Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Honors Rick Sperling and Neutral Zone


The Detroit-based Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan today announced Rick Sperling as the recipient of this year’s Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership and Neutral Zone as the recipient of this year’s Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence. Both awards were presented at the Community Foundation’s board of trustees meeting on June 27.

“Both of our award winners exemplify effective leadership and model citizenship in their respective communities,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We are very happy to have Rick and the Neutral Zone team working to make our communities safer, vibrant, and more welcoming to all.”

The Mariam C. Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership, named after the Community Foundation’s first and current president, honors a nonprofit president or CEO in southeast Michigan whose service exemplifies the importance of leadership in his or her organization and the wider nonprofit community.

Sperling, this year’s recipient, is the founder and president of Mosaic Youth Theatre in Detroit. Mosaic is an after-school singing and acting program that empowers young people to create positive changes in their lives. Sperling founded Mosaic in 1992 to address gaps in the metro Detroit arts education.

“Mariam Noland has been an inspiration and a role model for civic engagement in Detroit,” says Sperling. “I am incredibly honored to have an award with her name connected to it because I think the world of her and of the Community Foundation.”

Named after a former director of the Community Foundation, the Richard F. Huegli Award for Program Excellence is presented to a nonprofit that exemplifies Huegli’s high standards in human services programming and his belief in human potential.

This year’s award winner, Neutral Zone, was founded by teens to provide a space for high-quality youth driven programs including social, cultural, educational, recreational, and creative opportunities for young people in the Ann Arbor area.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected,” says Lori Roddy, executive director of Neutral Zone. “We’re super excited and grateful to be recognized. Neutral Zone is a really strong leader in the field of youth development and youth programs in southeast Michigan and the award reaffirms that we provide leadership for all and that we take that mentorship role really seriously.”

Over the second quarter of 2017, the Community Foundation also distributed more than $17 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and programs serving the seven-county region of southeast Michigan.