Leadership Morgan Hill announced this week that community volunteers and philanthropists Brian and Kathy Sullivan will both be honored with the 2022 Leadership Excellence Award at an evening outdoor celebration and fundraiser on Sept. 17.
The Leadership Excellence Award—presented annually by Leadership Morgan Hill—recognizes the vision and leadership that advance the spirit of community and charity; reflect courage and insight; and inspire others to lead in a like manner, says a press release from the nonprofit organization.
Brian and Kathy Sullivan are the first couple to be celebrated jointly, and this is the first time a current class member, Brian, is being honored.
The couple—who were named the Chamber of Commerce’s Man and Woman of the Year in 2018—said they were surprised to learn back in December that they would be receiving the 2022 Leadership Excellence Award.
“We were shocked when they told us because there’s so many other great people in this city,” Brian Sullivan said. “We feel extremely honored.”
Kathy Sullivan added, “It means a lot that the community recognizes and acknowledges the volunteer efforts that we’ve provided over the years, and it’s humbling.”
Born in Buffalo, Brian moved to Detroit as a teen and spent four years in the Air Force after high school, says the press release. His electronics sales and management career spanned 25-plus years in Detroit and California, representing many prestigious firms. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College in 2001. He’s been an insurance broker for the last 20 years and is still active part time.
Throughout his career, Brian has been a leader, whether as a union shop steward or a District Sales Manager, according to Leadership Morgan Hill. Brian’s community service is extensive. Highlights include board service to the Charter School of Morgan Hill and former president of the local Chamber of Commerce. Brian is a supporter of local law enforcement, frequently doing ride-alongs, sitting on interview panels and serving as Community Law Enforcement Foundation president.
Kathy Sullivan’s motto throughout her career has been, “I can do it!” As doors of opportunity opened, she stepped into growth challenges, overcoming them, says the press release. She entered the teaching profession out of college and immediately stepped into a leadership position as head of a large Home Economics department—with no experience—and earned her master’s degree.
Her move to California in 1980 with Brian transitioned Kathy into sales, marketing and training positions. She first worked for a firm representing Apple, then was hired by Apple in 1984 as a trainer and soon moved into training management.
Kathy’s volunteer service includes helping to organize South Valley Quilt Association shows, the AAUW Wildflower Run and her leadership and committed service as board member and president of the Morgan Hill Historical Society, the press release says.
Sandra McNeal, LMH Board President remarked, “The Board is excited about the Sullivans’ selection, their extensive community support perfectly reflects the values of the Leadership organization. They fully appreciate and support the LMH mission.”
Brian and Kathy met in their apartment complex in Michigan and wanted to move in together, the LMH press release continues. Kathy’s school principal advised marriage, so that’s what they did—with a huge garden wedding at Brian’s sister’s house.
Brian and Kathy’s daughter, Stacey, has given them two grandkids and one great-grandchild. Their son Jared and daughter-in-law Nikki have two horses at home in Michigan.
Relaxing for the Sullivans means socializing and volunteering. Brian skis and golfs, while Kathy, no longer able to ski, enjoys creative projects, baking and solving puzzles.
“They both vow to stay involved with our community but want to scale it back some to focus on their health and to travel more,” says the press release. “Honored in 2018 as the Chamber’s Man and Woman of the year, we now look forward to our 2022 celebration for their inspiring leadership!”
The Sullivans will receive their medals at a late summer tribute dinner at Guglielmo Winery in east Morgan Hill. Community leaders, supporters of LMH and friends of the honoree plan to attend the community celebration to honor the Sullivans and to benefit the local nonprofit LMH educational organization. Dinner and the award program will be followed by music and dancing. In keeping with the setting, dress for the event is upscale casual, late summer fun.
Leadership Excellence awardees are selected by a blue-ribbon panel of community leaders featuring former Leadership Excellence Award recipients. Funds raised will benefit the LMH educational organization, now in its 26th year of building community leadership.
The annual LMH program provides insight, tools and training that enables and inspires leaders in all walks of life to give back to the community through service. LMH graduates are found in leadership positions throughout the community in government, education, business and nonprofit organizations.
Brian Sullivan said members of the community have been trying to encourage him to join LMH for several years, and he finally decided to join the 2021 class. He praised the nonprofit organization’s past success at producing community leaders who have since become more involved in local public service and volunteerism.
More information is available at www.leadershipmorganhill.org.