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At Michigan College Access Network, we honor those who have gone above and beyond for postsecondary attainment through our College Access Impact Awards. These awards shine a light on the individuals, organizations, and collaborations that have exceeded expectations to make a positive impact on increasing college readiness, participation, and completion in Michigan.

Award recognition traditionally occurs during MCAN's annual conference. This year's celebration of outstanding postsecondary education advocates from across the state took place the evening of Nov. 8.

glass awards on a table 

Supporting MCAN's Mission

2023 Honoree: Dr. Carmela Langley, Harper Woods High School

In support of the inaugural awards to celebrate MCAN's fifth anniversary, its board of directors created an award that they may present when the occasion arises but not necessarily each year. Formerly known as the Board of Directors Award, it was renamed in 2019 to the Brandy Johnson Board of Directors Award. The board of directors made the name change in honor of MCAN founder and former executive director Brandy Johnson, who left MCAN in March 2019 to work as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s policy advisor for postsecondary educational attainment and workforce development. The award is given to an individual or organization that has been particularly supportive of MCAN's mission and the Sixty by 30 Goal.


Dr. Carmela Langley





Providing Comprehensive Programming

2023 Honoree: Bekah Ward, Lincoln Consolidated Schools

School counseling programs play a vital role in ensuring students are provided the support they need to enroll in and complete college – a key component to Michigan meeting the Sixty by 30 Goal. Michigan College Access Network works to ensure college and career readiness is a priority within school counseling programs. The recipient of this award is an individual school counselor or school counseling program that has made significant strides in advancing the college readiness and enrollment supports and services provided to students which assists in moving the needle on critical postsecondary metrics.

Bekah Ward 

Expanding Postsecondary Opportunity

2023 Honoree: Alloyd Blackmon, Benton Harbor Promise

The Michigan Promise Zones Association bestows the Promise Keeper Award on individuals or organizations that have outstanding leadership and achievement in the work of supporting free college tuition, technical training and high-quality certifications. In 2023, the Promise Keeper Award has been renamed to the Chuck Wilbur Promise Keeper Award in recognition of a man who has worked extensively on the development and growth of the Michigan Promise Zones, provided technical assistance as the zones launched and assisted with the formation of the Michigan Promise Zones Association in 2016.

The 13 Promise Zones that comprise the Michigan Promise Zones Association were created through bipartisan legislation, first enacted in 2009. Each has established a broadly accessible scholarship program, to give students of all ages in their communities confidence that they will be able to afford education after high school.

Alloyd Blackmon





Advocating for Attainment

2023 Honorees: Business Leaders for Michigan; Michelle Richard, Office of the Governor

Ensuring public policy supports Michigan’s momentum toward achieving the Sixty by 30 Goal is a critical strategy of Michigan College Access Network. Working with mission-aligned allies, MCAN advises policymakers at all levels on crafting dynamic legislation that results in reduced barriers and increased attainment across the state and country. Recipients of this award have launched and/or championed bold proposals that focus on increasing Michigan’s postsecondary attainment rate.

Michelle Richard





Developing Sustainable Networks

2023 Honoree: Blue Water College Access Network

The creation and support of Local College Access Networks across the state is the primary strategy of Michigan College Access Network. Mobilizing high-level leaders, network staff and community resources creates lasting infrastructure locally in support of the Sixty by 30 Goal. The recipient of this award is an individual or organization that has provided leadership in the creation of effective alliances focused on postsecondary attainment.

Man accepting award





Increasing Access Through Direct Service

2023 Honoree: Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars

Reaching the goal of Sixty by 30 requires collaborative, hands-on effort from individuals and organizations at the local, state, and national levels. Organizations that provide direct services to support students, college access infrastructure, and programming are integral to growing Michigan’s culture of college access and attainment. The recipient of this award is an organization that has significantly contributed to the college access field through direct service in their community/region.

Woman accepting award





Advancing Access and Success

2023 Honoree: Dr. Bill Pink, Ferris State University

Helping more Michigan residents earn degrees or postsecondary certificates doesn’t end with getting more students enrolled in higher education. Of equal importance are efforts to help existing college students persist, succeed, and complete their degrees. The recipient of this award is an individual institution leader or college/university that has been exemplary in advancing innovative ways to expand access, build critical relationships in the region, and support student persistence and completion.

Dr. Bill Pink





Changing School Systems and Culture

2023 Honoree: Wayne-Westland Community Schools

Boosting the college access expectation in schools on the ground level helps drive the state toward the Sixty by 30 goal. Engaging schools to urge students, parents, staff and administration to take direct action creates a sense of urgency around the postsecondary planning process. While developing programs helps improve outcomes, the real impact comes from systems and culture change. The recipient of this award is a school that has advanced the college-going culture and/or tackled systems-level change within the school.

Man accepting award





Supporting Students, Counselors, and Schools

2023 Honorees: Marielle Sirk, AdviseMI, Sault Area High School; Greta Kruse, Michigan College Advising Corps, J.W. Sexton High School; Emily Tenniswood, Michigan State University College Advising Corps, Algonac Jr./Sr. High School; Alex Walsh, College Completion Corps, Northwestern Michigan College

Michigan College Access Network values the leadership and service of college advisers and coaches serving across the state, and this award honors a member from each Michigan corps—AdviseMI, Michigan State University College Advising Corps, the Michigan College Advising Corps, and College Completion Corps—to recognize their on-the-ground efforts to reach Sixty by 30. The recipients of this award have a passion for college access and success, have persevered over challenges while engaged in their year(s) of service, and have proudly represented AmeriCorps to students, families, and the public.

