Cornforth named state chamber’s Gilman Bowl honoree
WILMINGTON – Pam Cornforth was awaiting the announcement of the annual Gilman Bowl honoree by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon when a familiar description was read.
“This year’s Gilman Bowl recipient is a dedicated volunteer and longtime friend of the state chamber,” said Michael Quaranta, the chamber’s president. “She has served as president and CEO since 1999 for a nonprofit that is affiliated with a slogan of ‘I’m loving it’ and provides essential support, comfort and happiness to families when it matters most.”
It was then that a shocked Cornforth, who has led the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Delaware as president and CEO for more than two decades, realized she had been duped in the chamber’s annual surprise recognition.
As her family arrived to her surprise, Cornforth told the hundreds of local business leaders in attendance at the Hotel du Pont for the annual Superstars in Business luncheon that she was at a loss for words.
“Being a part of the Ronald McDonald House has been the love of my career. It’s made such a difference in being able to give back to the community, and serving at the state chamber has been a true joy,” she said. “Thank you so much, this is a true honor.”
Cornforth was a commercial lending banker who volunteered for nonprofits after taking some time away from the industry. She got to know the Ronald McDonald House through the Junior League of Wilmington and jumped at the opportunity to become its president and CEO in 1999.
During Cornforth’s tenure, the nonprofit has undergone expansions at Nemours Children’s Health and ChristianaCare to better serve the needs of the 5,000 families who stay there each year while children are receiving care. She also completed a two-year term as a member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Global Advisory Board that acts as a liaison between the local chapters and the global office.
This year, Cornforth led a rebranding of the nonprofit from the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Delaware, laying the groundwork to further expand the organization’s mission and reach.
“I’m lucky I have healthy children and grandchildren, and I want to give back because I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a child in the hospital and not have a place to stay and sleep right near your child. So I’m blessed to be at the Ronald McDonald House,” she said.
Named in memory of Marvin S. Gilman, who served as a longtime leader for small business in Delaware, the annual award was established as a tribute to small business leadership. The identity of the recipient of the Gilman Bowl is held confidential until its presentation at the annual Superstars in Business awards ceremony.
The awarding of the Gilman Bowl came during the 25th annual Superstars in Business luncheon that also recognized 2023 Superstars in Business winners: Belfint, Lyons & Shuman, P.A; Breakwater Accounting & Advisory; Children’s Beach House; and NERDiT NOW.
The keynote speaker for the year was EDiS CEO and Delaware Business Roundtable Chair Brian DiSabatino, who recounted the history of his multi-generational, family-owned construction company that dates back more than a century and challenged the leaders in the room to confront the challenges before the state today, noting its falling labor force participation rate, educational proficiency, and rapidly aging population. He said that the leadership of entrepreneurs will be needed to help change the trajectory of the state.
“There are some storm clouds on our horizon … We can do better. Look at the talent in this room. Stretch your imaginations, link your arms together. We haven’t reached nearly the potential that we have,” he said.