Iowa City Area Resiliency Awards: Nominees

September 22, 2020 |

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius

The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) is committed to bold action, and we have seen incredible examples of this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to celebrate businesses and people in Johnson County that have shown leadership, strength, and resiliency in these difficult times. We asked the community to submit nominations for businesses, non-profits, and people who have demonstrated strength and resiliency throughout the past year. Below are the people and organizations that were nominated. We will be sharing the 2020 Resiliency Award winners at our 2020 Annual Meeting, which is happening virtually on Thursday, October 8th at 8am. You can RSVP to attend the meeting here. Awards will be given for the following categories: Large Company, Small Business/Startup, Non-Profit, Individual, and Community Project.

Congratulations to the award winners:

Large Company

Procter & Gamble

P&G has really ramped up their safety measures, while figuring out ways to manufacture sanitizer and other PPE for nationwide distribution. They have had to safely produce more of their products during the pandemic. They have also been starting new, innovative product lines that are environmentally friendly here in Iowa City.


Small Business / Startup

OpenLoop, Jon Lensing

The OpenLoop HealthTech platform quickly stepped up to the public health need by repurposing their platform and launching overnight, growing their services by 800% and helping with staffing shortages across the nation.



Dream City

Dream City pivoted their summer RISE Youth Leadership Program from in-person to online, offering a “Workshop of the Day” series focused on Performing Arts, the Black Lives Matter movement, Community Heroes, Health and Fitness, and more.





Rebecca Sanabria Photography

Rebecca has been transitioning her business during COVID-19 from normal, as-we-used-to-know-it, portrait photography to shooting beautiful pictures of families outside of their front doors. Not only has Rebecca pivoted her business, but she has been working in partnership with Shelter House in an effort called the Faces of Iowa Front Porch Project, which raises money for Shelter House.


Community Project

Food with Love

Food With Love was launched as an emergency food relief program that matched community need with professional chefs and hospitality experts that were looking for ways to help while their restaurants were closed because of the pandemic.




Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Echollective Farm

Typically, Echollective would sell their produce at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market. Due to the pandemic, they pivoted their model and started doing market pop ups every Saturday morning in the Lucas Farms neighborhood providing a safe and convenient way for people to have access to fresh local food.



Versa Fitness

Versa Fitness quickly adapted all of their class formats to both move online and by different community instructors to engage more people. While they were closed, they kept in contact with members and offered equipment, and made personal workouts for home. They believe in helping people stay healthier through these challenging times through physical health and positivity.


Herteen & Stocker Jewelers

Herteen & Stocker worked tirelessly to keep the store operating for customers to safely pick up repair work, special occasion gifts, and more. They also delivered to customer’s homes seven days a week. Going above and beyond in customer service in a world that does not seem to value customer service and customer experience.  



Joan Severson/Digital Artifacts

Joan completely pivoted her business model from developing an app for Parkinson’s Disease to one that could be used by Pharmaceutical companies for symptom tracking for COVID.  All while her close knit team had to learn how to work remotely.  





Yasmin Marrero

Because of the pandemic and the increased focus on racial justice issues across our country, Yasmin shifted her business offerings from 1-to-1 empowerment coaching and group workshops to offer virtual empowerment circles and DEI consulting.



Concept by Iowa Hearing

Concept by Iowa Hearing quickly and seamlessly shifted to the business being able to offer curbside services and accommodating remote work in the positions where that is possible. Their primary patient base has been determined to be at the highest risk of having severe complications if exposed to Covid, but they’ve been working safely to get their patients the service they need.



CIVCO has answered the bell any time they’ve been needed to make another product during the pandemic. Whether they have to shift their manufacturing lines to make a new kind of PPE or work in conjunction with other manufacturers to make testing supplies, CIVCO has done it.  




ProCircular has been able to expand their target market from local to regional/national as a result of changes they made in how they engage customers remotely vs in-person which was the practice prior to Covid-19. They have shifted to a virtual-only platform in a time when cyber security is more important than ever.



