2021 IAMNCC Award Winners

The Presidents’ Student Leadership Award recognizes an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience. 2021 awardees appear below, listed alphabetically by awarding member college or university.

Augsburg University: Zoe Barany

Zoe Barany ’23 shows up every day as a dedicated, energetic leader on the Sabo Center’s Environmental Stewardship team and beyond. She is majoring in Environmental Studies and brings creativity, enthusiasm, and deep care to her work and commitment to make Augsburg a more sustainable and equitable place.

Bethel University: Kadrian Chambers

Kadrian Chambers (Missional Ministries | Reconciliation Studies major) is an intern with the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance. Through this internship, Kadrian is addressing issues of environmental justice in the Frogtown and Summit- University neighborhoods. He is furthering the vital work of UFGA by connecting people to each other and to the earth.

Carleton College: Eunice Valenzuela

Through diligence and passion, CCCE fellow Eunice transformed a public-facing website that documents an ongoing Participatory Action Research project and serves as a repository of PAR resources in Spanish, Somali, and English. She has conducted extensive research to gather and translate materials in Spanish, expanding accessibility for future community researchers.

Central College: Building a Culture of Inclusion Initiative

The Building a Culture of Inclusion initiative is a partnership between Central College students and employees. Central students Yana Rouse and Marin Harrington co-lead 28 of their peers and 31 faculty and staff members in collaboration to educate, program and recommend policy centered around inclusivity and celebrating cultural diversity.

Coe College: Harold Walehwa

Harold is a dedicated leader who uses his strengths and talents to fight for social justice, improve the black student experience at Coe College, and increase voter engagement on campus. He is a member of Coe’s Black Self Educated Organization and CoeVotes, and has volunteered/interned for Advocates for Social Justice. His dedication to fighting injustice while also increasing voter participation among students at Coe is exemplary and his development as a leader has been inspiring to witness.

College of Saint Benedict: Drew Wilds

During her time at Saint Ben’s, Drew Wilds has led voter service and Census education in our community. Through a position with the campus’s Institute for Women’s Leadership, she coordinated programming on reproductive health. And, as a Bonner Leader, she advocated for student work study jobs that meet community needs.

Concordia University-Saint Paul: Alexis Stanley

Alexis has been a powerful voice for affordable healthcare advocacy at the state level. She testified before legislators, appeared in press conferences by Governor Walz’s side, and joined the executive board of Minnesota #insulin4all. She helped successfully lobby for the passage of an emergency insulin act. A talented student leader, her work for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota and Minnesota Voice is advancing civic engagement work statewide.

Drake University: Sydnei Washington

Sydnei is a motivated student leader who engages Drake students in meaningful dialogue and service in the community with equity and inclusion at the forefront. She has served as an enthusiastic AmeriCorps member, Community Engagement Peer in the CEL Office, Student Senator for Community Outreach, and staff member and volunteer with local community organization Children & Family Urban Movement.

Gustavus Adolphus College: Holly Fitterer

Holly, a senior from Sioux Falls, SD, is a fourth-year coordinator for Big Partner/Little Partner program which is the largest on-going service program at Gustavus. She has also organized the yearly Christmas Angel Tree for Head Start for four years, and has been a leader in the Community Engagement Center.

Hamline University: Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Union (EESU)

EESU, led by Eggie Yilma and Tsion Tulu, developed a partnership with YMCA of Twin Cities and Ethiopia, aligning EESU’s mission of spiritual, physical, intellectual, and cultural well-being of youth through programs promoting peace. J-Term 2020, EESU team traveled to Ethiopia to facilitate workshops and trainings for youth empowerment, demonstrating ESSU’s leadership, civic engagement, and social justice.

Inver Hills Community College: Annabelle Knowles

Anna, a student mentor for the TRIO program, was instrumental in keeping her peers engaged during the pivot to all online learning. She created online space for students to connect and keep up their relationships, created and facilitated community-building programming, and trained new mentors. She demonstrated leadership by creating a scholarship for first generation students. She coordinated with the Foundation to allocate money, is chairing the committee, and created the rubric.

Macalester College: Emma Smith

Emma Smith has been a leader in immigrant issues throughout her Macalester career. As a senior, Emma has taken on leadership roles including coordinating virtual language opportunities, leading a video project, planning an elected official forum, supporting students in nearby food justice work, and running a pilot volunteer interpreter initiative.

Metropolitan State University: Lucia Rivas

Lucia Rivas’s college experience is distinguished by her leadership and commitment to engagement. As president of the Psychology Club, Rivas is building relationships with the Veteran’s Network to address student mental health. Rivas was also a planning member of the 2020 ECO conference that brought together scholars, students, and activists to address environmental justice.

Minnesota State University Mankato: Kara Svercl

Kara works hard to address food insecurity on campus and off. To help our on campus population, she lead the initiative to develop the Swipe out Hunger program; using meal swipes donated from Sodexo, student facing food insecurity apply to receive free meals. To address off campus food insecurity, she has served as a shift leader with the Campus Kitchen at MSU, Mankato for two years, packaging meals for community agencies to distribute to people facing food insecurity. 

