Health care and higher education have always been a passion for William and Merilyn Ballard, who have been named Outstanding Philanthropists for 2012 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
The Ballards are among numerous individuals and organizations honored Nov. 15 for National Philanthropy Day, a special day set aside to recognize those who are active in the philanthropic community.
The Ballards have contributed generously to improve Billings Clinic’s efforts to advance cancer and cardiac treatment. Bill Ballard has been a member and chairman of the Billings Clinic board of directors.
Back in 1966, Ballard was asked to teach a class in geology at Rocky Mountain College. Ballard, a Billings oil executive, stepped in for the regular professor, who had been ailing. That began a 16-year relationship in which Ballard was instrumental in establishing a geology department. He also served on the Rocky Mountain College board.
The Ballards have also been significant donors to the RiverStone Health Foundation and the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Club Endowment Foundation.
Also honored by the AFP were:
• Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers: Dr. Ron and Karin Smith. Together and individually, the Smiths have stepped forward to take leadership roles in the community since their arrival in the 1960s. Among her many volunteer efforts, Karin has served as president of Planned Parenthood.
During the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, Ron Smith helped educate members of the medial community about the importance of AIDS prevention. He advocated compassionate treatment for those who have the disease.
• Outstanding Professional Fundraiser: Doris Barta, director, grants division, St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation; and John Eastman, vice president of development, Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation.
Barta has helped secure more than $20 million in federal and private funding to support initiatives that provide health care for underserved areas of the state. She has also helped fund efforts to improve emergency health care and a statewide network of physicians who help combat infectious diseases.
Eastman has been with the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch since 1972. Over the ensuing 40 years, what’s best for the kids has always been his top priority. For nearly 20 years, Eastman has been vice president for development for the Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation, and has been praised for his collaborative approach and professionalism.
• Outstanding Foundation: Billings Community Foundation. A local, nonprofit tax-exempt community fund, the Billings Community Foundation has supported nonprofit entities in Yellowstone, Carbon, Stillwater, Big Horn, Treasure and Musselshell counties. Support has come in the form of grants, technical assistance and capacity building for nonprofit organizations.
Since its inception five years ago, Billings Community Foundation has awarded more than $100,000 in the five-county area, mostly in the form of small grants ranging from $500 to $1,500. Its largest gift has been to support the new Billings public library.
• Outstanding Corporation: The Management Group Inc. Led by Aaron Sparboe, The Management Group has supported many local nonprofit organizations, including Billings Clinic, Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Alberta Bair Theatre, ZooMontana, Family Services, and many others.
The Charles W. Sparboe Memorial and the Robin C. Sparboe Endowment was created to support emergency services within the Billings Clinic.
• Outstanding Youth Award: Michael Hill. For the past 11 years, Michael Hill has been a participant in the Yellowstone County Relay for Life as a member of the KPMG team. He has raised more than $40,000 for the American Cancer Society. He walks in the Survivor Lap each year with hundreds of fellow cancer survivors.
Each year, Hill personally writes letters to family, friends and co-workers, providing updates on his own health. He is active in soccer, and is known for his leadership.