Home 2023 Spirit of Minnie Rubek Honorees

Amy Brunner

Director of Community Engagement
Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois

“Amy’s selfless leadership helps reach girls and volunteers across our council, especially in Linn and Johnson counties.”

Amy is a leader with heart toward the mission and impact Girl Scouts makes in the community.  She diligently partners with volunteers and staff to inspire their efforts with the council.  Amy conveys to families the opportunities for all girls through Girl Scouts.  She encourages team members and supports them in their work to achieve their goals. Her enthusiasm for the organization and ability to connect with people is a strength for Girl Scouts across our council and in the greater Cedar Rapids area.

Polly Draker

Clinic Supervisor
His Hands Free Clinic

“She is always patient and kind when interacting with patients and families, in person, and on the phone;  she makes each person she helps feel seen.”

When we think of Minnie Rubek, we think of someone who is quiet and working behind the scenes.  Polly, although in charge of supervising daily clinic operations, is a calming force when there are lots of patients, phone calls, questions, and needs for information and equipment. Polly is strong but quiet, and very persistent and persuasive.

Alicia Faust

Executive Director
Willis Dady Homeless Services

“Alicia has led our organization in the tireless efforts and outstanding leadership in raising awareness regarding homelessness and affordable housing in our community.”

Alicia’s creative, unique, and innovative contributions through Willis Dady have established solutions to homelessness through founding Permanent Supportive Housing and Veterans Services, in addition to overseeing the sustainment of our Employment, Street Outreach, and all other agency programming. Her compassionate leadership reveals the immense care and commitment to service that Alicia has for our community. She values the power of collaboration, creating a positive work environment that opens doors for clients to receive the most support possible throughout their lives. Willis Dady staff are empowered to be incredible advocates in our community under her leadership. Her contributions to homeless services are invaluable.

Leland Freie

Nutrition Specialist
Foundation 2 Crisis Services

“Leland has served the emergency youth shelter in a number of roles, providing stability for youth and families in crisis.”

Leland has served in almost every role in the emergency youth shelter over the years. Leland is dedicated to providing nutritious and high quality meals to youth. He supports the shelters medication management to ensure youth are receiving their medication timely and safely. Leland has undoubtedly impacted hundreds of youth over the years, serving the organization in several roles at the youth shelter. He has impacted hundreds of lives for youth by being a positive role-model, kind human, and advocate for young people experiencing crisis.

Rozana Garrison

Women’s Services Recovery Specialist
Catherine McAuley Center

“Rozana helps empower women through recovery to regain independence.”

Rozana’s dedication to living a life of recovery has made her an ideal mentor and leader for the women we serve at the Catherine McAuley Center. She has incorporated important components of recovery living into our transitional housing program. As a result, our incidents of relapse have significantly dropped. Rozana excelled as a resident while in programming and continues to excel as an employee. Every day she brings her heart and values to work and her commitment has never waivered.

Katie Goedken-Fennell

Site Assistant
The Arc of East Central Iowa

“Katie is a relentless advocate for individuals with disabilities, always goes above and beyond, and is a natural leader who is critical in making our group recreation and summer childcare programs a huge success.”

Katie epitomizes what it means to be an Arc team member. She is smart, full of energy, and competent with every aspect of her work. Katie’s natural demeanor radiates calm and patience, and she is unflappable under pressure. Her passion for assuring the people we serve are treated with dignity, have integrated experiences in the community, and can achieve equitable success in reaching their goals and dreams, make her an ideal Spirit of Minnie Rubek honoree.

Jeff Hazzard

Helping Hands Ministry Program Coordinator
Ecumenical Community Center Foundation

“Jeff assists our neighbors with basic material needs like rent, utilities, and auto gas, as well as with financial and life coaching.”

Kind, compassionate, gracious, and humble, Jeff quietly and expertly turns people’s requests for assistance into opportunities to review their options for improving their own lives.

Rhonda Martin

Assistant to the Athletic Director
Mount Mercy University – Athletic Department

“Rhonda ensures that our student-athletes always feel at ‘home’ when they are away from home!”

Rhonda is the first person many of our Mount Mercy student-athletes interact with when they come to campus to visit or to move in on their first day! She embodies the compassion and caring modeled by Mount Mercy’s founders, the Sisters of Mercy. Rhonda always has a place at her dinner table for student-athletes who miss home, who are away from family over holidays, or who are just hopeful for a good meal! Rhonda coordinates much of the Athletic Department’s service in the community, a core requirement for our athletic teams. She works behind the scenes in a quick, efficient and helpful way to help our Athletic Department and our teams succeed, and is instrumental in our collective success – while never wanting to take any of the credit!

