2020 Award Honorees

CONGRATULATIONS TO THIS YEAR'S NATIONAL PHILANTHROPY DAY AWARD HONOREES!
Each year, local chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) highlight the philanthropists, volunteer fundraisers and fundraising professionals who are doing amazing work for the greater good!
The 2020 award honorees selected by the AFP Eastern Iowa Chapter are:
Outstanding Individual Philanthropists – Barry and Gilda Boyer

Gilda and Barry Boyer have long been known as community volunteers and significant philanthropists in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area. With successful professional careers behind them, the Boyers have focused on service, adventure, and learning in their retirement. 

Gilda and Barry both moved to Cedar Rapids as young children, after their fathers accepted jobs at Rockwell Collins. Both went on to graduate from Cornell College in Mount Vernon where they were active leaders on campus. After college, the Boyers continued to be leaders as business people, volunteers, and philanthropists.  Gilda retired in 2008 after a successful career in law as a senior member of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll P.L.C., advising small business clients. Barry is former President and CEO of Van Meter, Inc., retiring after 20 years with the company.

In 2003, they established the Gilda and Barry Boyer Family Fund at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. At the heart of their intent was supporting the community that has supported them for so long. Two specific areas of interest for their philanthropy have been economic development and assistance to incarcerated men. Their fund has distributed over $263,000 to 39 different charitable nonprofits since 2004.

Over the years, the Boyers have been an inspiration for philanthropy and volunteerism through their involvement with Cornell College, Planned Parenthood, United Way, The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Allianc,e and more.

It is hard to quantify the impact that the Boyers have had on our community. Their fierce commitment to giving back and creating opportunities for others is evident in their past and continued work on behalf of so many. They care about our community and region; they care about people; they are giving of their time and knowledge; they inspire others to think outside the box; they are collaborators and conveners; and they are intentional with their philanthropy.

Though they have traveled extensively, the Boyers chose to make their home in Cedar Rapids. “Cedar Rapids remains our community of choice,” says Gilda. “And it’s really because of the people here.”

......

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser – Jeff Sears

As an active community leader and volunteer, Jeff Sears is a board member for CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank (formerly The Crisis Center) in Johnson County, Iowa.  Jeff has been on the CommUnity board for five years, serving as Development Chair (2 years) and Governance Chair (2 years).  In 2016, he developed the Hunger Banquet, an annual experiential fundraiser for the organization. Jeff also currently serves as a trustee for the Iowa City Community Fund and a state board member for Iowa Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)/Phi Beta Lambda (PBL).  

Past non-profit volunteer board roles have included Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, Northern Arizona University Alumni Association, Indianapolis Junior Chamber International, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Patient and Family Advisory Board. Jeff served as the Chapter Advisor for Delta Upsilon at the University of Iowa from 2012-2018, and was recognized as Advisor of the Year by the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity in 2017.  

In his professional life, Jeff has worked in the healthcare industry for 15 years, and is the Associate Director, Commercial Communications for Astellas Pharma, a Japan-based pharmaceutical company.  A recognized speaker, trainer and facilitator, Jeff has presented to more than 20,000 professionals, students, and community members across the globe on a variety of organizational leadership and communications topics. He is a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and excels at innovation, process improvements, change management, and crisis management planning.

Jeff graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in speech communication. Jeff lives in Iowa City with his husband, Aaron, and their son Eli. 


...
Outstanding Fundraising Professional – Michelle Beisker

Michelle Beisker is Senior Vice President of Development at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. She provides guidance and support to donors to help them achieve their charitable giving goals. She is responsible for the asset development activities for the Community Foundation – overseeing donor service, stewardship, communication, as well as the administrative database and systems that support those activities. Since joining the Community Foundation in June 2014, Michelle developed an asset development strategic plan resulting in over $62 million in contributions in 5 years. Michelle designed and leads the family philanthropy team.  She is a 21/64 Certified Advisor – Next Generation Philanthropy.  In 2020, Michelle was honored by the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as Outstanding Fundraiser.  

Michelle is a member of Downtown Rotary, Rotary Foundation Committee, Cedar Rapids Area Estate Planning Council, Association of Fundraising Professionals and Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council. She currently serves as past board chair of the Eastern Iowa Health Center and board member of Theatre Cedar Rapids.  Michelle recently served on the Downtown Rotary board of directors.  

Prior to joining the Community Foundation in 2014, Michelle was the Program Director of PUSH-CR with Four Oaks, a federal demonstration program to end family homelessness; Assistant Vice President of Development at Mount Mercy University; and Chief Operations Officer at Waypoint. In addition, she worked 10 years in business development at PMX Industries, Inc. in several roles including Inside Sales Manager and Global Sales Manager and was responsible for negotiating multi-million-dollar contracts with global mints.

Michelle is a Cedar Rapids, Iowa native. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Business minor at the University of Iowa. Michelle and her husband, Craig, live on an acreage and have two adult children, Alyssa and Erik. 

...
Outstanding Large Organization – Lil’ Drug Store Products

The culture at Lil’ Drug Store Products is one of support and growth. Employees are empowered to contribute at every level to solve problems and drive improvement, and they take that mindset with them into the community.

