Youth workers and the people who support them do the vital work of guiding the positive development of our youth. In programs as varied as the needs of the youth they serve, youth workers bring heart, passion, and commitment to their work every day.
The Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA) recognizes the greatness in all youth workers. To shine a bright light on the value of youth workers and the strong allies who support them, our Youth Intervention Hall of Fame features their amazing work through the Friends of Youth Leadership Award.
You – our members – nominate your top performers for the Friends of Youth Leadership Award. YIPA also chooses one dedicated volunteer for the Outstanding Achievement Award.
The Friends of Youth Leadership Award is your chance to showcase an individual who goes above and beyond to help our youth succeed. Your superstar could be a volunteer, a staff member, a program leader, a director, a philanthropist, an elected person, or even a young person themselves. Nominations are generally accepted between October 15 and November 15 each year and the winners are presented their awards at the Annual Meeting of the Association on the first Friday in December. Remember, you must be a current YIPA member to submit a nomination.
We honor the 2017 Friends of Youth Leadership Award winners
Andrew “Drew” Lemmie
Drew is an Independent Living Skills Counselor for youth in foster care. Drew was on his own at the age of 15, so he not only brings a passion to helping youth develop their leadership skills and life goals, but he has lived the experience that allows him to connect with our young people on a level that most youth workers can’t.
Drew is extremely thoughtful and insightful. Standing 6’6″ and about 300 lbs, most would think he is intimidating at first sight, but once he smiles you can tell he is a big teddy bear. He loves to make jokes and laugh with everybody. Drew is truly a super hero to our youth as he helps them develop thriving lives after foster care rather than just surviving post-foster care.
There is a young man who is homeless but refuses to go into shelter and lives in his car. Drew takes home cooked meals, pizza, and hygiene items to him and even helped him find jobs. This is just what Drew does. Drew is truly “awesome.” His passion and love for our young people is unwavering. Nominated by Jessica K Rogers.
Chandra “CeeJay” Jackson
CeeJay is a fierce advocate for youth. She goes above and beyond to allow youth opportunities to be heard and voice their thoughts. CeeJay works tirelessly for equity in case management, youth work, and community outreach. CeeJay’s youth work does not end at her job, she has also called for change and provided advocacy in local schools and community forums as well.
CeeJay is intentional and knowledgeable in all things youth work. She has a tireless advocacy bank that is both admirable and inspiring. She is one of the most supportive, authentic, and empathetic people you will meet and truly has a heart for youth advocacy and positive youth development.
CeeJay has the magical ability to give tough love, providing and discussing real, straightforward consequences with youth, and being approachable yet goofy. Those that know and have worked with her, both youth and colleagues, have witnessed the passion she brings to this work and how much she truly cares. Nominated by Beatrice Alowooja.
Natalie Johnson Lee
Ms. Natalie has mentored and empowered girls for 12 years. She has prepared hundreds of girls for college and doesn’t take NO or Can’t for an answer. She mentors girls to always Work It Out! She teaches them how to problem solve, resolve conflict, write scholarship letters, apologize when needed, graduate from high school, and go to college. She believes in our girls and loves them.
Ms. Natalie is a true servant leader who believes in building positivity in her community and world. She authentically cares about our girls and is committed to getting them beyond their current, often negative circumstances to a bright and promising future. She is an empathetic leader who has gotten up in the middle of the night to answer a cry for help from our girls.
Ms. Natalie started mentoring a girl with abandonment issues in 9th grade with severe behavioral issues. Despite this, Natalie saw a smart, beautiful young woman who was crying out for help! Ms. Natalie mentored her through high school and helped her get into college. Today she is in college with a 3.5 GPA and it would have NEVER happened had she not had a mentor like Ms. Natalie! Nominated by Dr. Verna Cornelia Price.
Sherenia has developed and managed programs that reach Minneapolis’ most underestimated and under-served youth for 27 years. She keeps her “feet on the street and in the neighborhoods,” engaging with youth to understand what they are thinking and feeling, encouraging them to stay in school, pursue a career, and most importantly, to help them believe that they definitely can succeed.
Sherenia has an amazing ability to think on her feet really fast, offering complete solutions, ideas, contacts, resources, and plans to address a community issue, all on a moment’s notice! Add that to an abundance of very high energy and enthusiasm, and you have quite the force on behalf of our city’s youth.
Sherenia has been instrumental in developing an outreach program that engages Minneapolis’ most at-risk youth that have typically been exposed to violence, crime, gangs, and community disconnect to connect them to safe places, neighborhood resources, and adult mentors. Sherenia’s energy is contagious and she has helped so many youth. Nominated by Heidi Pope.
Thank you to our 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award winner
A few years ago, Chris reached out to us at YIPA and stated he wanted to become more involved in helping youth at a macro level. Since then, Chris has joined our Board of Directors and does whatever he can to help YIPA serve our members more effectively. He knows that when you do better…so do the youth you serve.
Chris is fully dedicated to helping youth. In Chris, you can see and feel his passion for his work. He carries out his work with professionalism, dedication, and commitment to getting things right. He is a true champion for youth and the Association.
This year at YIPA FEST we were not able to locate a photographer and Chris was asked to take pictures for the day at the last moment. Without any preparation, Chris stepped up and took great photos that captured the excitement of the day and the personalities of the people that were in attendance.
Past Friends of Youth Leadership Award Recipients
Class of 2016: Susie Bjorklund, Rita Younger, Christina McCoy, Phil Winger
Class of 2015: Gary Keifenheim, Erich Lutz, Ruby Cortez
Class of 2014: Alec Staffon, Ehyrn Barthelme, Eriann Faris, Shari Barmash
Class of 2013: Julie Hignell, Loralee Marvin, Lisa Crocker, Senator Scott Dibble
Class of 2012: Patty Wetterling, Mandy Meisner, Kate Swenson, Louis Ochoa
Class of 2011: Maria Kustritz, Dean Prince, Steve Smith, Cathy ten Broeke, Akeel King
Class of 2010: Patty Halvorson, Lisa Hoogheem, Paul Weiler, Mayor Scott Lund, Commissioner Gail Dorfman
Class of 2009: Talia Beck, Doug Hovelson, Meredythe Jones Rossi, Krista McFarland, Quintin Jackson, Erin Rasmussen, Mayor R. T. Rybak
Class of 2008: Guadelupe Gadea, Angela Gonzalez, Autumn Nelson, Mayor Bob Nelson, Patsy Boen, Ronald Evans, Jr., Jenny Hong, Girls RAP Program of the YWCA of Minneapolis
Class of 2007: Montrell Donaldson, Chief John Harrington, James Backstrom, Mike Loud, Nick Schuum, Pam Rusten
Class of 2006: Jason Christen, Senator Sam Dallas, The Smith Foundation, Darrell Thompson
Class of 2005: Yusuf Abdullah, Cass County Commissioners, Lynn Haglin, The Ordean Foundation
Class of 2004: Chris Ganzlin, Terry Troy, Real Estate Equities, Inc.
Class of 2003: Marc Ashton, Representative Karen Clark, Mariah Docksteader
Past Outstanding Achievement Award Recipients
2016: Lisa Meunier
2015: Kathy Tingelstad
2014: Tamar Ghidalia
2013: Connie Landecker
2012: Colleen Fritsch
2011: Talia Beck
2010: Peter Geier
2009: Paul Ramsour
2008: Cheryl Meld
2007: Paul Meunier
2006: Cathy Bergh
2005: Paul Weiler
2004: Kelly Peterson
2003: David Wilmes
2002: Steve Commerford
2001: Brian Dahl
2000: Cheryl Jensen
1999: Perry Lofquist