This is the first year that a female student from Concordia University Ann Arbor has been recognized for the Dr. Donna J. Streufert Leadership Award.

In the winter of 2022, Isabelle Viau, a senior elementary education major, received a surprising email informing her of her nomination for the Women’s Leadership Institute Award. Intrigued, she decided to conduct some research and discovered that this marked the first year the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) could honor a CUAA student alongside a Concordia University Wisconsin student. After delving further into WLI and reviewing past awardees, she composed a letter to the board, articulating why she believed she should receive the award. At the start of the school year, Viau received exciting news—she had been selected as the award recipient.

“Shocked to learn that I won, I said to myself, ‘No way did I just get the award.’ I was not expecting that, and I was really excited.”

Viau experienced a profound sense of honor upon learning that the board had not only read her letter but also considered her for the award. She is convinced that her leadership skills have notably strengthened, particularly on the sidelines and off the court, given the challenge of a torn ACL that prevents her from playing. The award has provided her with an additional boost of confidence, inspiring her to persist in her journey towards becoming a better leader.

“This was good news to hear after having ACL surgery and not being able to play this year, so I think it was God’s way of telling me to keep going and you got this,” said Viau.

According to Darcy Paape, Director Women’s Leadership Institute, “Isabelle has a heart for her fellow students and making an impact in her community through mentoring and service. She has turned even the tragedy of her sports injury into an opportunity to encourage. She is exactly the kind of young women leader we want to come alongside in her efforts.”


Viau had no clue who nominated her until she was talking to her professor Dr. Sara Clemm von Hohenberg, Director of the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with Elementary and Secondary Teacher Certification Program and Associate Professor of Education, who mentioned that she nominated Viau for the award. Dr. Clemm von Hohenberg knew that Viau would be the perfect candidate for the award.

“Isabelle leads through her actions and her words,” said Dr. Clemm von Hohenberg. “She is Christ centered in everything that she does and she is not afraid to live out her faith and to show Christ’s love and care to those around her, regardless of age.”

Giving Back and Possible Future

In the future, Viau plans to leverage her voice to educate others and raise awareness about the award and WLI. She aspires to become a point of contact for any inquiries related to WLI, aiming to facilitate greater understanding. Additionally, she envisions a future where there is a dedicated WLI representative on campus, simplifying the process of organizing workshops and conducting face-to-face meetings. Her ultimate goal is to host more workshops for the entire campus community, contributing to everyone’s leadership journey and sharing her knowledge to foster increased confidence among her peers.

“I have knowledge from being a leader the past five years, so I would love to give back and teach people the mistakes I have made and what I have learned a long the way. I want to give back to the people who are just starting their journey and who are struggling to know they are not alone.”


Viau’s advice to others is that anyone, regardless of their disposition, has the potential to be a leader, whether they are naturally quiet or outgoing. She emphasizes that leadership is a skill that requires practice, confidence, and a willingness to put oneself out there. Viau acknowledges that making mistakes is inevitable, but she highlights the importance of learning from those mistakes and overcoming challenges as integral aspects of personal growth, shaping individuals into better people and leaders.

“The struggles and the harder times in life is what makes you the person you are and you have to go through those struggles to become a bigger and better person. You need to stay true to your faith during those hard times is what will make you the best leader you can be.

Want to learn more about the Dr. Donna J. Streufert Leadership Award?

WLI acknowledges exceptional leadership in Christian women across various programs. Each year, WLI presents the Dr. Donna J. Streufert Leadership Award to one or more female students at Concordia University Wisconsin and Concordia University Ann Arbor who have demonstrated exceptional and/or unusual leadership. The award recognizes the woman who exemplifies servant leadership as demonstrated by Christ. A woman may earn this leadership award by actively demonstrating exceptional leadership in one of two ways:

  1. Outstanding service rendered to Christ and the Church at large
  2. Consistent and/or unusual service at Concordia University Wisconsin/Ann Arbor

—This story is written by Keara Chaperon, Social Media Manager for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Concordia University Wisconsin. She may be reached at