Sandy Osborn

Nutrition Services Manager

“Sandy is committed to providing seniors in our community hot nutritious meals.”

Sandy has been with Horizons for over 11 years. In this time she has served as an employee in the Kitchen, then moved up to the Kitchen Manager and now serves as the Nutrition Services Manager. She not only gives of time and talent to improve the program, she gives of her heart. She works tirelessly to serve the Meals on Wheels program to provide healthy, nutritious meals to clients. She continuously looks to make improvements to enhance quality while being conscious of cost. She leads the Meals on Wheels kitchen and pantry staff to continue to improve processes and efficiencies while working in a fun environment. Her dedication is not only seen by staff but by the numerous volunteers she works alongside to make sure all meals go out each day.

Jessica Peel-Austin

Curator of Museum Collections

“Jessica inspires interaction with history, preservation, and the arts through knowledge and access.”

Brucemore’s mission is to inspire community interaction with history, preservation, and the arts. Jessica Peel-Austin has played an exemplary role in serving this mission through her ten years of dedicated employment at Brucemore. She has worn many hats, including curator, educator, historic interpreter, historian, storyteller, tour guide, researcher, public speaker, program creator, and more. As the Curator of Museum Collections, she provides the foundation of knowledge, research, and access to the history of the 26-acre estate, seven historic structures, and thousands of artifacts. She has advocated for and helped ensure the historic assets remain part of our community for future generations. Her work enriches tours, programs, and outreach for Brucemore, and allows people to create tangible connections with the past. She has helped the organization adapt during the multi-million-dollar investment in major preservation work and derecho recovery to find new ways for people to engage with the site. She led research efforts into the archives to help the landscape restoration team understand the opportunity of the landscape from the site’s early period of significance. The Cedar Rapids community and Eastern Iowa area are stronger through her dedication to preserving and sharing this living landmark.

Alice Silver

Food Service Manager

“Alice is deeply committed to children’s well-being by planning and preparing daily nourishing meals for Tanager’s inpatient programs, the Psychiatric Medical Institute for Children, and the Intermediate Care Facility for Intellectual Disability.”

Tanager’s CEO, Okpara Rice, has chosen Alice Silver to be honored with the Spirit of Minnie Rubek Recognition because she goes above and beyond her job description every day to ensure the children in our care and the staff she supervises know they are seen, heard, and valued.  Alice’s commitment and dedication to Tanager’s mission to provide children and families with services that inspire, empower, and heal are what she lives and breathes every day as she plans, prepares, and oversees daily meals for the 66 children in our inpatient programs.  In addition, she manages the food service and custodial departments, building a work culture that supports and uplifts staff.  Because of her leadership, these departments experience very low turnover, contributing to the stability and consistency of our programs as a whole. Her strong work ethic, generous spirit, and dedication to Tanager’s mission and vision truly set her apart.

Yer Vang

Director of Immigration Legal Services
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque

“Yer Vang is dedicated to enhancing the lives of immigrants and refugees through education, advocacy, and immigration legal services for those most vulnerable in our community.”

Yer Vang, JD, is an exemplary community leader for immigrants and refugees in Cedar Rapids and throughout our 30-county service area. Yer is the Director of Immigration Legal Services at Catholic Charities and works tirelessly to reunite and keep families together through family-based immigration legal services.  Yer walks alongside clients to help them understand their options in an incredibly complex legal system, bringing hope to families separated by global unrest, war, famine, and violence. She is the nucleus of a talented team and has a skill for uniting everyone around a common objective through her expertise, compassion, and dedication. In the ever-changing field of immigration law, Yer pivots services to bring the most current information to those impacted, be it Afghan evacuees, Ukrainian parolees, or unaccompanied minors from Central America. She initiates workshops on nights and weekends around clients’ work schedules to determine how their cases may be impacted by emerging federal immigration law updates. Yer also provides webinars to bring accurate, reliable, unbiased immigration information to community partners advocating on behalf of immigrants. Yer ensures that barriers to client services are minimized through translation, referrals, and embracing a trauma-informed care approach. Throughout Yer’s work, she strives to help clients thrive financially, socially, and emotionally. Her efforts have impacted countless families who would otherwise be unable to access quality legal services for adjustment of their immigration legal status. Yer goes above and beyond every day to embody our mission of strengthening families, reducing poverty, and empowering communities.


Visit the Nonprofit Giving Center and the Nonprofit Calendar to search for a nonprofit fund, organization, cause, or event to support.