Leader Valley is thrilled to announce the selection of the first cohort of Leader Valley Leadership & Legacy Scholars, marking an important milestone in its mission to empower and support minority youth in the Cedar Valley.

The inaugural Leader Valley Leadership & Legacy Scholars are:

  • Brooke Dunn, a graduate of West High School, will be attending the University of Northern Iowa to pursue early childhood education with the aspiration of becoming an elementary school teacher.
  • Hawra-Lizetth Aldurazi, also a West High School graduate, will attend the University of Northern Iowa and major in political science, aiming to engage in missionary work in third-world countries after graduation.
  • Jordan Jones-Whitaker, a Cedar Falls High School graduate, plans to major in elementary education at Grand View University and return to teach in the Cedar Valley.
  • Keiana James, a graduate of Cedar Falls High School, will major in political science with an emphasis in nonprofit leadership, public leadership, and public policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Peyton Chambers, a West High School graduate, will be attending the University of Northern Iowa this fall.
  • Sierra Meeks, also a West High School graduate, will be majoring in environmental and water resource economics at the University of Arizona with the goal of attending law school to pursue a career in environmental justice and civil rights law.

The Leader Valley Leadership & Legacy Scholarship is awarded to Cedar Valley high school graduates who are entering their first year of college. This initiative has a special focus on empowering minority students in Black Hawk County, ensuring that they receive the support they need to succeed in higher education and beyond.

The scholarship program is the brainchild of CBE Companies Chairman, Tom Penaluna, and his wife Ginger. “Ginger and I hope this scholarship fund will help create a better environment for those disadvantaged minority students after they graduate, to come back to the Cedar Valley and help our community become more inclusive, which will open doors to new thinking and enriching lives,” expressed Tom Penaluna.

Selected students will be provided with scholarship funds for each year of their four-year college education. In addition to financial support, these scholars will access summer leadership seminars designed to equip them with the necessary skills to become successful leaders in their respective fields upon graduation.

These scholars were selected by committee members Beth Hollingsworth, Kyle Kuhlers, Shantavia Parker, Madelyn Ridgeway, Dr. Albert Smothers, Gina Weekley, and Aysha Weekley.

Madelyn Ridgeway, the committee’s chair remarks, “I’m excited about the Leader Valley Leadership & Legacy scholarship and the opportunity our community has to cultivate a legacy of leadership and support in the next generation of Cedar Valley residents. To have unique and targeted funding and support available to our most vulnerable populations is something we should all be proud of.”