Normandale Community College: Maria Estrada Santiago

Maria is a member of Normandale’s Leadership Through Service program. In her two semesters in this program she has delivered food to students in need for the Campus Cupboard and volunteered at a local food shelf.

Saint John’s University: Elliot Edeburn

Elliot Edeburn hosts a podcast focused on civic engagement topics, planned and facilitated a conversation and signature events for Community Engagement Day, joined Get Out the Vote Efforts to increase civic engagement on campus, and served as an orientation leader in 2018 and 2020.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota: Bridgette Hegarty

During this pandemic, Bridgette has evidenced a deep commitment to students at Saint Mary’s, and, especially, as an RA, her students in Skemp Hall. She has developed creative programming in her hall to create a sense of community there. She also worked as an new student orientation leader where she devoted her energy and many gifts to welcome new students to campus during this difficult time – once again creating a sense of community for them. She has been a role model for other students.

South Central College: Taylor Benton

Taylor Benton is the Student Senator President for the North Mankato Campus. Her platform has been student success and wellness. She uses her leadership to prioritize student mental health and provides her peers a positive, constructive voice as their representative.

Southwest Minnesota State University: Isabella Erickson

Isabella (Bella) Erickson is a senior at SMSU served as one of the Campus Election Engagement Project Student Fellows in 2020. She worked quickly and innovatively to help implement the six required events before November 3, 2020. Bella was integral to the voter engagement at SMSU during the 2020 election.

St. Catherine University: Kieu My Phi

Kieu My Phi is a Public Policy major, with minors in Economics and Nonprofit Strategies/Operation, and will complete her Master of Public Health in 2022. She is an exceptional leader, contributing energy and talent both on and off campus through civic engagement, collaborative research, internships, club involvement, and more.

St. Cloud State University: Sally Nelson

Sally Nelson senior soccer captain was the driving force behind the creation of a youth soccer clinic to help serve the southside neighborhood near the SCSU campus. Working with the Community Outpost House, her soccer teammates, the Sanneh Foundation and CentraCare, Nelson secured coaches, free soccer balls and cleats for youth to participate.

The University of Iowa: Charlotte Lenkaitis

Charlotte served as the 2020 student executive director of the Food Pantry at Iowa with grace. She was faced with the extraordinary challenge of navigating how to continue food pantry operations in the pandemic and led the team through COVID modifications, increased community usage, and reduced costs through local partnerships.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities: MN CovidSitters

A 100% student-powered 501c3 established in March 2020 as an emergency response to healthcare workers’ childcare and household needs. U of M students provided free childcare, pet sitting, tutoring, and performed household errands to support 248 families of healthcare workers, including respiratory therapists, residents, public health workers, and janitorial staff. Over 100 organizations have repurposed their platform, from Milwaukee to Sudan.

University of Minnesota Rochester: Yusra Yusuf

Ms. Yusuf’s appearance before the House and Senate Higher Education Committees not only advanced the voice of her fellow students, it laid the foundation for a positive and on-going working relationship between UMR and state lawmakers. She walked legislators through UMR’s innovative practices and helped them better understand the uniqueness of UMR within the UMN system. Her actions reinforced UMR’s messaging and image as an innovative campus that attracts students passionate about healthcare.

University of Northern Iowa: Joana Lwin

Joana has worked for many years with the EMBARC program in Waterloo, IA. EMBARC is a grassroots, community-based, nonprofit founded by refugees, for refugees. Joana’s work focuses on equity and inclusion for individuals with English language barriers. She is dedicated to educating refugees for success.

University of St. Thomas: Alex Upton

Alex is committed to closing the educational opportunity gap through his work with the Tutor-Mentor program and his leadership in volunteerism as the Student President of the Tommies Together Volunteer Center. During his time with the Center, he saw the Tutor-Mentor program grow from 44 volunteers to 211 volunteers.

Winona State University: Bailey Almich

Bailey is a natural leader and compassionate nurse. She radiates passion for helping others and working with at-risk and vulnerable populations. She views engagement as having the compassion to feel for those who are suffering and having the motivation to act. During the pandemic, she empowered those around her through creative responses and care packages, kindness boards, and presentations on compassion. Post-graduation, Bailey will be working with homeless youth.

The Presidents’ Civic Engagement Leadership Award recognizes a member of the faculty, administration, or staff or for a group (e.g., advisory committee, task force, project team) that has significantly advanced their campus’ distinctive civic mission by forming strong partnerships, supporting others’ civic and community engagement, and working to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement. 2021 awardees appear below, listed alphabetically by awarding member college or university.

Augsburg University: Natalie Jacobson

When the pandemic began, Natalie Jacobson, Campus Kitchen coordinator, tapped into local networks to connect Augsburg students, staff and faculty to mutual aid and food access volunteer opportunities. She coordinated donations of food and money and created meaningful ways for members of the Augsburg community to serve their neighbors.

