Since 1933, the Omaha Jaycees has annually honored 10 people between the ages of 21 and 40 who demonstrate a commitment to community service and to personal and professional development.
The 2012 TOYO (Ten Outstanding Young Omahans) Award recipients are:
» Oscar Duran, neighborhood revitalization specialist, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha.
» Adrienne Fay, director of marketing, Borsheims Fine Jewelry.
» Dan Gilbert, special assistant to the senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of Nebraska at Omaha.
» Christian D. Gray, executive director, inCOMMON Community Development.
» Sarah Helvey, attorney, Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.
» David Patterson, employee of Merck & Co. and adjunct professor, Midland University.
» Angie Schendt, editor, Woodmen of the World.
» Meagan Schnoor, environmental scientist, HDR Inc.
» Angel Starks, educational director, Growing Hearts Collaborative.
» Erin E. Swanson, director of planned giving, Goodwill Industries Inc.
The 80th annual presentation of the TOYO Awards will be Jan. 30 at CenturyLink Center Omaha. A cocktail reception will be held at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and program at 7 p.m.
Tickets, $50 each, are available by contacting Marco Kpeglo LeRoc at 402-218-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Heather Vanourney at 402-501-4107 or email@example.com.
About this year's honorees:
As a neighborhood revitalization specialist for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, Duran is responsible for building relationships with community partners, establishing programming to maximize local neighborhood assets and cultivating new community leaders. A graduate of Omaha Creighton Prep, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is pursuing his master's from UNO.
He has been a member of the Deer Park Neighborhood Association since 2007 and has served as the organization's president for two years. He is a board member of the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance, has served as the vice president since 2011 and was recognized as the alliance's South Omaha Volunteer of the Year in 2012. He is active in the South Omaha Violence and Prevention Partnership, serving as both the vice chairman and chairman since 2011, and in the Greater Omaha Neighborhood Center.
As director of marketing for Borsheims Fine Jewelry, Fay oversees all print and visual communications, electronic and social media, sponsorships and promotions. She also serves as spokeswoman for the company. Fay is a graduate of Omaha Northwest High School and Marquette University.
Fay is a volunteer with the ICAN Women's Leadership Conference and was admitted to ICAN's Defining Leadership program. She is a member of the Omaha Network, an organization furthering the development of professional women, and has served in a variety of leadership roles. She is a member of the Women's Fund Circles and was elected to the 2013 Steering Committee. In 2012, Fay was appointed to the board of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
As a special assistant to the senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNO, Gilbert works with professors to rethink what the college experience should be and launches programs to make those ideas come to fruition at UNO. His goal is to make the learning experience better for students, for instructors, for organizations and for communities. Gilbert also works as a self-employed consultant to educators. After graduating from high school at the American School in London, Gilbert received a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a master's from Stanford University.
Gilbert is involved in the Temple Israel community and has served in various leadership roles on the Board of Trustees, Social Justice Committee, New Building General Campaign and Rabbinic Search Committee. He is active in Habitat for Humanity, the Stephen Center, Benson High School Giving Circle, Omaha North High School, Washington Elementary School and the Omaha Venture Group.
Christian D. Gray
Gray is a California native who earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Arizona. He is completing his master's at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
In 2004, Christian took on the role of executive director of inCOMMON Community Development. His work is directed at “alleviating poverty at a root level by uniting and strengthening vulnerable neighborhoods.
In addition, Gray serves on the board of directors for the Neighborhood Center and Neighbors United, as a steering committee member for VOICE Omaha, as a board of trustees member for the Business Ethics Alliance and as a member of the South Omaha Advisory Committee on Civic Engagement.
Helvey is a staff attorney and director of the child welfare program at Nebraska Appleseed, a nonprofit organization. She frequently testifies before the Legislature, has authored or co-authored several briefs for the Nebraska Supreme Court on child welfare issues, and, in partnership with Project Everlast, has worked with young people who have foster care experience to improve the system.
