Andrea Woodard, Brianne Sanchez and Josh Dreyer received the Central Iowa Young Professional of the Year awards as more than 150 onlookers cheered during a private ceremony Wednesday evening.
A celebration of the charitable, cultural and professional contributions of young people in Des Moines, this year's awards were presented by Juice magazine, which is published by Register Media, in partnership with the Greater Des Moines Young Professionals Connection.
Woodard, the public policy manager for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, was named Juice YP of the Year. Woodard serves on numerous community boards and co-founded the local women's group Lead Like a Lady. She previously worked in several roles at the Statehouse.
Or, as Amalie Nash, editor and vice president for audience engagement at Register Media, put it: "To say that Andrea is involved is an understatement."
"I moved to Des Moines in 2008 and I was looking to get involved," Woodard said after accepting the award. "It's just a matter of saying 'yes.' It's a testament to the idea that one thing leads to another."
Sanchez, winner of the YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact Award, also urged young professionals in the audience to seek out new experiences and adventures, as she did when she left Chicago to work for Juice a few years ago.
"By interviewing young professionals, I tricked them into being my friends," she said, "and by talking to them, I realized I wanted to do what they did, and I pivoted my career to focus on the YP community."
A community relations manager at Des Moines University, Sanchez also made it a point to thank everyone who helped start the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Des Moines in 2012.
"I really feel like this is a shared honor," she said, getting a bit emotional. "I was not the only one putting YNPN together; it was really a group effort."
Like his fellow winners, YPC Ashley Okland Community Service Award winner Josh Dreyer, the marketing director for Willis Auto Campus, said he was humbled by the honor.
"For those who knew Ashley, you know this is a big deal," he said. "I didn't know her well, but I know she was a prime example of someone happily serving her community in any way they can. I am honored to receive an award that associates my name with hers." Okland, a real estate agent, was shot to death in 2011 at a home she was showing.
Woodard, Sanchez and Dreyer were selected from a field of eight finalists that included Megan Ruble, LaVerne Greenfield, Emilee Richardson, Tyler DeHaan and Justin Lossner.
While the award presentation was a large portion of the evening, much of the event was dedicated to spotlighting the work young professionals do to improve the Greater Des Moines area.
"Des Moines is lucky to have such a vibrant young professional community," said Julie Harvey, general manager of Register Media. "Young professionals bring energy and vitality to the Central Iowa business landscape. Their skill and drive have been key to the growth of Des Moines."
Juice YP of the Year
Andrea N.J. Woodard
CURRENT JOB: Public policy manager for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
LIVES IN: Des Moines.
HOMETOWN: Cedar Rapids.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in political science and communication from the University of Iowa, 2007.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN 2014: Serves on boards for Junior League of Des Moines, Orchard Place Foundation, Des Moines Parks and Recreation and Lead Like a Lady. Mentor at Orchard Place and member of Des Moines Tri Delta Alumnae Chapter.
YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact Award
CURRENT JOB: Community relations manager, Des Moines University.
LIVES IN: Des Moines.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in journalism and English, University of Missouri, 2007. Master's degree in nonprofit management, Drake University, 2013.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN 2014: Co-founder of the Des Moines Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. Planning team member for TEDxDesMoines.
YPC Ashley Okland Community Service
CURRENT JOB: Marketing Director, Willis Auto Campus.
HOMETOWN: Des Moines.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's in political science, University of Iowa, 2004.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN 2014: President of Des Moines Art Center's Art Noir, mayor-appointed member of the Clive Public Arts Advisory Commission, volunteer for the Kiwanis Miracle League, the Celebrate Iowa Gala, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's mustachioed fundraiser "Moes for Joes." At work, he coordinates the company's charity projects, which included the Des Moines Concours d'Elegance, a car exhibition that benefitted the Children's Cancer Connection.
Other finalists were:
Tyler De Haan, 32, of Urbandale
Director of business development, retirement solutions at Principal Financial Group
LaVerne Greenfield, 32, of West Des Moines
Sales support specialist, Delta Dental of Iowa
Justin Lossner, 34, of Urbandale
Vice president and commercial real estate broker, Jones Lang LaSalle
Emilee Richardson, 27, of Des Moines
Marketing and communications manager, Science Center of Iowa
Megan Ruble, 35, of Ankeny
Executive account manager, Wellmark