Bethel University: Dr. Andy Johnson

Dr. Andy Johnson, Associate Professor of Psychology, is an innovator in creating projected-based learning experiences in collaboration with community partners. Through Andy’s classes, students have designed projects that address human trafficking (both labor and sex trafficking), program development for people experiencing homelessness, and fundraising for non-profit organizations.

Carleton College:  Dr. Kelly Connole and Dr. Susannah Ottaway, Co-Directors of Public Works: Arts & Humanities Connecting Communities

Through the Mellon-funded Public Works initiative, the co-directors have ignited a vibrant flourishing of public scholarship in the arts and humanities at Carleton. They’ve made possible individual projects and complex campus-wide initiatives, all of which have drawn on Dr. Connole and Dr. Ottaway’s creative, strategic, and purposeful leadership.

Coe College: Dr. Neal McNabb

As the Chair of the Social and Criminal Justice Department, Dr. McNabb has been instrumental in creating a number of pathways for Coe College students to engage. He has welcomed guests speakers to help students connect theory to practice, guided students as they raised funds and needed items for community partners, and is passionate about creating new opportunities that benefit students and organizations. His ability to drive engagement uplifts not only students, but our community as well.

College of Saint Benedict: Dr. Emily Heying

Dr. Emily Heying’s research focuses on the prevalence and risk factors of food insecurity among CSB/SJU students, and her findings help our campus create better systems to support students. She is currently developing a co-taught course focusing on Native American health disparities and food sovereignty, using a community engaged learning approach.

Concordia University-Saint Paul: Coach Mike Bond

Coach Mike Bond serves as an effective mentor and advisor to our students in a variety of ways. In addition to his role as the Black Athletes United advisor, his leadership role in the mentoring of young adults through the community project Catch 22 supports student athletes’ mental health. His leadership inspires students to be empowered in their identity and to share their voice as advocates for social change.

Drake University: Drake Athletic Department

Drake Athletics exemplifies civic engagement. They formed the “All One” initiative demonstrating dedication to making the Drake athletic community a safe, equitable, just, and welcoming environment for all marginalized populations. In advance of the November 2020 elections, voter education along with 100% voter registration among eligible, Bulldog student-athletes was achieved.

Gustavus Adolphus College: Dr. Maddalena Marinari

Professor Marinari has taken on an important role to share her knowledge of history with the public. She describes connections between past immigration policies and our world today, most recently the impact of Covid-19 on marginalized communities in Minnesota, especially recent immigrants and refugees.

Hamline University: Coach Karen Heggerness

Karen Heggerness is the Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Hamline. A beloved role model for her students, Coach K enthusiastically engaged her team in volunteering with the Hamline Votes 90/20 Campaign and the MLK Day of Service. She created get-out-the-vote videos and tabled for voter registration. An anti-racism circle facilitator, Karen serves on the Diversity Initiatives Steering Committee.

Inver Hills Community College: Nicole Bietz

Nicole Bietz is a tireless student advocate, incredibly skilled counselor, and works with all constituents on campus from students to faculty, staff and administration. She is a leader in coordinating support for students including our partnership with the Open Door pantry, and co-chairs the Student Resources and Resiliency Committee. Because of the relationship she built with staff at The Open Door, we are able to find creative solutions for meeting our students’ basic needs.

Macalester College: Dr. John Kim

Dr. John Kim, associate professor of Media and Cultural Studies, is a tireless advocate for the value of community-based work. He holistically integrates civic engagement into his scholarship and teaching. His numerous collaborative projects utilize art and multimedia to catalyze public engagement with urgent issues of sustainability and climate change.

Metropolitan State University: Dr. Roberta Gibbons

Since 2015, Dr. Gibbons has worked alongside members of the Little Earth community as co-researchers to understand the drivers of crime and violence in community. The initiative resulted in outcomes at the individual and systems level including providing living wage jobs and community-led programming.

Minnesota State University Mankato: Monika Antonelli

As Outreach Librarian, Monika Antonelli takes the initiative to connect campus to community. During the 2020 elections she worked with several campus departments, faculty and students to present a Facebook Live broadcast conversation about the election and electoral college. In past years she has also hosted voter registration events in the library, created a documentary about social unrest at MSU/in the US during the Viet Nam Conflict, and other opportunities for civic learning/democratic engagement.

Normandale Community College: Campus Cupboard COVID Team

Normandale staff came together to expand operation of our on-campus food shelf in response to COVID. Employees from various Student and Academic Affairs office stepped in to staff the Cupboard and members of Facilities and Public Safety ensured student access and deliveries of needed items.

