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Each year, Juice and the Young Professionals Connection select finalists to receive four Central Iowa Young Professional of the Year Awards to honor and celebrate their achievements in the community.

The four categories are:

The Juice Young Professional of the Year award recognizes a young professional who has made significant contributions for civic, charitable, entertainment or quality of life in central Iowa.

The Des Moines Creative of the Year award goes to the person pushing creativity in their field, whether it be art, graphic design, music, food styling, interior design, architecture or another area of work or study. This person is using his or her creative ideas to spur changes within the workplace or immediate community and within the broader Des Moines region. We are looking for someone who takes risks, stays committed to his or her ideas even if they are different and has a commitment to making Des Moines a desirable place to live. This category was added to recognize the importance the arts play in building strength in our community.

YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact award is given to a young professional who made a significant impact on the young professional environment in greater Des Moines. Like Amy Jennings, a past YPC president who led the organization through major growth, the recipient of the award should demonstrate a dedication to creating a vibrant community that attracts and retains YPs. Preference will be given to a member of a young professional organization or board.

The Ashley Okland award is given to a young professional who exemplifies the volunteerism and spirit of late YPC board member Ashley Okland in giving of his/her time, talents and other resources to community organizations.

BUY TICKETS:See who wins this year's YP of the Year awards

Twelve finalists were chosen from the entries received. We asked each finalist to describe their greatest dream for the city of Des Moines.


Juice YP of the Year

Sophia S. Ahmad

Age: 35

Occupation: Greater Des Moines Partnership, vice president of public relations

Residence: Urbandale

Quote: “My biggest and greatest dream for the city of Des Moines is to keep this great wave of economic growth and momentum growing. I love (Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO) Jay Byers' line that the official bird of Des Moines is the crane. That’s just so true ... it’s so exciting to see our city transforming and evolving right before our eyes.”

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Meet Sophia Ahmad, Juice YP of the Year finalist.

Jonathan Brendemuehl

Age: 29

Occupation: Des Moines Performing Arts, communications manager

Residence: Des Moines

Quote: “My greatest dreams for Des Moines is that we continue building on our momentum that we’ve had. I moved here in 2004 and just to see the difference in 10, and now we’re coming up on almost 15 years that I’ve been here, and to see what has happened and how much we have changed as a city in that short amount of time ... that’s something that I think makes Des Moines incredibly unique.”

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Meet Jonathan Brendemuehl, Juice YP of the Year finalist.

Angela Ten Clay

Age: 30

Occupation: Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, communications manager

Residence: Urbandale

Quote: “My greatest dream for the city of Des Moines is to become the destination city in the Midwest. Similar to Kansas City, Minneapolis and Chicago, I don’t want us to be the flyover state anymore ... I want us to be the spot that people come and travel to.”

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Meet Angela Ten Clay, Juice YP of the Year Finalist 2015


DSM Creative of the Year

Sky Bussanmas

Age: 20

Occupation: Blend Studio Salon, owner and cosmetologist

Residence: Des Moines

Quote: “My greatest dream ... is that we can all come together a little bit more. I think the youth grew up to be so accustomed to leave and go on to better things and better cities, but really Des Moines has a lot to offer than I think people know about and it’s a great place to live. I hope we start to recognize that.”

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Sky Bussanmus, a 2015 finalist for DSM Creative of the Year, talks about how she's using her creativity to give back to the local homeless community.

David Van Cleave

Age: 27

Occupation: Des Moines Young Artists’ Theater, artistic director

Residence: Des Moines

Quote: “My greatest dream for the city of Des Moines is for Des Moines to be known as a place that cultivates innovation and the arts ... I want students who apply to colleges, I want those admission boards to see Des Moines on their resume and know this kid knows what he’s doing.”

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David VanCleave, a 2015 DSM Creative of the Year finalist, talks about what Des Moines needs to do in order to take the city to the next level.

Emily Lang

Age: 32

Occupation: Des Moines Public Schools, teacher and urban arts coordinator; co-founder of RunDSM

Residence: Des Moines

Quote: “My greatest dream for Des Moines would be for the young people I work with every day to come back and take my spot in the classroom ... and as organizer of RunDSM and really take over the leadership positions within our city. I see a lot of potential within the young people, particularly young people of color who are often silenced or marginalized. I want to see them come back and be the leaders of our city.”

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Emily Lang, a finalist for the 2015 DSM Creative of the Year award, talks about the importance of giving the youth and marginalized communities opportunities to express themselves.


YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact Award

Cory Sharp

Age: 28

Occupation: FEH Design, associate AIA

Residence: Des Moines

Quote: “My greatest dream ... I wish that we could have a system of passenger rail like an Amtrak that could connect not only Des Moines, but Minneapolis, Kansas City, Omaha and Chicago. That we could all be more connected as a Midwestern region.”

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Meet Cory Sharp, a YPC Amy Jennings Impact award finalist 2015, talks about how public transit can take Des Moines to the next level.


Natalie Umsted

Age: 26

Occupation: City of Newton, management analyst

Residence: Newton

Quote: “My dream for Des Moines is that it can be driven by innovation and strong leadership ... that it can be a place where people of any gender, socioeconomic status, or race can feel they have opportunity to achieve.”

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Meet Natalie Umsted, a YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact award finalist, as she talks about the importance of making Des Moines inclusive to all communities.


Brianne Fitzgerald

Age: 36

Occupation: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, marketing communications director

Residence: Johnston

Quote: “My greatest dream for the city of Des Moines is for it to continue to be exploratory and look for things like the Reading Market in Philadelphia that can continue to provide an additional attraction and something that would be a good tourist attraction as well, not only for people coming outside the city but people that currently live here as well.”

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Meet Brianne Fitzgerald, a 2015 YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact award finalist, talking about the importance of mentoring.


YPC Ashley Okland YP Community Service Award

Alex Duong

Age: 27

Occupation: Mediacom, marketing specialist

Residence: Des Moines

Quote: “My greatest dream for the city of Des Moines ... is to create more opportunity for future young professionals, (who) will be the next YPC leaders in the community.”

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Meet Alex Duong, a 2015 Ashley Okland Community Service award finalist, as he talks about his love for Des Moines and the creative scene.


Alex Karei

Age: 27

Occupation: Webspec Design, marketing director

Residence: Urbandale

Quote: “My greatest dream for the city of Des Moines is that people outside from Iowa appreciate it a little more. I think we’re starting to get there, we’re getting on lot of ‘best-of’ lists, which is really great, but there’s still not quite that understanding that there could be. When you talk to people ... I really want it to be like, ‘Yeah Des Moines, I’ve heard that’s really awesome. That’s somewhere I’d want to visit’.”

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Meet Alex Karei, 2015 Ashley Okland Community Service award finalist, as she talks about how she wants to help local nonprofits raise money and more.

Uriah Hansen

Age: 23

Occupation: GuideOne Insurance, HR systems and compensation analyst

Residence: Runnells

Quote: “My greatest dream would be to make Des Moines a regional destination. I think when you think of the Midwest, you think of Kansas City, Chicago, Minneapolis, but I think Des Moines sort of gets overlooked. But I think culturally and diversity would be a huge thing to make Des Moines that regional destination.”

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Meet Uriah Hansen, a 2015 Ashley Okland Community Service award finalist, who's passionate about the environment and loves that Des Moines is a big city with a small-town feel.


2015 Central Iowa YP of the Year Awards

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