Luncheon recognizes leaders


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After having been awarded the prestigious Campus Program Excellence Award this past January, the UNI Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) went on to receive additional recognition this past week.

The NLA held its Cedar Valley Nonprofit Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, April 7. A total of 12 awards were presented to both UNI students, professors and alumni, as well as awards for Cedar Falls community members.

The luncheon was held in the UNI Commons Ballroom and hosted by Amanda Goodman of KWWL.

As guests entered the luncheon, they were treated to a cello performance by senior music education major, Jonathan Haverdink. NLA director of research development, Andrew Juarez introduced the guests to some of NLA’s accomplishments this year.

Jordan Vernoy, UNI alumnus and current member of the NLA Advisory Board, was was one of the NLA members in attendance.

Vernoy, who currently works with the national organization Feeding America, is just one of many examples of UNI students, former and current, who are making positive strides in nonprofit agencies.

“We really work to provide the future leaders of the nonprofit social sector,” said Julianne Gassman, event advisor and current interim chair of leisure, youth and human services.

Of the 12 major awards given out, Sarah Hanson, senior leisure, youth and human services major, won both the Koob Community Engagement Scholarship and the Gordon Mack Award for Student Leadership.

Hanson has been heavily involved in Dance Marathon and Alphi Delta Pi Delta, as well as other nonprofit opportunities that the NLA has made available.

“It’s a really humbling experience for me,” Hanson said about her award. “It’s great to be surrounded by so many nonprofit professionals living in Cedar Falls that encourage me to always kind of go above and beyond outside of the classroom. There’s been a lot of great mentors here that have […] helped me to get where I am today.”

Gassman said UNI’s NLA program has been recognized as the top program in the country because of all the resources it provides to students.

“We often partner with different organizations for service learning projects and guests speakers which really gives the community access to students for volunteers for internships and for future employees,” Gassman said.

Some former UNI students like Sarah Nylim, who graduated in May 2015, are already making waves in the nonprofit sector. Nylim was awarded the New Nonprofit Employee of the Year award for her tireless work at the Boys & Girls Club.

Goodman remarked on Nylim’s work ethic in her introduction.

“Sarah never says no, ever,” said Goodman.

“It’s a real honor, especially because I love working at the Boys & Girls Club,” Nylim said on her win. “So just being recognized for what I’m doing is really appreciated.”

Nylim said she had not decided on entering the nonprofit sector until her senior year at UNI.

“But once I got into it in my senior year, I loved it,” Nylim said about her decision.

Nonprofit major, Katlyn Poole was one of the many NLA volunteers for the event. Poole said the luncheon was a unique and encouraging event.

“It was really cool to see people be recognized for their hard work … Nonprofit tends to be something you don’t get to see a [lot of] thanks for,” Poole said. “It’s also cool to see students who were in NLA from UNI who are now getting awards as they are becoming professionals [… ]and seeing how much the university is collaborating with nonprofits.”