Saint John’s University: Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement

The Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement empowers civic education and action through discussions and experiential learning events in order to promote the common good, the value of politics, our shared identity as citizens, and engagement in public work. They engage in-depth hundreds of students annually and many, many more participate in programming available broadly to the campuses and to the public. Many continue public service and engagement after graduation.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota: Coach Ryan Egan

Prior to the pandemic, Coach Egan had high expectations for the men on his hockey team both on and off the ice. The men on team were regular volunteers for numerous community service and campus service projects. During the pandemic, the men on the team could be counted on to assist the university with meal delivery for students in quarantine and isolation or with mass testing events for COVID. Coach Egan is clearly advancing the university’s mission to develop ethical leaders.

South Central College: Candace Ballstadt and Jesse Spencer, Social Workers 

The Social Workers at South Central College, Jesse Spencer and Candace Ballstadt, have provided a new level of holistic Student Support. Overseeing the Campus Cupboard Food Pantry, Community Resources, and the Emergency grants, Candace and Jesse have worked to support student financial wellness and mental health.

Southwest Minnesota State University: Michele Knife Sterner

Michele Knife Sterner is an integral voice representing SMSU on the Cultures on the Prairie Committee. Her work with the City of Marshall, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council and Southwest Initiative Foundation has advanced SMSU’s civic mission by helping to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement.

St. Catherine University: Suffrage Centennial interdisciplinary team

As the US marked the Suffrage Centennial, St. Kate’s utilized this moment to explore the amendment’s tensions and diverse narratives, working with Twin Cities Public Television’s documentary Citizen, and MN History Center’s Extraordinary Women exhibit. Many faculty, staff, students participated through courses, the co-curriculum and our campus-wide Integrated Learning Series.

St. Cloud State University: Dr. Annette S. Lee

Dr. Annette Lee, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics and Director of the SCSU Planetarium, is deeply committed to public engagement through blending science, art, and culture. An interdisciplinary scholar who is mixed-race Lakota and her communities are Ojibwe and D(L)akota, Lee’s work is known internationally. She works closely with Native American and First Nations communities and museums. Dr. Lee also recently won the 2021 AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement.

The University of Iowa: Travis Kraus

As the director of the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, Travis ensured community engaged learning continued this year despite the pandemic. Due to Travis’s leadership, over 100 students in 10 different departments participated in meaningful place-based engagement projects with Iowa communities. These projects transform student learning while enhancing sustainability in Iowa.

University of Minnesota Rochester: Dr. Angie P. Mejia

Dr. Mejia’s creativity and dedication to her work has made it possible to continue to allow students at UMR to do meaningful work while protecting the health of both students and community members during the pandemic. Dr. Mejia teaches students not only about intersectionality, social issues, and inequity, but also how these factors affect the individuals and communities within Rochester that students are working with. Dr. Mejia’s dedication and commitment to others is strong even during COVID.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities: Critical Community Engagement Roundtable Leadership Team

Created for faculty and staff on the front lines of the University’s community-engaged work, the Critical Community Engagement Roundtable offers challenging discussion, peer support and a safe place to test new ideas. Since 2017, the Roundtable has focused on decolonization and community-engaged scholarship. Now attracting well over 100 attendees each month, the roundtable is led by Sara Axtell, Vicente Diaz, Cantemaza McKay, and Monica McKay.

University of Northern Iowa: Dr. Danielle McGeough

Dr. McGeough serves as the team lead for Cultivating Justice: A Quest Towards Racial Equity. The Quest is a unique six-week experience that seeks to activate and elevate local efforts towards racial justice with a focus on community improvement. Dr. McGeough has worked tirelessly to bring the Quest to fruition for UNI and the Cedar Valley Community.

University of St. Thomas: Dr. Amy Levad

Dr. Levad is a community leader in advancing social and racial justice in many ways. In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, Levad helped to organize community fundraising efforts. She subsequently helped developed the anti-racist educational series “Becoming Human: Dismantling Racism” for UST’s College of Arts and Sciences, and was part of a team of scholars who created a website called “Breakdown Whiteness,” which provides resources for breaking down white supremacy.

Winona State University: Dr. Mary Hudgens Henderson

Dr. Hudgens Henderson’s work addresses cultural rights and equity issues with underrepresented groups in Minnesota and Wisconsin by promoting the value of bilingualism in the Upper Midwest. She regularly develops projects that bring university students to Spanish-speaking schools in the area to author and read books in Spanish, mentor high school students, and deliver short teaching videos during the pandemic. Her creativity benefits the future teachers as well as the children they serve.

The Presidents’ Community Partner Award recognizes a community-based partner or organization that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and has engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with the college or university, thus enriching educational as well as community outcomes. 2021 awardees appear below, listed alphabetically by awarding member college or university.

Augsburg University: People’s Center Clinics and Services 

The longstanding partnership between People’s Center and Augsburg has grown exponentially in this pandemic year. In addition to providing medical care for our students and neighbors, People’s Center has made COVID-19 testing accessible, and has been a core partner in addressing food insecurity and basic needs in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

Bethel University: Model Cities

Over the last 22 years, Bethel has partnered with Model Cities in several different projects connected with the core mission of Model Cities to provide social and economic services. Currently, community work-study students assist in Model Cities’ Homestretch class that provides critical educational services to new home buyers.

