Board chair presenting award to a young man


Every year, NACAC honors special individuals and groups by publicly recognizing their outstanding service and achievements in the areas of adoption and child welfare.

Nominate a Group or Individual for a NACAC Award

We are currently accepting nominations for the 2020 NACAC awards, which will be presented at the NACAC conference in Toronto, Ontario, from August 26–29.

Learn more or submit a nomination.

2019 Award Recipients

At the 2019 NACAC conference in Las Vegas, we honored these extraordinary individuals and organizations for their contributions to adoption and child welfare!

Adoption Ambassador

  • Sean Anders, writer/director of Instant Family, California

Child Advocate of the Year

  • Irwin Elman, child ombudsman, Ontario
  • Generations United, District of Columbia

Youth Advocate of the Year

  • Alexis Nichols, Big Brothers Big Sisters Little Sister, Nevada
  • Dashun Jackson, Foster Club, Nevada

Parent Group of the Year

  • Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents (AZAFAP)

Champion for Change

  • Ali Caliendo, Foster Kinship, Nevada
  • Reed Cowan, KSNV-TV News Anchor and Host of Wednesday’s Child, Nevada

Past Award Recipients

We are grateful for the individuals and organizations that have made tremendous contributions in the areas of adoption and child welfare throughout our history.

Child Advocate of the Century

Year Recipient
2018 Joe Kroll, child welfare consultant and former NACAC executive director, Minnesota

Child Advocate of the Year

Year Recipient
2017 Terry Cross, Oregon
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, British Columbia
2016 Nicole Dobbins, District of Columbia and 
Pam Wolf, Tennessee
2015 Denise Goodman, Ohio and 
Pat O’Brien, New York
2014 Ruth McRoy, Massachusetts and 
Ada K. White, Louisiana
2013 Sandra Scarth, British Columbia
2012 J. Toni Oliver, Georgia
2011 Senator Ben Nelson, Nebraska
2010 Dr. Gerald Mallon, New York
2009 Senators Max Baucus, Charles Grassley, and John Rockefeller; 
Representatives Jim McDermott and Jerry Weller
2008 Phil Fontaine, Ontario
2007 Dixie van de Flier Davis, Colorado
2006 Zena Oglesby, California
2005 Wilbert Talley, Virginia
2004 Amy Silberberg, Minnesota
2003 H. David Kirk, British Columbia
2002 MaryLee Allen, District of Columbia
2001 Joyce Maguire Pavao, Massachusetts
2000 Carol Williams, District of Columbia
1999 Sara Berman, California
1998 Judith Anderson, Minnesota
1997 Carolyn Johnson, Pennsylvania
1996 Bob and Dorothy DeBolt, California
1995 Dave Thomas, Ohio
1994 Ernesto Loperena, New York
1993 Gary Morgan, Illinois
1992 Ken Watson, West Virginia
1991 Joan and Bernard McNamara, North Carolina
1990 Kathryn Donley, New York
1989 Sydney Duncan, Michigan
1988 Elizabeth S. Cole, North Carolina
1987 Barbara Tremitiere, Pennsylvania
1986 Peggy Soule, New York
1985 Dawn Degenhardt, Maine
1984 Judith Ashton, New York
1982 Father George Clements, Illinois
1980 David Soukup, Washington
1978 George Miller, California

Parent Group of the Year

Year Recipient
2018 South Carolina Foster Parent Association
2017 Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia
2016 Adoption Resource Centers of Missouri
2015 Indiana Foster Care and Adoption Association
2014 Adoption Network Cleveland Post-Adoption Support Group, Ohio
2013 Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine
Families with Children from South Africa, Ontario
2012 Foster and Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center, District of Columbia
2011 Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parent Association
2010 Adoption Support for Kentucky
2009 Cuyahoga County Cluster Support Group, Ohio
2008 Adoption Support Centre of Saskatchewan
2007 Alabama Foster & Adoptive Parents Association
2006 Louisiana Adoption Advisory Board, Louisiana
2005 Heritage Family Preservation Center, Florida
2004 Adoption and Blended Family Ministry, Maryland
2003 Society of Special Needs Adoptive Parents, British Columbia
2002 Concerned Persons for Adoption, New Jersey
2001 Adoptive Parents Committee, New York
2000 FAIR (Families Adopting in Response), California
1999 Adoptive Families Together, Massachusetts

Youth Advocate of the Year

Year Recipient
2018 Lexie Gruber, District of Columbia
2017 Ashley Ash, Ontario
2016 George White, California
2015 Precious Rooks, Texas
2014 Claudia Felder, California
2013 Alisha Badeau, New Brunswick and
Alisha Bowie, Ontario
2012 Christina Hume, Virginia and
Betty Krupa, District of Columbia
2011 La Terra Cole, Colorado
2010 Jarel Melendez, New York
2009 Maurice Webb, North Carolina
2008 Coltyn Renzetti, Alberta
2007 Anni Keane, New York
2006 Wendy Piccus, California
2005 Bobbie Junker, Minnesota
2004 Chris Brown, Kentucky and
Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Florida
2003 April Curtis, Illinois
2002 Anthony Barrows, Massachusetts
2001 Jennifer Hoxie, Maine

