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Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award


The Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award is a way to recognize and honor Wyoming citizens, organizations, businesses or communities that have made substantial contributions that enhance the literacy development among the Wyoming community. Formerly known as the First Lady’s Leaders in Literacy Award, the honor was established in 2016 by the LRCC Outreach Advisory Board to recognize the work of Wyoming’s former first lady, Carol Mead, to promote literacy education throughout the state. The award was renamed in 2019 to honor the legacy of the former first lady and her impact on the literacy and education of students in Wyoming.


2021 Recipient

Susan Bednasek
Platte County Early Literacy Project

Susan Bednasek, of Wheatland, founder and director of the Platte County Early Literacy Project (PCELP), is the recipient of the 2021 Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award. The PCELP provides every family whose child is born in Platte County with a basket that includes early literacy resources, a “Read to Me” onesie, and their first book. The child will receive another book at six months in addition to a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEAM) toy and book at each birthday until they are three. These gifts are delivered in-person by Bednesek. Bednasek received $4,000 to continue the work of the PCELP and was nominated by Tracy DeRyk, principal at Platte County School District #1’s (PCSD#1) Peak High School.


Honorable Mention

Shelley Hamel, Chief Academic Officer of the Wyoming Department of Education was given an honorable mention for her work to improve literacy throughout the state. Hamel applies for and manages grant programs including a $38 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. She has also developed K-3 Literacy Guidance Framework, coordinated professional develoment for Wyoming teachers, and collaborated with UW to conduct a conference to share literacy best practices.

The LRCC team received a number of high-quality nominations and encourages those who were not recognized to resubmit your nomination packet for next year's award!


Carol MeadeNominate a Leader in Literacy 

Who to Nominate

Any Wyoming citizen, organization, business or community may be nominated for the Carol Mead Leaders in Literacy Award. Accomplishments that are noted should reflect contributions made in Wyoming that exemplify a commitment to the literacy development of Wyoming citizens. Recipients will receive a $4000 award and a plaque recognizing the honor.

Previous Leaders in Literacy recipients will not be eligible for nomination in the following year, but nomination of previously unselected nominees will be encouraged. Award recipients will be eligible to re-apply after a five-year period has passed.

How to Nominate

Nominations are being accepted until October 21, 2022. If you are interested in making a nomination once we are accepting submissions, please follow the below guidelines when preparing your packet.

Provide the following information in the nomination form:

1. Select one of the following categories for your nominee:

  • Individual (e.g., teacher, librarian, business person, legislator)
  • Organization (business, non-profit, school, after school program)
  • Community (e.g., city, town, district)

2. Provide information for the nominee:

  • Name 
  • Literacy involvement, organization and/or professional affiliation
  • Address

  • Telephone (day and evening)

  • E-Mail address, if available

3. Provide information for the nominator:

  • Name
  • Relationship to the nominee
  • Address

  • Telephone (day and evening)

  • E-Mail address, if available


NOTE: The members of the UW Literacy Research Center and Clinic Outreach Advisory Board will determine the winner of the Leaders in Literacy award. The award determination is based primarily on the award criteria and evaluation criteria listed below. Nominators should address all applicable criteria in their nomination letters, and should encourage individuals preparing letters of recommendation to do the same.  

  • What contribution(s) has the nominee made to literacy development in Wyoming? Define the nature of the nominee’s involvement.

  • Describe the impact or emerging impact of the nominee’s support of literacy in the community and/or the state. Provide evidence of impact.


  • One nomination letter: no more than 2 pages, single-spaced, #12 font and addressing the criteria outlined in this document.

  • If you include the Support Materials combine all materials into a single document, as the submission process only accepts a single file.


  • A minimum of two additional letters of recommendation, 1-2 pages each, single-spaced, #12 font, supporting the nomination, and addressing the criteria in this document. 
It is recommended that these be from people who are familiar with differing aspects of the nominee’s literacy involvement. Letters should focus on contributions of the individual’s or group’s efforts to promote literacy development in Wyoming, and not other aspects of the nominee’s service to the community.

  • Reports or impact statements that clearly demonstrate literacy-related contributions.

  • Samples of the individual’s or organization’s work, including news articles, programs, etc., may be provided.


Nomination packets will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Impact – Organization or individual has demonstrated impact on children, families, the community(ies), and state.

  • Innovation – Organization or individual has utilized/developed an innovative approach(es) to preferred practices in promoting literacy.

  • Preferred Practices – Organization or individual is promoting literacy practices that are based in research and/or evidence of effectiveness.

  • Sustainability - Organization or individual has provided evidence of sustainable practices among children, families, and the community(ies).


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