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Paulette Maehara Receives Prestigious Rosso Medal

March 19, 2011

Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), was awarded the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University's highest honor, the Henry A. Rosso Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Ethical Fund Raising, on Saturday, March 19.

The Rosso Medal recognizes lifelong dedication to emphasizing philanthropy's ethics and values, acting as a mentor to perpetuate and invigorate philanthropic traditions, and noted leadership in a long, productive career of distinction. He received the inaugural medal for establishing The Fund Raising School, which enables fundraising professionals to learn to do ethical philanthropic fundraising, and for creating concepts of discipline and dignity in the profession.

"I'm overwhelmed to be in the company of so many distinguished individuals who have previously received this great honor, named after the legendary Hank Rosso," said Maehara, who was awarded the medal during AFP's 48th International Conference on Fundraising. "While I'm honored to accept the award, my accomplishments are a testament to the great work of our volunteer leaders, chapters and staff who are dedicated to advancing ethical and effective fundraising and the highest levels of professionalism. It's been my privilege to serve the profession and see it grow and blossom around the world."

Among Maehara's many accomplishments is AFP's significant international growth and outreach to fundraisers around the world. She has developed strong ties with fundraising organizations in other countries and initiated events that encourage mutual learning and collaboration, such as AFP's Hemispheric Congress on Fundraising-Latin America. Maehara helped lead the effort to create the International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising, the first universal code of ethics for fundraisers.

"Paulette is a tireless champion for excellence and professionalism in fundraising in the U.S. and around the world," said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy. "She has heightened fundraisers' awareness of the importance of research and ongoing professional development as crucial elements of effective fundraising practice and stewardship. Her vision and leadership have significantly strengthened and advanced the fundraising profession."

Maehara, who is retiring this month, has served as AFP's president and CEO for nearly 13 years. Prior to joining AFP, she was chief executive officer of the Epilepsy Foundation.  She has also held executive positions with Project HOPE, the American Red Cross (both at its national headquarters and at the National Capital Chapter), the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation (Hawaii Chapter) and the University of Hawaii Foundation. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and has been a member of AFP since 1987.

"Paulette's leadership in insisting that fundraisers always adhere to the highest standards of ethical fundraising practice epitomizes Hank Rosso's vision for the profession and the spirit of the Rosso Medal," said Timothy L. Seiler, director of public service and The Fund Raising School at the Center. "She has been a staunch advocate in advancing the AFP Code of Ethics and in keeping ethical practice foremost in the minds of fundraisers to demonstrate that they and the organizations they represent are worthy of the public's trust."

In 2005 and 2006, Maehara served as chair of the board of directors of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and has also been the board's treasurer and past chair of ASAE's Executive Management Council. She has served on the executive committee of the International Bureau for Epilepsy, as well as the board of directors of the National Health Council. She has also been a member of the executive committee of International Service Agencies and chaired its membership committee.

Maehara's leadership has garnered numerous honors. The NonProfit Times selected her as one of its 50 most influential people in philanthropy for 10 consecutive years. Her work for Project HOPE led to a Best Direct Mail Program award from the Direct Marketing Association of America.  She has won the American Red Cross Distinguished Service Award twice for her work at both the national headquarters and the National Capital Chapter. The March of Dimes has also awarded her its Distinguished Volunteer Fund Raising Award. She was one of 100 women chosen to participate in the 2000 Leadership America Program.