After graduating from Lincoln East High School, Helvey earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then a master's and law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She was appointed to the Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts and is a current member of the Nebraska State Bar Association's Leadership Academy. Helvey also is active in the Junior League of Omaha, the Girls Inc. girlFRIENDS Guild Board and Girl Scouts as a troop leader.
An employee of Merck & Co., Patterson also is an adjunct professor of business at Midland University. At Merck, he is responsible for the promotion and marketing of pharmaceuticals and health solutions to customers in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Patterson is a graduate of Omaha Creighton Prep. He has an undergraduate degree from Creighton University and a master's from Bellevue University.
Patterson is the president of the St. Robert Bellarmine school board, is a member of the Creighton Prep Alumni Board and has raised funds for Jesuit Academy of Omaha and CUES/Sacred Heart and Holy Name Schools. Additionally, he has been president and board member of both the Royalwood and West Fairacres Homeowners Associations, is a member of the Omaha Police Department PAC Board for the Southwest Precinct and has been active with the American Diabetes Association, the Metro-Eldercare Network and Artworx (a nonprofit organization that supports victims of abuse). He also is a Cub Scout den leader and a Little League baseball coach.
As editor at Woodmen of the World, Schendt is responsible for managing Woodmen's three magazines, including leading the production team, setting editorial direction and editing content. She also is responsible for content marketing through a variety of media. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and has received its Paper Anvil Award on several occasions. A graduate of Millard North, she earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Schendt is a member of Woodmen of the World Lodge 706, is a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands, serves on the leadership team for Woodmen of the World's Young Professionals Group and is a Sustainer in the Junior League of Omaha. Schendt has served as the American Red Cross blood drive coordinator for Woodmen Tower since 2004 and was involved in bringing Louder Than a Bomb, an organization that brings teens together for a friendly competition involving poetry, oral storytelling, and hip-hop spoken word, to Omaha in 2012.
An environmental scientist for HDR Inc.'s water business group, Schnoor is well-versed in biological sciences, threatened and endangered species, wetland delineations, U.S. Coast Guard bridge permits and National Environmental Policy Act documentation. She has experience in biological survey work, including herpetology, specializing in the habitat of redbelly snakes. A native of Estelline, S.D., she earned her bachelor's degree at South Dakota State University.
Schnoor is founder of the HDR Omaha Young Professionals Group and served as its chairwoman during its first year in 2008. She also served as vice chairwoman, chairwoman and adviser of the HDR Young Professionals Group National Committee. She is responsible for HDR serving as one of the founding companies in the Council of Companies, which is a collection of Omaha companies that have young professional organizations, and was recently appointed to the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Board.
Starks is the educational director of Growing Hearts Collaborative and as well as a real estate agent with Deeb Realty. At the collaborative, Starks oversees the consultants who are placed within child-care facilities to help improve the quality of care and professionalism in the classroom. She also oversees the educational advocacy and coaching sessions for preschool through 12th- grade students who have often lost hope in their educational abilities.
Starks is a graduate of Omaha Central High School and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
She has been a member of the Omaha Association for the Education of Young Children's board, is a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and co-founder of Heart2Heart Educational Services, a nonprofit that provides subsidized educational services to students in low- to moderate-income families. Starks is an active member of Greater Bethel Temple and in the Child Saving Institute's guild.
Erin E. Swanson
As the director of planned giving for Goodwill Industries Inc., Swanson is responsible for the fundraising efforts for the agency, including direct mail, special events, community outreach, donor relations and planned gifts. She is a Burke High School graduate and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Creighton University.
Swanson served as the 2012 vice and co-chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity's Brew Haha event, is a volunteer for the Nebraska Arthritis Foundation's Wine til Nine event and is a volunteer for the YWCA Gala. She is a member of the Creighton University Graduate School Alumni Advisory Board and volunteer and supporter of the Creighton University Athletic Department. She also is a member of the Junior League of Omaha.