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Meet the 2023 Mother of the Year® award recipients—women from diverse backgrounds and experiences across the nation recognized for their work, resilience and commitment to family and community. These mothers were chosen through a national nomination and selection process led by American Mothers, which has had the honor of searching for and selecting the Mother of the Year® in every state, district and territory in the country since 1935.

These state honorees will represent their respective home states at the American Mothers National Convention this April 20-22 in Omaha, Nebraska. One honoree will be selected as the 2023 National Mother of the Year® at this convention.

Join us in congratulating each and every one of these amazing mothers!


Frankie “Catie” Lumpkin

77th Alabama Mother of the Year

Catie is an artist’s daughter. Early, she learned to recognize light against shadows. In youth, she applied this through her struggles with depression. When she married Jamie, he called out her glory by seeing her giftings and character. God granted them three sons in three years. They then learned they would not parent again biologically. Catie and Jamie turned to their hometown, Birmingham, and chose to be light in the darkness. Over a decade, they parented 82 children aged birth to 19 years through foster care. In July 2018, they discovered they were adopting two daughters. That same week, they were shocked to learn they were also expecting their fourth biological child. Catie’s life today is a dance of repentance and faith. She is a student of Jamie and their children, as well as a firm advocate for vulnerable children throughout the state of Alabama.

Jenny Cullumber

78th California Mother of the Year

Jenny Cullumber and her husband, Roger, have seven children (five biological and two adopted). They have welcomed foster kids, exchange students, young adult missionaries, college interns, children of friends, younger siblings, church youth, and neighborhood kids into their lives, and can’t wait to add grandkids to that list! Jenny is persistent and loves to learn. Her religious background has helped shape her feelings that motherhood is sacred and she loves to volunteer in ways that will support women and children. Jenny also loves any excuse to be outside in the mountains or play with wood. She is always up for an adventure such as learning how to homeschool during a pandemic or starting a small business to help employ her teens. For Jenny, life is exciting and there is always something to learn or someone to lift a little higher.

Krystal Sherrod

69th Colorado Mother of the Year

Krystal Sherrod is Mrs. Colorado International 2022 and an advocate for Addiction Recovery Awareness. Krystal turned her pain into purpose and uses her story of overcoming addiction to inspire others to start their own recovery journey. She works with organizations in her community to ensure homeless and low-income families receive their daily necessities. Krystal has been married to her husband, Tim, for six years. Tim served in Desert Storm in the Navy. They are a blended family with two sons—Gage, 24, who is retired from the army, and Graysen, 9, who has Autism and loves all things dinosaurs.

Jennifer Schmaltz

45th Connecticut Mother of the Year

Jennifer Schmaltz was raised in Wolcott, Connecticut, where she still resides with her husband Michael “Mick” Schmaltz Jr., two sons Parker (8) and Logan (5), her dog Sawyer and her cat Luna. She works full-time as the Assistant Town Clerk in Wolcott. She is a board member of the Wolcott Youth Football and Cheer Association and Vice President of the Wolcott Volunteer Fire Department Company 2 Ladies Auxiliary. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, which has been a recent hobby. She also enjoys camping and goes on multiple trips a year. She is just starting her journey into the world of reading and joined a Book of the Month app. When she isn’t at work you can find her with her family. Her boys are her whole world and she tries to spend as much time with them as possible. Her favorite tradition is family movie night on Sundays.

Julie Cangialosi

71st District of Columbia Mother of the Year

Julie Cangialosi, B.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian and graduate of Russell Sage College’s nutrition science program. She completed a dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut, has been published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and is a member of The American Dietetic Association. Her science education led to a career as an associate director for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. In 2011, Julie married James Cangialosi, an Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agent. They are the proud parents of Landon, Elle, and two guardian angels. Their two pregnancy losses inspired their nonprofit, Operation Little Angel 101: Hope After Loss. Julie has appeared on nationally syndicated talk shows, is a Today Show Parenting Teams contributor, a best-selling author, and the reigning Mrs. DC International. When not championing her favorite causes, Julie and her family can be found traveling the world, visiting museums, and cheering on the Washington Capitals.