Carleton College: Community Action Center of Northfield

The Community Action Center of Northfield collaborates with Carleton to address life-sustaining needs. We co-create solutions through ACE courses (heat mapping, GIS), co-curricular programs (food recovery network), and campus (Empty Bowls) and community events (mass food distributions). Their response to the pandemic and impact in the community is tremendous.

Coe College: Catherine McAuley Center

The Catherine McAuley Center empowers women, refugees, and immigrants and undereducated adults through educational and supportive services in a strengths-based, trauma-informed, female responsive environment that promotes stability, skill-building, and connection. Coe College supports CMC’s mission by driving engagement opportunities for interns, work study students, and AmeriCorp members. CMC employs several Coe alumni who served in these roles, and also engages Coe faculty on it’s board.

College of Saint Benedict: Genesys Works

Genesys Works supports high school students from underrepresented communities through paid, year-long internships in business technology and continued engagement with college and career success. Genesys Works partnered with College of Saint Benedict students to create resources for college students sharing best practices for virtual learning, a necessary skill during COVID-19.

Concordia University-Saint Paul: Big Stone Therapies

Big Stone Therapies is an invaluable clinical partner for CSP’s DPT program. They are located in underserved areas of the state and provide outstanding rehabilitation services to patients who have limited access. They host CSP students for full-time clinical experiences each year and have established an annual trip to Guatemala to provide services to patients in great need. The alignment of values, specifically Christian-based service, shines through in this partnership.

Drake University: Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART)

DART is a key partner in Drake’s efforts to become a more sustainable anchor institution. Thanks to our partnership, more than 6,400 Drake students, faculty, staff, and retirees can ride metro-area buses for free, public artwork has been installed on two bus shelters, and the Drake neighborhood is now home to the first bus route with accessible bus stops and electric buses. DART has also served as a partner with Drake’s Engaged Citizen Corps and a first-year student photo voice project.

Gustavus Adolphus College: Mankato Clinic

Gustavus has partnered for eleven years with the Mankato Clinic to offer an exclusive opportunity to selected pre-health students to observe a variety of medical professionals. A special thanks needs to be given to Linda Annis and April Oachs for their willingness, enthusiasm and follow-through to coordinate this exceptional opportunity.

Hamline University: Second Harvest Heartland

Second Harvest Heartland (SHH) has been a long-time partner with Hamline University in supporting food access for students. SHH enhances the sustainability of life in our community by providing the Food Resource Center with high quality, low cost food. SHH has also helped nearly 100 Hamline students sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in a new initiative together.

Inver Hills Community College: Open Door

Inver Hills thanks the Open Door for their ongoing partnership and support of our students. Students express such gratitude when they learn they are able to get food for themselves and their families, which has helped to manage some of the stress related to their commitment to higher education. They are incredibly responsive whenever we reach out for help and have made an immeasurable difference in the lives of our students by helping us address their basic needs.

Macalester College: ISAIAH

ISAIAH has trained countless Macalester students and staff/faculty to take collective action through caucus and voting training, engaging students in our Democracy in Action class and teaching principles and strategies of mobilizing through our Organizing Cohort. Lead Organizer Vivian Ihekoronye ’13 brings consistency and depth to this dynamic partnership.

Metropolitan State University: SCORE Minnesota

Since 2014, SCORE Minnesota has partnered with Metro State and Dr. Denise Williams on a variety of entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives including program development, community engaged research, student-based projects, co-teaching and learning, and entrepreneurship training. The partnership has focused specifically on building veteran and women of color entrepreneurs.

Minnesota State University Mankato: Connections Shelter

Concerned community members came together under the leadership of Pastors Collette Broady Grund and Erica Koser four years ago. This shelter began as a ‘rotating shelter’, as local churches took responsibility for hosting on a weekly basis. Through the hard work, dedication, grants and gifts, the shelter has evolved to a permanent location, building capacity to become a year around low barrier emergency shelter. 

Normandale Community College: Hope for the Community

Nonprofit Hope for the Community, led by Executive Director Al Goracke, partnered with our food shelf to allow us to bring fresh and frozen groceries for the first time to students. They provided extensive equipment, food, guidance, and partnership to allow us to better serve our students.

Saint John’s University : Around Cloud Tutors

Around Cloud Tutors is a free, online tutoring service for all K-12 students in the greater St. Cloud area. It is an initiative of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation in partnership with the United Way, the Boys & Girls Club, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Technical and Community College, and AmeriCorps Seniors. One-on-one sessions cover reading, math, social studies, English and language arts and Spanish.

Southwest Minnesota State University: Cultures on the Prairie Committee

The Cultures on the Prairie Committee was selected for this award for putting together the ‘Cultures on the Prairie Conference,’ which focuses on the experience of stories, history, and cultures of Southwest Minnesota. Holding interacting listening panels to discuss the views from employers, workforce personnel, students and adults help participants to gain insight when hiring and serving all people of Southwest Minnesota.

