2023 Volunteer Awards
At our 2023 Annual Meeting this past November 8th, we were proud to continue our tradition of recognizing outstanding volunteers with various categories of awards. Read about this year’s award winners below!
Lifetime Citizen Diplomat Award: Jeanne Stoakes
Jeanne takes all four of our calls to action to heart: she greets, guides, hosts, and gives in abundance and generosity. She has interacted with 6 delegations/visitors and given approximately 30 hours—that we know about—to embody the mission of citizen diplomacy in eastern Iowa and the impact of her person-to-person diplomacy continues to produce ripples that we will never even hear about. Jeanne, we know you do not do this for recognition, but tonight we recognize you before your Global Ties Iowa family and say thank you for all you are and do through word and deed to connect the world and the heartland.
Full Steam Ahead Award: Ellen Osinska
Since our return to in-person programs l last year, there has been one presence that we could count on no matter the event or call to action from receptions early in our days of social distancing to the hard work of clearing and organizing the new office and all the joyful engagement with visiting leaders, and that has been Elena. She has been a contributing member for a long time, even serving on the board of directors in past years. Thank you, Elena, for your consistent support of citizen diplomacy.
Warm Welcome Award: Horacio Borgen
Among the warmest of welcomes our visiting global leaders receive is that of Horacio Borgen. Horacio has met more delegations as they arrive at their hotels than any of other community member, often going above and beyond the assigned task of “greet” to “guide” them around downtown and truly act as local “host”, connecting with them as an esteemed alum of the International Visitor Leadership Program himself. His warmth and generosity of spirit has had visitors invite him back for cookouts and “dancing on the tables” at happy hour. Thank you, Horacio, for embodying Citizen Diplomacy.
Hit the Ground Running Award: Eddy Djagou
Many of us in this room were present when we first met Eddy on a cold wintry Saturday morning back in January when he drove from Muscatine to join our Citizen Diplomat Training at the Coralville Public Library. From that first early morning commute to now, Eddy has never shied away from being present—time and time again—to greet countless visiting leaders at the airport, to drive Mandela Washington Fellows to Iowa Table Dinners and more recently hosting an Iowa Table dinner himself, assisting behind the scenes in the office, and even joining our board. We welcome Eddy’s enthusiasm and dedication and are fortunate to add him to our ever-expanding Global Ties Iowa family beyond the corridor.
Iowa Table Hospitality Award: Don and Suzanne Kirchner
Veteran Iowa Table hosts and masters of the slow cooked pork and outdoor entertaining, the Kirchner’s continue to open their home and deck to visiting leaders from around the world, whether IVLP or Mandela Washington Fellows, often on a moment’s notice, and for this we are so grateful. A recent guest commented: “[The] Kirchner family was really a great experience to share and discover the hospitality of Iowa's people. They were very nice, and I learned a lot from them about the city, the history and culture of American people. Thanks a lot to this respectful family.” And another said, "Don and Suzanne were more than perfect.” Thank you, Don and Suzanne, for embodying hospitality and citizen diplomacy through dinners, loaning clothes, and sharing bees as the global citizens you are.
Iowa Table Hospitality Award: Matt and Ashley Laux (daughters Althea (age 8) and Audrey (age 6))
The Laux family returned to their Iowa home last year when Ashley joined the Institute for Global Engagement at Grinnell College, choosing to make Iowa City their home base. Since that time, they have enthusiastically embraced both the mission of Global Ties Iowa and many of the visiting leaders with the warmth and joy of their family over a meal. Lucky visitors love the experience of engaging with genuinely curious and interested children and often cite their time at the Laux home as a highlight, a recent guest sharing “The warmth of the Laux's made me feel part of their beautiful home. They are amazing people with a welcoming spirit. I carry beautiful memories of Iowa and the Laux family.” And another said, “"[It was] such a wonderful experience sharing a meal with an American family. We [discussed] America’s culture and education system with their lovely daughters. Big thanks to Ashley and Matt [Laux’s] family for amazing hospitality!" Thank you, Matt and Ashley,—and kids—for sharing your family with the world!