Where volunteers, nonprofits, and leaders shine.

2nd Annual Heart of Sonoma County Nominees

$35,000 in awards and eight categories, recognizing and honoring Sonoma County’s outstanding nonprofit volunteers, leaders and organizations.

The Corporate Community Service Award will be presented to a business that has fostered and encouraged volunteerism and philanthropy among its employees.

2021 Nominees:

3rd Street Aleworks

Anesthesia & Analgesia Medical Group, Inc. (AAMGi)

Avid Coffee

Castañeda’s Marketplace

Century 21 Bundesen

Jackson Family Wines

Kaiser Permanente

Summit State Bank

Sponsored by:

The Volunteer of the Year Award and $5,000 for the recipient’s nonprofit will be presented to an individual (other than a board member) who has provided exemplary volunteer service to a Sonoma County nonprofit organization.

2021 Nominees:

Susan Baur, Petaluma People Services Center

Michelle Blake, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma-Marin

Tom Giannini, Equi-Ed Therapeutic Riding Program

Keli Hendricks, Project Coyote

Bruce Hope, Sonoma Ecology Center

Nita Ledford, VIDAS Legal Services (North Bay)

Michael L Pezold, MD, Providence Medical Group Santa Rosa – Vascular Surgery

Chris and Daniel Pinney, Food For Thought

Stephen Prevost, Council on Aging

Chef Steve Rose, Chop’s Teen Club

Toni Rothschild, Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Bob Safreno, Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

Kathy Sharp, Redwood Empire Food Bank

Shana Woodfield, The Living Room

Sponsored by: 

The Excellence in Board Leadership Award and $5,000 for the recipient’s nonprofit will be presented to an exceptional volunteer member of a Sonoma County nonprofit board of directors.

2021 Nominees:

Mike Behler, North Coast Builders Exchange

Janet Connors, Sonoma County Alliance

Patrick Fanning, Occidental Center for the Arts

Vince Figueroa, Elsie Allen High School Foundation

Bill Gabbert, COTS

Rosanne Gephart, Better Beginnings for Babies

Mona Hanes, Reach for Home

Clark Houston Lewis, Roustabout Theater

Lynn Martin, Sonoma Community Center

Kim Rothstein, Sonoma Family Meal

Karla Schikore, Petaluma Downtown Association

Sponsored by: Summit State Bank

The Excellence in Innovation Award and $5,000 will be presented to an individual, organization or partnership that has developed new, creative and effective strategies for advancing solutions to critical issues in our community.

2021 Nominees:

Common Ground Society

Generation Housing


La Plaza, a program of On the Move

Petaluma People Services Center

Side by Side

Sonoma County COAD

Volunteer Fire Foundation

Zero Waste Sonoma and Conservation Corps North Bay

Sponsored by: Kaiser Permanente

Up to five Youth Volunteer of the Year Awards of $1,000 each will be presented to full-time middle or high school students serving a Sonoma County nonprofit in the community, education, or faith environment.

2021 Nominees:

Ferne Alvarez, Teen Services – Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley

Elise Curtis, Ceres Community Project, Pepperwood Preserve, and the Jewish Community Free Clinic

Oscar Fernandez, Teen Services- Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley

Galen Freed, Sonoma Ecology Center

Citlaly Garcia Alonso, Boys and Girls Club

Mirian Gonzalez, Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance

Grace Hodges, Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Eternity McDonell, Cardinal Newman High School – Free CPR/AED Training Coordination

Angelina Renfree, Vitalant, & Cardinal Newman High School

Mar Rivas, Sonoma Land Trust

Fiona Smith, Sonoma Academy

Porter Stein, Sonoma Academy

Jennifer Tellez, Teen Services- Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley

Blake Thomas, The Bird Rescue Center

Lily Zichichi, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Sponsored by: Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund

The Excellence in Leadership Award and $5,000 for the recipient’s nonprofit will be presented to an executive director who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and whose vision has inspired meaningful and lasting change benefiting the organization and community.

2021 Nominees:

Christine Castillo, Verity

Susan Farren, First Responders Resiliency, Inc.

