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Clockwise from top left: Aaron Cooper, Rob Donaldson, Missy Toms, Mikelann Rensel, Jay Foran, Mary Anne Crampton and Jenni Baker

Fifteen years of community vibrancy doesn’t happen by accident. Rather, it’s achieved thanks to strong leaders who routinely demonstrate qualities like passion, perseverance, foresight and commitment.

In celebration of 15 years of vibrant neighborhoods, LakewoodAlive announces the inception of the Founders Award. This honor recognizes citizens who have made exceptional contributions to our city’s spirit of community vibrancy through demonstrating a love and loyalty for Lakewood, perseverance through challenges, unique foresight of our city’s potential and steadfast commitment to making our community a better place.   

LakewoodAlive proudly announces that community leaders Jenni Baker, Mary Anne Crampton, Jay Foran and Mikelann Rensel will serve as inaugural recipients of the Founders Award. This quartet will join outstanding volunteers Aaron Cooper, Rob Donaldson and Missy Toms in serving as award honorees during Loving Lakewood: There’s No Place Like Home taking place Saturday, February 23, from 7:30 to 11 p.m. at the Lakewood Masonic Temple.  Each will be honored as part of the evening’s festivities in recognition of their exemplary service to LakewoodAlive and the Lakewood community.

Tickets are now on sale for There’s No Place Like Home, LakewoodAlive’s winter fundraiser sponsored by Cleveland Property Management Group. Guests are invited to don cocktail attire with Wizard of Oz flair to partake in a celebration of 15 years of LakewoodAlive and 10 years of our Housing Outreach Program in a historic Downtown Lakewood venue. This limited-capacity event is expected to sell out, so act faster than a swirling tornado to secure your tickets by visiting LakewoodAlive.org/NoPlaceLikeHome.

Each member of this honoree group has made an indelible impact on LakewoodAlive and our community:

Jenni Baker – Jenni served on the LakewoodAlive board from 2008 to 2014 and as board president from 2010 to 2012. During her tenure with the organization, Jenni joined event co-chair Jennifer Raynor in spearheading the growth of Light Up Lakewood from a small event at Lakewood Park to LakewoodAlive’s signature event that now draws 20,000 guests to Downtown Lakewood each December.  Jenni also proved instrumental during LakewoodAlive’s leadership transition from Mary Anne Crampton to Ian Andrews, presiding over a board that guided the recruitment process from start to finish. 

Mary Anne Crampton – Mary Anne served as Executive Director of LakewoodAlive from 2004 to 2011. Under Mary Anne’s leadership, an organizational culture was instilled that empowered talented and dedicated Lakewood residents to collaborate on implementing a vision for revitalization and community engagement with programming that still remains in place today. She oversaw LakewoodAlive’s role in the revitalization of Downtown Lakewood and helped guide a successful transition of leadership to Ian Andrews. In 2011 Mary Anne was honored as Business Person of the Year by the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.  

Jay Foran – Jay served on the LakewoodAlive board from 2004 to 2014, spending time as both vice president and secretary. As one of the pioneers of the organization, Jay played an integral role in developing the vision for LakewoodAlive’s community engagement model and creating the organization’s name and brand. He also spearheaded the conception and coordination of LakewoodAlive’s Community Forum series to engage residents and foster respectful dialogue regarding important community issues.

Mikelann Rensel – Mikelann served on the LakewoodAlive board from 2004 to 2014, occupying the roles of president and secretary at different times. A founding member of the organization, Mikelann was instrumental in the creation of the Housing Outreach Program as LakewoodAlive began its evolution into a community development organization. She also spearheaded the advent of LakewoodAlive’s Housing Committee, serving as the inaugural chair of this committee.

Aaron Cooper – Aaron, a member of the “A Team,” LakewoodAlive’s most experienced volunteer group, plays an instrumental role in assisting LakewoodAlive’s Housing Outreach Program with fulfilling its mission to ensure all residents live in healthy and safe homes. During the last several years, Aaron has devoted countless hours to assisting Lakewood residents with their home repairs – volunteering individually, as a representative of Cross Point Church and as a member of the A Team. Aaron’s expertise has benefited residents with everything from plumbing repairs to aging in place adaptions to garage repairs.   

Rob Donaldson – Rob serves on LakewoodAlive’s board and as chair of the Design Committee, which seeks to beautify and improve Lakewood’s commercial streetscapes. In this role Rob helped spearhead LakewoodAlive’s Warren Road Beautification Project, which resulted in a new public art mural, bus shelter wrap, bikes lanes and planter boxes along this main artery into Downtown Lakewood.  Rob continues to provide leadership in the Design Committee’s ambitious plans for 2019 and beyond. He also regularly assists with setup and teardown at LakewoodAlive’s community events.

Missy Toms – Missy is a key member of LakewoodAlive’s Development Committee, which serves as the fundraising arm of the organization. In this capacity Missy routinely lends her fundraising expertise, assisting with LakewoodAlive’s bi-annual fundraising campaigns and the annual “Loving Lakewood” winter fundraising event. Additionally, as a member of Kauffman Park Friends, Missy volunteers at LakewoodAlive’s annual Spooky Pooch Parade, a community event that has grown considerably in recent years.

“We are thrilled to be able to recognize Jenni, Mary Anne, Jay, Mikelann, Aaron, Rob and Missy for their incredible contributions, not only to LakewoodAlive, but to the entire Lakewood community,” said Ian Andrews, LakewoodAlive Executive Director. “These community leaders have served vital roles within our organization and we are forever grateful for the remarkable impact each has made during LakewoodAlive’s first 15 years.”

There’s No Place Like Home will feature Oz-themed food, drinks, décor and entertainment. Proceeds will support LakewoodAlive’s programming as we strive to foster and sustain vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood. Much like Dorothy and the cast of characters making the adventurous trek to Emerald City, we at LakewoodAlive possess the heart, brains and courage necessary to assist the wonderful residents of Lakewood along the journey to achieving an even more vibrant community.

More details regarding There’s No Place Like Home will be unveiled in the coming weeks.  For ongoing updates, please visit LakewoodAlive.org/NoPlaceLikeHome.

About LakewoodAlive 

There’s no place like home. At LakewoodAlive we don’t have magical ruby slippers, yet we strive to serve a vital role in the lives of Lakewood residents in need through our Housing Outreach Program. Our journey follows a yellow brick road on the path to community vibrancy. The 5.5 square miles comprising Lakewood is our Kansas, and we take our responsibilities very seriously. As the immortal lyrics from Over the Rainbow state, “Dreams really do come true.”

Loving Lakewood: There’s No Place Like Home is generously supported by the following sponsors:

Over the Rainbow Title Sponsor
Cleveland Property Management Group

Emerald City Sponsor
First Federal Lakewood

Ruby Slipper Sponsor
Citizens Bank

Yellow Brick Road Sponsors
Cox Communications | Dominion Energy | Erie Design | Lakewood Masonic Temple
Lanter Legal, LLC | Rockport Wealth Advisors | Scalish Construction | Sentry Protection Products

Matt Bixenstine is the Marketing & Development Manager for LakewoodAlive. He enjoys all things Lakewood, especially walking his basset hound through Madison Park.

Matt Bixenstine

I am the Marketing & Development Manager for LakewoodAlive. I enjoy all things Lakewood, especially walking my basset hound through Madison Park.

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Volume 15, Issue 3, Posted 3:56 PM, 01.22.2019