Idaho Volunteers Recognized with Governor Andrus Volunteer of the Year Award


For Immediate Release: Nov. 12, 2021
Media Contact: Renee Bade,

Three outstanding volunteers were recognized for their contributions to Idaho during the annual Idaho Philanthropy Day Awards held earlier this week.

Georgianne Jessen, Karma Fitzgerald and Laura Wallis all received the Governor Cecil D. Andrus Volunteer of the Year award in the ceremony presented by the Idaho Nonprofit Center in partnership with Serve Idaho, the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism. Danielle Trujillo, executive director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy, presented the awards during the virtual ceremony.

Northern IdahoPhoto - Georgianne Jessen
Georgianne Jessen of Hayden dedicates her time to the Kootenai Health Foundation and Hospice of North Idaho, often volunteering more than 20 hours per week.  She has served in a variety of leadership roles including treasurer, secretary and committee chairs. She is passionate about the missions of the organizations she serves, volunteering in many roles from assisting with fundraising events to sitting with patients and providing comfort during their end of life.

Southwestern Idaho

photo: Karma FitzgeraldKarma Fitzgerald of Shoshone is heavily engaged in her community as a volunteer, recently spearheading efforts to build the Lincoln County Youth Center, which included raising over $1 million dollars, and organizing AmeriCorps team efforts. She has responded to COVID by mobilizing a team of more than 30 volunteers who together made more than 5,000 masks, 500 isolation gowns and thousands of cookies. Additionally, Fitzgerald developed a help line to provide COVID resources and raise more than $5,000 in support. She also serves as a fire commissioner and sits on a steering committee to develop a new park in her community.

Eastern Idaho

Photo: Laura WallisLaura Wallis of Ammon as an advocate for families with children with special needs, spending her time volunteering for the Region 7 Behavioral Health Board’s Mental Health Subcommittee and the Idaho Parents Network. Through her volunteer work she helped develop the Group Respite Care Program, which provides families with much-needed time off while feeling secure that their child can be cared for. She has streamlined processes to ensure that families navigating the system have support and speaks at Idaho State University to social work students about the unique challenges facing families of children with special needs.

The annual Idaho Philanthropy Day awards recognizes outstanding volunteers and philanthropists from throughout Idaho. In 2020, Serve Idaho combined efforts with the Idaho Nonprofit Center, replacing the previous Idaho’s Brightest Stars event. This is the fourth year the Governor Cecil D. Andrus Volunteer of the Year Award has been presented.

The Governor Cecil D. Andrus Volunteer of the Year award recognizes one outstanding volunteer in each region. The winner of this award is selected from all nominees and shows sustained volunteer commitment to meeting Idaho’s most pressing needs, represents extraordinary acts of generosity and kindness, and through volunteerism has had an impact on the greater community.

The award was started in 2019 in memory of Governor Cecil D. Andrus and his commitment to service and volunteerism and his establishment of Serve Idaho, the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism in 1994.

For a full list of those recognized visit


Serve Idaho, a division of the Idaho Department of Labor, encourages voluntary public service and volunteerism throughout the state. The Serve Idaho Commission is funded in part by the Federal agency AmeriCorps and the Idaho Department of Labor.