Latoya Harris

72nd Delaware Mother of the Year

Latoya is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a Bachelor’s in Biology, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration, and a Certificate in Conflict Management and Negotiation from Walden University. Latoya is a devoted server to all individuals. She works as an In-Home Counselor for Wraparound DE where she provides counseling services to children and families experiencing substance abuse and mental health challenges. The goal of her work is to see children and parents reunified and healthy. However, her passion is community. Her heart for service and volunteerism led her down the path of non-profit ownership. In March of 2021, Harris founded Cornerstone Community Center, a non-profit organization developed to bring necessary information and resources to families. Above all, she is a mother. As her family continues to grow (she is expecting her third baby in January), her volunteerism and service to the community have not changed. She remains a proud wife, a loving mother, a compassionate friend, and a community activist. 

Cheyann Smith

51st Florida Mother of the Year

In 2012, Cheyann joined the United States Air Force to serve her country. While serving active duty she noticed there was a mental health crisis in the military and went back to school. Cheyann completed her master’s degree and is currently working on her PsyD while maintaining her active status in hopes of aiding her fellow Airmen. After years of leading a multitude of humanitarian drives, Cheyann launched a non-profit organization dedicated to providing relief to individuals with food and housing insecurities. She then became a certified volunteer firefighter to help further safeguard lives in her community. Cheyann is a mother to two daughters, Boston and Dakota. As a mom, she aims to instill the same work ethic and empathy for others in her daughters, having them assist in her volunteer missions. Though Cheyann has many successes, she constantly reminds her girls, “You, above all, are my greatest accomplishment.”

Teresa Wright Johnson

74th Georgia Mother of the Year

Teresa Wright Johnson is a wife, and mother to six children. She is a community servant and leader. She is a business owner and best-selling author. She supports and works with NAMI, Healthy Mother’s Healthy Babies of Georgia, The March of Dimes and many more. But what she cherishes the most of all the roles and hats she wears is the role and blessing of being a mother.

Joy Kimura

49th Hawaii Mother of the Year

Joy Kimura was born and raised in Hawaii. She attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and upon graduating, worked in Washington D.C. for U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie. She later spent 10 years in Asia, where she owned her own business in Japan and subsequently attended National Taiwan University. She currently works for Hawaii LECET as the Government Affairs and Compliance Director, where she advocates to ensure that workers are paid properly on government contracts. She is a single mother to 19-year-old Jennifer, 2021 class valedictorian and current student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and 14-year-old son Jonathan, a freshman and member of the 2022 High School State Champion Air Rifle Team. Joy is the current President-elect for Soroptimist International of Honolulu and in her spare time volunteers to assist the Hawaii Institute for Human Services and Habitat for Humanity.

Nek’ka Migel

73rd Idaho Mother of the Year

Nek’ka Migel was a single stay-at-home mother for 16 years, homeschooling her two daughters from kindergarten to high school graduation. She is the founder of the Anna Grace Foundation, Inc., which helps single parents with tips on parenting and budgeting, and the author of four books. Migel currently serves at her church as a Life Group Leader and she sings on the worship team. She has been remarried for 10 years, has 3 grown children, and 9 grandchildren from 4 mos to 22. She loves spending time with her family for dinner or just hanging out.

Cheryl Dewees

Indiana Mother of the Year

Cheryl was born into a loving family with two hard-working parents who always put God and family first. Born the fifth child after four boys, Cheryl has always had a large family. Cheryl married her husband, DJ, in 2002 shortly after graduating from Indiana University. She and DJ knew they wanted to start a family right away. Their first son, Dane, came in 2004, and their daughter, Danica, in 2006. These two sweet babies taught Cheryl that her true calling was to be a caregiver. Cheryl went back to school to become a nurse, and upon graduation in 2010 another sweet baby girl, Demi came along. These babies were Cheryl’s whole world, and being a mother became her greatest joy. In 2019, they decided to have one more baby. So upon the darkness of Covid in April of 2020, she welcomed a new baby boy, Deacon, who brought so much joy. The following months were spent all together bonding with a new baby. Cheryl’s family was able to create so many beautiful memories during this time, that they will always cherish. Now this family of six is thriving as those beautiful kids grow.