Champion for Change

Year Recipient
2018 Michelle Chalmers and Ampersand Families, Minnesota
Messerli & Kramer, Minnesota

Friend of Children

Year Recipient
2017 Pam Hasegawa, New Jersey 
Rhonda Roorda, Michigan
2016 National Down Syndrome Adoption Network, Ohio
2015 Judge Michael Nash, California
2013 Cindy Blackstock, Ontario
2012 Dr. Richard P. Barth, Maryland
2011 Judge Karen Ashby, Colorado
2010 Dr. John Raible, Nebraska
2009 O. Jane Morgan, District of Columbia
2008 Nancy Umbach, Ontario
2007 Dr. Scott Ryan, Florida
2006 Michael Piraino and CASA Volunteers, Washington
2005 Korean Identity Development Society, Washington
2004 Martha Osborne, Louisiana
2003 Hyun Sook Han, Minnesota
2002 Dr. Dana Johnson and Staff, International Adoption Clinic, Minnesota
2001 Brian Boyd, Minnesota
2000 Susan Cox, Oregon
1999 Maureen Evans, Maryland
1998 Anna Marie Merrill, Connecticut
1997 Sandra Scarth, British Columbia
1996 Adoptive Parent Association of British Columbia, British Columbia
1995 Nancy Fox, Michigan
1994 Jerri Jenista, Michigan
1993 Merrily Ripley, Washington
1992 Bonnie and Fred Cappuccino, Ontario
1991 Byung Kak Cho
1990 Sunil Prakash
1989 Adoptive Families of America
1988 Betty Laning, Massachusetts
1987 Teri Bacall, Minnesota
1986 Bertha Holt, Oregon
1985 Jodie Darragh, Georgia
1984 Sherry Clark
1982 Father Alfred Keane, Georgia

Corporate Award for Special Achievement in Adoption

Year Recipient
2014 KSDK News Channel 5 and “A Place to Call Home,” Missouri
2012 Annie E. Casey Foundation, Maryland
2011 Human Rights Campaign, District of Columbia
2010 Ad Council, New York
2009 The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption/Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, Ohio
2008 Jockey International, Wisconsin
2007 The Freddie Mac Foundation, Virginia
2006 Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, California
2005 Times Picayne Newspaper, Louisiana
The Toronto Star and Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
2004 Mike Givens and Denny Hecker, Minnesota
The Pew Charitable Trusts, Pennsylvania
Thrifty’s Foods, Inc., British Columbia
2003 Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada

