Individual Iowans and organizations who exemplify the six pillars of character are being recognized in an annual program through the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University in Des Moines.

Hilary Ortmann, the center’s associate director, says they had 140 nominations this year representing 87 Iowa communities.
Ortmann says, “We’re proud to be recognizing individuals and groups from across the state in a variety of categories including: educator, adult citizen, youth citizen, athletic team, business organization and much more.”

The six pillars of character are: Caring, Citizenship, Fairness, Respectfulness, Responsibility and Trustworthiness. There’s usually a big summertime banquet to honor all of the recipients but COVID-19 forced the cancellation of this year’s event.

“We are switching to a virtual celebration that will be celebrated on July 30th,” Ortmann says. “We will do a lot of online social media recognition of all of our nominees and our award recipients.” She says one special award will recognize an individual who honors the legacy of a former Iowa governor, impacting others through ethical leadership. It’s called the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award.

“This year’s award recipient is Nancy Tychsen,” Ortmann says. “Nancy is from West Des Moines and is actually one of the first educators back in the late ’90s who is responsible for helping us bring Character Counts to Iowa.”

Some of this year’s honorees include: Business/Organization of Character: Grinnell Mutual of Grinnell, Adult Citizen of Character: Bonnie Romine of North English, Youth Citizen of Character: Lillie Lamont and Caroline Lang of Vinton-Shellsburg, and Educator of Character: Don Anderson of Belle Plaine Community Schools. See all of this year’s winners at:

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)