Camilla Fox, Project Coyote

Naomi Fuchs, Santa Rosa Community Health

Letitia Hanke, The LIME Foundation

Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, YWCA Sonoma County

Nicole Monachello, Storybook Village Preschool

Cary Snowden, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley

Mary Stompe, PEP Housing

Luana Vaetoe, Becoming Independent

Sponsored by: Medtronic

The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award and $5,000 will be presented to an organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to its constituents.

2021 Nominees:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley

California Human Development

Canine Companions

Common Ground Society


Farm to Pantry

First Responders Resiliency, Inc.

Food For All/Comida Para Todos

Food for Thought

Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center

Heartfelt Help Foundation

Humane Society of Sonoma County

Journey Center, Inc

The LIME Foundation

Make it Home Bay Area

North Bay Children’s Center

Our Village Closet

PEP Housing

Roustabout Theater

Russian Riverkeeper

Senior Advocacy Services Long Term Care Ombudsman

Social Advocates for Youth

Sonoma Family Meal


Vital Immigrant Defense Advocacy and Services (VIDAS)

Sponsored by: Community Foundation of Sonoma County

The Lifetime Achievement Award and $5,000 for a nonprofit of their choice will be presented to an individual who has made a positive and notable difference during their career by significantly contributing to address a cause, issue or discipline. 

2021 Nominees:

Steve Baxman

Dr. Susan Cooper

Naomi Fuchs

Ann Hancock

Rick Phillips

Sponsored by: Redwood Credit Union

1st Annual heart of sonoma county highlights


Watch the event recording.


Enjoy event highlights!


Read our press release.


Read the event program.

About the Event

We are excited to bring the 2nd Annual Heart of Sonoma County to our community.

Heart events have celebrated the achievements of nonprofits and volunteers for decades. We have produced similar events – Heart of Marin and Heart of Napa Awards – for years, and have been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars back to nonprofits and the individuals who serve them.

The 2nd Annual Heart of Sonoma County will not only help support nonprofits with critical funds, but provide a platform for sharing success stories, innovative strategies, and information on services offered with the broader community. Now more than ever nonprofits deserve recognition for the life-changing, vital services they provide every day. 

The community is encouraged to nominate in all award categories. Award category panels are hand-selected and meet to select recipients in each category. CVNL facilitates these panels, but does not have a vote. 

Everyone is invited to attend the awards ceremony where the recipients are announced and all nominees are recognized for their contributions. It is an afternoon filled with inspiration, gratitude, and some (happy) tears!

  • The awards have specific criteria that the award panels read multiple times to distinguish the nominations from each other. Make sure to answer all of the questions, as the panel will notice if you don’t. They are smart people, often past recipients.
  • Each award has different questions. If the award criteria asks for specifics, such as strategies, initiatives, measurable outcomes, outputs or challenges, provide it! 
  • If asked to provide examples from past 12 months, pick out the most substantial or impactful ones that include qualitative data that speaks to the greater impact on the community.
  • Stories and examples can help illustrate the response to a question. 
  • The judges consider only what is on paper – assume the reader knows nothing.
  • It is fine if your work goes outside of Sonoma County, but remember this is an award for service in the particular county – focus on that.
  • When it says ‘briefly’ we mean brief – don’t use all of your space to state the organizations mission and services. 
  • While it is fine to nominate in more than one category, please do so only if you have strong candidates and not to increase your chances. Getting more than one nomination in the same category doesn’t increase your chances. Each nomination is treated as its own, and in fact they will be judged against each other. It is better to have one strong nomination per award.
  • Notify the nominee in advance of the nomination as they can often provide important information to strengthen the nomination and make sure they can attend the event.
  • Most important – make sure to complete all sections, staying within the guidelines on font and number of pages, put the event date on your calendar, and answer the questions!

That’s great! Each nomination received is reviewed and judged separately by Award Panelists. However, the number of times someone is nominated does not influence the likelihood of that person/organization being selected as the recipient. This is why it is so important that you submit complete and thoughtful nominations which address ALL of the corresponding questions. 

The event is our opportunity to publicly acknowledge all nominees and their commitments to the community. Since we do not announce award recipients in advance, all nominees are expected to attend. We are looking forward to hosting this year’s event, in person, on June 9, 2022, at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.

We would love to see you there! Register here

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor!


Comerica Incorporated is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, strategically aligned into three major business segments: the Business Bank, the Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Discover more by visiting https://www.comerica.com/.

Award & Media Sponsors