John Winthrop Wright Ethics in Action Award
Welcome to SEE's John Winthrop Wright Ethics in Action Award page. With this award, SEE honors a leader who has authentically demonstrated ethical business or leadership practices. John Winthrop Wright founded SEE in 1995 and left a major donation from his estate to perpetuate SEE’s mission. Mr. Wright desired to promote internationally respected values such as-- fairness, respect, responsibility, caring, justice, honesty, courtesy, citizenship, and the principles of the Golden Rule. The Ethics in Action award is given in his name to recognize a business or community leader that demonstrates a commitment to ethics and character.
Merle Berke-Schlessel, President and CEO of the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County (UWCFC) received the 2017 John Winthrop Wright Ethics in Action award on May 3rd at Amarantes Sea Cliff in New Haven during the 11th annual School for Ethical Education (SEE) Character Celebration.
“The Ethics in Action Award named after SEE’s founder recognizes a business or community leader who demonstrates a commitment to ethics and character in their leadership” noted David Wangaard, President of SEE. “Ms. Berke-Schlessel is widely respected for her commitment to ethics in her personal and professional life. Under her leadership, she has worked to transform UWCFC into an organization that moves beyond programs to achieve major community transformation.” Peter Donovan, (left) Director of Wright Investors’ Service in Greenwich and Mickey Herbert, President and CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council presented the award to Ms. Berke-Schlessel.
Ms. Berke-Schlessel then provided a key note address to the Celebration of about 140 participants that included student winners of two of SEE’s programs. The Laws of Life Essay program recognizes student essayists for their reflection on how positive character helps people succeed in life and SEE’s Academic Integrity PSA Contest recognizes the top student PSAs that support the practice of academic integrity in schools. Merle wove the themes of student writing and PSAs into her remarks and focused on the importance of seeking equitable solutions as an ethical leader.
During Ms. Berke-Schlessel’ s tenure at the United Way, the twelve-town, regional United Way has moved from an agency funder to a dynamic organization driving collaborative community change, working with community stakeholders to develop and improve systems of care. She was the co-convener with Bridgeport's Mayor and Superintendent of Schools, of the Bridgeport Alliance for Young Children, charged with implementing the City's Blueprint for Young Children and School Readiness Plan. Under her direction, the UWCFC created a regional collaborative of mentoring providers; convened the coalitions that created the region's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, and provided institutional support for the network of after school programs. Ms. Berke-Schlessel is now engaged in leveraging these critical vertically aligned systems beyond programmatic intervention to achieve major community transformation. Under her leadership, the UWCFC serves as the backbone organization for Bridgeport Prospers, a cradle-to-career movement to improve outcomes for children and families.
Merle lives in Branford with her husband Robert, a surgeon and is a proud mother of two grown children and anticipating the birth of their third grandchild.
Award Nomination Form
Merle Berke-Schlessel 2017 Keynote
2017 Celebration Program
2017 Celebration Pictures
May 3, 2017 Celebration Outline
May 2, 2018 Character Celebration Invitation & RSVP (TBA)
Past Ethics in Action Award Recipients
2016 Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale-New Haven Health System
2015: Oz Griebel, President and CEO of the Metro Hartford Alliance
2014: Cindi Bigelow, President and CEO of Bigelow Tea
2013: Mickey Herbert,
President & CEO of Bridgeport Regional Business Council, former CEO of ConnectiCare
2012: Archbishop William E. Lori, former Bishop of Bridgeport
2011: Curtis R. Welling, former CEO of AmeriCares
2010: Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr., former Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools
2009: Dr. Susan Davis, President & CEO of St. Vincents Health Services
2007: James C. Smith, Chairman & CEO of Webster Financial Services
Monday - Friday: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Saturday - Sunday: Closed
Director : (203) 783 - 4439
Program Coordinator : (203) 783 - 4436
326 West Main Street,
Milford, CT 06460