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(May 12, 2023, Hartford, CT) – The YMCA of Greater Hartford announced Richard J. Burness as the recipient of this year’s Robert C. Knox Jr., YMCA Distinguished Leadership Award on April 27th at the association’s annual meeting. The award is the highest tribute the YMCA pays to its volunteer leaders who exemplify the ideas of the YMCA and their dedication to preserving the responsibilities and opportunities the Y has to offer.

Rich has served as a tireless leader for the YMCA of Greater Hartford since becoming a volunteer nearly 20 years ago. During that time Rich served as the Association Board Chair from 2018-2020 and again served as Board chair from late 2021 until the Association’s annual meeting in April 2022.

“It is our honor to recognize Rich with this distinguished award for the impact his contributions have made on the YMCA of Greater Hartford over the last 20 years,” said Harold Sparrow, President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Hartford.  “He has shown long and faithful attention to the purposes and ideals of the Y which have led to exceptional growth and progress for our organization.”

In addition to his service as Chair of the Association Board of Directors, Rich has served with distinction on the Association’s Finance Committee and has served as both Board Chair and Chair of the Governance Committee for longer than the usual two years, a very notable accomplishment.  Rich has also been very generous with his donations to the YMCA, not only at the Association level, but also at the branch level, having been the Community Sponsor for the Downtown Branch’s Mission in Motion special event in both 2019 through his company, Athene, and personally in 2020.

“I am honored to receive the R.C. Knox Jr. Distinguished Leadership award. I am humbled to be put into a category with so many leaders that I have admired and have looked up to during my tenue. I look forward to continuing to serve and support the mission of the YMCA.” Said Richard Burness.




Pictured left to right: Harold Sparrow, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Hartford; Peter Olson, Board Chair; Rich Burness, 2022 RC Knox Recipient; and Jerry Gooden, 2018 RC Knox Recipient


About YMCA of Greater Hartford: The YMCA of Greater Hartford has been building stronger communities for 171 years. The non-profit is committed to providing resources in youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity for all citizens of all ages. In 2022, the association served 60,000 community members in Hartford, Tolland, and Wyndham counties and distributed over $1,000,000 in financial assistance toward valuable resources that provided access to life changing programs. As our communities continue to recover from the pandemic, we continue to offer foundational programs in education to mitigate lost learning; to fight food insecurity; to support seniors, children and families; as well as swim lessons, childcare, summer camp, LIVESTRONG® cancer support program, and so much more. Join us at and Belong to Something Greater.