Stanley credits mentors for the Crawford Award

As befits one who merits an award for service to neighbors and improving the quality of life in eastern Connecticut, Bill Stanley stands on the shoulders, if not of giants, then of public-spirited mentors who guided his professional life.

Inspired by them, he has shaped a career based on the expressed belief that when the local hospital, the United Way, and a host of other good causes are doing well, the community will do well. A series of sagacious bosses has acknowledged that vision and encouraged him to lead, both on and off the job.

In the philanthropy of this region, William A. Stanley stands tall. It is fitting, then, that the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut selected him as the 2017 recipient of the William Crawford Distinguished Service Award. The award, which the chamber will present tonight at the Mystic Marriott in Groton during a dinner in Stanley's honor, cites his decades of service to the region's nonprofit community.

For nearly two decades, Stanley has served as vice president for development and community relations at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London. While overseeing community relations and millions of dollars in fundraising at L+M — now part of Yale-New Haven Health — Stanley has served lengthy leadership terms on the boards of Three Rivers Community College Foundation, the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, and the New London Redevelopment Agency. Locally, the Boy Scouts and the NAACP have recognized his leadership with awards.

His is a public service career that can be told in chapters, each one with a theme and heroes.

From his parents, the late state Sen. William B. Stanley and Margaret Stanley, Bill Stanley learned public service and volunteerism. He developed a taste for politics by helping to run the elder Stanley's campaign headquarters in the family rec room in Norwich.

From Co-publisher Deane C. Avery at The Day, where he went to work after a stint at The Norwich Bulletin, Stanley learned not only the tenets of journalism but the bigger picture of how to build a career in the profession, particularly in political reporting. The willingness of Avery, and later, former state Sen. Lew Rome, to guide a younger colleague, showed him what mentorship can do.

Two years as The Day's Capitol bureau chief positioned him for the campaign staff of Gov. William O'Neill, a straightforward politician who refused to engage in negative campaign advertising. In O'Neill, he saw both decency and loyalty in politics. 

At Lawrence + Memorial, his longest tenure, he has found his ultimate heroes and role models: the medical and support staff who work long hours in tough jobs and the volunteers who expect no limelight, just the opportunity to serve. He singles out Naomi Rachleff, whom he describes as working 70 years, since candystriper days, for nothing other than a love of the hospital.

The great gift of all his mentors, and Stanley's own return on that gift, is a community that benefits not only from the dollars raised but also from the unity of people coming together for a good cause. He exercises calm and affable leadership with the loyalty, decency and unselfishness he salutes in his role models. He seems to be everywhere there is a good cause to be served and, because of that, many people in the region have seen him on the podiums of banquets and fundraisers, the ultimate master of ceremonies of eastern Connecticut civic causes. And whether they know it or not, it is Bill Stanley who polices the speakers, keeps them on time, then wishes them a safe drive home.

As someone who has spent years working for causes that benefit people who are poor, sick, homeless or jobless, Stanley worries about Connecticut's decline and about the safety nets for them. The politician in him wants urgent political compromise to solve our state's ills, but no doubt the philanthropist-mentor-volunteer in him will keep working on solutions for the nonprofit agencies that try to fill the gaps.

The Day congratulates our former colleague Bill Stanley on this well-deserved honor.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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