The honor is another feather in the cap of Strawhecker's firm, a leading fundraising consulting and resource development firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Council Bluffs residents have seen Strawhecker's company make a positive impact in their city.
Recent projects have included helping to raise $1.2 million of the $4.8 million Bayliss Park renovation project and raising $880,000 for the Veteran's Plaza. Strawhecker's firm is working to raise money to close the funding gap on the Missouri River Pedestrian Bridge.
An Omaha native and Creighton University graduate, Strawhecker gathered experience in city government, helped initiate the planned giving program at what was then Boys Town, and oversaw fundraising programs before opening his own firm.
"The park was really an opportunity for people in Council Bluffs to express themselves," Strawhecker said.
John Fettig, a senior associate in Strawhecker's office, said everyone in the city has good memories of the park.
"I really felt that that particular fundraising project was very good for the community," he said.
Strawhecker believes that Council Bluffs is fertile ground for future projects, given that there haven't been as many large community-based fundraisers as some other locations and hints more is to come.
"We're involved in a couple projects right now," he said. "We're testing the feasibility."
Strawhecker's team includes Bluffs resident Mike Watkins and long-time Bluffs leader Bill Ramsey.
Ramsey, who worked to bring a casino to the city in the early 1990s, feels it was the opening of the casinos that led to a new age of giving in Council Bluffs, highlighted by the establishment of the Iowa West Foundation. The Strawhecker team points to the way Iowa West is encouraging organizations to provide a match for the grants it awards.
"Any project in Council Bluffs is a partnership . . . with Iowa West and the government entities," Strawhecker said.
That's something he considers a plus, and it's not how things work everywhere.
The Strawhecker firm sees many future opportunities as growth continues in Council Bluffs.
"The community has a vision and a willingness to do things," Strawhecker said.