Group of people posing with awards





2019 Honorees: Sarah Anthony, Michigan House of Representatives; Brandy Johnson, Michigan College Access Network

2017 Honoree: Dan DeGrow, St. Clair County RESA

2016 Honoree: Lumina Foundation

2015 Honorees: Michael P. Flanagan, former State Superintendent



2022 Honoree:Rakiba Mitchell, Southeastern High School

2021 Honoree:Susy Talentino, Sault Area High School and Career Center

2020 Honoree:Joan Helwig, Marlette Jr/Sr High School

2019 Honoree:Regan Tubbs, Allegan County Area Technical and Education Center

2018 Honoree: Jennifer Brown, Bullock Creek High School

2017 Honoree: Catherine Longstreet, Hastings High School

2016 Honoree: Bob Drake, Jonesville High School



2022 Honoree:Ellen Lipton, Hazel Park Promise Zone

2021 Honorees:Lori Tubbergen Clark, Newaygo County Area Promise; and Joyce Seals, Saginaw Promise



2022 Honorees:Sen. Kim LaSata, Michigan Senate District 21 and Doug Ross, Diploma Equity Project

2021 Honorees:Rep. Ben Frederick and Rep. Scott VanSingel

2020 Honoree:Tonya Allen, The Skillman Foundation

2019 Honoree:Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI)

2018 Honoree:Sen. Jim Ananich and Rep. Brett Roberts

2017 Honoree: Venessa Keesler, Michigan Department of Education

2016 Honorees: Rep. Tim Kelly and Sen. Geoff Hansen

2015 Honoree: Former Gov. Rick Snyder



2022 Honoree:David Coulter, Oakland County Executive Office

2021 Honoree:BEST Benzie County

2020 Honoree: Lapeer County College Access Network

2019 Honoree: Oceana College Access Network

2018 Honoree: Washtenaw Futures

2017 Honoree: Jackson County Cradle to Career Education Network

2016 Honoree:Launch Manistee

2015 Honoree: Destination Education



2022 Honoree:Alpena High School

2021 Honoree:The Bridge Alternative High School

2020 Honoree: Escanaba High School



2022 Honorees:Danyale Dockery, Michigan College Advising Corps; Cion Swoope, Michigan State University College Advising Corps; Brandon Wardlow, AdviseMI; and Erica Whiting, College Completion Corps

2021 Honorees:Jayme Green, College Completion Corps; Angela Magbag, Michigan State University College Advising Corps; Alazia Mitchell, Michigan College Advising Corps; and Leah Warner, AdviseMI

2020 Honorees:Jacquelyn Deneau, AdviseMI; Tiffany Hacket, Michigan College Advising Corps; and Jassadi Moore, Michigan State University College Advising Corps

2019 Honorees: Beth Brandon, AdviseMI; KeAndra Porchia, Michigan State University College Advising Corps; and Patrick Mullen-Coyoy, University of Michigan College Advising Corps

2018 Honorees: Britteny Mitchell, Chandler Park High School, Michigan College Advising Corps; Moussa Traore, Hazel Park High School, MSU College Advising Corps; Byron Terrell Williams, Harbor Beach High School & Owendale-Gagetown High School, AdviseMI

2017 Honorees: Dillon Frechen, Oakridge High School and Holton High School, MSU College Advising Corps; Alexa Lynch, Sexton High School, Michigan College Advising Corps; Lindsay Mieden, Woodhaven High School, AdviseMI

2016 Honorees: Ellen Goedert, Jackson High School, Michigan College Advising Corps; Ashley Justice, Waverly High School, MSU College Advising Corps; Jonathan Lockwood, Alpena High School & ACES Academy, AdviseMI



THE BEACON AWARD(This award is no longer given.)

2022 Honoree:Michigan’s Community Foundations

2021 Honoree:The Michigan Department of Treasury

2020 Honoree:Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling

2019 Honoree:Chuck Wilbur, Michigan Promise Zones Association

2018 Honoree:The Detroit Regional Chamber

2017 Honoree:Fostering Success Michigan at Western Michigan University

2016 Honorees:AdviseMI Partner Colleges Alma College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Madonna University, Oakland University, Saginaw Valley State University, University of Michigan–Dearborn, University of Michigan–Flint, Western Michigan University, Wayne State University


THE CARDINAL AWARD (This award is no longer given.)


2018 Honoree:North Branch High School


2017 Honoree: Hazel Park High School

2016 Honoree: Holton High School, Muskegon County

2015 Honoree: Ashley Johnson, Detroit College Access Network


THE FLEET AWARD(This award is no longer given.)

2022 Honoree:Melissa Kiesewetter, Michigan Department of Civil Rights

2021 Honoree:Midnight Golf Program

2020 Honoree:Wayne State University


THE STEWARD AWARD (This award is no longer given.)

2018 Honorees: Shawn Bultsma, Thomas Haas, and Grand Valley State University Educational Leadership and Counseling Department

2017 Honoree: Hartland High School Counseling Program, Hartland High School

2016 Honoree: Patrick O’Connor, Cranbrook Schools

2015 Honoree: Western Michigan University