulting on the $100 million Wilson Arts and Culture Investment.

“CultureSource was founded with a vision of being a service anchor to the region’s cultural sector. I am honored to have been able to lead our team in realizing that vision over the past few years, in particular during the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Rush.

“I feel a particularly strong energy boost from this recognition given the high caliber of leadership it embodies, from Mariam Noland’s legacy to the array of past honorees. I thank the Community Foundation for its ongoing partnership to me, CultureSource, and the arts and culture sector.”

The Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence honors a nonprofit that demonstrates high standards in human services programming and belief in human potential. Huegli, who passed away in 1988, was an integral figure in the region’s human services sector for nearly half a century. He spent 42 years with United Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit, now part of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. He later helped to establish the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and served as acting director during its first year.

Since its founding in 1999, Ruth Ellis Center has become a national innovator in addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ young people of color experiencing homelessness and other barriers to success. Ruth Ellis Center helps the individuals it serves to address these challenges and create a positive future where they feel safe and supported.

Ruth Ellis Center offers a growing number of trauma-informed services and programs that include outreach and safety-net services, skill-building workshops, housing, health, and HIV prevention programs. Its thoughtful growth and sustainability have been impressive, as has its work to educate the community at large about the needs of LGBTQ+ youth of color and create unique partnerships with other organizations.

“It is an incredible honor to be named this year’s recipient of the Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence,” says Mark Erwin, interim co-executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center. “This honor belongs to all those who have held and continue to hold a singular belief, beginning with our namesake, that all young people, including LGBTQ+ young people, have the right to safe and affirming housing and health care, to live lives full of dignity, respect, love, and hope.”

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