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Volunteer Texas > Governor’s Volunteer Awards

Governor’s Volunteer Awards

The Governor's Volunteer Awards program honors the exemplary service and volunteerism of individuals and organizations making a significant impact in communities across Texas.

Nominations for the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Awards will open in May 2021.

We invite you to participate in this annual program by nominating deserving individuals and organizations for their service and celebrating the incredible accomplishments of award recipients.

Congratulations to the 2020 Award Recipients

OneStar is pleased to celebrate the incredible work of the 2020 Governor’s Volunteer Award recipients.

Bill Gilliland

Governor's Lone Star Achievement Award

Annie Zhu & Shirley Zhu

First Lady’s Rising Star Award

The Three Mask-eteers

First Lady’s Rising Star Award

The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency

Partners in Education Award

Brandy Baxter
(Dallas-Fort Worth)

Service to Veterans Award (Individual)

Carry The Load
(Northeast Texas)

Service to Veterans Award (Organization)

Rebuild Texas Carpentry Skills Training Program at Del Mar College Continuing Education
(Coastal Bend)

Higher Education Community Impact Award

Texas Mutual
(Central Texas & Statewide)

Corporate Community Impact Award

Blake Jennings
(College Station)

Community Leadership Award (Individual)

Crime Stoppers of Houston

Community Leadership Award

AmeriCorps Central Texas
(Central Texas)

Community Leadership Award (Collaborative)

Samantha Mariel Sandoval Hernández

National Service “Make a Difference” Award

The irrepressible spirit of service shines brightly in Texas. I am honored to celebrate the extraordinary generosity of these outstanding awardees, who have found selfless and compassionate solutions to strengthen their communities.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott

Award Categories

Each year, OneStar accepts nominations for standout service and volunteerism efforts across a number of awards categories that recognize the diverse ways Texans are serving their communities.

Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award

Recognizes the exemplary service of an individual who has volunteered for a minimum of 15 years. Lone Star Achievers are those rare individuals who recognize a community need and create new systems, programs, and/or processes to achieve positive change.

2020Bill Gilliland
2019Sammy Nieto
2018John Poston
2017David Godwin
2016Dennis Cavner
2015Will Williams

First Lady’s Rising Star Award

Recognizes the extraordinary contributions of individuals 18 years or younger serving and inspiring their community. These young volunteers demonstrate leadership, commitment to service, and the ability to inspire others to serve. Rising Stars mobilize others to achieve measurable impact on critical issues within their communities.

2020Annie Zhu & Shirley Zhu
The Three Mask-eteers
2019Kara Weld
2018ZeeShawn Wani
2017Micah Pinson
2016Taylor Thompson
2015Cullen Corr

Partners in Education Award

Recognizes an individual or group that demonstrates measurable impact on a recognized need within public, charter or parochial schools. These volunteers have implemented innovative and/or informed or evidence-based solutions to further educational goals for students.

2020The Women’s Fund
2019Reading With Barbers
2018Fidelity Investments
2017Fort Bend Education Foundation
2016Literacy First
2015Teach for America Rio Grande Valley

Service to Veterans Award

Recognizes individuals or organizations that have designed program(s) or services to meet the needs of military-connected families or individuals.

2020Brandy Baxter
Carry The Load
2019TRIUMPH Program / H.O.N.O.R. Mentoring
2018United Way Military Information & Referral Navigator
2017Tony Smith
2016Healing our Heroes Project
2015Military Veteran Peer Network of Houston

Community Leadership Award

Recognizes an individual, group, or organization for strengthening their community through intentional partnerships. These volunteers understand the importance of service and develop connections between groups and individuals and forge collaborative solutions to meet local needs.

2020Sammy Nieto
2019Blake Jennings
Crime Stoppers of Houston
AmeriCorps Central Texas
2018Katy Bourgeois
Rust Street Ministries
Marissa Vogel
2017Haven for Hope Ambassador Program
2016Medical Center of the Americas Foundation in El Paso
Spring Branch Family Development Center
Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team
2015Children’s Advocacy Centers

Corporate Community Impact Award

Recognizes a private sector entity, including small businesses, for implementing employee volunteer programs that have demonstrable community impact and setting community service as a core value and business strategy.

2020 Texas Mutual
2019 Noble Charities / Noble Texas Builders
2018 CITGO Petroleum Corporation
2017 USAA
2016 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Blue Corps Carmelo’s Restaurants
2015 ExxonMobil Pro Bono Program Houston

Higher Education Community Impact Award

Recognizes a university, college, or community college that supports and encourages civic engagement and volunteering as a core value.

2020 Rebuild Texas Carpentry Skills Training Program at Del Mar College
2019 St. Mary’s University Austin Community College Office of Student Life
2018 The University of Texas at El Paso
2017 University of Houston – SURE Program
2016 Texas Christian University Office for Community Engagement
2015 The Big Event at Texas A&M University

National Service “Make a Difference” Award

Recognizes the exemplary achievement of an AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Seniors member who is currently serving or has served the State of Texas. The volunteer/member has achieved extraordinary impact above and beyond the scope of their service requirement.

2020Samantha Mariel Sandoval Hernández
2019Katie Blair
Douglas A. Brown
2018Sara Lamog
David Porter, IV
Ron & Linda Aten
2017Shelby Thomas
Erin Moody
Arlen & Mary Beth Lohse
2016Brenda Gormley
2015JoAnn Gama
Ed Boyer

Guidelines & Consideration Process

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards program abides by the following guidelines to maintain fairness and transparency.


  • The volunteer service must have been performed in Texas serving primarily Texans.
  • Self-nominations or nominations by an immediate family member will not be accepted. Additionally, current OneStar staff and board members and their immediate families are not eligible to receive an award.
  • A significant amount of volunteer service must have been performed during or after the same calendar year that nominations are accepted (with the exception of nominations in the Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award category, which recognizes lifetime achievement).
  • Previous winners are not eligible for nomination again for five years after receiving the award.
  • Nominations may be submitted during the nominations window through our online form or via mail or fax.
    A complete list of guidelines can be found on the Governor’s Volunteer Awards nomination form.

Consideration Process

  • Nominations must be submitted within the publicly posted nominating period.
    OneStar staff will screen all submissions for eligibility and appropriateness.
  • A panel of judges comprised of Governor-appointed state service commissioners and the Office of the First Lady will select the award recipients based on scoring criteria.
  • Nominators and award winners will be notified before award winners are announced publicly by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott.
  • If a nominee is selected for an award, the nominee will be required to submit a short biography and high-resolution photos, including one headshot and images depicting the nominee in service. Information from nominations may be released to the media and to elected officials.

Submit Your Nomination