Ellen Walsh-Rosmann

74th Iowa Mother of the Year

Ellen Walsh-Rosmann was born and raised in a driftless hollow in northeast Iowa. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and farms with her husband, Daniel, and his family in Harlan. Ellen and Daniel are the proud parents of two children, Xavier (10) and Geneva (6). Ellen also owns and operates a local food hub called FarmTable Procurement and Delivery. She helps small farms all over Iowa and Eastern Nebraska aggregate and deliver their products to wholesale markets. Ellen and Daniel also own Milk and Honey, a farm-to-table restaurant in Harlan that serves meat and eggs from their farm as well as area producers’ vegetables and dairy. She is passionate about the food system, revitalizing rural America, and food justice work. She is currently getting her Master’s in Public Health from George Washington University in Washington D.C., and in addition to owning two businesses, works full time as a food broker working with K12 Schools.

Sunni Jo Balthazor

58th Kansas Mother of the Year

Sunni Jo Balthazor was born and raised on a farm in north Texas. Being the youngest of four and the only girl, Sunni worked alongside her brothers to keep the farm afloat. Immersed in the tireless efforts of farming, Sunni found happiness in faith, family, and a hard day’s work. Sunni has been dealt her fair share of hardships, including the passing of a brother. Even still, she continuously maintains a positive outlook on life and spreads love to those around her. Sunni attended Tarleton State University, obtaining a BS in Animal Production. It was then she met her to-be husband, a Kansas native. Sunni moved to Kansas, marrying her best friend and together they raise four beautiful children. Currently, Sunni works as a stay at home mother, cherishing every moment she spends with her children and the opportunity to teach them to do right, be humble and trust in God. 

Katina Alami

70th Kentucky Mother of the Year

Katina Alami is a former foster parent, current adoptive parent, homemaker, wife, author, and mother of seven children. She graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education – Music Emphasis. She wrote her book, Hindsight: A Story of Faith and Family, about her experiences with the foster system, her faith through hardship, and trust in the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Katina homeschools all seven of her children with special needs, and seeks opportunities to help parents in the community find solutions to educate their children. She is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Lisa Newell

62nd Maine Mother of the Year

Lisa oversees the eleven VA Medical Centers in New England procuring equipment, supplies and services. Lisa has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 38 years, moving up through various positions, to a regional position in the New England Healthcare Network as chief logistics officer. Lisa graduated from Cony High School and has achieved college credits. She is pursuing her logistics leadership certification through Penn State University. She was the first female president of Le Club Calumet in Augusta, serving in 2018 and 2019. She is lecturing knight at the Augusta Elk’s Lodge #964, also serving on the House Committee and as chairperson of the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Lisa enjoys spending time with her son and his family, and also delights in gardening, crafting, reading, and music. She serves on the Board of the Directors at Howell House in Augusta, ME as the treasurer.

Lynnette Lamp

63rd Maryland Mother of the Year

Lynnette was born in Idaho as the youngest of four children. As a military child, Lynnette moved often until Maryland became more of a permanent home. Maryland is where she met the love of her life, her children’s father. Lynnette became pregnant during her senior year of high school, however, she stayed in classes and ended up graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Lynnette became a mother at the ages of 18, 20, and 22 years old to three beautiful sons. At that time in life, Lynnette was working as a server in Annapolis so she could be able to care for her children in the morning and her husband could care for them in the evening as she worked. Lynnette became a widow at the age of 23 years old and has spent the last few years raising her children and continuing her education to fulfill her dream of becoming a licensed therapist.

Amy Jozan

47th Massachusetts Mother of the Year

Amy Jozan (Ph.D.) has always been passionate about law and social justice. She completed a BA in Criminal Justice in 2015 and after having a medically fragile child, she developed a fierce passion for forensic psychology, research, and advocacy. Amy Jozan pursued her MS and then Ph.D. in forensic psychology while serving as guardian ad litem in North Carolina. Amy Jozan moved to Massachusetts in 2018 where she began fighting for vulnerable populations’ medical and legal rights. Amy has been involved in the Massachusetts Pediatric Home Nursing Care Campaign since 2019 and completed her Ph.D. in forensic Psychology in 2020. Since completing her Ph.D., she started a research consultation business and works for Justice Resource Institute to serve children and families with serious emotional disturbances. Amy has a research interest in supporting persons vulnerable to criminal justice contact, victimization, special needs rights, and supporting persons with mental health needs.