Adoption Activists  

Year Recipient
2017 Janice Goldwater, Adoptions Together, Maryland 
Florida Youth Shine, Florida
2015 Judy Cockerton, Massachusetts
Robyn Harrod, LCSW, California
Sari Grant & Diane Wagner, California
2013 Marvin Berstein, Ontario
Christopher M. Cherney, Mississippi
Bob Herne, California
Debbie Jamieson, Ontario
Jennie Painter, Ontario
2012 AdoptOntario
Marilyn Brookens, District of Columbia
Susan Garner Eisenman, Ohio
Cindy Coffman, Bruce Kendrick, and Denise Kendrick, Texas
Linda Jones West, Mississippi
2011 André Fontaine, Ontario 
Sharen Ford, Colorado
Amy Heilman, California
Betsy Keefer Smalley and Jayne Schooler, Ohio
Senator Moe Keller, Colorado
2010 WTNH-8/Wednesday’s Child Team (Ted Koppy, Jim Bagley,
George DeYounge, Adam Francis, Ken Melech, and Keith Porter), Connecticut
Lisa Maynard, New York
The Honorable David Gooding, Florida
The Honorable Erminie Cohen, New Brunswick
Tammy Jacobson, Connecticut
2009 Susan Crawford, Ontario
Jody Hansen-Walker, New York
Patricia Hill, Ohio
Mike Grimes, Kentucky
Elevate—Children & Families of Iowa
2008 Jeannine Carriere, British Columbia
Richard Fischer, Colorado
Mary Gambon, Massachusetts
Maureen Jones, Ontario
John Lim, Ontario
Sandra Bell Lundy, Ontario
Carolyn Peacock, Alberta
2007 Philip and Gay Courter/Courter Films & Associates, Florida
Cowichan Tribes Child & Family Services, British Columbia 
Esther High, North Carolina
Oneida Little, Colorado
2006 Adopt Cuyahoga’s Kids, Ohio
Tito del Pilar, New York
Sharon Kaplan-Roszia, California
Trish Ploehn, California
Pat Reynolds-Harris, California
Lori Ross and Melanie Scheetz, Missouri
2005 Barry Chaffkin, New York
Barbara Ford, Maine 
Leceta Guibault, Quebec 
Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, New York
Brenda Lawrence, Pennsylvania
Sharon McDaniel, Pennsylvania
2004 Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, Minnesota
Judi Damiano, Pennsylvania
Madelyn Freundlich, New York
Mary Miller, Nova Scotia
Robert O’Connor, Minnesota
Lynhon Stout, Iowa
2003 William Fuser, California
Chester Jackson, New York
One Church One Child, Illinois
Tanya Williams-Bell, Pennsylvania
Yellowhead Tribal Services Agency, Alberta
2002 Jack Brennan and Helene Gershowitz, New York
Andrew Bridge, California
Kate Burke Cleary, California
Kathleen Dugan, Maryland 
E. Bernice Jordan
Dale Richardson, Ohio
Queen Alexandra Centre Adoption Support Program, British Columbia
2001 Robin Hilborn, Ontario 
Gail Johnson, California
Harriet Jackson-Lyons, Massachusetts
Alexis Oberdorfer, Illinois
Phyllis Stevens, Pennsylvania
2000 Sue Badeau, Pennsylvania
Joseph Crumbley, Pennsylvania
Mary Lou Edgar, Delaware 
Sandy Gallagher, Pennsylvania 
Sharon Selby, California
Michael Sobol, Ontario
1999 Rusty Gatenby, KSTP, Minnesota
Judy Grove, British Columbia 
Barbara Holtan, Maryland
Larry and Suzanne Stevens, Florida
Veda D. Thompkins, Michigan
Ron Woods, California
1998 Sherry Anderson, Pennsylvania
Don Duquette, Michigan
Giovanna Germain, New York 
Iowa Professional Photographers Association, Iowa
Lillian Brooks Lansberry (deceased), Maryland
Foster Parent Association of Los Angeles County, California
Marv Rockford, Missouri
1997 Meri Brennan, Idaho
Audrey Foster, California 
Shelley Linsday, Oregon
Elmy Martinez, Virginia
Jewell McCliment, Pennsylvania
Margaret O’Reilly, Ontario 
Joseph Sheffey, Jr., Connecticut
Terri Spronk, British Columbia
Stephen and Teresa Williams, Florida
1996 Adopting Children Together, Inc., Texas        
Ruth Amerson, North Carolina
Austin American Statesman and KVUE Channel 24, Texas
Linda Anne Babb, Texas
Jeff Katz, Massachusetts
Verna McKay, Winnipeg
Northwest Adoptive Families Association, Inc., Oregon
Joyce Maguire Pavao, Massachusetts
Torin Scott, Arizona
In memory of Janet Levin, New York
1995 Katherine Christianson
Howard and Vickie Denson, Missouri 
Pat Fenton, Ontario
Arlene Morris Hurley
In memory of Barbara Roberts, Oregon
1994 Delmar Weathers, District of Columbia. 
Derek White, Georgia
Mary Klopfenstein, Colorado 
Alice Bussiere, California
Raymond Moore, Ohio
Tim O’Hanlon, Ohio
Governor George Voinovich, Ohio
1993 Merri Dee, Illinois
Drenda Lakin, Michigan
Faye Caperna, New York 
Eric Kokko, British Columbia
Rita Laws, Oklahoma
1992 Dallas Minority Adoption Council, Texas
FAIR, California
John Pierce, Pennsylvania
Barbara Clarke, Oregon
Marilyn Shinyea and Anne Lea, Alberta
1991 Mary Pat Clemmons, Illinois
Carolyn Wolff, South Carolina
Elspeth Ross, Ontario
South Carolina Council on Adoptable Children
Henrietta Lovett, Georgia
Patrick O’Brien, New York  
1990 Clarence Gillispie, Michigan
Gina Osborne, Ontario
Tabor Adoptive Parents, Pennsylvania
Jack Williams, Massachusetts
Elaine Schwartz, District of Columbia
1989 Pat Johnston, Indiana 
Gary Morgan, California 
Nancy Umbach, Ontario
Dwe Williams, Oklahoma
Council on Adoptable Children of Texas
1988 Maris Blechner, New York
Bill Dwyer
Sara and Arthur Glickman, New York 
David Kirk, British Columbia 
Laura Valenti, New Jersey
1987 Barb Brown, Delaware
FACE, Maryland
Lourdes Santiago, District of Columbia
Jennifer Sylvester, Maine
Margaret Ward, Ontario
Nancy Carey (Special Service to NACAC), Maryland
1986 Jack Felty, Kentucky
Janet Marchese, New York
Open Door Society, Massachusetts
Sue and John Smith, Idaho
Larry Gellerstein, New York
Nancy Kleinberg, New Jersey
1985 Adoptive Parents Together, Indiana
Randall Carlisle and Jerri Openshaw, KUTV, Utah
Foster Cline, Colorado
Family Resources Adoption Program, Bernie & Joan McNamara, North Carolina
Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Georgia
Robert Jump, Wisconsin
Gerri Simmons, Utah

Special Awards


President’s Award

Year Recipient
2008 Chief Marcel Balfour and Councillor Mike Muswagon, Norway House Cree Nation, Manitoba
2001 Emma Culpepper, Florida

Special Achievement Award

Year Recipient
2005  Victoria Leach, Ontario 
Helen Allen Stacey, Ontario


Our Mission

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) supports, educates, inspires, and advocates so adoptive families thrive and every child in foster care has a permanent, safe, loving family.


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