Celebration of Community Event Honored Nonprofit Organizations and Leaders

Published: November 13, 2014 | By: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation | Category:

Over 200 community members gathered for Celebration of Community, an event hosted by the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, on Thursday, November 13, 2014 from 4 – 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial to celebrate and recognize the work of nonprofits and the impact of grantmaking in our community.

“Nonprofit organizations play a critical role in this community,” said Les Garner, President & CEO of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.  “We are continually inspired by the programs and services of nonprofits that make our community a better place for all of us to live.  They create opportunities to enjoy arts and cultural experiences, expand our educational horizons, preserve our environment, and improve our health and well-being.  We are proud to be their partner in impacting the lives of our fellow citizens.”

The program featured stories of several recent grant-funded projects from Theatre Cedar Rapids, Foundation 2 and Neighborhood Transportation Services. You can watch the videos of their stories below.

Four nonprofit excellence awards were also presented to nonprofit professionals who go above and beyond to support the mission of their organizations.

The Nonprofit Leadership Excellence Award recognizes the leadership and accomplishments of the chief executive officer of a Linn County nonprofit organization who offers exceptional leadership and creates a lasting impact on their organization and the community.  This award was presented to John Garringer, Executive Director at the Area Substance Abuse Council.

The Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award recognizes a nonprofit staff member who has gone “above and beyond” in their support of the organization’s mission and has greatly enhanced the overall effectiveness of the organization through his/her work.  The Community Foundation presented three Minnie Rubeck Staff Excellence Awards to:  J. David Carey, Finance and Administrative Director at Theatre Cedar Rapids; Kay Fisk, Director of Development at Neighborhood Transportation Services; and Kandy Sands, Office Manager at Kids First Law Center.

In addition to an award, each recipient received a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation designated for staff development at the honoree’s organization.

More information about each award winner is included below:


John Garringer, Executive Director at the Area Substance Abuse Council – Nonprofit Leadership Excellence Award 

John GarringerJohn Garringer joined ASAC in 1984 and has served as Executive Director since 1987.  During the course of his thirty-year career, John’s leadership has helped grow the ASAC program from an 800 thousand dollar budget to today’s budget of over eleven million dollars.

John’s peers say that besides having excellent administrative and financial skills, John is a caring and visionary leader.

Under John’s leadership, ASAC created the Heart of Iowa Mother and Child Recovery Center, one of the state’s first residential treatment programs for pregnant women and women with children. In addition, John was instrumental in establishing the Transitional House Revolving Loan Fund at the Iowa Finance Authority. This funding source helped ASAC build The Way Home, a transitional housing program that provides safe, affordable housing for low-income families in recovery from substance abuse.

When the Flood of 2008 impacted ASAC’s Bowling Street campus, John’s response was to immediately clean up and renovate, allowing the Heart of Iowa to move back in to the buildings in a little over three months. In recent years, John also expanded the multicultural program to include treatment services in Spanish to better serve the Latino/Hispanic population.

Collaboration is something John has implemented throughout ASAC to develop programs to meet client needs, including the Youth Residential/CD+ program in partnership with Four Oaks. John also facilitated partnership with Linn County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities to create Dual Diagnosis Recovery Center, a residential treatment program for persons with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health concerns.

Beyond his work at ASAC, John has served as the Chair of the Iowa Substance Abuse Director’s Association, and served on numerous committees to improve the treatment of persons suffering from substance abuse.

Over the last 30 years, John’s leadership, vision, integrity, and compassion have made a difference in the Cedar Rapids area and within the ASAC family.


J.David Carey, Finance and Administrative Director at Theatre Cedar Rapids – Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award 

J. David CareyThroughout his 25 years at Theatre Cedar Rapids, J. David Carey has worked in several leadership roles within the organization. J. David’s strength in adapting to change has been invaluable throughout the years.

Pat Deignan, President of Bankers Trust and TCR Trustee Officer, says “J. David’s perspective on what’s worked in the past, and what has not worked, has helped TCR learn and become a better organization.”  He says “his institutional knowledge, coupled with his artistic background and business acumen, is a unique asset to TCR.

J.David’s unique perspective helped TCR through many changes, including financial hardships, organizational leadership, and the devastating flood of 2008. J. David was selfless during those changes, and was a great bridge for the transition of leadership. He has shown flexibility and adaptability to changing roles and responsibilities.

J. David always has the best interest of TCR at heart, and still actively seeks to improve himself for the benefit of the organization. His passion for the theatre was instilled him as a child and continues to this day. Because of his loyalty and dedication to TCR, J. David continually inspires and motivates his peers.


Kay Fisk, Director of Development at Neighborhood Transportation Services – Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award 

Kay FiskKay started her work as Development Director for the Neighborhood Transportation Service in 2006.  Prior to that, worked at Rockwell Collins for 42 years and served as a Loaned Executive to United Way for the next 11 years.

When Kay started at NTS, the organization was providing 25,000 rides to and from work and educational classes. Kay has worked diligently to secure additional funding to support growth. This year, NTS provided almost 47,000 rides.

Kay is a passionate advocate for employment transportation funding. She built a broad-based coalition of transit agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and legislators to lobby for funding throughout the state of Iowa. When the funding fell short, Kay didn’t give up. She directly contacted Governor Branstad about the critical need for funding support. After a series of meetings, the end result was funding from the Department of Economic Development to provide support for hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to work and support their families.

Kay has taken the lead in organizing community transportation forums and other education events that engage people and look for solutions to our transportation challenges.

Lu Barron, Linn County Supervisor says that “Kay is a tireless advocate for public transit and her determination is making a lasting impact for people in our community.”


Kandy Sands, Office Manager at Kids First Law Center – Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award 

Kandy SandsKandy Sands joined Kids First in 2007, and she has transformed the organization in every way. Kids First runs smoothly thanks to Kandy’s work and skills.

Jenny Schultz, the Executive Director of Kids First, says Kandy is “the best frontline person an organization could dream of.”

Kandy’s responsibilities cover all aspects of the organization. Kandy set up a case management software system which tracks all of Kids First’s cases and outcomes. She opened the trust account and keeps track of all of the payments from parents under the sliding fee system.

Kandy set up the organization’s donor database and excels at donor recognition. She is always interested in promoting Kids First and the mission. Over 400 children attend divorce workshops each year, and Kandy is responsible for handling the registrations, scheduling volunteers, and gathering feedback about each workshop.

Kandy is often taking on tasks that fall outside her responsibilities, with cheerfulness and ease. She never drops the ball, and in an organization where the ball is always moving, that is no small task.

Neighborhood Transportation Services

Foundation 2

Theatre Cedar Rapids

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