Courtney Mais

54th Michigan Mother of the Year

After graduating high school, Courtney Mais served four-and-a-half years in Active Duty Navy. Since being honorably discharged, she’s been a full-time single mother to a beautiful three-year-old girl. As a newly elected Village Councilwoman, she believes in supporting local and growing the community for her daughter and others.

Kara Eastlund

56th Minnesota Mother of the Year

Kara Eastlund is a proud native of Cambridge, Minnesota. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Sean, and is honored to be the mother of their son, Braxton. Kara is a licensed social worker with a master’s degree, serving as the director of Adults Adopting Special Kids, a statewide program that provides adoption services to children in the foster care system. Kara serves on several boards, with a focus on serving children, families, and vulnerable populations. She acts as the deputy treasurer in her local township and is the board president of a Cambridge wedding venue. As a supervisee working towards clinical licensure, Kara is a part-time mental health practitioner at a local counseling agency. Kara’s passion for children and families radiates in all she does. She is grateful to serve others through her involvement in many communities. She is a lover of iced coffee, walks, Hallmark, and quality time with family.

Dr. Vivian Moore

33rd Mississippi Mother of the Year

Apostle/Dr. Moore is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor with board certifications in Intergrated Marriage & Family Therapy, and Group Therapy. She is the founder and CEO of New Beginnings Life Ministries Int’l, Inc. in Germantown, Maryland, and Tupelo, Mississippi. The name of the ministry is its mission—to empower, touch hearts, and transform the lives of the people proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. As a radical believer, Dr. Moore is filled with great faith and the anointing of God to perform the task given to her. She believes the basic guideline for every believer is revealed in Mark 16:17-18, which says: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.

Angie Blad

78th Nebraska Mother of the Year

Born the oldest of four children, Angie organized and directed various educational “experiments” with her younger siblings. Later, this passion took her to college where she studied Elementary Education and eventually met and married Ken Blad. Immediately following their marriage, the couple moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Angie finished her teaching degree and supported Ken through medical school. Twenty-five years later, Angie is still in Nebraska supporting her family as a devoted wife, mother of six, and grandma to one. Some of her greatest challenges in motherhood have been managing the health of her children, one with a genetic condition called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and three with Type 1 Diabetes. Angie began homeschooling 12 years ago and since that time has been involved in directing multiple educational ventures within her community. In March, Angie is traveling to Ghana, Africa as a volunteer education consultant for “Who I Really Am.”

Deborah Earl

65th Nevada Mother of the Year

Deborah Wirthlin Earl was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. After graduation, Deborah served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1996, Deborah married Cameron Earl. She worked as a bank executive with First Security Bank in downtown Salt Lake City until their first daughter was born, and then taught piano lessons while Cameron completed his medical training. In 2007, the Earl’s moved with their five children to Las Vegas. In 2014, Deborah began parent advocacy work in response to activist efforts to diminish parental rights and indoctrinate children in radical ideologies at school. Through these efforts, she co-founded Power2Parent, a non-profit organization focused on preserving parents’ rights to raise their children according to their values and ensuring the family unit is supported in law and policy. Deborah is an accomplished pianist who loves to read, write, waterski, snow ski and spend time with her children and adorable granddaughter.

Megg Thompson

62nd New Hampshire Mother of the Year

Megg became a mother on May 16, 2012 after 24 hours of labor at 34 years old. Previous to becoming a mother, she spent time with a lot of children. She has worked as a teacher, a nanny, and a sought-after babysitter. She thought motherhood was going to be easy because of her vast experience with children. Boy, was she in for a surprise! Motherhood, she believes, is the most fantastic and challenging thing people dive into willingly. Ten years after the birth of her son, Brennen, Megg has found a best buddy to hang out with on life’s greatest adventure.

Mary Carter

47th New Mexica Mother of the Year

Mary Carter is the youngest of ten children and the only child in her family to have attained higher education—an MBA in Business Administration. Her career experience in the corporate, government and public sectors shaped her leadership style and has been instrumental in all facets of the operations of the Women’s Intercultural Center, where she has volunteered for the past 12 years as its Executive Director. Her personal experience as a single mother, being the only woman at the table and the only woman of color in a major corporation in Alabama facilitated her ability to develop and provide tools and resources for the women she mentors to become the drivers of their own success. She has received numerous awards, the most recent being the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2021), 2019 Community Star and 2018 Daily Point of Light Award. 

