10th Annual Idaho Hometown Hero Medal Ceremony & Gala

JRM Foundation Idaho’s Hometown Hero Medal Recipients 2022 and Ceremony

Idaho’s Hometown Hero Medal Ceremony and Gala presents its 2022 recipients to be honored on Saturday, September 10, at the 10th Annual Idaho Hometown Hero Awards Ceremony, Gala Celebration and charity partner exposition at the Stephens Performing Arts Center in Pocatello. The free partner exposition will take place from 4 to 6 p.m., followed by the free medal ceremony from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The ticketed gala event is sold out for 2022.

“This year’s medal recipients are an incredible group of men and women who exemplify our 2022 event theme ‘Resilience in Uncertain Times,’” said JRM Foundation Executive Director Beena Mannan. “We hope many people will reach out to us to honor these people who keep our community together and prosperous.”

Idaho’s Hometown Hero Medal Ceremony keynote speaker, Cherie Buckner-Webb, is also a 2022 Hometown Hero Medal recipient. Cherie Buckner-Webb is a fifth-generation Idahoan who has been relentlessly serving the greater Idaho community for many years. A founder of the Principle of Sojourner Coaching, she also is an international speaker. Buckner-Webb serves on numerous boards and committees that promote community wellbeing with multiple awards and recognition as an accomplished Black woman, leader and Idaho Senator. Buckner-Webb was the first Black person elected to the Idaho Legislature. She served in the Idaho Legislature as State Representative for two years and ten years as State Senator until her retirement in 2020.   

“We are delighted to have Cherie Buckner-Webb as our keynote speaker for this year's return of Idaho’s Hometown Hero Awards,” said Executive Director Beena Rahim. “Cherie Buckner-Webb exemplifies our theme ‘Resilience in Uncertain Times.’ As a woman in Idaho, she has achieved a great deal and moved Idaho forward. It’s an honor to have her be part of this momentous occasion.”

Cherie Buckner-Webb - Boise

2022 Keynote for 10th Annual Idaho Hometown Hero Awards Ceremony

Cherie Buckner-Webb is a fifth-generation Idahoan who has been relentlessly serving the greater Idaho community for many years. She is the founder of the Principle of Sojourner Coaching, a consultancy focusing on organizational development, cross-cultural competence and executive coaching. She is an international speaker and serves on numerous boards and committees that promote community wellbeing. Buckner-Webb is a founding board member of the Idaho Black History Museum, winner of the H.P. Human Rights Award, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Idaho Mother of the Year and Mother of Achievement Awards (American Mothers, Inc.), the Joyce Stein Award, the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award—A Legacy of Peace Award, “USA Today” (1 of 10) Women of the Century, 2020, the “Idaho Business Review” 2019 Woman of the Year Award and 2020 ICON Award. She has also received the Award for Excellence in the Arts at the 2004 Idaho Governor’s Awards for her vocal skills and contribution to the musical arts in Idaho. Buckner-Webb was the first Black person elected to the Idaho Legislature. She served in the Idaho Legislature as State Representative for two years and ten years as State Senator until her retirement in 2020.   

Karl Pettit - Pocatello

Karl Pettit is the director for Valley Mission and the worship/arts pastor at First Baptist Church. He serves on several committees with the city and other organizations, focusing on hunger, poverty and homelessness, all with the goal of getting those in need to a place of comfort, security and success. He has been involved in First Baptist Food Pantry since its inception in 2010 and helped to launch Valley Mission as a separate 501(c) 3 organization in 2017. Pettit and his team serve thousands of families each year through the pantry. In collaboration with several local organizations and the mayor, he has worked hard to find viable solutions to winter warming shelter spaces for those on the streets and will not stop until permanent, safe options are available. In his role as director for Valley Mission, he has visited various rescue missions in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, and Idaho to better understand operations, layout, programs, support and more. Since Valley Mission acquired the old Metro Spa building in 2020, he has been involved in all phases, from design and construction to grant writing and board development. Additionally, he has helped forge collaborations with multiple agencies to better serve those through the mission. Examples include The Free Clinic, the Crisis Center, Hope and Recovery, D6 Health, Probation and Parole, PWCC and so much more. He is passionate about not only helping those in our community who are in need but giving them the resources, tools and support they need to stand on their own two feet. With the support of the Transformational Living Program that Valley Mission will offer, this will become a reality in the next year. “In order to help people—I mean help people— give them the tools and skills and hope they need to do things on their own,” said Pettit. “Set them up with a support system that will carry them beyond their learning so they can live life, not in a vacuum or alone, but in the community that will breed success.” 

Pettit is involved with an amazing team of volunteers at First Baptist Church. Over his 21+ years in service, he has experienced both the highs and lows of church ministry as well as launched some new elements of ministry, including video, media and more. He is involved in helping churches grow and develop worship and arts ministry and leads at the annual Leadership Conference in Post Falls each year.

