Nonprofit Professionals to be Recognized at Celebration of Community Event

Published: November 9, 2018 | By: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation | Category:

On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, over 200 people will gather for the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s sixth annual Celebration of Community event from 4 – 6 p.m. at the African American Museum of Iowa. The program will be from 4 – 4:30 p.m. with a reception following. The celebration of “Good People + Good Ideas = Community Impact” will highlight people and projects at nonprofits that are making a positive impact in Linn County.

Two local nonprofit professionals who have gone above and beyond to support the mission of their organizations will receive nonprofit excellence awards.

The Nonprofit Leadership Excellence Award recognizes the leadership and accomplishments of the chief executive officer of a Linn County nonprofit organization who has offered exceptional leadership and created a lasting impact on their organization and the community.  This award will be presented posthumously to Brian Stutzman, former Executive Director of YPN.

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.  This award will be presented to Erin K. Kurt, Vice President of District Operations, Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa.

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

For more information about the Celebration of Community event, or to RSVP, please go to

More information about each award winner is included below:


Nonprofit Leadership Excellence Award

Brian Stutzman (Posthumously), Executive Director, YPN

Brian Stutzman started working at YPN in 1997 as a rural service provider. In 2000, he was promoted to Executive Director and maintained this role until his unexpected passing in July 2018. Brian led collaborative efforts both within his organization and in the larger community. Friends, colleagues and peers describe him as a man who wanted all nonprofits to succeed, and who worked selflessly to achieve that vision through his positive influence. Brian was an open and honest communicator who spoke his mind and eagerly shared his knowledge.

Brian’s work in the community was always guided by a genuine passion for collaboration. When the idea of the Sister Mary Lawrence Community Center emerged several years ago, Brian suggested that the nonprofit tenants mount a joint capital campaign. He understood that the groups were stronger together and that there was no need to compete. The center is now home to six nonprofit organizations. One of those organizations (Gems of Hope) was entirely volunteer-driven when Brian joined its board of directors. Calling on his considerable organizational development experience, Brian was able to help them hire staff—something the organization’s leaders called a transformative effort.

From the long-running Cedar Rapids Latino Festival to the Eastern Iowa Diaper Bank, Brian identified community needs and worked tirelessly to meet them.  It was Brian’s creativity and understanding of the true value of a “hand-up” that informed the core of the diaper program, where parents earn diapers by demonstrating healthy behaviors. This program now distributes more than 13,000 diapers each month through YPN’s We Care Shop.

Brian was tremendously effective in his role at YPN, building a team that is proudly carrying on his legacy through a number of high-impact community endeavors. His humility, humor and warm heart endeared him to innumerable colleagues over the years, and it is a testament to Brian’s character that over two dozen local nonprofit leaders came together to nominate him for this award.


Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award

Erin K. Kurt, Vice President of District Operations, Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa

For the last 13 years, Erin K. Kurt has been instrumental in furthering the mission of Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa. Erin started at JAEI as an Education Director and now leads the development, education and IT departments. She is responsible for all regional processes, program quality standards and operational procedures. The past program year was particularly demanding of Erin, as JAEI saw double digit student growth while undergoing technology and database transitions.

Erin’s role requires her to work closely with administrators, teachers, community volunteers, classroom mentors and JAEI board members. Outside of this, Erin also finds time to maintain her personal volunteer efforts, investing in our community in a manner that not only sustains, but inspires others to do the same. Colleagues describe her as a team player who leads by example, commending her capacity to assist others without the expectation of reciprocity.

Through Erin’s leadership, JAEI has established high-performing benchmarks for volunteer retention, classroom participation and number of students served. Due to these high standards and a quality programming model, Erin is often asked to serve on national task forces and committees.

Erin’s work ethic, positive attitude and unwavering integrity are highly respected in her organization and community. Erin is a role model for all who work with her and for all who come in contact with her in her community volunteer efforts.

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