December 5, 2023: Congratulations to USDLA’s 2023 Award Winners!

Happy Tuesday, USDLA friends! it is with great pleasure that we introduce you to our 2023 Award Winners (pictured right).

  • Watch a video of the ceremony:
  • Scroll down to rewview the entire list of winners
  • Also below: Find more details in a Q&A about the Awards project and how you can submit a proposal to become a winner in 2024.
  • Submit your Awards entry here:

We look forward to your submissions for our 2024 Awards!Wendy Pate, chair, USDLA Awards Committee,

Q&A with Wendy Pate, chair of the USDLA Awards Committee

USDLA: Wendy, you have been heading up the Awards Committee for years. Tell us about this program and how valuable it is for the winners.

Wendy: Winning a USDLA Award is internationally recognized. Just last year, we had an award winner from Germany! These awards showcase the best and most creative activities in online education. Pre-K to higher education, Tele-Health, government, not-for-profit, and corporate winners share what has worked for them so that others can reap the same benefits. USDLA provides a press release that winners can link to as they showcase their award internally within their organization and beyond!

USDLA: Last year, we celebrated the success of nearly two dozen organizations who are at the top of the distance learning field, including Dr. Meina Zhu, Ph.D., Learning Design and Technology at Wayne State University who took home the Dr. Jan McMahill Rising Star Award. Tell us about Dr. McMahall and the impact she had on the distance learning community.

Wendy: I did not have the pleasure of knowing Dr. McMahill personally, but I know she was generous with her time mentoring those seeking to be a part of distance learning. She helped many people during her tenure at Drake University. Dr. McMahill started the very first state chapter within USDLA. She was active in USDLA for many years and served as USDLA president.

USDLA: Tell us about the five categories that organizations can apply to win, including:

  • USDLA Trendsetter in Distance Learning Award
  • USDLA Dr. Jan McMahill Rising Star Award
  • USDLA Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching/Training Award
  • USDLA Outstanding Leadership Award
  • USDLA Excellence in Distance Learning Research Award

Wendy: What’s great about our awards is that nominations can be for a person or a team, an activity, a course or program, or an entity. We do not limit the type of activity that is nominated. Because of this, we have had some outstanding submissions! Our awards have three levels, including gold, silver, and bronze. Our awards committee scores nominations against a rubric that is posted on the website, and nominations are ranked based the that score. Sometimes, we have nominations with the same score, and we will recognize a “tie” and award two winners at the same level.

USDLA: Winners receive their awards at a ceremony at our annual national conference. Tell us what we can look forward to in 2024.

Wendy: For 2024, we want to increase the participation in the awards ceremony. We are toying with the idea of having an awards luncheon ceremony to provide more time for winners to network with conference attendees and provide details on their award-winning activity. We have some other surprises up our sleeves, but you will need to come to the conference to find out more!

USDLA: The proposal process opens today! How can organizations apply?

Wendy: Links are provided on the USDLA awards page: There, you will find two buttons: one for USDLA members and one for non-members. If someone is unsure if they are a member, they can always contact me, and I can look them up in our database so they can choose the correct submission button. USDLA members pay $100 to submit, and non-members pay $200. Non-members will automatically receive a one-year single membership with their submission! That is unique to USDLA. The award submission period will end on Friday, January 12.

USDLA: Thank you so much for your hard work and incredible passion for running this project, Wendy! As a USDLA Board Member, you have spent countless hours creating this important opportunity. We look forward to another great year!

About Wendy Pate: When she isn’t running the Awards Committee for USDLA, Wendy is an Associate Director at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. A premier, private research university founded in 1870, Stevens’s education and research have been hallmarks of technological innovation. Within the university’s three schools and one college, 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Click here to connect with Wendy on LinkedIn:

Submit your 2024 Awards proposal here:

Congratulations to USDLA’s 2023 Winners!

Award Categories:

  • Trendsetter in Distance Learning
  • Dr. Jan McMahill Rising Star Award
  • Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching/Training Award
  • Outstanding Leadership
  • Excellence in Distance Learning Research

Meet the winners:

Leadership: Higher Ed

GOLD – Dr. Meryl P. Epstein, Sessions College for Professional Design

SILVER – J. Cody Moyer, Polk State College

Leadership: K-12

GOLD – Daniele Shick FLVS

Research: Higher Ed

GOLD – The Pivot: Implementing Best Effective Teaching Practices for Pre-Service Educators – Transitioning From Virtual to Hybrid Clinical Experiences, Rebecca J. Blankenship, Ph.D., College of Education, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Shannon A. Davis, M.Ed., Sabal Palm Elementary Community Partnership School

SILVER – Developing a Learning Model for Caring, Inclusion, and Social Change in an Online Environment, Walden University

BRONZE (tie) – Dr. Sally Beisser, Dr. Chuck Sengstock, Drake University, Curtis J. Bonk, Indiana University

Rising Stars: Higher Ed

GOLD – Dr. Meina Zhu, Ph.D., Learning Design and Technology, Wayne State University

Teaching/Learning: Higher Ed

GOLD – Kristine Bassett, Assistant Professor, Center for Teaching Excellence at Baker College

SILVER – Allanna Rocca, Deepa Shriram, Kristy Wake, Katie Pfarr, Lyda Downs, Matt Rupp, Melissa West, Deb Mattoso, Walden University Office of Teaching and Learning Excellence

BRONZE – Dr. Norm Clark, Dr. Barry Lawrence, Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam, Dr. Bharani Nagarathnam, Dr. Bimal Nepal, Daniel Rey, Ron Holsey, Read Frymire, Tom Comstock, Magnus Meier, Craig Conrad, Masters of Industrial Distribution (MID) distance education team, Texas A&M

Teaching/Learning: K-12

GOLD – Melissa Kelly, Florida Virtual School

Teaching/Learning: Not for Profit

GOLD – Lifestyle: The Foundations of Functional Medicine, The Institute for Functional Medicine

Trendsetter: Higher Ed

GOLD (tie) – The Online Campus team at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and IU – International University of Applied Sciences

SILVER – Laura Lynn, Dean, Office of Research and Doctoral Services; Michelle Brown, Associate Dean, Committee Support and Doctoral Student Progress; Melanie Brown, Associate Dean, Doctoral Academic Support; Sue Subocz, Associate President and Provost (CAO), Walden University

BRONZE – Luke Bennett EdD, Adrie Koehler PhD, Tim Newby PhD, Jing Song, Purdue University,

Trendsetter: K-12

GOLD – Playgarden Prep, Online PreSchool

Trendsetter: Not for Profit

GOLD – Oiada International

SILVER – Aimee Armer, Allyson Mitchell, Tami Moehring, Center for Interactive Learning & Collaboration

Telehealth: Higher Ed

GOLD – Arizona Telemedicine Program & Southwest Telehealth Resource Center

Telehealth: Corporate

GOLD – Wolfvision Inc.

Many thanks to the USDLA Awards Committee:

  • Wendy Pate, Awards Chairwoman, USDLA Board Member
  • Janine Lim, USDLA Advisory Board
  • John Copeland, USDLA Board of Directors
  • Farah Bennani, USDLA Board of Directors
  • James Hodges, USDLA Board of Directors