Routt County United Way Executive Director Kate Nowak wins 2023 Hazie Werner Award |

Routt County United Way Executive Director Kate Nowak wins 2023 Hazie Werner Award

Routt County United Way Exeutive Director Kate Nowak has been announced as the winner of this year’s Hazie Werner Award.
Courtesy photo

Citing her leadership and dedication to the community, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. has revealed Kate Nowak, executive director of Routt County United Way, as the winner of the 2023 Hazie Werner Award.

Nowak was announced as the winner of this year’s award on Monday, Feb. 13. Nowak has been serving the Steamboat Springs community for 25 years, and she’s been with Routt County United Way for the past decade.

“I was completely surprised and very humbled because if you look at the list of previous winners, it’s very impressive,” Nowak said. “So I’m definitely very honored, and I still can’t believe it.”

According to Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., Nowak strikes a nice balance between humbleness and tenacity, and she has built a strong community among Routt County’s nonprofits while supporting the growth of new organizations.

In selecting Nowak for the Hazie Werner Award, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. said that Nowak’s personal and professional attributes mirror much of Werner’s work in the community, and that made Nowak “a natural fit” to become the 35th recipient of the award that recognizes a female community member who represents Werner’s legacy through volunteerism, community commitment and support of local organizations.

“Kate is a quiet force for all things positive in Routt County and embodies the qualities that made Hazie Werner such an icon in our valley,” said 2022 Hazie Werner Award winner Nancy Mucklow in her nomination of Nowak.

As the executive director of Routt County United Way, Nowak is credited for helping guide Women United and programs such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and backpacks for school children in need. She’s also helped increase the amount of dollars raised through Routt County United Way by approximately 62%, established a joint location with Integrated Community and spearheaded the Holiday Exchange Market, which allows almost 200 local families to have a merry holiday season every year.

Prior to working for United Way, Nowak was the executive director at Yampa Valley Partners for nearly five years. The nonprofit provided resources and gathered data for local businesses and governments in Routt and Moffat counties to help diversify and grow the economy.

Nowak also volunteers at the Heart of Steamboat Methodist Church and is a member of Philanthropic Education Organization.

“Kate lives and breathes our community, knowing who can help who, what needs taken care of and if she cannot find someone to help take care of it, she does it herself,” said Todd Hagenbuch, who also nominated Nowak for the award. “She does all of this work and expects no accolades — it’s just who she is.”

That might be because if you ask Nowak, the work is her reward.

“I like to help people; that’s the bottom line,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to have a position in the community that does just that, and they do that with a lot of different partners and all throughout the community, and we can do it directly and indirectly. What a privilege it is to have this job to help people in all walks of life from birth to seniors. I think it’s pretty amazing.“

In addition to the Hazie Werner Award, Steamboat Resort will present two Snowball Community Grants — one to Routt County United Way Mount Zirkel Legacy Fund to sustain the local chapter’s mission to support community efforts, and a second to the Routt County Council on Aging.

The annual Hazie Werner Award and Snowball Grant reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 2 at the Ore House. The celebration will include previous Hazie Werner Award recipients, and the public is invited to attend.

Hazie Werner Award winners

Routt County United Way Executive Director Kate Nowak joins 34 other recipients who have received the Hazie Werner Award since its inception in 1989.

Previous recipients include Skeeter Werner Walker, Katy Rodolph Wyatt, Eleanor Bliss, Carol Baily, Lucile Bogue, Criss Fetcher, Dorothy Wither (posthumously), Sureva Towler, Rita Valentine (posthumously), Geneva Taylor, Carol Schaffer, Gloria Gossard, Jayne Hill, Elaine Gay, Millie Beall, Arianthe Stettner, Wanda Redmond, Margi Briggs-Casson, Margaret “Poogie” Dawes (posthumously), Nancy Stahoviak, Carol Booth Fox, Diane Moore, Susan E. Birch, Christine Painter, Marsha Daughenbaugh, Sarah Floyd, Nancy Kramer, Deb Werner, Jane Howell, Betse Grassby, Jan Fritz, Gretchen Van De Carr, Jane Romberg and Nancy Mucklow.

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