Grants and Scholarships

Iowa AEYC has grant and scholarship opportunities for members and others in the Iowa early care and education workforce. If you are interested in a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Iowa Scholarship, go to the T.E.A.C.H. page for more information.

2016 Iowa AEYC Award, Grant and Scholarship Recipients

Children's Champion Award  2016

Kelli Soyer

The Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children recognizes one worthy Iowan as Children’s Champion every year, recognizing significant public impact on behalf of young children in our state. This year we are pleased to announce Kelli Soyer as the worthy recipient of this year’s Children’s Champion Award.

Kelli received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Iowa at the Des Moines Center in 2003. Upon earning her Master’s Degree, Soyer joined the Child and Family Policy Center (CFPC) in Des Moines, advocating for children and families with the Iowa Legislature. After two years with CFPC, she accepted the position of Executive Director at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Iowa Chapter, where she spent the next seven years. Her experience at NASW was a great opportunity to advocate on behalf of the social work profession and the clients served. During her time, her work focused on Social Work Reinvestment and identifying opportunities to grow the social work profession. She left NASW in 2013 to pursue an opportunity in the private sector, to help Iowans enroll in qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act. This position ended in January 2015.

In March 2015, Kelli joined Every Child Matters in Iowa (ECM). ECM is a non-profit, non-partisan organization seeking to make children’s issues a national priority with candidates and elected officials. In her current role, she manages operations in Iowa, specific to the 2016 elections.

As someone eloquently put it, “Kelli has been influential in my own growth as an advocate. She explained to me what Every Child Matter’s mission was and asked me to serve on their Advisory Committee. Kelli has invited me to several presidential candidate events. She has offered several times to help coordinate house parties both for myself as well as for the Lincoln Way AEYC Chapter. Kelli has spoken with the NAC course participants on two occasions to help raise their awareness and interest in advocacy. I was able to participate as a panelist for Every Child Matters’ viewing of Raising of America. Without Kelli’s modeling and gentle guidance, I would not have felt comfortable learning more about and communicating what I believe children and families in Iowa need and deserve.”


Friend of Young Children Award 2016

Penny Milburn

The Board of the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children annually select a recipient for the Friend of Young children award from among our membership. This person typically has exemplified our vision and mission throughout a career, truly impacting the lives of young children in our state as a result of their efforts. The award often goes to someone who also has had a profound impact on the work of the Association as well.

This year the Iowa AEYC Board is honoring Penny Milburn with the 2016 Friend of Young Children Award.

Penny serves as a leader in early childhood at the Iowa Department of education until her retirement from that role earlier this year. In her role she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program and Iowa's Quality Preschool Program Standards. She previously facilitated the development of the Every Child Reads professional development, supporting teaching staff and child care providers. She was instrumental in the development of the first Iowa Early Learning Standards in 2004 and led a year-long effort to create Iowa's competencies for those in early childhood teaching roles.

Penny is a past President of the National Association of Early Childhood Specialist in State Departments of Education and worked to co-facilitate the policy committee. This national organization focuses on programs and services provided by states to advance the life success of yourn children birth through age eight in education and care settings of all types.

Prior to her position at the Iowa Department of Education, Penny worked as a specialist for Iowa State University Extension, as a group home coordinator for individuals with disabilities in and out of state, and as an Area Education Agency early childhood specialist. She began her career teaching early childhood special and general education for more than 20 years.

Penny is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a community volunteer, and continues to work to make a difference in these roles as well. Currently, Penny is consulting at the state and national level on a variety of early childhood initiatives. Iowa's children have benefitted from Penny[s efforts, and will for years to come. We are proud to name her this year's Friend of Young Children.


Teacher (Provider) of the Year Award 2016

Ann Ryan

The Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children Governing Board is pleased to announce this year's recipient of the Teacher of the Year award. Award winners are selected from nominations received in the spring and our winner is an Iowa AEYC member who directly teaches children in a child care program, preschool, kindergarten - grade three classroom, or a child development home. This teacher has demonstrated extraordinary skills as an early childhood educator.

Ann Ryan is our 2016 Teacher of the Year recipient. Ann is the Lead Teacher of the infant team at UnityPoint. She has over 20 years of experience working with young children, nearly sixteen of which has been at UnityPoint. She not only has the role of classroom teacher, she also is responsible for monitoring and supporting the infant teachers. She is a role model for best proactice and provides leadership in continual program improvement.

Ann is the quintessential infant caregiver. She is in tune with the babies in her care, individualizing to meet each of their needs and boilding strong, secure relationships with each child. In addition, she recognizes that infants come with families, and she embraces their families just as she embraces the babies. Recently, Ann met a family who was visiting the center with their very young baby. She asked in a quiet, humble voice if she could hold the baby. The family gave permission, and she gently held the baby in her arms, gazing at him and talking with him. She told him how special he was, and how she would be so lucky to get to know him. The family was sold!

Ann has a bachelor's degree but her education did not end there. She is a life-long learner. She is continually working on her skills. What distinguishes her from others is her ability to reflect. She is continually adjusting to meet the needs of her children and families. She is able to process the situation and make changes where needed. She seeks resources to find answers. She is continually working on her skills as a teacher as well as interpersonal skills for mentoring peers.


Leadership Fellowships

The Iowa AEYC Leadership Fellowship will enable the successful participants to develop their leadership skills through attendance at state or national professional development opportunities, and in turn they will be expected to provide leadership to the early childhood field in our state.

Tony Lacy Iowa AEYC Membership Scholarship

The Tony Lacy Membership Scholarship is to pay for individuals’ membership into Iowa AEYC including their membership into their local chapter of Iowa AEYC and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The Tony Lacy Membership Scholarship is in honor of the late Tony Lacy. Tony Lacy was the ultimate early childhood professional. Tony’s biggest commitment was to the goal of moving our profession forward. As a long-time member of the Iowa AEYC Governing Board, he was a strong advocate for NAEYC membership. He recruited and empowered dozens of individuals to not only become AEYC members, but to get involved and truly make a difference in the lives of early childhood professionals, children, and families. Donations to Iowa AEYC and the fundraising raffle at the Annual Fall Institute make this annual scholarship possible.

2016 Tony Lacy Scholarship Winners
Kelly Adkins, Iowa City
Deidra Benser, Cedar Rapids
Cassandra Collum, Davenport
Taneki Davis, Burlington
Kalina Deese, Columbus Junction
Amanda DeGood, Riverside
Jacque Dilks, Atloona
Shirlyn Duncan, Des Moines
Kristy Fenwich, Dubuque
Sunshine Huisman, Bondurant
Jennifer Juhl, Denison
Carrie Moore, Ankeny
Julie Peraley, Denison
Renee Reis, Denison
Elizabeth Rice, Ankeny
Kathryn Schaeffer, Marshalltown
Donita Schults, Waterloo
Jennifer Skow, Humboldt
Meghann Solis, Clarion
Norellen Toomey, Des Moines
Lisa Wertz, Chariton
Copyright © 2016 - Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children

Web Development by DWebware
5525 Meredith Drive Suite F
Des Moines, IA 50310
(515) 331-8000