2025 Appplication Coming Soon!

Previous Recipients

2024:  Judy Goth-Owens

2023: Becky Garske

2022: Reneé DeMars-Johnson

2020: Dr. Karen Paciorek

2019: Marcia Rysztak

2018: JaneAnn Benson

2017: Dr. Joan Lessen-Firestone

2016: Jim Sinnamon

2015: Dr. Lindy Buch

2014: Sharon Claytor Peters

2013: Dr. Mary Trepanier-Street

2012: Mark Sullivan

2011: Dr. Larry Schweinhart

2010: Harold Gazan

2009: Jackie Wood

2008: Dr. Sharon Elliott

2006: Dr. Leah Adams

2005: Laura Stein

2000: Drs. Rosalyn & Eli Saltz

1999: Dr. David P. Weikart

1998: Kay Koulouras

1996: Mary Frew

1995: Ben Hamilton

1994: Ginny McCaig

1993: Betty Garlick

Betty Garlick Lifetime Achievement Award

The purpose of this award shall be to recognize and honor the life-long commitment of Betty Garlick, the first Michigan AEYC president, to children and families.  Betty Garlick was a pioneer in the field of early childhood education.  She was a teacher of children, an advocate on behalf of children and families, an author and editor, an environmentalist, a consultant, an innovative programmer and an evaluator.  The breadth and depth of these contributions should serve as a guide in selecting future recipients.

Recipients of this award should have devoted a large part of their lives to working on behalf of Michigan’s children and families, and be near or at the end of their career.  Further, individuals considered for this award shall have made exceptional contributions to the early childhood profession, locally and statewide.  They will also have been involved in professional activities beyond their paid position.  These may include (but are not limited to): legislation, research, publication, and leadership in professional organizations.

Committee Expectations:

  • Nomination forms will be online and consist of:
    • a letter which provides detailed information about why the nominee deserves this award by:
      • describing the nominee’s career in early childhood/family services in Michigan
      • explaining the exceptional contributions made to the field as an employee and as a volunteer
      • describing the professional activities beyond a paid position in which the nominee engaged
    • a minimum of three additional supporting documents such as letters, publications, newspaper clippings, etc. that enhance the descriptions in the letter
  • The award will be given only when a truly outstanding person is nominated; this will not necessarily occur every year.
  • Current employees or contractors of Michigan AEYC are not eligible.
  • Solicitation and initial screening of nominations will be done by a standing committee on awards.
  • Final decisions will be voted upon by the Michigan AEYC Governing Board if recommended by both the committee and the Executive Committee
  • Honorees will be recognized by having their names inscribed on a plaque permanently displayed at the Michigan AEYC office, by having their names added to the list on the Michigan AEYC website, and by receiving a personal memento in recognition of their achievements.
  • Specific money will be set aside in the annual budget to cover the recipient’s expenses (travel, lodging, meals for the Michigan AEYC conference) as appropriate and to also cover the cost of the award memento.

2024 Award Recipient: Judy Goth-Owens


For over 50 years, Judy Goth-Owens has been a champion for early childhood education in Michigan. Judy’s work has impacted the lives of many children, families and college students in the greater Lansing area and state of Michigan. Early in Judy’s career in Michigan she was a co-founder of All Kids Day Care Center, a parent cooperative program in Lansing. She then went on to establish the first employer-sponsored child development center at Ingham Medical Center. Her dedication to the field led her to Ingham County’s Office for Young Children, the Ingham Intermediate School District, and ultimately Lansing Community College (LCC) where she played a pivotal role in creating Early Learning Children’s Community (Early LCC).

Throughout her career, Judy has been a tireless advocate for children and families, championing social justice in early childhood education. This dedication is evident in her long-standing memberships in NAEYC/Michigan AEYC, National ACCESS, and Michigan ACCESS, serving on the Governor-appointed Michigan Interagency Coordinating Council, volunteer work with WKAR PBS Ready-to-Learn program, and volunteer work at Ele’s Place, a center for grieving children.

Judy believed that strong relationships were the cornerstone of high-quality early childhood education. This philosophy permeated her approach as a teacher educator creating a nurturing environment where future generations of educators could learn and thrive.