Kate Boydston

60th New York Mother of the Year

Kate Boydston is a maternal health advocate and patient family partner, based in New York with her husband and two children. She survived a placental abruption, NICU stay, gestational diabetes and postpartum anxiety and depression. A friend through pageantry gave Kate the resources to educate herself and to start taking the first steps to surviving her maternal mental health struggles. Kate now shares her story internationally to advocate, educate, and empower other women to seek support and share their stories as she did. She and her husband founded #momsmaketime, which is used to encourage moms to make time to take care of themselves. One of the ways she spreads her message is by pageantry, most recently she competed for the prestigious title of Mrs. American as the reigning Mrs. New York American. When she isn’t advocating for other moms, she is spending time with her family, gardening or crafting with girlfriends.

Brittany Stewart-Lyons

59th North Carolina Mother of the Year

Brittany Stewart was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. In her life, she has overcome many obstacles and has never allowed anything to step in her way. At just three years old, Brittany lost her father to a tragic accident. Brittany grew up in the church, singing at a young age and working with youth. In 2014, Brittany married her middle school sweetheart, Minster William, and had her first child, Carter. She graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology in 2015 and a master’s degree in science in 2021, while also raising six kids. Currently, Brittany is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in psychology where she is chasing her dream of becoming a child psychologist. Her goal is to help children and adolescents recognize the different behaviors they face day-to-day while teaching them different techniques on how to deal with them. At the end of 2022, the Stewart-Lyons family welcomed the arrival of baby lucky number seven. 

Melissa Schmautz

74th North Dakota Mother of the Year

Melissa Schmautz was born and raised on a family farm and ranch in rural North Dakota. Melissa and her high school sweetheart, Tyler, have two boys; Dawson, 10, and Mason, 7, who are the highlight of her life. She has been blessed to work her “dream job” as a child life specialist at Sanford Health for 16 years, first in Fargo and now in Bismarck. Her passion is working with pediatric oncology patients and assisting children/families at the end of life. She helped start the first pediatric palliative care program in North Dakota in Fargo and is now working to start a program in Bismarck. Melissa shares her knowledge and expertise in the child life field by teaching at Minnesota State University, Mankato as an adjunct staff member. She has been involved with Kamp KACE (Kids-Against-Cancer- Everywhere) for the past 20 years, where she helps offer camping experiences for kids with cancer and their siblings. 

Lori Johnson Vegas

77th Oklahoma Mother of the Year

Lori has spent her entire life in relocation mode. With her father in the Air Force, the family moved every two years. She has lived all over the world. After high school, Lori pursued her educational goals and obtained three degrees—a bachelor’s, master’s, and a doctorate. She served in the USAF Reserves, then married into the military and has continued traveling the world. She is the mother of two amazing young men, a college professor and owns her own business where she is a Human Resources Consultant and Personal and Professional Life Coach. Lori is a professional speaker and has participated in numerous speaking engagements. She serves on the Board of Advisors for several local and national organizations, is a certified Master Resiliency Trainer for the Air Force and is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor.

Tyra Baird

70th Oregon Mother of the Year

Tyra was born the first of four children to loving parents Morgan and Karen Haroldsen. After living her first twelve years in Utah she moved to Houston, where she finished High school with honors. After High school she moved to Idaho to study Interior Design at BYU-Idaho. She was married in 2003 and had her first child the next year, all while tenaciously working to complete her bachelor’s degrees in child & family studies and home & family living. 18 years later, she is now in Oregon changing lives and building her community. Over the years she has welcomed six more children, moved five times, spent a year at beauty school, and hosted three exchange students. Tyra spent ten years as a military spouse covering three deployments, and currently home-schools a portion of her kids. She continues to dedicate herself to serving her family and community in multiple ways.

