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2011 Pressley Award Winners Announced

on Thursday, 02 June 2011.


ACE Advocates is honored to recognize Joe Womac (ACE 7) and Norma Nelson (ACE 10) with this year’s Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education.  Additionally, we are honored to present the first Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field to Peter Miller (ACE 4).

The Pressley Awards are presented annually during the ACE Commencement Exercises to honor the life and work of Dr. Michael Pressley, the inaugural academic director of ACE. Dr. Pressley was a prodigious and world-renowned scholar in the field of education who lost his battle with cancer in 2006.

Recipients of the Award for Excellence in Catholic Education reflect Dr. Pressley’s dedication to service and scholarship for the benefit of children and Catholic schools across the nation.  This award honors graduates of the ACE Teaching Fellows program who have been out of the program for between five and ten years, and who have in that time distinguished themselves in making significant contributions to the ministry of Catholic Education.

In addition, this year ACE will begin recognizing one ACE Teaching Fellows graduate each year whose work as an academic in the field of education shows exceptional promise.  The Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field honors Dr. Pressley's commitment to quality scholarship and ground-breaking research.

Joe Womac (ACE 7) joined the staff of the Fulcrum Foundation in 2004, and currently serves as its Executive Director.  The Fulcrum Foundation provides financial support to Catholic schools in western Washington state, “primarily through tuition assistance, assistance to schools in need, and school initiatives that promote academic excellence.”  Under Joe’s leadership, the program has been tremendously successful, reaching numerous fundraising milestones.  In addition, Joe created the concept and proposal for the first ACE Advocates (then ACE Fellowship) regional community, which has since grown beyond Seattle into our regional network of 25 cities.  Joe founded a group called Amici, in conjunction with the Fulcrum Foundation, to bring area young professionals together in support of Catholic schools.  As one nominator stated, “he embodies the spirit of Catholic education that does not know limits.  There is always hope, there is always a way to make it happen, and there is always room for one more at the table.”

About Norma Nelson (ACE 10), a colleague once said “I don’t know if I know anybody more committed to the success of Catholic education than Norma.  Everything she does is to benefit these kids and their Catholic education.”  Norma’s commitment shines forth in her daily labors of love for Saint Mary of Carmel Catholic School (SMC) in Dallas, TX.  Norma has remained at SMC ever since her ACE experience teaching a wide variety of subjects over the years, serving as assistant principal while teaching three middle school English courses, coordinating fundraisers and staff development, and supporting current ACE teachers.  Nominators describe her as “critical to the lifeblood of our Saint Mary of Carmel educational community since her time in ACE,” “the ultimate jack-of-all-trades,” and affirm that “she has spent her entire career promoting the value of Catholic education to a low-income, Hispanic community.  She works as Christ did, not for her own glory and achievements, but to serve those in need.”

Pete Miller (ACE 4) currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  After teaching and coaching for four years, Pete began doctoral studies at the University of Utah where his interest in community-based leadership was cultivated.  After earning his Ph.D., Pete was appointed to the Department of Foundations and Leadership at Duquesne University, teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses as well as conducting research.  Today, Pete and his wife and children reside in Wisconsin where Pete continues to teach, advise doctoral students, and publish.  Pete’s scholarly interests include inter-organizational collaboration, community-based leadership, and education and homelessness.

We hope you will join us in recognizing the contributions of these outstanding ACE graduates!

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