Hero of Hope Lucas Pinzon, Boys Hope Girls Hope President & CEO Kristin Ostby, Eva Blanco Masias with Partner in Hope Santa Clara University; Distinguished Service Honore Joe Koenig, Legacy of Hope Honorees Ruben Lugo, Jr. and Apshara Siwakoti, and Steve Carani with Vatterott Award recipient firm Edward Jones

The 6th annual Excellence Awards ushered in a brand new category of awardees. This year’s winners exemplify the true spirit of Boys Hope Girls Hope’s mission and purpose.

The 6th annual Excellence Awards were held on March 14 in St. Louis during the Forward Together Leadership Gathering. The evening’s festivities kicked off at Hope on the Hill, Network Headquarter’s office, for a cocktail hour, and moved next door to the D’amici Room for dinner and the awards program.

The Boys Hope Girls Hope Excellence Awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations that demonstrate and support hope and success for their colleagues, affiliates, communities, our scholars, and the Boys Hope Girls Hope Network. This year was extra special as we introduced a new annual award saluting top affiliate performers in our Performance Management Tool, and recognized an extraordinary member of our community with a special thank you and tribute.

PMT Excellence – Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona,

Cincinnati, and Colorado

PMT - Excellence Awards

Arlene Hackbarth, Baltimore Executive Director, cheering on the inaugural class of PMT honorees.

Boys Hope Girls Hope’s Performance Management Tool (PMT) is the official resource to facilitate evaluation, monitoring, and improvement across six core organizational domains: Leadership, Governance & Learning; Human Capital Management; Business & Operations; Resource Development & Fundraising; Brand, Marketing, & Communications; and Programming & Participant Outcomes.  

The PMT Excellence Awards, presented for the first time this year, recognize those affiliates with very high aggregate scores in Compliance and Key Performance Indicators over the past year. These affiliates serve as the Network’s role models for excellence in mission impact and operational execution. The honorees included Boys Hope Girls Hope of  Arizona, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Cincinnati, and Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado.

“We give hope because someone once gave us hope. I was one of those students, as well, who was part of similar programs and had incredible opportunities. I feel a real, strong sense of connection to your mission because of it. The work you do is extraordinary. It’s really gratifying to be here amongst you, celebrating that mission and purpose.”

Partner in Hope Award Winner – Santa Clara University

SCU-Excellence Awards

Eva Blanco Masias (center) accepts the Partner in Hope Award on behalf of Santa Clara University from James Williams, Director of Postsecondary Success and Strategic Partnerships, Boys Hope Girls Hope, and Boys Hope Girls Hope Network Board Chair Rob Lloyd.

Boys Hope Girls Hope is pleased to present the 2024 Partner in Hope Award to Santa Clara University (SCU) in recognition of the university’s support of first-generation college students at organizations like ours to help them graduate without major debt and thrive in their chosen fields of endeavor.  

Under the leadership of President Dr. Julie Sullivan, Santa Clara University has made “establishing opportunity for all talented students” a key priority of its Impact 2030 strategic plan. The emerging partnership with Boys Hope Girls Hope is part of a multi-faceted effort to ensure that talented and promising students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences form Santa Clara campus communities.  

Santa Clara University will host Boys Hope Girls Hope’s Envision U in late June 2024. During this gathering, Boys Hope Girls Hope’s rising high school seniors from across the United States will converge to help improve college readiness and explore career opportunities in Silicon Valley while having a chance to experience the magic of the Santa Clara campus.

Hero of Hope Winner – Lucas Pinzon, Executive Director, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Guatemala (Esperanza Juvenil)

Lucas Pinzon

Boys Hope Girls Hope Network Board Member Anja Schmelter and VP of People & Culture Melanie Burden recognize Esperanza Juvenil Executive Director Lucas Pinzon as the Hero of Hope.

Lucas Pinzon joined Esperanza Juvenil as Executive Director in 2006 at the invitation of President & CEO Kristin Ostby de Barillas. Since then, Lucas has overseen an almost tenfold increase in scholars served, from 29 scholars to more than 200 today. Under his leadership, Esperanza Juvenil is also expanding each age cohort from 15 to 25 scholars as part of the Boys Hope Girls Hope strategic growth plan. They recently expanded their campus facilities to accommodate the expansion. 

Lucas has also built a very strong team and board of directors. They showed great resourcefulness during the pandemic by quickly transforming school buildings into dorms and using technological solutions to ensure scholars could continue their education, positioning them ahead academically. Under Lucas’ leadership, Esperanza Juvenil has also achieved an unprecedented 60% in-country funding rate, more than any comparable Guatemalan non-profit.  

 The importance of this work is personal to Lucas. “I feel that every child should have the opportunity to show what they are capable of, but I know that there are not many opportunities,” he says. “That’s the reality here in Guatemala. Sometimes, you don’t get a quality education or a good job, and it’s not that you can’t do it; it’s just that there aren’t that many opportunities. I relate to that because that’s how I grew up.”  

Lucas earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas as a Walton Fellow and his master’s degree in business administration at Universidad Mesoamericana in Guatemala.

“I promise to continue this legacy, I promise to bring more hope to the world.”

Legacy of Hope Award Winner – Apshara Siwakoti, Alumna, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado


Colorado Alumna Apshara Siwakoti receives the Legacy of Hope honor of Network Board Member John Wunderlich.

Boys Hope Girls Hope is thrilled to announce Apshara Siwakoti as one of the two winners of the Legacy of Hope Award for 2024.

Apshara is a 2023 graduate of the University of Denver, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive neuroscience. She is studying for her master’s degree in public health, focusing on epidemiology and global health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. 

