Awardee and Panelist Bios

2021 Award Recipients

Outstanding Individual Philanthropist- EJ Droessler
EJ is the owner of the Dubuque based restaurant, L. May Eatery. He has been in the restaurant industry for the past 24 years and prides himself on providing a menu that supports a large variety of local growers/producers while offering fresh, real and wholesome food that can be enjoyed by all.
Over the past 18 months EJ has supported many organizations and individuals as they navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic. Through meal donations, clothing and cleaning supply drives, donations to the Boys and Girls Club, Mercy Foundation and others, he worked hard to increase community awareness and hopes that his philanthropic gestures will encourage those around him to do the same.
He is most proud of the Christmas Eve dinner donation he did this past year during the pandemic. The community was extremely generous, and the L. May staff was committed to making a difference.

Outstanding Philanthropic Organization- East Dubuque Nitrogen Fertilizers (EDNF) Fighting Cancer
EDNF Fighting Cancer is a volunteer group of employees who fundraise throughout the year in support of the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life of Dubuque. Their main fundraisers include raffles, on-site cookouts, an annual Chili cook-off, and contests during their company golf outing. In addition to on-site events, some of the employee volunteers also conduct personal fundraisers to support the cause. They have maximized their contributions by soliciting matching support and have been recognized as the top corporate fundraising team in 5 of the last 6 years.

The organization’s involvement with Relay for Life began 2012 in support of a co-worker who was diagnosed and then lost his battle with cancer. Since then, they have raised over $120,000 in support of Relay for Life Dubuque. EDNF and parent company CVR Energy have supported local efforts by being a presenting sponsor of the Dubuque Relay for Life event for the past three years, and an EDNF Fighting Cancer member also serves on the Dubuque Relay for Life Event Leadership Team.

When asked what accomplishment they are most proud of a representative answered, “Our local management and our parent company (CVR Energy) allow us the opportunity and time to fundraise for this worthy cause. For the past 3 years, EDNF / CVR have matched our team’s fundraising and have been Platinum sponsors of the Dubuque Relay for Life. We’re proud to work for a company that gives back to the community.”

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers- Paul Kronlage
Paul has been with First Community Trust since the organization was founded in 2000. He currently serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Paul grew up near Farley on the family farm. He received his education at Farley-Bankston Catholic Schools (now known as Seton) and attended high school at Western Dubuque. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Northern Iowa and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa. Paul and his wife Angie have raised their two sons, Ethan, 22 & Jacob, 18 in Epworth.

Paul has been involved in many non-profit organizations throughout the years. His service has included many board roles as well as assisting with fundraising whenever needed. Paul served as the President of the Seton Catholic School Board of Directors for many years. During his tenure he led a team successfully navigating the organization in raising the funds needed to build a new facility in Peosta to house Pre-K through 5th grade students. More recently, Paul took an active role both as Board Chair of the Stonehill Benevolent Foundation as well as serving on the capital campaign committee raising funds for Stonehill’s memory care and Assisi Village expansion.

When asked which philanthropic achievement he is most proud of Paul shared, “In the fundraising arena, I am proud to have assisted in the successful completion of a number of projects. If I had to pick one I am most proud of it would have to be the work we did at Seton. This was a difficult project that involved gathering input from 5 different towns/parishes, achieving consensus between the various stakeholders, designing the facility, and finally raising millions of dollars to make it a reality. This was a total team effort that went on for years from the initial concept to welcoming students. The best projects are never the vision or the efforts of one person. They require many people coming together for the good of the organization. I have been fortunate to work with many driven and hard-working people over the years who simply will not accept anything less than accomplishing our collective goal. It has been a pleasure to be able to assist in these successes.”

Outstanding Professional Fundraiser- Courtney Leonard
As a fundraising professional, Courtney has spent 15 years focused on gaining philanthropic support for mission-centric organizations. She chose the non-profit field because these organizations serve an unduplicated role in society, and it is her goal to secure the funding necessary to help organizations thrive while simultaneously helping others to fulfill their philanthropic goals. Courtney has been a member of the Clarke University community since 2013, and currently serves as the Executive Director of Development overseeing alumni relations, annual fundraising activities, planned giving marketing, and other special projects and initiatives.

Courtney is originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan, and a graduate of Central Michigan University and Lawrence Technological University. She and her husband, Justin, reside in Dyersville with their children, Henry (5) and Caitlin (2). Courtney credits her success to her family near and far and shared that she would not be where she is today without heir love and support.

