The United Way of Salt Lake honored local individuals and companies for going "above and beyond expectations" by handing out the first annual "Compassionate Leader" awards at a luncheon Thursday.

Fred Lampropoulos of Merit Medical Systems, a Republican candidate for governor, was named the agency's compassionate leader of the year. He helped establish the United Way's Homefront fund that provides financial assistance for the families of soldiers.

Kern River Gas Transmission Co. was picked as the agency's corporate partner of the year. Kern River employees volunteered 4,900 hours last year to help people in need, the agency said.

The YWCA of Salt Lake City earned the title of agency partner of the year.

Other awards went to Cydney Garland of Savage Services, selected the employee campaign manager of the year; Questar, for the year's most improved campaign; and Automated Business Products, for the year's best first-time campaign.

Also recognized Thursday were the United Way's "Cornerstone Partners," corporations and foundations that underwrite the agency's administrative expenses. The Deseret Morning News is a Cornerstone Partner.