Relentless Advocate of the Year Award

Every year, IACP recognizes a professional who has boldly impacted the landscape of policy and practices across Iowa. 


2023 Award Winner

IACP is proud to boast the term "relentless" when it comes to our mission and vision for Iowans: Relentlessly advocating for Iowa's community providers to build healthy communities, so one day, all Iowans will live, learn, and work in their community of choice. Each year, IACP recognizes a professional who has boldly impacted the landscape of policy and practices across Iowa with the Relentless Advocate of the Year Award.

IACP's Relentless Advocate of the Year 2023 was awarded to Elizabeth Matney, Director of Iowa Medicaid. In diverse and sometimes bleak scenarios, Director Matney always maintained her focus on what is best for the citizens, community providers, and the state of Iowa as a whole. With her unprecedented access, Director Matney effectively communicates and relentlessly advocates with diverse audiences, including the Governor, legislators, other state leaders, managed care organizations, providers, members, families, and even the fire marshal. With her leadership, community providers have a voice in real systemic change.

Director Matney oversees Iowa’s $6 billion Medicaid program, which serves more than 700,000 Iowans each year. Prior to her current position, she served as a health policy advisor for Governor Kim Reynolds, where she worked closely with DHS and the Iowa Department of Public Health on a broad range of critical issues. She holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Drake University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Texas State University. Her previous experience includes serving as Medicaid managed care director, Medicaid quality assurance director, and her early experience includes direct care as a Medicaid provider and work at a women’s shelter.

We are grateful for the incredible work and influence of Director Matney and most importantly, proud to call her a trusted partner. From all of us, we thank you for being our Relentless Advocate.


Previous Award Winners: 

  • 2022: Marcy Davis, Candeo
  • 2021: Richard Whitaker, Vera French CMHC
  • 2020: Cheryl Plank, Muscatine Vision 20/20, Crossroads Muscatine, and Senior Resources
  • 2019: Jim Aberg, Iowa-START
  • 2018: Deb Johnson and Rep. Dave Heaton

2022 Award Winner

Marcy Davis has been the CEO of Candeo since 1997. Throughout her career, she has been relentless in her advocacy of community-based services, of community providers, and of individuals supported by community providers. Candeo, under Marcy’s leadership, has a long-standing reputation for the successful provision of service with and for individuals who have struggled to succeed and yet, when offered opportunities by Candeo staff and services, have gone on to thrive within the community!

In 2016, IACP used one story of a client of Candeo, Bridgette, as the lead story for our legislative agenda, as an example of the good work of community providers all over the state of Iowa. Bridgette is a young lady who had experienced hundreds of hospitalizations, and in her file was labeled by multiple organizations as “hopeless.” Bridgette was not a hopeless case for Marcy and the staff of Candeo. In fact, when the 2016 legislative agenda was published, Bridgette had not been hospitalized in over a year, was living in her own apartment, was working and had recently received a raise! They believed in her, supported her and cheered her along to a successful life in the community.

Marcy has also been an engaged and supportive member of IACP throughout her career, serving on the PAC, Membership, and Education & Training committees, chairing PAC and Membership, and serving as a board member of IACP. She is currently the Vice Chair of the IACP Board of Directors.

It is our sincere pleasure to recognize the 2022 IACP Executive of the Year, Marcy Davis. We thank you for your service, commitment to your staff and those supported by Candeo, and for your ongoing passion for and support of IACP, its members, mission and vision.

Congratulations, Marcy and thank you!


2021 Award Winner

With over 20 years of experience in management of community behavioral health, Rich currently serves as CEO of Vera French Mental Health Center in Davenport. He is also an active member of the IACP Board, sitting as the Behavioral Health Advisory Chair, is a commissioner for MHDS, resides on the board of Children's Mental Health, and was recently elected as the Region 7 Representative to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing Board. Click here to send a congratulatory note to Richard to thank him for his #RelentlessAdvocacy.

2020 Award Winner

IACP is proud to announce the "IACP Relentless Advocate of the Year 2020", Cheryl Plank. It is Cheryl's personal mission to use her ability to serve, support and sustain peace and understanding through compassionate action. Cheryl earned a Master of Public Administration from Drake University in Des Moines and an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant. She has more than 30 years of experience working in Iowa’s human services industry by serving in a variety of leadership roles; including nearly 18 years in progressive positions with Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI); the last six years there as the vice president of programs and services. Chery joined Tenco, Inc. in October of 2016 as the Executive Director. In late 2019, she accepted the position of Executive Director of Muscatine Vision 20/20, a conglomeration of four organizations including Crossroads, Inc. Her experience leading a diverse range of programs and initiatives demonstrates a strong record of leadership, management, policy development, relationship building and a passion for service that has impacted the lives of countless Iowans. 

Cheryl has participated as a member with IACP for many years. She was nominated and elected to the board of directors as the Children’s Advisory Chair in 2015 and 2016, and then became a member of the IACP Membership Committee. In September of 2017, she was nominated and elected as an at-large member of the IACP board for a 3-year term. In October 2019, she was appointed as the Secretary of the Board and the Chair of the Membership Committee. Cheryl served on the Iowa Providers' Political Action Committee (PAC) and is a long standing champion of the legislative process.

2019 Award Winner

Jim Aberg

Jim Aberg received the 2019 Relentless Advocate Award during the Annual Conference and Trade Show. IACP is grateful to Jim for his tenacity, thought leadership, expertise, and relentless advocacy. 

2018 Recipients

Deb Johnson Rep. Dave Heaton