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NAMLE Meritorious Service Award Honors Longtime Leader

Posted August 28, 2009
The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) has honored one of its own with its coveted  Meritorious Service Award, during its national conference, “Bridging Literacies: Critical Connections in a Digital World,” which was recently held in Detroit. 

Elizabeth Thoman -Liz to her friends and colleagues – was recognized for her lifetime of work and exemplary leadership in various roles, including writer/editor of Media & Values magazine, Executive Director of the Center for Media Literacy (CML), NAMLE co- founder and member of the NAMLE executive committee for the past eight years.

In presenting the award, NAMLE’s current and three past presidents each delighted in telling the national and international conferees of Thoman’s numerous achievements and contributions to the field of media literacy education.

Dr. Lynda Bergsma, NAMLE’s immediate past president and head of this year’s awards committee, recounted, “As a Californian, of course Liz considers her first “ah ha” moment about media literacy to have happened when she was driving on the freeway! She was a grad student at University of Southern California when she decided to start a magazine for teachers as the final project for one of her courses. And so, Media & Values magazine was begun, later expanding into the Center for Media Literacy (CML).”

NAMLE’s first president and longtime media literacy educator, Frank Baker, creator and editor of the Media Literacy Clearinghouse, commented, “Liz, always the entrepreneur, developed numerous media literacy resources and materials, including CML’s Media Lit Kit (with Tessa Jolls), the website, medialit.org, and the NAMLE Marketplace, where media literacy practitioners can buy media literacy education-focused resources at a discount.

Former NAMLE president Faith Rogow, Insighters Educational Consulting, noted, “Liz refers to herself as a ‘founding mother’ of media literacy in the United States-and that’s an apt moniker.   She has provided over 30 years of leadership in her various roles.”

NAMLE president Sherri Hope-Culver capped the foursome’s accolades by summing up the sentiments of the media literacy education community.  “Liz’s leadership and contributions to the field of media literacy education-as writer, historian, fundraiser, strategist, teacher and leader– have inspired and influenced so many of us in this room today.”

Accepting the award amidst loud applause and a standing ovation, Thoman, overcome with emotion, expressed her thanks for “this great honor” and reminded those in the room as well as the media literacy education community in general that “Media literacy education has been my life and I expect to be involved in this work for many years to come.”

NAMLE’s Meritorious Service Award

About the award:
In 2003, the AMLA Board created the AMLA Meritorious Service Award “to be given to individuals or projects that have significantly contributed to the growth and quality of the field of media literacy.  This award is intended to honor those who have given many years of service which, because it builds infrastructure or remains behind-the-scenes, too often goes unacknowledged.  This is an NAMLE board award and is only given to candidates who receive a unanimous vote of the board.

The first recipients of the AMLA Meritorious Service Award, presented at NMEC 2003, were:
Gary Ferrington – for the Media Literacy Online Project and Media Literacy Review
Marieli Rowe – for Telemedium and on the occasion of the National Telemedia Council’s 50th Anniversary

This award was presented at NMEC 2005 to:
Jim Ficklin for his work on the Media-L Listserv

This award was presented at NMEC 2007 to:
Cable in the Classroom

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