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YP of the Year Awards ceremony to be held Feb. 9.

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Juice and the Young Professionals Connection announced four recipients of the 2016 YP of the Year Awards on Thursday.

The awards ceremony took place at Sticks, Inc., and recognized 12 finalists across four categories. All finalists and nominees were recognized for their work in 2016 to impact their communities.

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Approximately 250 young professionals, community and business leaders honored the finalists and nominees during the ceremony.

The winners spoke about their passion for central Iowa, important causes to them around the state, and how they would improve their community as young professionals.

Juice YP of the Year

This award recognizes a young professional who has made significant contributions for civic, charitable, entertainment or quality of life in central Iowa.

Winner: Kyle Oppenhuizen

Age: 29

Occupation: Greater Des Moines Partnership, communications manager

2016 accomplishments: Kyle made an impact to the Des Moines Community in many different ways, particularly through his efforts to attract and retain young professionals to Iowa through his presidency on the Young Professional (YP) Iowa board, his efforts on the Iowa State Daily Board, where he helps guide young writers and provides real world business experience to future young professionals and through his commitment to the Emerging Leaders Collaborative to create a network of shared resources. He is committed to not only the future of Iowa (students) but also the Iowa of here and now through the current young professionals. He is a guiding force helping Iowa move in a positive direction through growth and leadership.

If you could describe Des Moines in three words, what would they be? Collaborative, forward-thinking, and growing.

What is the most important cause to you, right now, in Des Moines (and why?) Helping amplify our region’s voice on a national and international scale. I am lucky to work with an extremely talented, hard-working communications and marketing team at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and we are focused on telling the Greater Des Moines story. We have such a great story to tell. We are experiencing a wave of economic momentum and there is a real “cool” factor.

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The winners will be revealed at the 2016 Central Iowa YP of the Year awards ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Sticks, Inc. To vote and attend the event, visit YP16.dmJuice.com

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DSM Creative of the Year

This 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.

Winner: Allison Fegley

Age: 31

Occupation: Director of booking and event services, Hoyt Sherman Place

2016 accomplishments: Allison works incredibly hard “behind the scenes” to make sure that every patron has an exceptional experience when coming to Hoyt Sherman Place. In 2016, Allison expanded Hoyt Sherman Place programming to cater to a younger demographic, including booking artists like Dave Chappelle, Ben Folds, Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, while also drawing legendary artists such as Martina McBride, Buddy Guy, Boz Scaggs and Peter Frampton. Her work diversifying talent at Hoyt Sherman Place has had a profound effect on the Des Moines music scene this year.

If you could describe Des Moines in three words, what would they be? Thriving, delicious, destination

What do you want to accomplish in 2017 that will further impact the arts community in Des Moines? I hope to keep the momentum going at Hoyt Sherman Place in order to further impact the arts community. I want to be intentional about making sure that all people have access to the facility, not just for concerts in the theater, but just to appreciate the artwork, the beauty of the venue and the role it plays in Des Moines’ history.

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The winners will be revealed at the 2016 Central Iowa YP of the Year awards ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Sticks, Inc. To vote and attend the event, visit YP16.dmJuice.com

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YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact Award

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.

Winner: Nathan Unsworth

Age: 31

Occupation: Administrative parks superintendent, City of Newton

2016 accomplishments: Nathan leads the Parks and Grounds Division for the city, managing an annual budget of $1.3 million and supervising more than 30 staff members. In 2014 and 2015, Nathan implemented the installation of new playground equipment for children in parks. In 2016, he successfully applied for grants through the Prairie Meadows Foundation and Jasper Community Foundation to help bring this project to reality. In spring 2017, this course will be installed in Newton and will be the first of its kind in central Iowa. In 2016, Nathan also began having conversations with middle and elementary students to plan for the installation of a new skate park and is in the planning stages with citizens in their 20s to plan a jib park.

If you could describe Des Moines in three words, what would they be? Active, fresh and innovative

What is the most important cause to you, right now, in Des Moines (and why?): I am really passionate about improving water quality. This is an issue that affects every Iowan as well as those living downstream from us. It impacts our drinking water supplies, it affects our agricultural producers and how they operate their farms, and influences the experiences people have while recreating on our rivers and lakes. This problem will ultimately be solved by people sitting down at the table and working together in "true Iowa fashion" to pass legislation like finally funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Trust Fund, applying research from the universities in our state to our communities and farms, and establishing goals that all interest groups can work together to help achieve. Improving Iowa’s water quality is going to be a long-term project, but with collaborative leadership it will be accomplished.

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The winners will be revealed at the 2016 Central Iowa YP of the Year awards ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Sticks, Inc. To vote and attend the event, visit YP16.dmJuice.com

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YPC Ashley Okland YP Community Service Award

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.

Winner: Jessica Lowe

Age: 34

Occupation: Executive director, United Way of Jasper County

2016 accomplishments: Jessica makes an impact every day as Executive Director of United Way of Jasper County. She also did a variety of other things that helped the community over the past year. Jessica was named a 2016 20 under 40 by Newton Daily News. She serves as a volunteer and donor at St. Nick’s Christmas Club; marketing volunteer at Jasper County Conservation Board; marketing, volunteer and committee member at Brighton Chamber of Commerce; vice president of Friends of Newton Parks; and is an active member of Young Professionals of Jasper County. She is known to always be one of the first to step up and help move a new idea forward within the Newton community

If you could describe Des Moines in three words, what would they be? Welcoming, ambitious, historical

What has giving back to your community done for you personally? Giving back has given me a sense of purpose. It also has allowed me to make friends, built my confidence, strengthened my faith, and given me many wonderful memories. It wasn’t until I started volunteering when I moved to Newton that I truly found my calling.

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The winners will be revealed at the 2016 Central Iowa YP of the Year awards ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Sticks, Inc. To vote and attend the event, visit YP16.dmJuice.com

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2016 YP of the Year Finalists

Winners were selected from a group of three finalists in each awards category. Watch the videos to meet all 12 finalists.

Juice YP of the Year Finalists

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The finalists provide their advice to other YPs and give their thoughts on how to improve Des Moines.

DSM Creative of the Year Finalists

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The finalists provide their advice to other YPs and give their thoughts on how to improve Des Moines.

YPC Amy Jennings YP Impact Award Finalists

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The finalists provide their advice to other YPs and give their thoughts on how to improve Des Moines.

YPC Ashley Okland YP Community Service Award Finalists

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The finalists provide their advice to other YPs and give their thoughts on how to improve Des Moines.

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