Please enter your information using this form for 2021 nominations. 

Award Descriptions

Isabel Turner

Isabel Turner, for whom the award is named, was an activist for human rights and the environment in Iowa City for many years. As a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Johnson County Regional Planning Commission (now Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County) from 1974-1980, she helped develop the county-wide transportation plan. Mrs. Turner served on the City of Iowa City Human Rights Commission from 1981 to 1984. Until her death in 1985, Isabel Turner worked for the rights of individuals to get fair treatment. Her volunteer service to the community, which covered many areas for many years, is her continuing legacy.

Linda Severson

This award was established in 1984 in an effort to recognize outstanding contributions to human rights by an individual in a service organization. In 2011, it was renamed the Linda Severson Award in recognition of Linda’s exemplary lifelong service to the community.


The International Award was established in 1998 to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights. The award acknowledges significant contributions to human rights in the global community.

Bill Reagan

The community award was established in 1984 to recognize outstanding contributions by a business or organization to human rights. In 2013, the award was renamed the Bill Reagan Community Award in recognition of Bill’s exemplary years of service to the disabled community as the Executive Director of the Arc of Southeast Iowa from December 2005 to July 2013.

Rick Graf

Rick Graf, for whom the award is named, was an activist within the Iowa City community as well as nationally. He was serving his first term on the City of Iowa City Human Rights Commission when his life was cut short by complications from AIDS in July 1995. Rick had served on the Ryan White Care Consortia and the Johnson County AIDS Coalition Board. He was a co-founder of the University of Iowa Gay Liberation Front, the first university-affiliated gay group in the country. He also co-founded ICARE (Iowa Center for AIDS Resources Education) and RFD, a magazine for rural gay men everywhere. The Rick Graf award recognizes the long-term commitment of an individual, business, or individual with a service organization, to a specific cause or for the benefit of a specific group of persons.

Kenneth Cmiel

Kenneth Cmiel, for whom the award is named, was an educator committed to human rights both locally and globally. Ken was a Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Iowa. He served as Chair of the Department of History from 2000-2003. In 2004 he was appointed Director of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. Ken was dedicated to encouraging students to pursue employment and work in the field of human rights around the globe. He initiated the Human Rights Internship Program within the Center for Human Rights and spent countless hours with students, discussing the possibilities of meaningful work to promote a more just and caring world community. The Kenneth Cmiel award is designed to recognize a college student and/or graduate student who has followed up on their interest in and knowledge of human rights by actively working in the field in the dedicated and determined way that Ken Cmiel advocated during his lifetime.