Biennial Celebration of Giving Honored Mrs. Gayle Benson with Prestigious GNOF Spark Plug Award

June 12, 2019

Tuesday, June 11, 2019, the Greater New Orleans Foundation hosted its biennial Celebration of Giving where Mrs. Gayle Benson was honored with the prestigious Greater New Orleans Foundation Spark Plug Award for Outstanding Philanthropy.


“Since 1923, the Greater New Orleans Foundation has worked with generous philanthropists to invest in this great region we call our home,” said Leann Moses, Board Vice Chair, Greater New Orleans Foundation. “We are an enduring institution.  The Foundation is designed to live on past our lifetimes; to help carry on each of our philanthropic legacies, and those of our communities, well into the future.”

“The Celebration of Giving is an opportunity for us to pause, recognize and honor the philanthropists and partners who are so central to our work,” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “Generosity of spirit is a big part of what makes Greater New Orleans who we are. Philanthropists give because we care for one another; we are more united because we give; we are more resilient because we give.”

“There is no shortage of people to honor in this community,” said Christy Brown, Board Chair, Greater New Orleans Foundation. “However, we created the Spark Plug Award eight years ago to recognize a model philanthropist and partner of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. This distinction is reserved for a leader who goes beyond writing a check. The Greater New Orleans Foundation Spark Plug Award recognizes a philanthropist who demonstrates the compassion and impactful investment in noble causes that serves as an example for us all. Mrs. Benson was a unanimous choice for this distinction because of her enormous heart for those who are ill or in need; her genuine kindness to everyone she meets; and her passion for our children, and belief that investing in them will make the difference in their lives, and in ours. Mrs. Benson’s generosity comes with more than a check; it comes with a commitment to the people and causes that she’s passionate about. It comes with a personal relationship, too.”

Close to 200 fundholders, elected officials, business and civic leaders were on hand at the Patrick F. Taylor Library at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art to celebrate philanthropy, the achievements of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and to honor Mrs. Benson.

Past recipients of the Greater New Orleans Foundation Spark Plug Award include Phyllis Taylor, Fred Starr, Ford Foundation and Kellogg Foundation.

The 2019 Spark Plug Award was handcrafted by the YAYA Arts Center in Central City.