Lil’ Drug employees give time and funding to more than 40 local organizations, supporting youth development, education, mental health services, access to healthcare, the arts, and numerous other causes. Employees are offered opportunities to give back through service to area nonprofit boards, work days, or financial sharing. Members of the team know that Lil’ Drug invests in well run philanthropic organizations that seek to build up the members of this community and beyond. Whether through inspiration or action, the confidence that comes from knowing you are making a difference is palpable within their walls. Lil’ Drug employees are led in this effort by President Chris DeWolf and his wife, Susy Oldorf DeWolf – past recipients of the Outstanding Individual Philanthropists award. 

Lil’ Drug’s fund at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has granted nearly $1.2 million into the community since 2007 and continues to support dozens of local nonprofits. Their commitment to innovative approaches to some of our community’s most difficult problems makes them drivers of generosity and change.

Lil’ Drug Store Products was founded in 1974 and sold just four products in the Midwest. Chris and Suzy DeWolf bought the company from her parents, Dennis and Donna Oldorf, in 2005 and have since worked to expand and diversify the business. Today, they distribute to 30 countries and 100,000 convenience stores throughout the U.S. and are a lead supplier in the convenience industry.

As President, Chris focuses on employee satisfaction and involvement. As a result, 97% of employees say they are proud to work for Lil’ Drug. Through all of its growth, Lil’ Drug has maintained a commitment to Cedar Rapids and its residents. A new $13 million headquarters recently brought 11 new jobs and immeasurable economic impact to the Corridor.


...
Outstanding Small Organization – Iowa Giving Crew

What started as a prank three years ago, miraculously morphed into a full-fledged non-profit just two years later. I’m talking about the Iowa Giving Crew.

It all began when a coworker put on Craigslist that their friend was giving away free turkeys at Thanksgiving. He was not. After receiving numerous calls and hearing disappointed people on the other end, he realized the need was real. Thankfully, a group of his friends turned to Facebook and raised $1,400 in a few short days and he was able to save face. With this sizeable sum in hand, this group of friends not only provided turkeys, but also meals to 80 families in need. Dubbed “Operation Give Birds” the effort was repeated again the following year. This time, with more time and organization, they raised enough money to provide 280 meals to families in need. 

Feeling their fundraising chops, in 2019 this group obtained their nonprofit status to become a legit 501(c)(3) named Iowa Giving Crew. This new status served as a real door opener. They worked with corporate and business partners in the Cedar Rapids and Marion area; they became media darlings with great coverage from local television and newspapers; and they joined up with other nonprofits like Tanager Place, Willis Dady Homeless Shelter, and The Area Substance Abuse Council who helped them pinpoint the people who needed meals the most.  For 2019’s Operation Give Birds, Iowa Giving Crew provided 580 meals to families in need in the area. Surplus funds helped provide Christmas presents that year.

The impact of Covid-19 didn’t stop this energetic and nimble group, as evidenced by their fast response to this new challenge. Looking for new ways to help, they:

-- Organized a 75-vehicle thank you parade for front line workers

-- Provided $3,000 to Olivet Mission 

-- Provided $1,000 of learning materials to the Boys and Girls Club 

-- Provided $1,000 of supplies to the Willis Dady Homeless Shelter

-- Donated relaxation items to Mercy Hospital employees treating Covid patients  

-- Provided back to school supplies to people in need 

-- Donated $1,000 to corporate partner to assist people in their network impacted by Covid. 


...
Outstanding Philanthropic Youth – Ian Johnston

It’s not about winning or losing at the game of golf. Ian Johnston plays for a bigger purpose.

A proud graduate of Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids and former star of the Prairie golf team, Ian’s been playing since he was a small child. Now a student at the University of South Dakota, he is a member of the University’s golf team. At just 19 years old, Ian has been working as a philanthropist for more than 4 years.

What is it that motivates a young philanthropist like Ian? Sadly, the answer is tragedy. On October 4, 2016 Ian's beloved older brother, Seth, passed away from a heroin overdose – alone in a hotel room.

Ian chose to honor his brother and to use his love of golf to build a platform to raise awareness about substance abuse and the opioid crisis. He also used this as a springboard to raise money. ASAC, the Area Substance Abuse Council in Cedar Rapids, is the recipient of Ian’s fundraising.

Ian began sharing his family's story with other junior golfers and their families in hopes of spreading awareness about substance abuse disorders in teens & young adults. He has spoken to high school health classes about the dangers of substance abuse and his efforts have garnered the attention of media outlets on a local, state and national level. Even Zach Johnson, who’s known Ian since he was a little boy, got involved and narrated a CBS Sports Network story about Ian and his family. This allowed Ian to further spread awareness and increase his fundraising efforts. To date, Ian has raised over $30,000.

In 2019, Ian and his family established a scholarship for golfers at Prairie High School who were active in the community. The Prairie High School golf team created an award, The Ian Johnston Award, given out annually to a student who displays excellence in the classroom, the community, and on the course. Ian is an active part of The Choices Network, a non-profit founded by his family that is dedicated to teaching teens about the importance of making positive choices and educating teens, parents, teachers & coaches about substance abuse and mental health.

Each time Ian steps to the first tee, it’s for Seth. With every putt he makes and every tournament he wins, Seth’s story continues to be told.