Foundation is pleased to announce the winner of the 15th annual Renaissance Award as Parlee Jones, Shelter Advocate at Abby's House. The winner was announced today during the Foundation's annual meeting held at Mechanics Hall, where it also released its 2018 financial results and elected new directors and corporators.

Abby Kelley Foster House Inc. has been providing shelter, affordable housing, advocacy and support services to homeless, battered, and low-income women in Worcester since 1976. As a Shelter Advocate, Parlee works directly with shelter guests, connecting them with community resources to strengthen their options and achieve safety. She represents Abby's House on a number of relevant collaborations and conducts community outreach through public speaking on her own experiences. Parlee is a past winner of The Katharine F. Erskine Award, an annual honor bestowed by YWCA of Central MA which recognizes women “who have demonstrated leadership and reached exemplary levels of achievement in their professions and communities.” Parlee's generosity and activism extends far past domestic violence advocacy, as she is also a leader/founder of several cultural projects including Our Story Edutainment, Black Culture Presents, and the Worcester Black History Project, which recently partnered with Worcester Historical Museum to chronicle the city's African-American experience.

Prior to joining Abby's House, Parlee faced domestic violence and homelessness in Brooklyn, NY, and ultimately chose to relocate to Worcester with her two small children. She was first connected to Abby's House when she and her sister doubled up at one of Abby's House residences. Utilizing the community resources available through the organization, Parlee was able to get back on her feet and would eventually join the board of directors as a resident representative, before being offered the position of Shelter Advocate. She has been on staff at Abby's House for 15 years.

“Hundreds of women and families in Worcester have been impacted by Parlee's kindness, dedication, and generosity during her time with Abby's House, both as a volunteer and on staff,” said Ann T. Lisi, president & CEO of the Foundation. “Her unwavering commitment to helping these vulnerable populations is truly inspiring and has demonstrated the utmost merit to be this year's winner of our Renaissance Award.”

The Renaissance Award is a cash prize of $5,000 awarded annually by the Foundation to recognize the exceptional talent and dedication of those who lead nonprofits in our area. It was established as an endowed prize through a gift by the late John W. Lund to show the community's appreciation to those who serve in nonprofit roles. Selection is based on a record of dedicated commitment to the nonprofit sector, professional accomplishments, and talent in fostering collaborative relationships.

In addition to the Renaissance Award, the Foundation's financial reporting for 2018 was released to the public at the annual meeting. With total assets exceeding $150 million comprised of permanent charitable endowments that are available for local grantmaking; the foundation awarded $6.6 million in grants and scholarships and received more than $7.8 million in contributions. A complete annual report can be found at

The following were elected to the Board for a four-year term:

Joycelyn Augustus

Thomas Bartholomew

Jack Foley

Christopher McCarthy

Nadia McGourthy

The following were elected as new Corporators for a five-year term:

Eric Busenburg, Euro-American

Christine Cassidy, Fallon Health

Raquel Castro-Corazzini, City of Worcester, Youth Opportunities Office

Suja Chacko, City of Worcester

Ashish Cowlegi, Intelligent Machines Lab

Nancy Crimmin, Becker College

Joshua Croke, Action! by Design

Jared Gentilucci, Nitsch Engineering

Parlee Jones, Abby's House

Patricia Leary, American Heart Association

Todd C. McDonald, Aisling Partners Insurance Agency

Jake Messier, HEARD Strategy & Storytelling

Paul Morano, Menkiti Group

Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, Community Legal Aid

Katherine Sharry, Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.

Asima Silva,

Imrana Soofi, Muslim Community Link