St. Catherine University: Women’s Prison Book Project

Women’s Prison Book Project works “to build connections with those behind the walls, and educate on the realities of prison / justice system.” Informed by WPBP members, 10 service-learning courses wrote 800+ letters to incarcerated individuals, analyzed letters written back, and was part of St. Kate’s One Read for Racial Justice.

St. Cloud State University: Chartwells at St. Cloud State University

Chartwells at SCSU has been a leader in addressing food insecurity for our students. Since January 2020, Chartwells has donated hundreds of pounds of food to the Huskies Food Pantry. They created a meal swipe donation program in Garvey Commons. They trained pantry workers on how to safely repack bulk items in their commercial kitchen and connected the pantry to Sysco Midwest for low cost or free product.

The University of Iowa: West Liberty Education Association

Following the 2016 Presidential Election, the West Liberty Education Association convened its members to consider how to actively support local immigrant families. The WLEA members voted to join an existing adult literacy program to help eligible residents prepare to become naturalized US Citizens. For three years, members and community volunteers mentored/taught adults the necessary skills to pass the test. On November 3rd, 58 new citizens voted in the Presidential Election thanks to WLEA.

University of Minnesota Rochester: Omar Nur

Starting in the spring of 2018, Mr. Nur and SASSA became a community-engagement partner for UMR’s Community Collaboratory course and he has continued to foster this learning collaboration ever since. Beyond his collaboration with UMR, Mr. Nur’s work contributes to efforts towards establishing an inclusive Rochester. He is a community leader who does the work of bridging communities, not only towards understanding but accountability; and who engages in centering the role of Somali youth.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities: Legal Rights Center

The Legal Rights Center is a community-driven nonprofit law firm, specializing in adult criminal and juvenile delinquency deference, restorative justice practices and youth advocacy. A long time partner of the U of M, the Legal Rights Center recently worked with the Law School and others at the U of M in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing to offer legal assistance to protesters and communities. This partnership will continue with the upcoming trials related to Floyd’s death.

University of Northern Iowa: Northeast Iowa Food Bank

The Northeast Iowa Food Bank provides nutritious food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations and individuals in northeast Iowa, while offering hunger education programs to the area and those in need. The University of Northern Iowa and the NEIFB have a long-standing history of partnership that includes MLK Day of Service events, service-learning partnerships, and the Panther Pantry. The NEFIB staff are always willing to work with and welcome UNI faculty, staff, and students.

University of St. Thomas: Keystone Community Services

Keystone Community Services is an integral partner in the University of St. Thomas’ fight against food insecurity on their St. Paul campus. Through use of their mobile food shelf, Keystone brings groceries to St. Thomas students as well as community members across Ramsey county. In addition to their food programs, Keystone conducts youth development programs, senior enrichment programs, and continues to build community through innovation.

Winona State University: City of Winona Friendship Center

The Friendship Center (TFC) and WSU have a longstanding partnership. TFC has proven to be a dedicated partner in the education of our students, providing internship opportunities across numerous disciplines. It was one of the founding community partners of Bridges Health, an academic-community partnership that provides students with preventative health and wellness clinical and field placements in the community. TFC has donated space, equipment, time, and community expertise and connections.

The Engaged Campus Award for Alumni Leadership recognizes an alum of a member institution making strong contributions to their community and demonstrating the values of the civic mission of higher education. 2021 awardees appear below, listed alphabetically by nominating member college or university.

Dean Furness, Central College Class of 1994

Dean Furness, a 1994 graduate of Central College, harnessed the power of positive thinking and a can-do attitude to turn a tragic accident into a triumphant life. Despite a bleak outlook, Furness’ can-do attitude has been on full display the past nine-plus years, whether as a husband and father, a high school coach at Martensdale – St. Marys, with his job at Wells Fargo in West Des Moines, as an inspirational speaker giving TED Talks or in his wheelchair completing marathons. Furness believes there is no such thing as a bad day – it is an individual’s choice to change a bad moment into a good day. Keep moving forward and looking toward what is next. Furness subscribes to the idea we can all be stronger than yesterday.

Pam Schoffner, Drake University Class of 1972

Katie Lindgren Photography

Pam Schoffner, a Drake University alumna, has spent the past 21 years volunteering for what is now EveryStep Care and Support Services. Not only does she initiate fundraising projects for the organization, she provides direct service through Hospice and Amanda the Panda. She helps the organization build its capacity, while being willing to do anything needed. Her commitment to this organization, and before that the United Way, is admirable. She has contributed so much to the local community and is an inspiration to many.

