Maggi Spartz, president of the Unity Foundation of LaPorte County since it was founded in 1992, was named businessperson of the year for 2017 by the Greater LaPorte Chamber of Commerce.
The foundation started with virtually nothing but now has over $30 million in assets.
Annual earnings from those assets go toward scholarships and a variety of other needs locally.
Ed Volk, a longtime LaPorte attorney who presented her with the award Friday, said endowments were almost unheard of then but Spartz worked tirelessly to explain how gifts to a foundation work infinitely for the community.
"She had a vision. She’s been working on that vision and expanding on that vision for the past 25 years," Volk said.
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Spartz said she, like many people, wouldn’t be where she is today if not for somebody recognizing her potential and giving her a chance.
It was her father placing her at the controls of sailboats he made by hand that opened doors for her to compete regularly in the annual sailboat race from Chicago to Mackinac Island.
Opportunity in other career paths, like manufacturing and life insurance, allowed her to move up the ladder and develop.
She also chose not to settle when presented with the opportunity.
"I looked for chances to stretch and grow. That’s why the status quo is not good enough for me, and hopefully it’s not good enough for any of us," she said.
She credited Volk and others, including former LaPorte Mayor Leigh Morris, for giving her a chance at the Unity Foundation, which turned out to be her life’s purpose.
Spartz, of Long Beach, urged others in the business community to return the favor by taking others under their wings they feel have what it takes regardless of their physical makeup.
"Let’s look for them and give them chances. Be vigilant to see who they are and who they aspire to be and do," she said.