Pear Deck

Pear Deck had to adjust incredibly quickly as schools closed last March. Since then, they’ve added 100,000 educators and nearly 2.5Million new users to their site in the past couple months. They have also expanded to 7 continents participating in their Free Webinars. 



Locals Love Us

Ryan and Locals Love Us have had to completely re-think the magazine style awards list that they’ve been distributing to our community for the last number of years. Not only was he not sure about the safety of handling his magazines, but he didn’t know if his customers would be able to afford any advertising. So, he pivoted, like resilient business owners do. He still produces the magazine, but it’s a streamlined version, giving its readers the information it really needs: businesses locals LOVE! He has also had to shift to a robust online platform that will be extremely helpful for businesses as they are reopening.


Shelter House

Shelter House has faced trial after trial as the pandemic has persisted locally and nationally. While their leadership could have chosen to do the minimum possible to insure that their programs work safely, they chose to go above and beyond. Increased cleaning protocols added time and cost to Shelter House operations. Further, when physical distancing required that they lower their capacity at the Energency Shelter facility to minimize transmission risks, Shelter House  worked with their staff and local partners to move guests into an apartment as part of their Rapid Rehousing work.

Humanize My Hoodie

Humanize My Hoodie has found more and more ways to communicate to allies during the pandemic. From special events, like Black August or seminars about the Fourth of July, HMH is constantly telling an important story that we all need to pay attention to, now more than ever.



City Managers

Our 3 largest cities in Johnson County  have faced significant challenges arising from the coronavirus: with the University of Iowa and our local schools going to online classes, economic challenges from reduced tax revenues, and emotional citizens. The strength of our region is the quality of our city managers. 



Eastern Iowa Airport

The Eastern Iowa Airport have continued to offer passenger flight despite the fear of traveling during the pandemic. They have also added many, many safety measures to keep people feeling confident in their health while traveling through CID. It’s amazing how, despite commercial air travel being down 97%, the airport has continued to lead. They’re thinking of new ways to market themselves in a very difficult time, and they have a brand new terminal to show off. 


Zachary Oren-Smith

With a dwindling staff and minuscule budget, Zach has worked so hard to shine light on important issues: COVID-19, city council meetings, protests, and civil rights issues. It’s not an easy time to be a journalist, and Zach is thriving. By asking the right questions and reporting the tough stories, Zach has proven himself incredibly valuable in our community. He’s establishing himself as the top source for local news, and he works as hard as anyone in the business. 




table has opened during a pandemic, which has obviously been very difficult. They have been innovative in the way they bring traffic to the restaurant and have managed to stay open despite not qualifying for any PPP or disaster relief funding. table has been a leader in taking extra steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the restaurant by adding additional hand sanitizing stations, high-backed booths, and distanced seating. They also instituted a mask mandate before Johnson County and North Liberty did it. 



Ruthina Malone

Ruthina serves as the only person of color on the Iowa City Community School District Board of Directors. She has led with poise and strength during an extraordinarily challenging time, often receiving hateful emails from citizens. Ruthina an incredible leader and asset to our community.




Josh Booth – Diamond Label Films

As a wedding photographer and videographer, Josh has had to restructure the way they work. He is still able to produce amazing videos of small, intimate weddings and stay safe while doing it. Josh has also been instrumental in recording footage from marches during recent social justice demonstrations.



Iowa Children’s Museum

The Iowa Children’s Museum was forced to close for a while to save resources during Covid-19. They’re taking reservations for play to still provide children the opportunity to learn and interact with their exhibits. Regular museum visitors are nervous about visiting right now, but the museum is going above and beyond to provide a safe experience.



Willie Ray’s Q Shack

When the derecho struck, Willie Ray’s jumped into action. He has been providing thousands of free meals to those who need it in Cedar Rapids, while remaining safely distant and taking all health precautions.