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Friend of the Year Past Recipients

The Friend of the Year Award was established to honor the rare individuals and organizations who step up as champions for those who learn and work in our schools. Honorees clearly see beyond the sensational headlines and often negative politics and understand that the success of Texas public education is everyone’s business. 

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2023 Recipient - Dr. Lindsay Whorton, The Holdsworth Center

The Holdworth Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2017 by Charles Butt, Chairman of H-E-B.


The Holdsworth Center works to strengthen the leaders who serve educators and students and has quickly become a powerful force for positive change in the education landscape of Texas. Under Dr. Lindsay Whorton's leadership, the organization's efforts to provide transformative leadership development programs to school leaders have helped to create a community of practice that fosters collaboration and innovation across the state. Dr. Whorton's vision and dedication have been instrumental in helping the Holdsworth Center become a leading voice in the conversation about public education in Texas.


2022 Recipient - Laura Yeager, Texas Educators Vote

Laura Subrin Yeager is the Founder and Director of Texas Educators Vote and the Director of Just Fund It TX. 


Texas Educators Vote is a cooperative effort of 30 non-profit education-related organizations working to create a culture of voting in Texas public schools. Just Fund It TX is a statewide grassroots group of parents and students working toward increased funding for Texas public schools.

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2021 Recipient - Chris Wallace,  North Texas Commission

Chris Wallace is the President and CEO of the North Texas Commission, a public-private partnership that drives the regional advocacy effort of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wallace joined the NTC in June of 2018 and soon realized that a critical voice was missing in the regional discussions led by the Commission—public schools. Wallace enlisted the help of Dr. Charles Luke and began recruiting influential superintendents in North Texas. These strategic partnerships created with these school districts resulted in the formation of the NTC’s Superintendents Advisory Council in early 2020. 


2020 Recipient - Capturing Kids Hearts Powered by Flippen Group

The Capturing Kids Hearts program, powered by Flippen Group, dramatically elevates the academic and behavioral standards for students in classrooms across Texas. Capturing Kids’ Hearts drives culture and climate as the backbone for creating a truly great classroom, improving classroom culture, as well as student performance, attendance rates, discipline, and so much more.


2019 Recipient - Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium

TEGAC has worked since 2012 to build support for and improvement in public education in Texas by bringing philanthropic and business leaders, education associations,  and lawmakers together. TEGAC developed and implemented a comprehensive school finance advocacy campaign in partnership with its vast array of partners. In 2018-2019, TEGAC also commissioned and provided credible school finance data, including polling data on Texas voters’ attitudes on school finance.


2018 Recipient - Dr. Michelle Smith

“Dr. Smith is an outstanding leader and true Friend of public schools” said Leslie Milder, Founder, Friends of Texas Public Schools. “Dr. Smith’s time in the classroom, boardroom and capitol has quietly transformed public education advocacy. Her focus on collaboration has brought many people together to fix issues and address challenges.”


2017 Recipient - Pastor Charles Johnson

“Pastor Johnson has enthusiastically accepted the role of chief advocate for the public school children of Texas,” said Scott Milder, Founder and CEO, Friends of Texas Public Schools. “He recognizes the state has been avoiding its constitutional obligation to properly support our public schools and has mobilized 1,000-plus pastors to send a very clear message to our elected legislators that this is unacceptable. May God bless Pastor Johnson.”  


2016 Recipient - TAMSA

TAMSA started in 2011 as a statewide, grassroots organization of concerned parents that supports a more reasoned approach to student testing. The TAMSA mission is to improve public education in Texas through the use of meaningful and effective student assessments that allow for more productive classroom instruction and more efficient use of public funds.  TAMSA is a nonpartisan organization; working in a cooperative manner with school districts, legislators, and other key policy makers to develop meaningful student assessment for Texas students.


2015 Recipient - Dr. Mike Moses

Dr. Moses is the Endowed Chair of Educational Leadership at the University of North Texas in Denton. He has served as a Texas educator and leader for more than 30 years. From 1995 to 1999, he was the Commissioner of Education for the state of Texas. He served as Deputy Chancellor for Systems Operations at Texas Tech University System from 1999 to 2001 and as General Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District from 2001 until 2004. Prior to his position in Dallas, Dr. Moses was the superintendent of schools in other Texas school districts, including Lubbock, LaMarque, and Tatum.  Currently he serves as Senior Educational Advisor for Raise Your Hand Texas and the Center for Reform of School Systems.


