NIRSA and the entire field of collegiate recreation are made great by the passion, drive, and dedication of some truly amazing individuals and institutions. Each year, NIRSA is proud to recognize some of its extraordinary members with a variety of awards. Recipients of many NIRSA awards are announced ahead of the NIRSA Annual Conference while others are first made public during the Association’s signature event.

With the cancellation of NIRSA’s 2020 Annual Conference, several of our award recipients were notified of their status through virtual platforms. We understand and respect that not all individuals have been comfortable with this method of recognition, and so the Association would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all award recipients for their excellence!

Juliette Moore Distinguished Leadership Award

The Juliette Moore Distinguished Leadership Award honors those individuals who have helped further the goals of building a diverse and inclusive culture in our association by fostering equality of opportunity, encouraging diverse perspectives, and creating a welcoming and supportive climate.

Award Recipient

Andrea Snead, University of Central Florida

The Lee Wasson People of Color Committee surprised Andrea during a UCF staff Zoom meeting to “present” the award. Following the presentation, Andrea said, “Along with Juliette Moore I’d like to thank Jim Wilkening [Executive Director at UCF] for introducing me to NIRSA. I’m here for the long haul. I will always use myself to help bring others along.”

“Andrea served on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and was integral in completing the resource guide that is used today by our NIRSA colleagues,” said her nominator. “Andrea gathered police and students together during a difficult time in our country and had courageous conversations about diversity. She serves on her university diversity committee and is always trying to move people of color in a positive direction. She is an ally to the LGBTQ community and a role model to her NIRSA peers.”

Regional Awards of Merit

NIRSA professionals wear countless hats. To be successful, they often become innovative and dedicated pioneers in the field of collegiate recreation. The Regional Awards of Merit acknowledge the exceptional performance or dedication of NIRSA members. These awards were presented during virtual regional watch parties that occurred throughout April.

Region I

Matt Grimm, Stevenson University

Although his contributions to and impact on the field of collegiate recreation are numerous, the genuine and meaningful relationships Matt has formed throughout the industry and within Stevenson’s campus community is what is truly valued.

Region II

Cara Lucia, PhD, Elon University

Cara has a well-deserved reputation for demonstrating strong leadership abilities and knowledge of sport recreation subject content. Her service to NIRSA has been at the highest levels.

Region III

John Sweeney, Marquette University

John is a Region III veteran and has been an outstanding mentor to scores of students and professionals. He continues to promote NIRSA programs and services, especially those related to club and intramural sports.

Region IV

Andrew Lemons, RCRSP, St. Edward’s University

Since becoming a recreation and wellness professional, Andrew has worked towards ensuring that the voice of small institutions and programs are heard. He invigorates the process by asking the hard questions and he challenges those he’s worked for to stand by their mission and to truly value the student experience.

Region V

Karina Knutson, RCRSP, University of North Dakota

Karina is a NIRSA member whose spirit goes beyond presenting at state, regional, and annual conferences. Instead, she partakes in a broad variety of leadership activities.  She has received the call saying ‘Your NIRSA needs you” multiple times and has stepped up without delay every single time.

Region VI

Marc Falkenstein, University of the Pacific

Marc is a tremendous mentor, leader, and campus recreation professional. Admiration for his passion for working in higher education is paired with appreciation for his ability to help shape young minds.

Canadian Region

Perry Karnofsky, McGill University

Perry has been very instrumental in making connections to get the Canadian Region where it is today within the Association. He deserves commendation for his hard work on creating the terms and building the foundation for the Canadian regional leadership structure.

Sarah Fain Distinguished Service Award

The Sarah Fain Distinguished Service Award celebrates the dedication of a NIRSA Championship Series volunteer who has embodied the spirit of Sarah Fain through their commitment to the NIRSA Championship Series and its tournaments over the course of many years of service.

The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional performance in leadership and in the development of NIRSA programs, policies, events, special projects, or committees. This year, on April 22, the award was presented during a Series Talk Live session.

Award Recipient

Brooke Turner, The University of Alabama

“I don’t know that I have the words to truly express how humbled I am to receive this award,” said Brooke. “Not only because there are so many deserving Series volunteers who exemplify the dedication and service it represents, but because I was so privileged to work alongside Sarah at so many events, to know the caliber of her work and her devotion and love for the Series. I am overwhelmed to receive an honor that bears her name.”


Again, congratulations to all this year’s NIRSA award recipients, true leaders in collegiate recreation! The 2020 NIRSA awards recipients have been added to the historical list of recipients on the individual award pages of the NIRSA website.


  • For more information about NIRSA awards, please contact NIRSA Leadership Programs Coordinator Chelsea Hansson.
Leadership Programs Coordinator at NIRSA | NIRSA Profile

Chelsea Hansson is the Leadership Programs Coordinator at NIRSA.