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Iowa Character Awards

The Ray Center annually recognizes Iowans who show the Six Pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship.

Since 2005, we have recognized more than 100 Iowans for showing good character.  Nominate an individual or organization for a 2022 Iowa Character Award.

Join us to celebrate the 2021 Iowa Character Award recipients 

  • KDSM Fox 17 (Des Moines) will produce a one-hour, primetime television special featuring award recipients. You can watch here:
    • Fox 17 (Des Moines) Monday, August 30 from 8-9 p.m.
    • Fox 28 (Cedar Rapids) Monday, August 30 from 6-7 p.m.
    • Fox 44 (Sioux City) Sunday, September 5 from 5-6 p.m.
  • Watch videos about each of the 2021 recipients on YouTube.


2021 Iowa Character Award Recipients

Business/Organization of Character:

Matthew 25 (Cedar Rapids)

Honorable Mentions:
Dorothy’s House (Des Moines)
African American Museum of Iowa (Cedar Rapids)

Adult Citizen of Character:

Simon Estes (Ankeny)

Honorable Mentions:
Dr. Monic Behnken (Ames)
Kyle Horn (Des Moines)

Youth Citizen of Character:

Alison Van Gelder (Creston)

Honorable Mentions:
Carley Deery (Des Moines)
Mackenzie Kokke (Mitchellville)
Mackenzie Eichhorn (Cedar Rapids)

Aaron Eilerts Community Service Award:

Toby Laurie (Norwalk)

Educator of Character:  

Yonas Michael (Ames Middle School)

Honorable Mentions:
Shane Ehresman (Lynnville-Sully CSD)
Shana Putnam Dibble (Decorah CSD)

Jim Hallihan Pursuing Victory with Honor Award:

Storm Lake St. Mary’s Girls Basketball Team (Storm Lake)

School of Character:

Ames Community School District (Ames)  

Honorable Mention:
Pella Middle School (Pella)

Student Organization of Character:

Sioux City East High Student Council (Sioux City)  

Honorable Mentions:
Nevada High School FFA (Nevada)

Community of Character:

Iowa Great Lakes Region (Northwest Iowa)

Partner of the Year:

Iowa Cubs / Gartner Family Foundation (Des Moines)

Character Champion:

Drake University Women’s Basketball (Des Moines)

Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character:  

Billie Ray (Des Moines)


The 2021 Iowa Character Awards are presented by:  

    Hy-Vee logo


   Partner logo

Murphy Enterprizes  


 Click here to donate to The Ray Center 


August 21, 2020
August 20, 2020
August 18, 2020