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Chapter Awards

Each year, the Michigan AER chapter seeks to recognize organization members or community members for their efforts in providing resources and accessibility to the blind and visually impaired and extended the mission of the organization into their work. 

MAER Award

The MAER Recognition Award has been awarded annually since AER was established in 1984 when the Association of Educators of the Visually Handicapped (AEVH) and American Association of Workers for the Blind (AAWB) merged. Its purpose is to recognize individual(s) who or organization(s) which contributed significantly to the profession or services to individuals who are blind or have low vision in Michigan. Individuals have been honored as well as organizations reaching milestones such as a significant anniversary, creating a unique project, or having a significant impact as a mentor.

Selection and Criteria

The MAER Award shall be given to an individual(s) or organization(s) who has/have made a significant contribution: “To the Field of Blindness and/or In the service of blind and visually impaired persons in Michigan.”

Fall 1984Sue PonchilliaAbraham Nemeth
Fall 1986Marvin WeessiesElizabeth Lennon
Benjamin Pumo
Geraldine Scholl
Robert Utrup
Fall 1987George OssentjukDonna Heiner
Fall 1988Roberta McCall
Tom VanHoven
25th Anniversary - Department of Blind Rehabilitation, Western Michigan University
10th Anniversary - Michigan Commission for the Blind
25th Anniversary - Braille Transcribing Program, Jackson Prison
Fall 1989Susan LangendonkLou Alonso
Fall 1990Nancy LadleyLila Cabbil
Fall 1991Nancy LadleyAlice Raftary
Fall 1992Nancy LadleyJoAnn and David Search
Fall 1993Nancy Ladley
Julie Unatin
Cindy Caldwell
Dr. William Park
Fall 1994Marvin WeessiesBetty Rittersdorf
Fall 1996David SearchSue Ponchillia & Paul Ponchillia
Summer 1997Joyce RaduchaMichigan School for the Blind
Fall 1998Dorothy WardChuck Luken
Fall 2001Susan PonchilliaRoberta McCall
Fall 2002Seedlings Braille Books
Accepted by Debra Bonde, Executive Director
Spring 2003Rosemary BlaskiviczPaula Korelitz
Spring 2004Phyllis O’Connor & Catherine HulaSusan Langendonk
Spring 2005Marybeth KullenCaralynn Pender
Spring 2006 Frank CaruanaSusan Bradley
Spring 2007Crystal YachcikFrancella Wonders
Spring 2008 Susan BradleyCollette Bauman
Spring 2009Susan BradleyLynnette Norton
Spring 2010Julie UnatinDorothy Goldie
Spring 2011no awardno award
Spring 2012Susan BradleyMary Beth Kullen
Spring 2013Michelle Visscher
-Jana Kim
100th Anniversary – Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired
-Anne Baird
Spring 2014Erica Ihrke75th Anniversary – Leader Dogs for the Blind (Rod Haneline)
Spring 2015Cheryl Morrison
-Naomi Welborn & Julie Unatin
Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind & Visually Impaired
(Victor Arbulu)
- Michigan Department of Education, Low Incidence Outreach
(Collette Bauman)
Spring 2016 Kathy Christensen
- Anne Zanger and Marcia Pavkovich
Amy Shepherd
- Crystal Yachcik
Spring 2017Rod HanelineErica Ihrke
Spring 2018Becky Racine Lynn Pensari
Spring 2019Chaesa MacWilliamsCindy Barker
Spring 2020Stephanie StefferDennis L. Tomkins
Spring 2021Sarah StargardtJulie Unatin
Spring 2022No award givenNo award given
Spring 2023Julie HaaseRoberta McCall

David and Joann Search Life Time Achievement Award

The David and Joann Search Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 1992 to honor two long-time members of MAER who had gone above and beyond the level of involvement in AER at the local, state, regional, and international levels. At the same time, they both worked full-time as Rehabilitation Teachers. Over the years, they served on the MAER Board of Directors, represented MAER at the international conferences, and spearheaded the 1995 AER Regional Conference which was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They exemplified leadership, professionalism, and dedication.

Selection and Criteria

The Lifetime Achievement Award shall be given to an individual(s) at the annual conference who has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to serving blind and visually impaired persons in Michigan.”

The process for selecting award recipients has evolved over the years. Early on, the MAER Board of Directors would discuss possible recipients and make a decision on their own. Later, the process was codified with a nominations form and procedure for making the selection(s) allowing for greater member input.

Fall 1992Paula KorelitzWilma Seely
Fall 1993Bill WeinerDonald Blasch and George Mallison
Fall 1994Nancy LadleyHarold Payne
Fall 1996Dorothy WardJoyce Raducha
Summer 1997John BoesPaul Glatz
Fall 2001Richard LongRobert LaDuke
David SearchGeorge Ossentjuk
Fall 2002Judy HolmesJim Carrick
Fall 2003Beth MersfelfderViginia Dean
Spring 2005Alice RaftaryAbraham Nemeth
Spring 2006Annette SkellengerMarvin Weessies
Spring 2007Roberta McCallPaul Ponchillia
Spring 2008Tina AkensJeanne Church
Spring 2009Paul PonchilliaSusan Ponchillia
Spring 2011Kami FortierCheryl Nametz
Tina SmithSusan Langendonk
Spring 2012Tina SmithCatherine Hula
Spring 2013Susan BradleyCollette Bauman
Spring 2014Mary Beth KullenSusan Bradley
Spring 2015Paul KorelitzRosemary Blaszkiewicz
Spring 2016Susan LangendonkRoberta McCall
Spring 2017Dorothy Goldie AddisonSusan Gormazano
Spring 2018Beth Stormont and Meri McGregorJudy Holmes
Spring 2019Peggy PantelisAnn McKay-Bacon
Spring 2020 Erica IhrkeRod Haneline
Spring 2021 Elyse ConnorsHelen Lee
Spring 2022No award givenNo award given