The Evolution of MCDA Awards

By Dean R. DeGroot, Historian for MCDA

In reviewing some old newsletters from the archive, they types of awards that MCDA provides has evolved over the years. According to a MVGA newsletter (our old name of MN Vocational Guidance Association) dated January 1980, there were five distinct awards:

Outstanding Achievement Award—to recognize and honor the individual who has made significant contributions to advancing vocational guidance and counseling in Minnesota. This was likely the precursor to either the Marty Dockman Merit Award or likely the Jules Kerlan Outstanding Achievement Award. The criteria for this award are not clearly identified.

Helping Hand Award—to recognize and honor an individual who may be a member or non-member of MVGA and has contributed to the Association beyond the call of duty—a special way of MVGA to say, “Thank you!” This could be similar to the Marty Dockman Merit Award.

Employer’s Award—to recognize industry and/or business employers for their leadership and promotion of vocational guidance. This is no longer provided.

Research Award—to recognize persons or agencies that have conducted research which contributed significantly to some aspect of vocational guidance. The individual must be a member of MVGA or, in case of agencies, the director of the project must be a member of the Association. We still have a Research Award, but most years we do not have a nominee for the award.

President’s Award—to recognize and honor the immediate Past President of the Association for his/her leadership and contributions to the Association, given in service as President of MVGA. This is no longer provided.

The awards chair that year was Jules Kerlan! Awards were presented at the annual conferences, which were typically held in the late fall. According to this same newsletter, the first annual conference for MVGA began in 1978.

The 1979 award winners were:
– Outstanding Achievement: Jules Kerlan
– Helping Hand: Bill Oakleaf, a Willmar Instructor at the WAVTI
– Employer’s Award: Russ Papenhausen, Northwestern Electronics
– Research Award: ?; in 1980, Sunny Hansen won this award for her work on Born Free
– President’s Award: Betty Neuwirth, Robbinsdale Jr. High School

Over the years, MVGA/MCDA have had a host of awards, some which we still bestow on honored members, and some that have fallen on the wayside.

The Sunny Hansen Graduate School Student award, which had previously been “Graduate School Student Award” was named for one of our great female leaders, who passed away just a couple of years ago. Sunny Hanson, who for years was a professor of counseling at the U of MN. She was the author, coauthor, or editor of more than 100 books, chapters, monographs and articles. She had always been interested in advancing women in career development and was president of MCDA in 1982-83. Sunny was also a recognized leader in NCDA, where she held leadership roles and spoke at many national conferences. I’m not sure when this award started, but it has been around since the 1990’s.

When Are Awards Presented?
As earlier mentioned, they were often awarded during the Fall Conference.

Periodically, the association has had award ceremonies separate from their Annual Conferences. On June 13, 1994 (1993-94 year), there was an MCDA Annual Awards Ceremony at the College of St. Catherine, in St. Paul, but the conference had been held in the spring.

In the 1999/2000 year, awards were at a unique venue and location. The annual conference was held in Duluth, with the PDI’s and evening awards dinner held on June 1, 2000 at the Kitchi Gammi Club, and the conference was held on June 2. This was the first time our annual conference was held outside of the Twin Cities area.

During the 2001/02 conference, there were several award winners. The evening before the conference, on May 2, 2002, an awards reception was held at the Commodore Hotel in St. Paul.

During the 2003/04 year, awards were held the day before the annual conference, on May 6, 2004 at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. During the day at this location, 3 sets of PDI’s were held before the awards ceremony. That evening, an awards reception was held, first with a social hour, and then an awards ceremony, with Carmen Croonquist as the emcee.

In 2004/05, After 3 PDI’s held at the U of MN, MCDA awards ceremony was held there that evening (May 5, 2005), hosted by Carmen Croonquist.

From 2006 onward, awards have been the first item of the agenda during the annual conferences, with the exception of the “pandemic years” of 2020, 2021, and 2022, which were given to recipients remotely and separately for safety purposes.

Due to Covid 19, the March 13, 2020 annual conference was postponed. However, the association did recognize recipients for awards. The Irene Rossman award is a new award named after Irene Rossman, someone who inspired many of us through her work at CPI or affiliation with her through MCDA. Irene was an active member, board member and former president (2009/10). She left the world too soon (2015). I believe that Cindy Edwards was the first recipient of the award. For 2021 and 2022 the awards were mailed to the recipients due to the pandemic. For 2021, there was a video award presentation. For 2022, we informally recognized the recipients during a meeting and they were highlighted in the May 2022 MCDA Newsletter.

Irene Rossman Award
This award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to MCDA and/or the field of career development. The nomination should specify accomplishment(s) above and beyond the duties of a paid position. Ideal candidates possess the following criteria:
● Has at least 5 years of experience in the career development field in full-time or similar role
● Has made a significant contribution or difference in the field; could be through volunteer work
● Must be a current MCDA member

In years past, awards were presented during the luncheon time, but counselors being counselors can be very social and the idea having lunch and listening to speakers was, let’s just say, “Difficult”. As already mentioned, awards have been during evening dinners at separate venues.

Awards Plus!
In 1997, MCDA Graduate Student Award—two awards are given each year. Recipients received a cash award of $150, free MCDA, MACD, and NCDA memberships for one year and a complimentary attendance at the Spring Conference. To this day, the free MCDA annual membership still exists, but sometime during the 2000’s, the other perks went away.

Like our membership, our practices for what is awarded and how it was awarded have evolved over the years. The most important aspect, of course, is that we honor the good work of career professionals who provide hard work, leadership, and worthy contributions.

February 7, 2023

1 thought on “The Evolution of MCDA Awards

  1. Elizabeth Craig

    Thank you Dean R. DeGroot for being our MCDA Historian and keeping us updated about the awards.
    In addition I would like to suggest…challenge each member of MCDA to think of 1 colleague to nominate for an MCDA Award each year!
    I do this almost every year as I have once again this year 2023 nominated one of our most deserving colleagues for the Jules Kerlan Outstanding Achievement Award.
    Smiles on my friends!
    Elizabeth Craig

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