Craig Hella Johnson accepts the Dennis Doughtery Award for Community Leadership
300 people gathered in Denver as The Matthew Shepard Foundation awarded Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson the Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership. Dennis Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s father, made the presentation at the annual Bear to Make a Difference Gala on October 9, 2021. Actor Wilson Cruz received the Making a Difference Award and swimmer Schuyler Bailar the Spirit of Matthew Award recipient. All three awards celebrate individuals and organizations for their leadership and commitment to replacing hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. Out Front Magazine featured the recipients in The Winners: Matthew Shepard Gala 2021. The story reveals more about Johnson’s connection to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the development of Considering Matthew Shepard.
After the gala, Johnson reflected, “I am deeply touched by what the Dennis Dougherty award represents and humbled by this honor from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Matthew’s story has connected and continues to connect so many people. We have experienced the power of Matthew’s story through Considering Matthew Shepard and shared it around the world in hopes that we can continue to explore the question ‘When we are faced with the confounding realities of life that feel overwhelmingly dark and difficult, is love still to be found at the core of our lived experience?’”
Craig Hella Johnson with Dennis Shepard following award presentation
Craig Hella Johnson with Schuyler Bailar, the Spirit of Matthew Award Recipient
The Dennis Dougherty Award is named in memory of a loving, generous and inspiring member of the MSF family. Dennis was a friend, mentor, philanthropist and visionary who was instrumental in giving the Foundation a strong beginning and a vision for the future. In honor of Dennis’ passion and aspirations for what the Foundation could and later would become, this award is given to those who have played an essential role in the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s growth and integrity.