Each year the Alumni of Erikson Institute (AEI) presents the Founders Award to an Erikson graduate with a record of accomplishment and distinguished service in:

  • leadership
  • advocacy
  • research
  • practice
  • teaching
  • innovations and contributions to the field

Submit a nomination

Help us recognize a leader in the field by nominating a deserving Erikson graduate. Nominations are accepted year-round and reviewed in a competitive process by the AEI board in July of each year.

The selected recipient will be notified in August, and the award will be presented at the annual alumni meeting in the fall.

Previous honorees

Previous winners include:

  • 2012 – Professor Fran Stott in honor of her commitment to Erikson, its students, and alumni, and to the early childhood field.
  • 2011 – Michael Phair, M.Ed. ’73, in recognition of a career and community service dedicated to positive social change.
  • 2010 – Toby Herr, ’82, founder of Project Match, an organization designed to give the unemployed the developmental supports they needed to join the world of work. The project’s employment model for community-based organizations and case management system for welfare agencies have both been replicated at sites around the country. It won a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008.
  • 2009 – Helene Block Fields, ’69, is a nationally recognized authority on grandparenting and professor emeritus at Oakton Community College. She is a teacher of all age groups and pioneer of intergenerational programming.
    View event slideshow »
  • 2008 – Judith Bertacchi, ’71, consultant and former vice president for direct service programs, Ounce of Prevention Fund. She has dedicated much of her career to training other specialists, helping them to see their work as critical to the lives of children and families.
  • 2007 – Lucille A. Echohawk, ’78, senior specialist for Indian child welfare with the Casey Family Programs. A leader in Native American child welfare and philanthropy, she has dedicated her career to strengthening Native American families.
  • 2006 – Carol Brunson Day, ’69, former president and CEO of the Council of Professional Recognition and current president of the National Black Child Development Institute.
  • 2005 – Maureen Patrick, ’73, longtime advocate for children who has held key positions at Family Focus, the Infant Welfare Society, Zero to Three’s Early Head Start National Resource Center, and the Office of Family and Child Development.
  • 2004 – Louise Beem, ’72, founder of the department of early childhood education at the College of DuPage and of the DuPage Children’s Museum.
  • 2003 – Joan McLane, ’69, retired Erikson professor and expert in early literacy and children’s play.

Send nominations to
Randy Holgate
Erikson Institute 
451 North LaSalle
Chicago, Illinois 60654
Fax: (312) 755-0928
[email protected]

*Note:  Current AEI executive board members are not eligible to receive this award.