Awards for AER Orientation and Mobility Division
The Orientation and Mobility Division Awards Committee invites you to tell us about a fellow O&M’er who deserves to receive one of our esteemed awards. Please consider submitting a letter nominating a deserving colleague for the Lawrence E. Blaha Memorial Award, the Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award, or the Orientation and Mobility Citation of Excellence for Direct Service Award. Review the criteria, listed below, to determine the best fit for your distinguished colleague. The award presentation will be held at the 2018 AER International Conference July 25-29 in Reno, NV.
Don’t let this be the year that someone you know, could have, or should have been honored but you did not get around to submitting that letter!!!
2018 will be the 50th anniversary of the first presentation of the Lawrence E. Blaha Memorial Award!
Awards Committee members include: Susan Langendonk, Justin Kaiser (ex-officio), Christopher Tabb, Bruce Blasch, Jane Mundschenk, Nick Leon, and Gala S. Brooks, Chair.
Nominations for the awards and letters of support may be submitted at any time. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2018. Submissions should be sent to Gala Brooks at email@example.com. Award recipients will be notified and announced by June 1, 2018.
Should any Division member have questions or comments regarding the awards, the presentations or the celebration, please contact Gala Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-345-5689.
Lawrence E. Blaha Memorial Award
Lawrence E. Blaha Memorial Award is given every two years.
- The individual must have at least ten years experience in the field of blindness and must have distinguished himself or herself in activities related to orientation and mobility such as:
- contributing to the body of knowledge/literature
- excelling in a leadership manner in the provision of O&M services
- has recruited or otherwise impacted on the decision of a large number of individuals to enter the field of orientation and mobility,
- has served in a "mentor capacity" to a significant number of O&M professionals.
The Lawrence E. Blaha Award was initiated in 1968 to honor people who have shown exemplary behavior in the field of O&M, made outstanding contributions to the profession, and shown dedication to serving people with visual impairments. It is the highest honor that the O&M Division can bestow. Each recipient of this award is the Guardian of Sir Francis Campbell’s Cane until it is passed along to the next award recipient. The handle of the cane was used by Sir Francis Campbell, and can be seen in a photograph of him that is displayed in The C. Warren Bledsoe Orientation and Mobility Archives. This award was named in honor of Lawrence Blaha who was a pioneer in the field of O&M. He is remembered for his wit, athletic abilities, philosophy, technical skill and his high standards. He was an educator whose ideas are remembered and continued through this award. In 1948, he began his career working with people with visual impairments at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center for Visually Impaired and Blinded Veterans, VA Hospital, Hines Illinois. He was one of a group of six individuals chosen for training to become the original O&M specialists at Hines. In 1961, he joined the faculty of Western Michigan University; from 1964 until his sudden death, he was Director of the O&M program at California State College, Los Angeles. The first Lawrence E. Blaha Award was given to him posthumously in 1968. Sir Francis Campbell, whose cane handle is passed along to award recipients, was an American expatriate who was knighted by King Edward VII. Campbell was born in Tennessee and accidentally blinded before he was six. He was educated at the Tennessee State Institute for the Blind and at the University of Tennessee. Campbell taught music at the Perkins School for the Blind. At Perkins, he was involved in early efforts to teach orientation and mobility.
Past recipients of the Lawrence E. Blaha Award:
1968 Lawrence E. Blaha, posthumously
1969 Dr. Richard E. Hoover, MD
1972 W.G. Debetaz
1973 Stanley Suterko
1975 Russell C. Williams
1977 Donald Blasch
1979 John D. Malamazian
1981 John R. Eichorn, Ed.D.
1983 Leicester W. Farmer
1984 C. Warren Bledsoe
1986 Walter G. Olenek
1988 Richard L. Welsh
1990 Hugo Vigoroso
1992 Everett "Butch" Hill
1994 Berdell "Pete" Wurzburger
1996 William Wiener
1998 Bruce B. Blasch
2000 Gala Saber Brooks
2002 Billie Louis Bentzen
2004 Dona Sauerburger
2006 Steve LaGrow
2008 Janet Barlow
2010 Eileen Siffermann
2012 Richard Long
2014 George Zimmerman
2016 Sandra Rosen
2018 Rod Kossick
2020 Nora Griffin-Shirley
The Orientation and Mobility Citation of Excellence for Direct Service
Orientation and Mobility Citation of Excellence for Direct Service is given only when a worthy nominee has been nominated.
