2016 Nonprofit Leadership Excellence Award

Linda Henecke
President & CEO
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa

Linda Henecke has been leading Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids & East Central Iowa (BBBS) since 1995. She has transformed the agency. Over the past 21 years she has built capacity for unprecedented growth in the number of children served, growing from less than 200 children in 1995 to recently helping 826 children through mentoring friendships. Her work has made a lasting impact not only on children’s lives, but also on volunteers and the community.

Linda’s commitment to BBBS is unquestionable. Before becoming President & CEO, she served on the Board of Directors and volunteered as a Big Sister. Subsequently, Linda has mentored four children and truly understands the impact of one-to-one relationships.

Under Linda’s leadership, the agency’s programming is recognized as highly effective. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has named Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids & East Central Iowa a Quality Award honoree on multiple occasions, most recently in 2015. Agencies that receive this award have exceeded the national average for metrics. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids & East Central Iowa is one of the top achieving affiliates from the 340 agencies in the national mentoring network.

Linda is a natural collaborator and under her leadership, the agency works closely with area educational institutions and nonprofits focused on children and families. She launched the Lunch Buddies program in 2000 to serve more children through school-based mentoring. She has built a strong staff team and a great working environment, as shown by the agency’s recognition in 2016 by the Corridor Business Journal as one of the corridor’s “Coolest Places to Work.”

Linda brings creativity to every aspect of her work. She has tackled increased funding needs for the agency by creating a succession of new and successful fundraising events. She handles the staffing challenges faced by all small nonprofits with flexibility and grace. She is unflappable, energetic and solution-oriented.

It is due to Linda’s leadership and skillful board development work that BBBS has built an engaged and effective cadre of volunteer leaders and advocates. Any agency would be fortunate to have someone of Linda’s ability as its leader. The children and families of this area have benefited from her dedication.