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Nonprofit leaders to be recognized at 'not another boring awards ceremony'

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

YNPN.GR Leadership Awards will celebrate individuals and groups in the sector on November 7
A compilation of portraits of the 2012 Leadership Award winners.

A compilation of portraits of the 2012 Leadership Award winners. /Adam Bird

YNPN.GR Leadership Awards

Tickets are available for the fifth annual YNPN.GR Leadership Awards here, including refreshments and one roaring good time celebration the nonprofit sector. YNPN.GR members receive a discount (code available on the members-only page here).

Working for the greater good, a career in nonprofits can be personally rewarding. But the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids thinks a little public reward goes a long way, too.

On November 7, YNPN.GR will host the community in a n ight of celebration and recognition for nonprofit leaders. Held at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the fifth annual YNPN.GR Leadership Awards are promised to be "not another boring awards ceremony."

"These people are working tirelessly for others, constantly trying to better their community and help make change," said Lucy Joswick, last year's Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year winner. "But for one night, it's all about them. They deserve it."

Joswick now serves on the YNPN.GR board and is co-chair of the event committee. She said this year, the committee received a record-breaking number of nominations for the seven award categories.

The winners will be decided through votes from YNPN.GR members, then announced live at the event.

The award categories include the Advocate, DoGooder (volunteer), Good-To-Great (organization/program improvement), Exemplary Executive, Breakthrough (individual or group tackling tough community issues), Unsung Hero (the 'behind the scenes' all-stars), and of course the Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year. Finalists for the Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year are Afton DeVos (Kids' Food Basket), Chip Kragt (American Red Cross of West Michigan), Keri Kujala (St. Mary's Foundation), Heather Saturley (First Steps), and Tera Qualls (Grand Valley State University). A full list of all the finalists is available on the YNPN.GR website.

The event has come a long way since its inception five years ago.

"(YNPN.GR board chair) Barbara Anderson and I were riding around in the car one day, and we had this idea," YNPN.GR board member Jenn Schaub said. "We thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool to celebrate the people who are making a significant impact, but weren't being recognized for their work?' "

Her favorite Leadership Awards memory was from the year the event was held at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. They filled the auditorium and were at standing room only capacity, and each time a winner was called to the stage, a triumphant march-style song was played.

"I downloaded a bunch of crazy songs on my iPod for that," Schaub said. "That was a fun year."

According to Schaub, the first few years of the awards were made up of a lot of the same faces and names. But the group has made an effort recently to expand their outreach and make sure they were really recognizing the unsung heroes of the sector.

Even the venue gets a spotlight, as the awards are held at a different nonprofit organization each year.

"It's really a celebration of the sector as a whole," Schaub said.

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