William ‘Billy’ Weathers, Simpson College Class of 2013

Billy ‘B.Well’ Weathers puts others before himself. He is a servant leader, and he inspires hope as a role model for youth in Des Moines. Weathers, a local musician and activist, volunteered extensively with the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) since 2016. This engagement included Boys Club mentorship, benefit concerts, monetary donations, and food, clothing and supply drives benefiting DMPS and its students. Because of his efforts, Weathers was the sole recipient of the 2019 Des Moines Education Association Volunteer of the Year award. Wanting to achieve greater impact for DMPS students and the community, Weathers established the B.Well Foundation in 2020. The Foundation is dedicated to supporting students in Des Moines by supporting initiatives that focus on education, mentorship, and families and schools in need of resources. The foundation develops and expands young minds by building character and ultimately fosters stronger futures for youth, lifting them to a place of prosperity. Additionally, those involved with the B.Well Foundation desire to be positive role models, teach respect, and build character. Weathers leads by example. Weathers has also been committed to activism, advocating for racial bias awareness and reconciliation while promoting personal responsibility as he believes that substantial change begins with the individual. Weathers focuses on education – inspiring youth affect change in their communities.

The Engaged Campus Award for Community Collaboration recognizes a collaboration co-created with community organizations, leaders, and/or partners that is deep, reciprocal, and transformational. 2021 awardees appear below, listed alphabetically by nominating member college or university.

Concordia College Theatre, nominated by Concordia College

Concordia College Theatre participated in Sojourn Theatre’s national festival of “The Race 2020”, producing their unique adaptation of the performance-conversation prior to the 2020 elections. The original script’s interactivity with live audience became complicated by public safety concerns regarding covid. Concordia’s approach combined prerecorded actor interaction and community interviews with audience members connecting with the performance and performs via Zoom. Designed to increase audience participation, the live second act eventually led to performer-facilitated conversations in virtual breakout rooms comprised of smaller groups of audience, many of whom engaged with the performance along with family and friends from their homes. While original intentions to bring the performance-conversation to multiple locations in the wider Fargo-Moorhead area had to be abandoned, the intention to connect with community beyond performer-audience interaction lived on. A unique aspect of the Concordia production among the other 10-15 festival participants was the inclusion of a series of interviews with members of both the Concordia and wider Fargo-Moorhead communities. Representing a wide diversity of age, race, political perspective, citizenship status and more, these videos widened the conversation inspired by the central question of the original Sojourn script, “What do we seek in our elected leaders/hip?”

Mark S. Cady Day of Public Service, nominated by Drake Law School

The Mark S. Cady Day of Public Service brings together the legal community of Iowa and community non-profit organizations for a state-wide day of service and outreach. Through educational programming, free legal services and clinics, and community volunteer opportunities, individuals and groups across Iowa dedicate themselves to serving others. The idea for the Cady Day of Public Service originated from a desire to honor the life and legacy of the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady and his commitment to public service, access to justice, and civil rights. Members of Drake Law School collaborated with representatives of The Iowa State Bar Association (ISBA), Iowa Legal Aid, Polk County Bar Association (PCBA), PCBA Volunteer Lawyers Project, and The ISBA Young Lawyers Division. Members of this group committed to host and support projects for Cady Day and organized a process to get other organizations and individuals to plan projects as well. Over 40 organizations and individuals registered projects which resulted in hundreds of volunteers throughout the state uniting in service to their communities. Rough estimates indicate that events held as part of the inaugural Cady Day impacted well over 10,000 individuals.

Loras College Civic Leaders Year 2 Leadership Team, nominated by Loras College

Supported by a long-standing strategic partnership between the Loras College Service Learning program and the City of Dubuque Human Rights Department, the Loras College Civic Leaders Year 2 Leadership Team has collaborated over three years to develop training materials for students in the Loras College Civic Leaders program, designed to educate them about issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Since the fall of 2019, this team, comprised of Mr. Temwa Phiri Community Engagement Coordinator with the City of Dubuque and Loras College students Mallory Gardiner and Emma Earles have trained 40 Loras students. This training prepared students to engage in service projects focused on issues of equity and inclusion throughout the City of Dubuque. Projects have included service with the arts commission, the housing department, neighborhood associations, minority owned businesses, county and city public health with COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the city’s fees and fines committee. Through these collaborative efforts in the community of Dubuque, Iowa, the Civic Leaders Year 2 Leadership Team has demonstrated over the past three years that the high aspirations of the Loras College Civic Action Plan are not only within reach, they are attainable and when pieces of the plan are implemented through deep commitments and hard work, yielding impact and reciprocal benefits for all stakeholders. 

Blackhawk County YWCA and University of Northern Iowa’s Languages and Literatures Department, nominated by University of Northern Iowa

The English class at the Blackhawk County YWCA serves immigrants and refugees in the Cedar Valley area (Waterloo, IA, and vicinity), at a time that people of color in our area have been grossly neglected. Many of the people who come to the English class come from countries such as Honduras, Bosnia, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Myanmar and work in meat processing facilities in the area. But the class is a protected space, one of the few low-stakes English-speaking environments the students may encounter. The collaboration with the Department of Languages and Literatures has brought language partners to the class for five years now. Spanish classes and TESOL classes each took part, and student and faculty volunteering beyond any class. The collaboration earned an initial grant for textbooks, resulted in a joint presentation of the YWCA staff and UNI faculty at the Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum conference , involved faculty and the organization in a service-learning institute, prompted an article, and recently a grant for technology for the English learning class so that individual learners can now access a Zoom environment to connect with students at UNI and extend their online access. Above all, this collaboration has inspired respect from UNI students for the dedication of the English learners, and improved communication and access to speaking partners for English learners here. Undaunted by the pandemic, the partnership continues.

