Excellence in Mentoring Awards


2020-2021 Excellence in Mentoring Award winners
with Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg
Chris Barnard with mentee and family, Margaret Burns with mentee


2020-2021 Excellence in Mentoring Award Winners

Chris Barnard, Davenport, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley

Chris Barnard has been an active mentor for the past 32 years when he joined Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley. After a positive mentoring connection in college, Barnard sought out Big Brothers and Big Sisters to form mentoring connections in his community. Born and raised in the Quad Cities, Barnard felt it was important to take his positive experience and give back to members of his community.

Barnard has taken his experiences and translated that into meaningful and impactful mentor-mentee relationships with four young men over the past twenty-four years. As a mentor, Barnard has never hesitated to step into a mentoring relationship with a mentee who is having a difficult family situation. Barnard continually steps up for his mentees taking on an active role in being a part of their journey. Barnard is a model mentor that goes above and beyond to make sure his mentees are supported and included in many meaningful ways.

Barnard also has a profound commitment to the mission and advancement of Big Brothers and Big Sisters as an organization. Since he began his work at Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Barnard has been a tireless advocate for the organization. Moreover, he has used his personal story to engage many others to be involved in any way they can.

A major initiative that is co-chaired by Barnard called the Real Men Mentor Initiative set to bring more male mentors into the organization. There are currently about 200 young men waiting for a mentor, a deficit the Real Men Mentor Initiative is actively working to fill. The group hosts monthly informal social gatherings to get men interested and understand why this opportunity is so beneficial. The 20-member formal committee filled with current and past mentors has tripled the number of male mentors inquires over the past six months.

Chris Barnard has been described as consistent, positive, and present in terms of both his mentoring relationships and his commitment to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley. He has used his personal and professional connection to aid the organization and his littles in every way. Chris Barnard is a model mentor and so many have benefited greatly from his leadership.

Margaret Burns, Essex, M.A.Y. Mentoring

Margaret Burns has been an active mentor and board member with Mentoring Affects Youth (M.A.Y) for the past 9 years. Burns has been a consistent source of empowerment for her mentees and the organization from the beginning.

Five years ago, after spending time as a mentor, Burns joined the Board of M.A.Y. Since becoming a board member, she has devoted countless hours in the community to recruiting mentors utilizing her personal and professional contacts. In addition to her work recruiting new mentors, Burns has helped organize several new events to promote the organization and engage the community in a fun and meaningful way.

Burns has also been noted by many as the “go-to” board member. They have noted her consistent commitment to helping open the door to new ideas, events, and plans to keep the organization growing. Burns also does her best to tie her mentoring connections into these development opportunities by having her mentees take an active role alongside her.

Margaret Burns embodies the best of what being a mentor means. She consistently steps up into what others may see as challenging relationships and makes a lasting impact in the life of her mentee. Those around Burns have noted her keen ability to recognize and build on the strengths of her mentees. They have also noted her commitment to making sure her mentees have the most beneficial experience to them and never giving up on any mentee no matter what.

Burns remains a much-needed and reliable presence in the lives of her mentees and the work of the organization. Her work has made a difference in the lives of many, and the continued growth of M.A.Y. Margaret Burns has truly shown others what it means to make a difference in the lives of others and to give back to your community.

Established in 2009, the Excellence in Mentoring Awards gives Iowa Mentoring Partnership (IMP) certified programs the opportunity to recognize outstanding long-time youth mentors. Individuals selected have served as a mentor a minimum of two years and exemplify both the spirit and positive benefits of mentoring. Mentors are selected based on their advocacy and leadership in mentoring, innovation, impact, commitment to their mentee, the match relationship, and the program itself. Many recipients possess a compelling mentoring story that illustrates the Excellence in Mentoring Award is the most prestigious honor that a youth mentor in Iowa can receive.