Each year, the United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) presents the Clementine Peterson Award to an outstanding member of its Women’s Leadership Council (WLC). At a ceremony on June 26, 2014, the UWCM conferred this prestigious honor on Sheela Murthy, founder and president of the Murthy Law Firm, whose work on behalf of UWCM has been truly extraordinary.
The Clementine Peterson Award was presented to Ms. Murthy at her final meeting as a member of UWCM’s Board of Directors. Murthy is the 44th recipient of the award, which is the oldest, and one of the very highest honors presented annually by the United Way of Central Maryland. It was established in 1971 by Mrs. Clementine Peterson, to recognize the enormous contributions of women to the important work of UWCM. To qualify for the award, a recipient must have “contributed vast amounts of energy, expertise, time and treasure,” and have:
- Performed outstanding service for this year and the previous year on behalf of the United Way of Central Maryland
- Demonstrated leadership in broadening the horizons of community service within the boundaries of UWCM
- Contributed her personal energies in a way that is unique and significant to the UWCM
As a tireless and unstinting contributor to Maryland’s leading philanthropic institution, Murthy has done all this and more, as a leading advocate for United Way at the local, state, and national levels, and as an international ambassador for global philanthropic outreach. Not only has Murthy served with distinction on UWCM’s Board of Directors, she is an active leader of its Women’s Leadership Council and longtime member of the Tocqueville Society, which honors major UWCM donors who have shown exemplary generosity in their annual giving. Murthy has mentored countless women executives through the WLC, and has played a key role in the efforts of United Way Worldwide to build a culture of philanthropy in her native India, and in other developing countries. Murthy commented:
“I am truly humbled to be honored in this way, and it was a wonderful surprise to be inducted into such an illustrious group of women philanthropists. What I share with all of these amazing women is the recognition that there is so much need in the world – even here in our own backyard. In almost every imaginable way, United Way is working to meet the needs of people who are less fortunate, giving them the tools to improve their lives. It’s a cause that’s very dear to my heart. Having grown up in India, I really could not be more grateful for all the chances I’ve had in life – and especially for the chance to come to this great land of opportunity, where my hard work has been so amply rewarded. I feel a responsibility to give back to my adopted country and my adopted community, but I have to be honest – it doesn’t feel like a burden or an obligation – I do this work because it gives me so much joy, helping others make the most of their God-given talents. If you want to change the world, that’s the best place to start!
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with UWCM for all these years, and it’s bittersweet to be moving on, but I leave knowing that I’ve made a lasting contribution to a better world, and knowing that our extraordinary leadership team will carry on this important work with the same energy and dedication that I brought to the board. As I told them when I accepted the award: my fellow board members, and all the people who attended the annual meeting, have inspired me to make the humble contributions I have made to the United Way. I am really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together!”
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