The Engaged Campus Award for Emerging Innovation recognizes recent project, program, or initiative making unique and innovative contributions that demonstrate strong future potential, including student-led projects.2021 awardees appear below, listed alphabetically by nominating member college or university.

MLK Week of Service, nominated by Grand View University

Grand View University’s MLK Week of Service Committee planned, organized, and oversaw 2021’s MLK Week of Service. It met in the months leading up to January to determine which projects would be most beneficial for the community while also engaging students. GV’s Black Student Union, Diversity Alliance, Multicultural Ambassadors, Viking Volunteers, the Office for Student Involvement and Multicultural and Community Outreach were involved in the planning. Ultimately they decided to feature a wide range of service projects for each day of the week. Over 200 volunteers participated in these events. Volunteers made items such as reusable t-shirt bags that were donated to Central Iowa Shelter and Services and fleece blankets given to Blank’s Children Hospital. They also assembled Blessing Bags for those impacted by homelessness. Students wrote cards with comforting messages for nursing home residents who have been isolated over the past year. The highlight of the week involved partnering with Meals From the Heartland to package 20,088 meals to fight child hunger. The committee also held a virtual service fair for GV community partners. This connected students and faculty with valued service partners and informed them of various opportunities for service. Without student organizers and volunteers, the MLK Week of Service would not have been possible. It is our hope that this committee has set an example and laid the foundation for future service projects at Grand View.

Cultural Snapshots Community-based Research Project Design, nominated by Loras College

Dr. Jake Kurczek, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Loras College is an accomplished researcher and teacher who has consistently contributed to the field of Civic Engagement since serving as an Obermann Center Senior Graduate Fellow with the University of Iowa in 2013-14, while completing his PhD. Dr. Kurczek has contributed to 19 peer-reviewed publications, on which six he served as first author. According to Google Scholar, his publication metrics include 498 citations, yet he still finds time to be an innovator for Civic Engagement nationally, regionally and locally. In 2019, Jake was selected as a Compact Engaged Scholar for the Midwest Region and most recently he received national recognition with a 2021 Racial Equity and Interfaith Cooperation Award from the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). In 2017, Dr. Kurczek joined the team who wrote Loras College’s Civic Action Plan. Following this experience, hoping to remain involved in work central to implementing the plan, he volunteered to help build and co-advise a new Civic Engagement scholarship program, the Loras College Civic Leaders. Making deep commitments to strategic partner organizations that yield reciprocal benefits over time, (like creating the Cultural Snapshots Community-based Research Project Design), is at the heart of what Dr. Kurczek is committed to doing in his role as co-founder of this program for students. It is also at the heart of who Jake is as a human being.

Around Cloud Tutors, nominated by St. Cloud State University

Around Cloud Tutors was formed with the mindset that our community is better together and that it is necessary to work collaboratively rather than in silos. Given the initiative’s structure, Around Cloud Tutors serves all K-12 students in our tri-county area, which includes 5 school districts. Around Cloud Tutors strongly believes in and supports opportunities to provide equitable access to education and learning resources to all students. In a time where students are only able to connect with their teachers online or are limited to one-on-one help in the classroom due to social distancing guidelines, Around Cloud Tutors is committed to help bridge the achievement and resource gap at a time we need it most. Not only does this platform provide resources for students and their families, but it provides new access to volunteer opportunities for college students, retired individuals, and working professionals who are looking to get involved in their community. Given the lack of transportation that some college students and families deal with, the virtual nature of Around Cloud Tutors eliminates the stress and barriers of transportation for individuals who do not have access to a car or public transportation. Providing connections for retirees and teachers works to eliminate the social isolation so many are feeling during the pandemic. Connecting college students with students and local families provides a new way to advocate for retention of our higher education population.

Cultivating Justice: A Quest Towards Racial Equity, nominated by University of Northern Iowa

Cultivating Justice: A Quest Toward Racial Equity is a collection of projects and resources made by and for people in the Cedar Valley to promote racial justice and activate systemic change in our communities. The Quest’s collection of local materials includes essays, videos, performances of poetry, artwork, podcasts, toolkits, events, and more. The idea for Cultivating Justice: A Quest Toward Racial Equity was inspired by the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge © , which was conceived several years ago by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. (#BlackMind) and co-developed with Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick (#DiverseSolutions) to advance deeper understandings of the intersections of race, power, privilege, supremacy, and oppression. The Quest has had over 600 participants made up of 50% university faculty, staff and students, and community members.