Tanager Place

Okpara Rice named AAMI History Maker

Okpara Rice
Okpara Rice, CEO of Tanager Place

Since 2007 the African American Museum of Iowa has honored key contributors as “History Makers.” This year Okpara Rice, our chief executive, is one of four award winners who will be honored at a September Gala.

Museum officials say a History Maker is someone who takes action and modifies the course of history, imparting knowledge and impacting communities. Because of this person and his or her influence as a trailblazer, change agent, legacy maker and/or role model, history is forever changed.

As noted during the nomination process, no community member is more deserving of the 2020 History Maker Award than Okpara, who serves as the first African American leader in the 141-history of Tanager Place as well as the Association of Children’s Residential Centers:

“Okpara is a true visionary and consummate professional who gets up each day and goes to work on behalf of children and families. As chief executive of Tanager Place, he strives to break the stigma surrounding mental health, remove barriers to education and build pathways to wellness. When Okpara becomes aware of a need, he looks for ways to alleviate it. When confronted by injustice, Okpara labors to right the wrong.

His natural strength as a leader, which makes him a role model to so many, is his earnest and sincere belief in the power of civic responsibility, social justice and community engagement. He sees the good in others, thinks the best of others and creates an environment in which our best selves can manifest and thrive.

Okpara listens – to Tanager Place staff members, to fellow executives, to the University of Iowa students he teaches, to peers across the country and globe – and then takes purposeful action. … He is altruistic, a life-long learner and motivator. He inspires those around him and creates coalitions of positive change. …”

Also recognized this year are Dr. Sharon Collins of Cedar Rapids, Judge Odell McGhee of Des Moines, and Fred Mims of Iowa City. Please join us in celebrating all the award winners and their ongoing contributions to our communities and state.

For more information on the upcoming AAMI History Makers Gala, visit:

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