When asked what she is most proud of professionally she shared, “I am honored to be part of the Clarke community where we live out our core values of education, justice, charity, and freedom every day. I truly believe education has the power to change the world and have made it my professional and personal mission to help students pursue their college education by removing financial barriers through philanthropy. The generosity demonstrated by our donors and their dedication to ensuring today’s students have the tools and support they need to succeed is nothing short of remarkable and it is an amazing honor to witness the Clarke spirit continuing to live on after 179 years.”

2020 Award Recipients

Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation- Klauer Family Charitable Foundation
The Klauer Family Charitable Foundation’s history can be traced back to the beginning of Klauer Manufacturing in 1870. Throughout its 150-year history, its leading members have been actively engaged in civil service, volunteerism, and charitable giving. The Foundation was created in the 1950’s by William J. Klauer to ensure the advancement of charitable causes. The foundation’s goals include giving to higher education scholarship funds, the arts, and health and human services.

When asked what the foundation is most proud of William Klauer, Foundation Board Member, said “We are happy to be able to support the community and honor our family legacy of giving and community service”.

Outstanding Philanthropic Organization- Projected Rooted
Project Rooted made a significant impact on the Greater Tri-State Community this year. The organization provided a response to a need that was a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their mission is to connect kids to real food from the ground up. Project Rooted is not just an idea, it’s a vision — a vision of a world where everyone has access to fresh local produce, connections to farmers and gardens — and living nourished lives in our schools, homes and community. In short, Project Rooted teaches and connects kids to nutritious food.
Project Rooted was able to provide no cost lunches to children in the community who may not otherwise have had the opportunity when local schools were closed. Their work continues today even as schools begin to resume. Co-Founders Whitney Sanger and Kevin Scharpf share that they are extremely proud of how the community came together and turned their vision into action. Whitney adds, “We had over 200 community members volunteer, many of which showed up every single day.” The organization was funded solely by charitable donations from individual and business partners.

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers- Tom and Amanda Rauen
Tom and Amanda Rauen have been making an impact on the Greater Tri-State Community for years. The couple has volunteered for many local events and organizations hand have served in volunteer leadership positions for organizations like Mercy One Foundation and Eastern Iowa JDRF, Dubuque YMCA/YWCA, Dubuque County Fair Association, and Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce. The couple also owns and operates Envision Tees.
Through Envision and the Rauen Family Foundation, we’ve raised and donated over $100,000 to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, a founding partner of Proving Grounds Recreation Area, and support of several other area non-profits through our t-shirt fundraising platform.

They are also the founders of Mac & Cheese Fest, which is an annual festival of local chefs and breweries with an average attendance of 1,000 people supporting charity. It is a fun, family friendly event that brings people to Dubuque from surrounding communities and showcases the talented chefs and breweries of the area all while raising money for a good cause.

When asked what philanthropic achievement they are most proud of they shared, “We are most proud of the impact we are able to make with something as simple as a t-shirt. Over the past 15 years, we’ve not only raised a lot of money, but also awareness through the power of a t-shirt. Every t-shirt tells a story, and we’ve been fortunate to help people in need tell their stories, whether it is a non-profit organization, a charity walk, or someone going through a life-threatening illness. The t-shirts become their superhero cape, their emotional support from their friends, family, and community all wearing the same t-shirt in unity to show support for that cause or individual.”

Outstanding Professional Fundraiser- Tiffany Stietz
As Hospice of Dubuque’s Community Relations Coordinator, Tiffany not only raises funds to support the organization, but also educates the tri-state community about end-of-life care. The Hospice of Dubuque Care Team provides expertise, comfort and guidance during one of life’s most difficult and vulnerable times. Tiffany works with diverse groups to promote the work of this organization—Board members, staff, volunteers, and community members—and she collaborates with patients, families, and donors to share their stories. Each story is unique, yet the impact of hospice is universal. Tiffany shares, “Being part of this team that bands together to fulfill a higher cause is so rewarding. The connections I am privileged to make with people, their lives, and their stories are what make my work meaningful. Working at Hospice of Dubuque has been a humbling experience, reminding me of the power of neighbor helping neighbor.”

When asked what she is most proud of professionally she shared, “Those of us who work at a nonprofit are used to stepping up and wearing many different hats to get the job done. Often, our teams and budgets are small, so we develop many innovative solutions to carry out the mission. I am proud of the adaptive, creative, and collaborative ways we carry out and support the Hospice of Dubuque mission each day. I am also proud of our community that over and over again comes together to support philanthropy right here in the tri-states.”

Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy- Addison Ryan
Addison has been an active participant in her family’s fundraising efforts for March of Dimes and Children’s Miracle Network since she was a toddler, and more recently, for the Finley Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic and The Autism Society of Iowa. Addison has been very intentional and self-driven to raise awareness about prematurity and infant loss prevention (her twin brother Elliott lived 16 days and is still very much present in the family’s life), as well other children who have special needs similar to her. She strives to make a difference by fundraising door to door, assisting in all of bake sales, garage sales, and vendor events. Beyond fundraising, she has been an advocate for her causes, sharing her story with hundreds with grace and poise. Addison has spoken on behalf of the March of Dimes many times from local events, and has even spoken with legislators twice at our nation’s capital! She has spoken for the Loras College Dance marathon and for the Finley Gala as she fundraised toward the pediatric rehab unit! Addison was a preemie and has defied all odds and proudly shares her preemie power by way of philanthropy to the world. Most recently Addison assisted in donation efforts to the community of Cedar Rapids following the derecho. She assisted in purchasing, gathering donations, loading the trailer, and unloading it in Cedar Rapids as well as assisting at the donation site with a variety of jobs.

When asked what she was most proud of in her philanthropic achievements Addison said, “Fundraising, because it helps other babies that were preemies like me. I am proud of the chances that I get to serve and help people, and happy to be in my last year of middle school!”

Addison’s parents, Nicholas and Sarah Ryan added, “As parents we are most proud of Addison for her strength and willingness to share of herself so freely, all in the hopes to impact even just one other life, or one family that has gone through similar scenarios. She is humble and will not acknowledge the accomplishments she has made to our community and country at such a young age, Addison truly does this as it is part of her spirit. I am proud of the joy and pride she takes in assisting with our fundraising efforts, always a very active role in this. And the true talent to speak in public about very sensitive and heartfelt topics such as prematurity, developmental delays requiring pediatric therapy, autism and more. She uses her fight and will to survive from a tiny preemie on to now. The world is a more beautiful place with her bright youthful future to give back to all.”

"The Joy of Giving" Panelist Bios

Susan Farber
Susan Farber is well established and engaged within the Dubuque Community, evidenced by her civic involvement serving on the Dubuque Initiatives, Dubuque Sister Cities, Unity Point Finley Hospital, Heritage Works, and University of Dubuque Board of Directors. Staying current on present day issues and helping the City’s nonprofit organizations successfully recover from the pandemic is an important priority.
In addition to attending the Dubuque Public Schools, Susan earned her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University, an MBA at George Washington University, and an Executive MBA at Harvard Business School.
Susan lives in Dubuque with her husband, Dr. Bernie Saks and together, they own and operate Magoo’s Pizza. Their household is also home to their adorable Cavachon dog, Mr. Magoo.

Tom Rauen
Tom Rauen is an entrepreneur with a passion for community, marketing, and innovation. Tom is the founder and CEO of 1-800-TSHIRTS and Envision custom screen printing and embroidery, an Inc. 5000 company. Tom is also the co-founder of Dimensional Brewing Company, a micro-brewery in Dubuque, Iowa.

Mark Wahlert

Mark Wahlert, a native of Dubuque, has a nearly 30 year history of working for cultural non-profits.  He is currently the Executive Director for the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, a position he has been proud to hold for over 7 years.

Mark has served as a volunteer on several non-profit Boards including Clarke University, Travel Dubuque, The Dubuque Golf & Country Club, the Dubuque Museum of Art and the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society.  He was also a founding Commissioner on the City of Dubuque’s Arts & Cultural Affairs Commission, including terms as Vice-Chair and Chair, and has served as a Trustee for the Wahlert Foundation for over 20 years.

Dr. Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D.

Dr. Wee arrived in the USA on July 4, 1983 after serving in the Singapore Armed Forces. He received his education at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has been an educator for over 30 years, first serving the University of Arizona, then Luther College, and now as president of Northeast Iowa Community College.

Wee straddles two cultures, sometimes successfully and other times not.  He grew up in a rural village in Singapore. The Wee family history started in China and spans over 1,000 years with 41 generations recorded. A lesson he learned very early in life from his elders, and continuously reinforced over the years, was the importance of the collective and common good. As he progresses in life, Wee has a deeper understanding and greater appreciation of his elders’ teaching. Their teaching has impacted his personal and professional journey.