John Herbert McDonald - Ketchum

John Herbert McDonald served as Crew Chief of an HU-1 Huey Helicopter for Major General Fred C. Wayand, 25th Division commander in Cu Chi, Vietnam. He became the Ketchum Postmaster in 1973, and this fall will mark 55 years of commitment to the Postal Service at 80. McDonald is a member of the Wood River Rotary Club, Founder and Board Member of the North American Moose Foundation and a lifetime member of the Safari Club International and Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife Services, Southern Idaho Division. McDonald served on the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Committee for over a decade. He is also on the Ketchum Cemetery Board, serving as chairman. For more than 20 years, he has committed his time and energy to the Swiftsure Therapeutic Riding Center as a founder and board member. McDonald is also a lifetime member of the American Legion, Ketchum Post 115, where he has been nominated and served as commander countless times, once for five consecutive years. From flipping pancakes for the Wagon Days Papoose Club Pancake Breakfast when his kids were young to riding down Main Street Idaho as the Blaine County Fair Grand Marshall in 2017, McDonald has been a local fixture in Blaine County for most of his life and continues to be a rancher and running cows south of Kimberly.

Lejla Becirovic - Twin Falls

Lejla Becirovic is a master-level social worker working for Idaho Home Health and Hospice. Becirovic migrated to Twin Falls in 1994 from war-torn Bosnia. As a refugee and survivor of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Becirovic has dedicated her private and professional life to advocating for disadvantaged populations and helping others. Becirovic is the award-winning author of “Beyond Borders: A Story of War, Love, and Loss” a memoir detailing her escape from war-torn Bosnia and educating her community on refugees. She continues to educate and give voice to children of war and humanize those that have been dehumanized for centuries. Becirovic speaks at the College of Southern Idaho each semester, educating new social workers on cultural humility and she is also an award-winning international artist. She is known in the community as “Art by Lejla.” Becirovic has made it her mission to change the world by donating her art proceeds to various local and national causes. She has participated in numerous fundraisers, including Hospice Promise Foundation, which assists local hospice patients with last wishes and burial costs. Becirovic teaches Journey Through Art groups at local senior homes to minimize the negative impact of isolation during the COVID pandemic on the elderly. In addition, she has spent five years volunteering her time creating hand molds for hospice patients. These replicas of patients’ and family members’ hand molds become tangible objects the family can cherish for generations to come. Becirovic received two letters from the president of the United States for her advocacy for disadvantaged populations. She is a recipient of a National Hospice Hero award in 2018 and 2019. This fall, Becirovic will be in Sarajevo working with an orphanage assisting in getting school supplies to children who are easily forgotten by their community. She continues to look for ways to make an impact in this world.

Rick Phillips - Pocatello

As president of the Pocatello Rotary Club, Rick Phillips has guided the club’s many service projects, ranging from a Clothes Closet for needy persons to a 5K run for charity. As governor of Rotary District 5400's over 40 Rotary Clubs, Phillips motivated and assisted the clubs in undertaking many local and several international projects, including agricultural assistance, a water well for an isolated group and a library for a school for disadvantaged children in Central America, South America and Africa. In addition, Phillips has brought student-athletes to Pocatello from all over Idaho, several other states, and even foreign countries to the Simplot Games. Each year Phillips invites and hosts about six famous Olympic Gold Medal winners to appear at the Games, providing student-athletes the opportunity to talk with the Olympians. Most significantly, he partnered with Pocatello’s School District 25 on several activities, and he organizes exceedingly valuable educational farm safety camps each year for young students across Idaho and Western Wyoming. 

David Rhuter - Buhl

Dave Rhuter is a dedicated volunteer for the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, where he is a swift water technician, a public safety diver and a high-angle rope technician. A public safety worker’s job is complex, and as a volunteer, he has committed himself to helping others at all costs. He is often called out to recover someone who has perished, and for a volunteer, that can be extremely difficult. However, Rhuter has also dedicated his life to helping the youth of his community. As a scuba diver instructor, Rhuter works with kids at risk and provides them with a positive outlet by teaching them how to dive and get certified as an open water diver, all at his expense. He believes that if he can give these young people opportunities, it may provide them with confidence in themselves and potentially strive towards excellence.

Jamar Brown - Pocatello

Jamar Brown is a native Idahoan, having been raised and educated in the Gem State. She and her husband Steven have lived in Pocatello for 30 years. They have enjoyed working side by side in the local business industry. They have been actively engaged in the nonprofit sector for decades and are invested in the community. Brown’s most recent civic involvement was as Chair of the Human Relations Advisory Committee for the City of Pocatello. She has been on the Certified Learning Institute Team for NeighborWorks Pocatello and continues to benefit from the Diversity Training Program provided by NeighborWorks America. Brown was President of the League of Women Voters of Pocatello and served as state Secretary and president of the League of Women’s Voters of Idaho. Brown and her husband plan to continue to reside in Pocatello in retirement. Brown is devoted to her family and their ongoing care. She is passionate about her civic platform of social justice and is very grateful to have been allowed to serve her community. 

