Champion Award

2021 Champion Award Recipients: Padma and Raj Vattikuti

We are proud to announce Padma and Raj Vattikuti, Founders of the Vattikuti India Foundation (VIF), as the 2021 recipients of the Inspire Arts & Music Champion Award. The Champion Award was established in 2017 to honor individuals who have been extraordinary leaders for the arts and their local communities.

Padma and Raj have continually served as extraordinary leaders and philanthropists in the community and fully embodies what the Champion Award stands for. Padma has served on multiple non profit boards and has been a council member of Arts of Asia and Islamic Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where the Vattikutis have sponsored art exhibits. Over two decades Padma has collected Indian and Southeast Asian art. Through the Vattikuti Foundation, Padma and Raj have made a lasting impact on both the arts community, local healthcare causes, and global poverty impacts. Over the last two decades, the Vattikuti Foundation has been a pivotal supporter of his local Henry Ford and William Beaumont Hospitals in Detroit. When COVID-19 paralyzed the world, the foundation stepped up to protect our most at-risk community members with easily accessible testing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Through the VIF Poverty Alleviation Initiative, Padma and Raj put an action plan in place for 120,000 people living in rural villages in India. The initiative uses technology to provide employment, education and healthcare services. This scalable model will eventually expand to cover 100 million people in rural India and be available for use in Africa and South America.

Inspire Arts & Music will officially present Padma and Raj with our Champion Award at our 8th annual Concert in the Park this summer.

Lifetime Achievement Award Honorees

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the Arts. Special attention is given to those who have spent their lives influencing and impacting youth through the arts. Inspire Arts & Music values the selfless giving of heart and mind of the tremendous individuals who are recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, we are proud to recognize Dolores Zappala, Artistic Director at Blessed Sacrament Color Guards and Mary Flannery, Founder & Director of RAW Art Works, as our 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients.

Dolores Zappala – Artistic Director, Blessed Sacrament Color Guards

Dolores Zappala has dedicated her life to enriching the lives of young people through performing arts. Blessed Sacrament Color Guard is the oldest active performing arts ensemble of its kind in the world. A family affair for Dolores, she continued the legacy of her father Anthony Zappala, and became the Director and caretaker of Blessed Sacrament. She has since successfully grown and transitioned Blessed Sacrament to new leadership. She currently serves as the Artistic Director and President of the Board of Directors.

Beyond Blessed Sacrament, Dolores spent over ten years chairing the Board of Directors for Winterguard International. “WGI” consists of scholastic and non-scholastic guard and percussion groups from all over the world. Annually over 33,000 participate in WGI events. Under her leadership, WGI experienced incredible growth. She was elected to the WGI Hall of Fame in 1994.

Professionally, Dolores recently retired from Spectra Energy in 2020 where she held a senior executive position. She continues to serve young people via Blessed Sacrament and Inspire Arts & Music, where she has been a Board member since 2015, providing leadership in HR strategies and serving on the Concert in the Park committee.

Mary Flannery – Founder & Director of RAW Art Works

After earning a master’s degree in art therapy from Lesley College, Mary Flannery, founder of RAW Art Works in Lynn, began working with young men incarcerated for sexual violence. Seeing the artwork those young men created and hearing the stories behind their crimes, Flannery was inspired to take her work to the next level. When she learned many inmates intentionally returned to prison in order to belong to a group, Flannery thought, “There must be a better way.” So, in 1994, RAW Art Works was born.

She believed RAW could be a life-changing option for Lynn youth; an alternative to these detention centers. A place they could go before their lives got to that point. In 1994, Mary and Kit Jenkins, Executive Director, opened RAW Space in Lynn, with a small group of passionate art therapists. All shared the belief that good things happen when kids feel they are a vital part of a creative community that truly cares.

What started as a single-room studio, working with 16 RAW teens, is now is a nationally-recognized organization, and cultural anchor in Lynn. RAW continues to provide 550+ youth annually with opportunities to participate in visual and expressive arts groups, film school, leadership development, employment opportunities, and college access/career exploration programming. By staffing our programs with art therapists and teaching artists, RAW effectively uses the arts as a powerful medium to deeply engage underserved youth of all ages.

Previous Champion Award Recipients

2021 - Raj and Padma Vattikuti

Raj and Padma Vattikuti
Vattikuti Foundation

2020 - Jim and Cathy Stone

Jim and Cathy Stone
James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation

2019 - Bob Reynolds

Robert Reynolds
CEO, Putnam

2018 - Jay Hooley

Jay Hooley
CEO, State Street

2017 - Martin J. Walsh

Martin J. Walsh
Mayor, City of Boston

Previous Lifetime Achievement Award Honorees

2020 - Marietta Phinney

Marietta Phinney
Riverside Theatre Works

2020 - Paul Pitts

Paul Pitts
Boston Latin School