2017 Champions for Children Honorees
Colleen Conroy a retired international health development specialist, has been a consistent and committed financial contributor to Bright Beginnings. She was a member of the Board from 2002 to 2014, including service as vice president.
Her career began as a registered nurse in New York City and then as a Peace Corps official in the West African country of Benin. After obtaining a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins (on full scholarship), Colleen spent decades traveling to countries in almost every continent, including war zones and refugee centers, as a maternal care public health specialist.
Even while currently off the Board, Colleen continues her support through work on the Board’s Program Committee. She has also engaged with other DC organizations to help the District’s homeless population get access to housing and develop job skills.
Diane Bernstein has spent more than four decades as one of the most dedicated children’s advocates in the District of Columbia. She and her husband, Norman, a prime developer of high quality commercial and residential properties, created the Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation which has been a major supporter of Bright Beginnings since 2006 with grants totaling almost $200,000 and an additional pledge of $100,000 to the capital campaign for the second center in Ward 8.
A graduate of Vassar College, Diane served the Children’s National Medical Center over a period of 25 years on the staff and as a member of the Board. In 1992, she co-founded DC Action for Children and served as president for over twelve years during which time she created the DC Children’s Health Care Coalition. In 1999, Diane was a mayoral appointee to the Board of Directors of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation.
Other organizations benefitting from Diane’s service include Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the National Science Research Council, and the DC Education Compact. Her philanthropic interests cover a broad spectrum in addition to education and child and family health; she is also a generous contributor to many Washington, DC arts organizations.
Frida Burling supported Bright Beginnings since 1996 through many avenues – St. John’s Episcopal Church of Georgetown, her family, and through other civic organizations. In 2008, when Bright Beginnings was talking to Frida about contributions and mentioned the economic downturn, she said, “When times are tough, I cut back on myself not on my philanthropy.” This first ever posthumous award will be in honor of Frida’s who lived from September 16, 1915 to May 26, 2016. Frida’s desire to help lasted throughout her life. Even at 100 she would cross the street from her home to help the weekly feeding of the homeless at Mt. Zion Church.