William J. (Bill) Bynum Named Recipient of 2022 John W. Gardner Leadership Award

National Award from Independent Sector Honors President and CEO of HOPE Family of Organizations for Transformational Nonprofit Leadership

Washington, District of Columbia, UNITED STATES

Washington, Aug. 30, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- William J. (Bill) Bynum has been named the 2022 recipient of Independent Sector’s John W. Gardner Leadership Award. Bynum will receive the prestigious award in recognition of his extraordinary leadership as President and CEO of the HOPE family of organizations, which strengthen communities, build assets, and improve lives in economically distressed areas of the Deep South by providing access to high-quality financial products and services.

HOPE includes the Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union, and Hope Policy Institute. Together they provide financial services, leverage private and public resources, engage in advocacy, and otherwise act as a catalyst to fulfill HOPE’s vision to mitigate the extent to which factors such as race, gender, and wealth limit a person’s ability to support his, her, or their families and contribute to communities.

Since 1994, HOPE has generated more than $3.6 billion in financing that has benefitted more than 2 million people throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, while shaping policies and practices that have improved conditions in opportunity-starved communities nationwide.

“At times when civil society seemed most fragile, John Gardner showed us the power of a single voice anchored in wisdom, integrity, and courage. Those traits, were, and continue to be vitally important on issues of race, poverty, and equity,” said Bynum. “I am honored and humbled to be associated with his legacy and so many inspirational past awardees.”  

William J. (Bill) Bynum was born in in New York City, moving from East Harlem to his parents’ birthplace in North Carolina when he was 5 years old. He attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, starting as a journalism major and later shifting to psychology and political science, earning a double major. Bynum, who chaired the university’s Black Student Movement, considered attending law school. He was accepted to the University of North Carolina's law school, but began working for a labor organization, which fueled his interest in employment and labor rights.

Bynum began his professional career in North Carolina by helping establish Self-Help, a pioneer in the development finance industry, and later built nationally recognized programs at the NC Rural Economic Development Center. In 1994, he moved to Mississippi to become founding CEO of Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, and in 1995 organized Hope Community Credit Union.

Independent Sector has presented the John W. Gardner Leadership Award annually since 1985 to visionaries who exemplify the leadership and ideals of John W. Gardner (1912-2002), American statesman, educator, author, and IS founder. The award honors extraordinary social sector champions whose collective work has transformed the nonprofit community and mobilized and unified people, institutions, or causes to support the ability of all people in the U.S. to thrive.

“Bill Bynum’s long-standing work to make a real difference in the lives of families and communities in the Deep South is illustrative of the level of transformative work that is a hallmark of our John W. Gardner Award winners,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, Independent Sector CEO and President. “Through his work as CEO and Founder of Hope Enterprise Corporation, Bill is bringing bold ideas and strategies to bear to create more equitable and accessible banking services for people being victimized by payday loans and alternative financial services. In his leadership, we see how important it is to combine practical solutions with long-term policy change.”

“As our nation struggles to find a way to bridge racial, economic, and ideological divides and safeguard democracy, it was my honor to lead a process that gathered leaders from around the country to evaluate what was needed to inspire our sector and honor a leader who exemplifies the highest values and contributions in support of a healthy and equitable society,” said Sonya Campion, IS Board Member, Chair of the 2022 Gardner Leadership Award Selection Committee and President of Campion Advocacy Fund, an IS Member. “I sincerely hope that Bill’s work to build a new system to include people who are left out of the banking system, particularly people of color and families of moderate incomes, will inspire emerging and current sector leaders and advocates to pursue systems-changing initiatives that truly address our nation’s toughest challenges.”

Bynum serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – New Orleans branch, Aspen Institute, NAACP Legal & Education Defense Fund, Prosperity Now, Black Vision Fund, Mississippi Today, Churchill Capital IV and V, and as an adviser to Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and E Pluribus Unum.

A recipient of the Heinz Award, McNulty Prize, and University of North Carolina Distinguished Alumnus Award, Bynum previously chaired the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Advisory Board, Treasury Department Community Development Advisory Board, served as a member of the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition Team, and the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty. Bynum is a Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, and alumnus of the Henry Crown Fellowship, Emerson Collective Dial Fellowship, and Salzburg Global Fellowship.

Bynum will formally accept the Gardner Award and speak about his work during the Upswell Summit on November 15. Independent Sector gathers changemakers annually during the Upswell Summit to make sense of progress and take stock of the sector’s potential to pursue a healthier and more equitable society where all people can thrive. Learn more at upswell.org/summit.


Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more at independentsector.org.

HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union, and Hope Policy Institute) provides financial services, aggregates resources, and engages in advocacy to mitigate the extent to which factors such as race, gender, birthplace, and wealth limit one’s ability to prosper. Learn more at hopecu.org.