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Irvin Katz Memorial Award

Irvin W. Katz, one of the founding members of IECA, lived his life in service to others as a mentor to many consultants and as a steward of community volunteerism. In 2006, his family established The Irvin Katz Memorial Award to honor those members of IECA who make extraordinary voluntary contributions of their time and talents to community organizations that benefit the educational needs, health and well-being of all our children.

The Irvin Katz Memorial Award is presented each year at the Fall IECA Conference. The recipient is awarded $2000 to be donated to the identified organization for which the recipient has worked.

Recipient Qualifications

Please forward your nominations, with citations for charitable work, to [email protected]. The committee will gather names until June 1, 2021.

2020 Irvin Katz Memorial Award Recipient
Jo Leonard

Jo LeonardJo Leonard, IECA (PA) was chosen as the 2020 Irvin Katz Memorial Award Recipient for her work with the R.J. Leonard Foundation, an organization she founded in honor of her father. 

“The organization offers education and life planning, mentorship and extensive financial support to youth aging out of the foster care system, so that they are playing on the same field as their more fortunate peers, and are able to become self-sufficient and independent, free from poverty for the rest of their lives. I am proud of the work we have done to educate, mentor and inspire this highly at risk population, for whom the probability of success after aging out is exceptionally low. Since our launch 11 years ago, we have worked with 21 Fellows, and we have watched some amazing success stories as they have launched into self-sufficiency.”

Jo Leonard is President of Jo Leonard & Co., a 17-year-old consultancy firm with expertise working with Gen Y and Z as they launch and pivot in their personal and professional worlds. An alumni of Canford School in the UK and a blended higher education from the University of Hertfordshire in London and Montclair State University in the U.S., Jo brings a diverse and unique perspective to her clients, and over 10,000 hours with her favorite demographic.

This year, the Katz Award was presented virtually during the annual IECA Conference. Congratulations, Jo! Watch the video here.

For more information on the R.J. Leonard Foundation, please visit their website.

2019 Irvin Katz MEMORIAL Award Recipient
Kathy Rose

Kathy RoseKathy Rose, IECA (TX) was chosen as the 2019 Irvin Katz Memorial Award Recipient for her work with CollegeCommunityCareer, an organization she founded in 2012 to help low-income, first generation students on the west side of the greater Houston area attend college. Since 2012, CollegeCommunityCareer has served over 1,000 students. In 2019, 114 seniors received over $4,110,000 in scholarships and grants. 100% graduated high school. 99% are low income and 98% are first generation. The program is built on four pillars: College Success, Career Discover, Leadership Development & Civic Engagement. Their vision is an employed, civically minded college graduate.

Congratulations to Kathy for her dedication and commitment to the success of students in her community!

For more information on CollegeCommunityCareer, please visit their website.

2018 IRVIN Katz MEMORIAL Award Recipient
Brenda Gerhardt

Brenda GerhardtThe founder and owner of Gerhardt Educational Endeavors, Brenda, IECA (OH) is a first generation college student who believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to follow his or her dreams of attending college. She has a BS in Science Education from The Ohio State University, an MA in School Counseling from Eastern Michigan University and a PhD in Counselor Education also from The Ohio State University. In addition to her work as an IEC, Brenda currently serves on the faculty at the University of Dayton.

2017 Katz Award Recipient: The Possibility Project

The 2017 Katz Award was presented to a group of 37 IECA members who volunteer their time to work with students pro-bono through The Possibility Project, a New York City-based organization that “Empowers teenagers to transform the negative forces in their lives and communities into positive action.” IECA members work with at-risk students in the program to help them identify postsecondary options and successfully navigate the college application process. Led by IECA Past-President, Marilyn Emerson, this group of volunteers demonstrates the commitment of IECA members to helping all students achieve success in education, regardless of social and financial barriers.
Possibility Project


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