Community Leadership Award winners announced

InvestmentNews and the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation unveil this year's winners in the Community Leadership Awards' four categories

By Charles Paikert

Oct 1, 2009 @ 10:59 am (Updated 11:00 am) EST

Financial advisers who have made outstanding charitable contributions to their communities were honored by more than 450 executives from 60 financial organizations at the third annual Community Leadership Awards last night at the Hilton New York.

The awards, in four categories, were presented by the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews.

“These awards visibly demonstrate what’s right about our industry,” said Kandis Bates, president of the foundation.

Winners were set to be awarded $10,000 for their charities, but Ms. Bates announced last night that because of overwhelming industry support, they will be receiving $12,500.

Finalists, who were set to receive $500 for their charities, will be receiving $2,500, Ms. Bates said.

Robert Wolford, managing director at Hollencrest Capital Management of Newport Beach, Calif. was named Volunteer of the Year.

He is chairman of Operation Homefront, a national non-profit organization that assists active-duty military families.

“We now have 32 chapters across the country and raised $20 million last year,” Mr. Wolford said. “We’ve been a success because our mission of supporting our troops and their families is relevant.”

Brett Ellen, president of American Financial Network of Calabasas, Calif., was awarded the Mentoring Excellence Award for helping children in that city form their own non-profit community organization, Turn Kindness On Helping Hands.

“We started the charity to empower children to make a difference,” he said, “and life is about making a difference for others.”

The Community Service Award was given to Robert Wamhoff, president of Wamhoff Financial Planning and Accounting Services Inc. of Hazelwood, Mo.

His charity, Just Because We Care, provides assistance to an impoverished village in Honduras.

“You can’t believe what this money is going to mean for my children in Honduras,” Mr. Wamhoff said.

The winner of the Volunteer Team Award was James Thompson and the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts for its Pro Bono Financial Coaching Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Mr. Thompson, a certified financial planner with The Village Bank in Auburndale, Mass., is also pro-bono chairman of the FPA's Massachusetts chapter.

“I think the FPA is uniquely equipped to help people who are in severe life distress,” he said. “And many cancer patients have severe financial problems. I’m very proud of the 55 advisers and the 114 patients who participated in the program.”

Allianz Global Investors, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, LPL Financial and W.P. Carey & Co. LLC were Platinum sponsors of the event, each contributing $35,000.