There are geniuses among us in the nonprofit sector. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently named five of them as it doled out its much-coveted fellowships, popularly known as “genius grants.”
And the nonprofit geniuses are:
- Mary Bonauto, a lawyer and civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which works to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.
- John Henneberger, co-director of Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service, which advocates for expanded affordable housing, social and economic justice in housing policies, and federal disaster relief.
- Rick Lowe, an artist and founder of Project Row Houses, which uses art to transform neglected neighborhoods.
- Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States.
- Jonathan Rapping, a criminal lawyer and president of Gideon’s Promise, which is working to change the culture of indigent defense through community building and comprehensive, ongoing training and support to create skilled public defenders.
Many of the other MacArthur fellows work in the nonprofit sector, including playwright Samuel D. Hunter (Partial Comfort Productions), historian Pamel O. Long (Princeton, Getty Research Institute, and Folger Shakespeare Library), scientist Mark Hersam (Northwestern University), and researcher Jennifer L. Eberhardt (Standard University), and physicist and brain researcher Danielle Bassett (University of Pennsylvania).
The Foundation selects the MacArthur fellows based on three criteria: “exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.” The winners are selected through a regimented nomination process, the Foundation doesn’t accept applications or unsolicited nominations.
Each winner receives a $625,000 “no-strings-attached” fellowship over five years. They can spend the money as they see fit with no proposals and no reporting.
Want more genius in your day? Check out the other 2014 MacArthur fellows.