NASDSE Award Winners

NASDSE honors its colleagues who have provided significant contributions and leadership to the special education community with the following special awards:

The Dr. Melody Musgrove Heritage Award
This award is presented to an individual on the basis of prolonged service and substantive contribution to NASDSE as well as the field of special education. The NASDSE Heritage Award is available only to current state directors and previous NASDSE board members. In order to qualify for the service component of this award, the candidate must have served NASDSE for an extended period of time. The award requires that the candidate either engage in one notable achievement or in a series of smaller ongoing achievements that, when combined, transform into a larger substantive contribution.

1993 Lowell Harris (NC)
1994 Larry D. Smokey Davis (NV)
1995 John Heskett (MO)
1996 Steve Kukic (UT)
1997 David Stockford (ME)
1998 Judy Schrag (ID)
1999 Larry Gloeckler (NY)
2000 Diane Sydoriak (AR)
2001 John Corpolongo (OK)
2002 Norena Hale (MN)
2003 Martha Brooks (DE)
2004 John Herner (OH)
2005 Marcia Mittnacht (MA)
2006 Alice Parker (CA)
2007 Robert Runkel (MT)
2008 Douglas Cox (VA)
2009 Jacquelyn Thompson (MI)
2010 Gary Sherman (NE)
2011 Mabrey Whetstone (AL)
2012 Kathy Clayton (TX)
2013 Mary Watson (NC)
2014 Stephanie Petska (WI)
2015 Colleen Riley (KS)
2016 Deborah Gay (GA)
2017 Gene Lenz (TX)
2018 Arthur Albert (FSM)
2019 Santina Thibedeau (NH)
2020 Marcella Frankowski (MD)
2021 Steve Milliken (NE)
2022 Dr. Zelphine Smith-Dixon (GA)
2023 Don Enoch (AK)


Martha J. Fields Award of Excellence
This award is presented to an individual or organization that has made extraordinary contributions to the NASDSE organization, its mission and goals. The candidate, individual, or organization must have made significant contributions to the NASDSE organization in support of services to state agencies to facilitate efforts to maximize educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities. To qualify, an individual cannot be a current state director of special education or NASDSE staff member. Recipients are selected by the NASDSE Board of directors based on recommendations from the President and Executive Director.

2000 National Governors Association
2001 Penny Earley - Amer. Association of Colleges for Teacher Education - AACTE
2002 Senator Tom Harkin - Iowa
2003 JoLeta Reynolds - US Dept. of Education: OSERS
2004 Judy Smith-Davis - self-employed consultant
2005 W. David Tilly - Heartland AEA 11, Iowa
2006 John Copenhaver - MPRRC
2007 Ellen Romett - Pennsylvania PaTTAN
2008 Luann Purcell (Council of Administrators of Special Education)
2009 Debra Price-Ellingstad – Office of Special Education Programs
2010 Patti Ralabate – National Education Association
2011 Richard Long – National Title I Association
2012 Council for Exceptional Children – Policy and Advocacy Services Team
2013 Alexa Posny – U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services
2014 Congressman George Miller – California
2015 Katy Neas – Easter Seals
2016 OSEP Leadership Team (Ruth Ryder, Larry Wexler, Gregg Corr)
2017 Council of Chief State School Officers
2018 National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO)
2019 National Center for Special Education Charter Schools
2020 National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI)
2021 Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA)
2022 Honorable Patty Murray - Senator from Washington State
2023 Guam CEDDERS 

R. Elwood Pace Humanitarian Award
This award is presented to an individual who engages in service or actions of a humanitarian nature that exceed what one normally expects of a person in the discharge of his or her professional duties. The actions of a qualified candidate reflect a genuine concern for the human condition. The award requires that the nominee engages in consistent humanitarian behavior over an extended period of time. Previous board members, current state directors and current staff members of state education agencies are eligible to receive this award. Recipients are nominated by the membership and selected by NASDSE’s Board of Directors. The recipient of the award may not be a sitting board member.

1993 Landis Stetler (FL)
1994 Frank Vance (IA)
1995 Jill Gray (TX)
1996 Jerry White (MD)
1997 Austin Tuning (VA/KY)
1999 Michael Valentine (WV)
2000 Rich Baldwin (MI)
2003 Anne Gay (DC)
2004 Jo Lynne DeMary (VA)
2009 Bill East (NASDSE)
2012 Joseph Fisher (TN)
2013 Nan Gray (UT)
2014 Don Deshler (University of Kansas)
2015 Helen Sengebau (Palau)
2016 Marshall Peter (CADRE)
2017 Nancy Reder (NASDSE)
2021 Joy Zabala (CAST)
2022 Dr. Thomas Heir (Harvard University)