- The individual must be in direct service the year preceding the AER International Conference teaching orientation and mobility to either children or adults for a period of 5-10 years.
- The individual must be an O&M Division member and be a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist.
The Orientation and Mobility Citation of Excellence for Direct Service was established in 1985 to present "to a younger member of the profession, to encourage O&M specialists whose present excellent teaching records already foreshadow promising careers in our profession" (1996-97 Division newsletter). It continues to be awarded to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the profession during the first ten years of their career in O&M and to encourage these individuals to continue their promising careers in our profession.
Past Recipients of the Orientation and Mobility Citation of Excellence for Direct Service are:
1986 Peggy Madera, Judy Davidhizar-Holmes
1988 Joani Levy Myers
1990 Judy Hayes
1992 Bonnie Dodson-Burk, Darick Wright
1994 Carol Otten, Colleen Calhoon
1996 Sharon O'Mara Maida
1998 Mary Konigsfeld-Wejrowski
2000 James Scott Crawford
2002 John E. Clare
2004 Julie Hapeman
2008 Danene Fast
2010 Marcia Vickroy
2012 Shannon Cuniak
2014 No Nominees
2016 Raychel Callary
2020 No Nominations
The Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award
The Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award is given only when a worthy nominee has been nominated.
- The individual must have had at least ten years experience in the field of blindness with the majority of professional career in direct service teaching O&M to visually impaired people; and have demonstrated distinguished service by doing one or more of the following;
- extend beyond the usual job requirements by using talents and expertise to enhance the field of O&M
- initiate innovative or unique programs
- serve as a mentor to other O&M specialists
- present at local, regional, or international conferences
- publish work in a professional journal
The Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award was established in 1994 to recognize professionals who demonstrate distinguished service in O&M through a long-term commitment in direct service. The award was named after Sandy Kronick because of his lifelong commitment and dedication to teaching O&M to visually impaired people. He taught O&M in Oregon until his sudden death in May 1993. The first Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award was given to him posthumously and accepted by his wife, Bethanne Kronick, at the 1994 AER International Conference in Dallas. Sandy Kronick was chosen as the first recipient of this award because of his lifelong dedication to teaching orientation and mobility, while continuing to be actively involved with numerous professional activities and committees.
Mr. Kronick was a very active member of AER, especially during his last ten years. He was instrumental in forming the Oregon AER Chapter and served as its president. He served on several international committees and had just completed his term as AER’s Northwest Regional Rehabilitation Representative at the time of his death.
The establishment of this award is fitting tribute to Sandy Kronick and to all the countless other O&M specialists who forego promotions or higher paying career changes in order to continue doing what they know and love best, namely teach Orientation and Mobility. The award will be given only when a worthy recipient is determined.
Past Recipients of the Sandy Kronick Distinguished Service Award are:
1994 Sandy Kronick, posthumously
1996 Kathleen Newman
1998 Richard Russo
2000 Lukas Franck
2002 William P. McCloskey
2004 Vince Fazzi
2006 Laura Park-Leach
2010 Pat Zeinstra
2012 Gene Bourquin
2014 Lea Ann Myer, Tom Rotunno
2016 Marjorie Wood
2018 Chris Tabb
2020 Rod Haneline
The Newcomer Hill Service Award
The recipient of the Newcomer Hill Service Award is selected by the outgoing Division Chair in recognition of major contributions to the Division during the previous two years. The award is presented during the Division business meeting at each AER International Conference.
This award was initiated in 1992 by Bruce Blasch, who was then Division Chair. The award is named after two past Division Chairs, James Newcomer (1985-88) and Everett “Butch” Hill (1988-90). Both Newcomer and Hill served the Division with commitment and dedication, and were exemplary models of professionalism for all orientation and mobility specialists. This award is given to individuals who emulate their professional dedication.
Past Recipients of the Newcomer Hill Award:
1992 Susan S. Simmons
1994 Dona Sauerburger
1996 William Wiener and Elga Joffee
1998 Karyl Loux
2000 Eileen Siffermann
2002 William Wiener
2004 Lynn Gautreauz and George Tully
2006 Julie Hapeman
2008 Sandra Stirnweis
2010 Marjie Wood
2012 Dona Sauerburger
2014 Eileen Siffermann
2016 Kevin Hollinger
2018 Susan Langendonk
2020 JoAnne Chalom