Community Champions Honored at Awards Ceremony

September 02, 2021
Community Champions

Event Honors Five Individuals Who Make the Capital Region a Better Place to Live and Work

ALBANY, NY (September 2, 2021) CDTA celebrated its annual Community Champions contest, which honored five distinguished individuals who uplift and inspire their local communities in the Capital Region.

The contest, which began last year during the CDTA’s 50th Anniversary celebration, continued this year with a nomination-style award that was given to five Community Champions. The individuals selected as recipients reflect the ongoing commitment to go above and beyond in ways that embody fellowship, service, and unity.

“Last year, we as a community faced many challenges and hardships which tested our resolve,” said Carm Basile, Chief Executive Officer of CDTA. “COVID-19 shined a light on those who envision a greater purpose for our communities, we witnessed it then and continue to do so now. The Community Champions awards give us the opportunity to recognize and celebrate outstanding individuals who have stepped up and embody the true heart of those who make the Capital Region a great place to live.”

This year's five honorees:

  • Clara Phillips, a local volunteer and community activist in Albany
  • Walter Simpkins, the Executive Director of Community Fathers in Schenectady
  • Pastor Charlie Muller of Victory Christian Church in Albany
  • Erin Pihlaja, founder of Make it Upstate in Troy
  • Malik Dare, a community volunteer and activist in the Albany area.

CDTA’s nomination process began earlier this summer with a selection committee formed to choose five finalists among more than 100 submissions. Honorees and the winners were highlighted through the level of participation and impact they have made by supporting and helping those in need.