2014 Recipient - Diane Ravitch

A public school graduate herself, this award winning educator’s depth of knowledge and experience shines through her passionate speeches. Diane Ravitch has developed a powerful argument against the privatization of public schools, and she will take us step-by-step through the triumphs and failures American public school system.  


2013 Recipient - Jimmie Don Aycock

Jimmie Don Aycock, Chairman of the House Public Education Committee was a champion for public school students throughout the 2013 legislative session, leading the Texas House of Representatives against ardent opposition driven by testing companies and their lobbyists to pass one of the most important pieces of legislation for public education in decades. 


2012 Recipient - Jamie Vollmer

Jamie is president of Vollmer, Inc., a public education advocacy firm working to halt the erosion of public trust and build support for America’s public schools.


2011 Recipient - Chuck and Gina Norris

Chuck and Gina Norris, founders of KICKSTART KIDS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving middle school students the tools and support necessary to resolve conflicts, avoid participating in gangs, choose a drug-free lifestyle, resist negative peer pressure and remain in school until they graduate, strive for a higher level of academic success and become productive members of society.


2010 Recipient - Darrell and Sandi Scott

Darrell and Sandi Scott are the Founders of Rachel’s Challenge, a gripping character education program inspired by their daughter Rachel, the first person killed at Columbine High School in 1999.

2009 Recipient - Harvey Hohenberger

2008 Recipient - Gary Kelly

2007 Recipient - Tom Frost

2006 Recipient - Michael Boone

2005 Recipient - Charles Butt

Ambassador of the Year Past Recipients

The Ambassador of the Year Award was established to highlight the efforts of an inspiring educator as a champion for the public school children of Texas. Their work builds public confidence and admiration for the profession of public education. 

2023 Recipients - Dr. Bobby Ott, Superintendent, Temple ISD, Dr. Georgeanne Warnock, Superintendent, Terrell ISD, and Mr. Kevin Worthy, Superintendent, Royse City ISD

2022 Recipient - Dr. Shannon Allen, Superintendent, Beaumont ISD

2021 Recipient - Rev. John Ogletree, Pastor & Trustee, CyFair ISD

2020 Recipient - Danny Massey, Superintendent, Brazosport ISD

2019 Recipients - Nicole Conley & Douglas Killian, Ph.D.

2018 Recipient - Bobby J. Rigues

2017 Recipient - Virdie Montgomery

2016 Recipients - Pam and Gary Van Deaver

2015 Recipient - Jim Cain

2014 Recipient - Marty Crawford

2012 Recipient - Matt Warnock

2011 Recipient - Katrina Keener

Founders' Distinguished Service Award Past Recipients

The Founders’ Distinguished Service Award was created to highlight efforts to strengthen the public schools of Texas.

2023 Recipient - Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) & Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd)

2022 Recipient - Dr. Bob Thompson, Thompson Executive Leadership Institute

2021 Recipients - 18 Members of the Texas Legislature with previous service on local school boards and have a “friendly” rating with Texans for Public Education: Senator Beverly Powell (Burleson ISD), Representatives Steve Allison (Alamo Heights ISD), Rafael Anchia (Dallas ISD), Trent Ashby (Lufkin ISD), Cecil Bell, Jr. (Magnolia ISD), Keith Bell (Forney ISD), Brad Buckley (Killeen ISD), DeWayne Burns (Cleburne ISD), Gina Hinojosa (Austin ISD), Donna Howard (Eanes ISD), Dan Huberty (Humble ISD), Ken King (Canadian ISD), Stan Lambert (Abilene ISD), Ray Lopez (Northside ISD), Glenn Rogers (Graford ISD), David Spiller (Jacksboro ISD), Lynn Stucky (Sanger ISD), and Ed Thompson (Pearland ISD). 

2019 Recipient - Palmer ISD/Kevin Noack, Superintendent

2018 Recipient - Dr. Don Rogers

2017 Recipient - Johnny Veselka

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