Open World Receives Robert D. Ray Service Award

Olga Sparks, long time ISS volunteer and interpreter for Open World groups from Russia announced Open World's award.

Open World Receives Robert D. Ray Service Award

June 30, 2015

Kim Heidemann Executive Director, Iowa Sister States,, 515.725.3164

Iowa Sister States recognizes Robert D. Ray Service Award Recipients

The 2015 Robert D. Ray Iowa Sister States Award recipients were announced and recognized recently. Every year Iowa Sister States (ISS) recognizes outstanding volunteers and partners by awarding them the Robert D. Ray Service Award in three different categories: Cooperating Organization, Home Host of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year.

The Robert D. Ray Iowa Sister States Service Award was named in recognition of the international efforts by former Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray (He served from 1969-1983). Governor Ray served as the first President of the Board of Directors at Iowa Sister States.

The winners were:
• Dennis Dietz Volunteer of the Year Polk City
• Lynn Kroger Host Family of the Year Ft. Dodge
• Dave and Susan Silkelka Host Family of the Year Des Moines
• Jeff and Wendy Sontag Host Family of the Year Ankeny
• Joedy and Deb Van Velzen Host Family of the Year Norwalk
• Open World Leadership Center Partner of the Year Washington, D.C.

Remarks on Open World by ISS volunteer Olga Sparks:

"Open World Leadership Center is the recipient of the Robert D. Ray Iowa Sister States partner organization award. Since its inception, Open World has been seeking to bring together professionals in America with their counter parts in former Soviet countries. Besides offering visitors professional development, Open World uses citizen diplomacy as a centerpiece of its program. The visitors stay with host families and form life long bonds.

Open World has worked with Iowa Sister States for years and has advocated for sister state specific delegation for ISS. They most recently led the way to partner with the US Embassy in Kosovo in order to expand the program into Kosovo.

We appreciate their partnership-as much as we appreciate all of you that have hosted those groups, or presented to them."

Iowa Sister States (ISS) is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 to manage Iowa’s official relationship with foreign states, as established by the Governor of Iowa. There are 9 of these, including: Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan (1960), Yucatan, Mexico (1965), Hebei Province, China (1983), Terengganu, Malaysia (1987), Stavropol Krai, Russia (1988), Taiwan (1989), Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine (1996), Veneto Region, Italy (1997), and Kosovo (2013).

ISS is a volunteer organization dedicated to connecting Iowans with the world community. To learn more about ISS visit our website, join our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter!