Lijun Chadima, Don Barrigar, Mary Kay Novak McGrath and David Chadima are shown April 20, 2022, after the State of the District luncheon at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Two entrepreneurs and leaders in Czech Village and New Bohemia received special recognition April 20, at an awards luncheon at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

Don Barrigar and Mary Kay Novak McGrath were named the 2022 recipients of the Robert Chadima Visionary Award. The award is presented annually to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the DISTRICT: Czech Village & New Bohemia, and reflect the late Robert Chadima’s vision of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity for the neighborhood.

See past award recipients

Barrigar’s involvement in the district began when he and a group of partners purchased the Hawkeye Seed warehouse, now known as Water Tower Place.

“During the renovation process, Don fell in love not only with this project, but with the greater New Bohemia neighborhood,” his son, Jackson Barrigar, said during the event.

Barrigar and his wife, Diann, founded Third Ward Development and purchased and restored the Kurik House after the 2008 flood, while developing row houses on Second Street SE.

He served as president of the district and continues to volunteer at Czech Village and New Bohemia events.

Monica Vernon, (right) executive director of the District, presents an award to Mary Kay Novak McGrath. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

“Czech Village has always had a fond place in Mary Kay’s heart,” Jim Piersall, chairman of the district’s Self-Supported Municipal District Commission, said of McGrath.

More than five years ago, she pondered investing in a property on 16th Avenue in Czech Village.

“Then she discovered 12 properties were up for sale, but she had to buy all of them if she wanted just one,” he said. “She decided right then to go for it.”

She has since worked non-stop on renovations, updates and creative ways to bring people to Czech Village, he noted.

“Mary Kay is a true visionary,” Piersall said. “While she strives to improve the future of the area, she also cares deeply about preserving its history.”

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Julie Parisi, NewBo City Market’s executive director, was among leaders cited at the State of the District luncheon. (photo/Cindy Hadish)
Ashlee-Symonne Mooney, owner of Not Anything Specific, stands to be recognized during the luncheon. (photo/Cindy Hadish)