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Get to know the 2015 Rising Stars

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The Nonprofit Connect Rising Stars represent our city's emerging philanthropists that are leading volunteerism in new and creative directions. The exemplary leadership of these eight Rising Stars ensure a bright future for our community.
Nonprofit Connect will honor the 2015 Rising Stars at the 31st Annual Philanthropy Awards Luncheon. Join us as we celebrate their impact!
Click here to purchase a your ticket or table.


Matthew Clark
Matthew not only volunteers his time to Junior Achievement of Middle America, serving as a classroom mentor and board member, but has also helped raised thousands of dollars for Kansas City kids as Bowl-A-Thon Committee Chair and community advocate.

Tom Dowling
While serving as a board member at Kansas City Public Television, Tom was instrumental in the acquisition of 90.9 The Bridge. He also fulfills leadership roles at the Kansas City Art Institute, American Lung Association and American Heart Association.

Sheri Gormley
Sheri has a passion for making Kansas City a better place, and serves as a coach for Girls on the Run, board member at Mattie Rhodes and on event committees for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and KC Care Clinic.

Tom Houlehan
As chairman for The Bacchus Foundation, Tom has more than doubled the amount raised for local Kansas City charities. Tom has also donates his time to the VA Medical Center, Catholic Youth Organization and Heart of America Stand Down for the Homeless, and is a member of the O.E. Ellis Society.

Dean Newton
Dean is an innovator in philanthropic leadership, having founded the Children’s Advocacy Foundation and Project Smile focused on helping victims of domestic violence. He has also served on numerous nonprofit boards, including March of Dimes, Rose Brooks and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City.

Kelly & Steve Stewman
The Stewmans have served as Bigs for over ten years, and the couple takes their volunteerism at Big Brothers Big Sisters to the next level. Both were co-founders of the Big Impact Group, and Steve even served as the face of the 2012 Bowl for Kid’s Sake marketing campaign.

Courtney Wachal
Courtney’s passion for social justice is evident in her board service for Sheffield Place, Calvary Community Outreach Network and Association of Women Lawyers, among others. Uniquely she connects clients at Sheffield Place to the Step Up program, maximizing impact for both organizations.

Rising Stars photo by Tom Styrkowicz/53Tom.com

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