Chris Osborne - Pocatello

Chris Osborne is a tribal member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Fort Hall. He is a Native American gay man and a Pocatello LGBTQ2S community member. For the past 21 years, Osborne has been performing as a drag queen entertainer, Crystlll Blue. In 2002, he was selected as a 2002 Winter Olympics torchbearer in Salt Lake City for his commitment to his community. His passion, strength, positive drive and love for the LGBTQ2S community are unfailing. He organizes and hosts many LGBTQ2S events for awareness and charities, which include diabetes, suicide, bullying, cancer, Trans DOE, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman, Southeastern Idaho-Pride, gay adult and youth pageants and the Utah Gay Rodeo Association (Utah and Idaho). Osborne travels to events in different cities and states to show his desire, strive and commitment, which is always above and beyond most people and offering his heart and soul for the sake of others being happy. When his mother recently passed away, he had three events during her funeral, but he stood by his commitments and her revealing his enormous heart for others. Osborne is selfless and caring for what he does. It is not for him. His purpose, goal, and dedication to achieve and succeed are incredible and rewarding. 

Kent Oram - Pocatello

Kent Oram has served as the president and CEO of ICCU (Idaho Central Credit Union) since 2007. During his time, ICCU has become one of Idaho’s fastest-growing credit unions, with one in five Idahoans as members. Under his leadership, ICCU has been named the Best Place to Work in Idaho for many years. In 2014, Oram was inducted into the Credit Union Executive Society’s Hall of Fame. Oram has led his team with a full-steam-ahead approach to make ICCU one of the biggest credit unions in the U.S. Under his leadership, ICCU supported its members, families and businesses through the Great Recession of 2007-08. During a pandemic, his innovative leadership styles helped ICCU employees, members and numerous companies succeed through these uncertain times and helped thousands of businesses by quickly rolling out the PPP program. To add to his incredible leadership, Oram has fostered a community engagement culture, which consistently helps other businesses and small business owners when they face hardships. 

Juan Alvarez - Idaho Falls

Juan Alvarez is Chief Operations Officer and Executive Vice President of Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC., the management and operating entity for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Juan has over 30 years of experience in management and operations with the United States Navy and as a contractor to the Department of Energy. Before joining INL in 2005 as part of the new Battelle contract, Alvarez served as Director of Facility Operations at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for five years. Alvarez also served as Director of Internal Audit, Assurance and Quality at the Pantex Plant, the nation’s nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility, and as Manager of Laboratory Operations with EG&G Idaho. Alvarez was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy in 1985, serving six years as a nuclear propulsion officer in the submarine fleet. He was awarded the Navy Commendation and two Navy Achievement medals during his service. Alvarez is a graduate of the University of Miami, where he earned a bachelor’s in education, and a graduate of the University of Idaho, where he earned a Master’s in Industrial Technology. Current board service includes the University of Tennessee-Battelle, LLC. (chair, operations committee), Blue Cross of Idaho (member of Audit and Quality committees), Idaho Regional Optical Network (alternate director) and Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs (chair). Past board service includes Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (chair and vice chair), Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation (chair, finance committee), Partners for Prosperity (chair) and Energy Facility Contractors Operating Group (vice chair). Alvarez also chairs the Battelle Operations Council, a forum of all Chief Operations Officers from all Battelle-affiliated Laboratories and the National Laboratory Chief Operations Officers Working Group. He is past chair of the City of Idaho Falls' “Connecting Us, Sustaining Progress (CUSP)” initiative, a two-year effort to identify opportunities to improve the wellbeing of residents through education, diversity and inclusion, community enrichment, economic development, sustainability, safety and health. Alvarez is married and has two daughters, one son and three granddaughters.

Established in 2011 by the JRM Foundation for Humanity, Idaho’s Hometown Hero Medal pays tribute to those who show unique characteristics and achievements while displaying remarkable commitment to creating better and safer communities across Idaho. The honorees illustrate outstanding qualities in their personal and professional lives and continue to preserve and promote the richness of Idaho, ultimately creating a stronger community for the future of Idaho.

The 10th Annual Idaho Hometown Hero Awards will honor the everyday Idaho hometown hero. For 2022, the Idaho Hometown Hero Award focuses on individuals who are not only sharing their resources but also their valuable time, intellect and ideas for a better tomorrow and breaking boundaries. The JRM Foundation would like to discover and award those essential individuals who enhance the lives of future generations through their contributions today. 

The selected medalists are a handful of distinguished Idaho citizens who characterize a life dedicated to the Idaho method of hard work, self-improvement and community service while embodying the spirit of philanthropy and showing a remarkable commitment to improving Idaho. Idaho’s Hometown Hero Medal is an event sponsored by the JRM Foundation for Humanity, founded by Jamshaid, Rahim and Mannan of the JRM family in 2010.

To learn more or to support the JRM Foundation, click here.