Apshara immigrated to the US with her mom and younger brother when she was eight. Having grown up in a refugee camp in Nepal, her mother always encouraged her to pursue education as a path to a better life. They settled in Colorado, and through her volunteer work as a language tutor, Apshara was introduced to Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado. This led to her transferring to a high school that matched her academic ambitions and ultimately earning a prestigious Daniels Scholarship for college and being named an inaugural Boys Hope Girls Hope Micron Scholar. During college, she worked in a neurodegenerative diseases lab and spent time in Nicaragua learning about its healthcare system. 

Apshara’s focus on academic excellence and service is evident and dovetails perfectly with her plans. “I want to become a physician,” she says. “As a refugee, I am interested in bettering the health of refugees and others like women and children who are very much still at a disadvantage in the healthcare sector. I would love to do more for the most vulnerable populations in the public health arena.”

“I can honestly say I am proud to accept this award and represent the Detroit Affiliate because of what our city represents—grit, pride, resilience—the same qualities the city has empowered the scholars with, including me. ”

Legacy of Hope Award Winner – Ruben Lugo, Alumni, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Detroit

Ruben Lugo

Detroit Alumnus and Hero of Hope Honoree Ruben Lugo, Jr. is congratulated by his Executive Director Rebecca Limbaugh.

Boys Hope Girls Hope is also recognizing Ruben Lugo, Jr. as a Legacy of Hope honoree for 2024. 

Ruben is a Detroit native who joined Boys Hope Girls Hope of Detroit in 2015 as a high school junior at the encouragement of his cousins, who were also in the program.  

A hard worker and committed student, Ruben maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his time at Detroit Cristo Rey High School. He also earned financial support from multiple academic and need-based scholarships and grants, including from Boys Hope Girls Hope of Detroit.  

Ruben attended the University of Michigan for his bachelor’s degree in psychology. After a summer internship with TD Bank, he got a job there straight out of college in 2021. He is now a Business Analyst in the bank’s Auto Finance division.  

 Ruben is a dedicated supporter of Boys Hope Girls Hope. He is a board member of the Detroit affiliate and sits on their Finance Committee. He attends events that he also encourages his colleagues at TD Bank to support, provides financial literacy education to current scholars, purchases Christmas gifts, and donates back to the program.  

“It means everything in the world for me to have the opportunity to give back to the organization that supported me,” Ruben says. “I’d like for Boys Hope Girls Hope of Detroit to impact as many students as possible in the way it impacted me.” 

“Together we work to change lives; that’s a pretty exciting place.

We have a saying at Edward Jones about partnership. We say, ‘Edward Jones is a trust. Others created it, we will lead it and improve it, and we will pass it along to others.’ And that’s what we’re all doing here with Boys Hope Girls Hope. So, it’s my priviledge and honor to recieve this recognition on behalf of all of the Edward Jones people who have played a role with Boys Hope Girls Hope. We are committed to this partnership, we will help to improve it, and we will make sure it gets passed on to others.”

The Vatterott Award Winner – Edward Jones

EJ-Excellence Awards

Edward Jones Partner Steve Carani, a Network Board Member, receives the Vatterott Award from Documentary Fillmaker Timmy Vatterott.

Edward Jones’ history with Boys Hope Girls Hope goes back to 2007 when it became a supporter of the St. Louis affiliate. Today, under the leadership of Managing Partner Penny Pennington, the company’s generous philanthropy continues to greatly advance the work of Boys Hope Girls Hope on behalf of scholars, collegians, and alumni both locally in St. Louis and across the Network. 

Beyond financial support, Edward Jones team members eagerly share their professional knowledge and insights in a variety of capacities with the scholars and collegians of Boys Hope Girls Hope. This includes serving on boards and hosting in-person and virtual training sessions on networking, Linked In, job interviewing skills, and resume building. 

With tremendous admiration and gratitude, Boys Hope Girls Hope extends the 2024 Vatterott Award to Edward Jones. Named in honor of longtime Boys Hope Girls Hope champion John Vatterott, this honor celebrates the legacy and impact of extraordinary visionaries who’ve strengthened our mission and scholars. This certainly describes the transformative relationship between Edward Jones and Boys Hope Girls Hope.

Martin Totland

Martin Totland is the Communication and Media Associate at Boys Hope Girls Hope Network Headquarters.

Distinguished Service – Joe Koenig

Joe Koenig at WWT

Worldwide Technology President Joe Koenig is recognized for his Distinguished Service as Network Board Chair from 2018 to 2024 by Boys Hope Girls Hope President & CEO Kristin Ostby.

This year, we are recognizing Joe Koenig for his transformative leadership, commitment to opening doors, and building opportunities for Boys Hope Girls Hope. 

As President of World Wide Technology (WWT), Joe is responsible for the company’s overall go-to-market strategy and leads the entire sales operations organization, which includes global enterprise, service provider, and public sector teams. His galvanizing and people-first leadership style is largely responsible for WWT’s transformational growth from a small startup in the 1990s into a global technology solutions provider.    

Joe’s positive energy and laser focus uplift us all and have opened many doors to new support for our scholars, collegians, and entire Network. He joined the Boys Hope Girls Hope Network Board in 2013, became Vice Chair in 2016, and then chair from 2018 until March 2024. Joe’s leadership and advocacy were key to initiating the Boys Hope Girls Hope WWT Scholars Program, a nearly decade-long partnership funded by WWT co-founders David Steward and Jim Kavanaugh. Through the program, collegians majoring in STEAM and business fields receive scholarship funds, take part in national STEM conferences, and are connected to WWT mentors. Joe has also been instrumental in inspiring support and engagement in the tech industry for Boys Hope Girls Hope and engaging WWT service on affiliate boards and Network task forces.