Taylor Whitson

53rd Pennsylvania Mother of the Year

Taylor was born and raised in a small town near Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she developed a love for photography and traveling at a young age. She attended college at Jacksonville State University where she earned a Bachelor of Art with a concentration in photography. During her time at Jacksonville State University, Taylor was selected for the Disney College Program where she would work as a PhotoPass Photographer at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida. During this time she met her eventual husband, Casey, an active-duty Marine serving in Jacksonville, North Carolina, as an Aviation Ordnanceman. Taylor and Casey were married 18 months later and eventually welcomed their son, Finley. Now as a family of three, they are enjoying the “four seasons” while stationed in Central Pennsylvania. On top of being a stay-at-home mom, Taylor works as a Magic Maker® with Off to Neverland Travel® planning unforgettable adventures for her clients. As a military spouse and mom, Taylor recognizes the importance of community and is honored to lead The Military Mom Collective.

Vilma L. Rivera-Fontanez

70th Puerto Rico Mother of the Year

Vilma Lourdes Rivera Fontánez is courageous, creative, persistent, and resilient. She has spent her whole life in the town of Aguas Buenas, and has been married to José C. Agosto since 1984. A Catholic music minister for more than 40 years, Vilma has served as a redemptorist lay missionary in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the United States, and Puerto Rico. Vilma has not had an easy life, contracting the polio virus when she was two months old and experiencing many hard blows since then. However, she has faced each adversity with strength. God blessed her with a voice to praise her Creator, as well as the grace of a contagious smile and the passion to enjoy every moment of her walk. Vilma is a companion, a counselor, a cloth for tears, and a loving intercessor before God for her three children: José Carlos, Héctor Raúl (RIP) and Keyla María. Her four granddaughters are the joy of her home and another reason to thank God every day.

Stacy Taylor

72nd South Carolina Mother of the Year

Stacy Taylor is a mother, Air Force veteran and military spouse. Stacy has been married to her husband for 28 years and she’s the very proud mother of three adult kids and grandmother of one. Stacy is a Department of the Army Civilian who believes that education is the key to personal growth and success. Stacy has stated that, through raising her children, she’s found that, as a mom, it’s more important to own your mistakes than to always be right. She’s stated that its better to be open, honest, and vulnerable than to have all the answers. In her spare time she enjoys kayaking, hiking, baking her famous chocolate chip cookies and traveling with her husband.

Erin Sedlacek

South Dakota Mother of the Year

Erin Sedlacek is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband, Jon, farm with his parents near Tabor, South Dakota. Their home on the farm is made of field stone constructed in the 1800s, and their children are the fifth generation of the family to reside there. Erin can regularly be found outdoors running farm equipment, chasing cows, or working in her garden with her family. She enjoys scrapbooking, sewing, and quilting. Her children Maggie, 10, George, 9, Jenny, 8, Clint, 7, Anna, 5, and Vince, 4, are her pride and joy. Even though working together is fun, their favorite time as a family is mealtime. Erin has worked at WNAX radio for 19 years, moving from an on-air position to an online position to be home with her kids. She also owns and operates Images by Erin Photography. 

Stephanie Watson

66th Tennessee Mother of the Year

Stephanie is the epitome of love. She loves her family and her community. It is shown by her selfless giving and advocacy to change lives. Her life changed twelve years ago when her now 17-year-old daughter, Emily, was injured in a violent wreck. Emily was just five years old when she was hit by a drunk driver and paralyzed from the chest down. Emily now uses a wheelchair with a 2% chance to walk again. Through community fundraisers and awareness events, Stephanie has shared Emily’s story, spearheaded the effort to help her daughter live a normal life and, touched thousands of lives. Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University and a master’s degree from Cumberland University. She completed the Volunteer Advocacy Project through Vanderbilt University in 2022. Stephanie was appointed to serve as a member of the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Planning and Policy Council for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She also received the 2022 Voice for Victims Award in Middle Tennessee. Stephanie is a member of the ARC, NAQ and the United Spinal Association. In Stephanie’s free time, she now advocates for people with disabilities and works on making her community more accessible for people with disabilities. Stephanie loves making memories with Emily and Jake, her husband, and enjoys traveling, sleeping, and learning. She is also a die-hard Iowa Hawkeye fan.

Aisha Atkinson

71st Texas Mother of the Year

Aisha Christa Atkinson is an elementary instructional coach in the Greater Houston area. Valedictorian of her graduating class, Atkinson earned an undergraduate degree in secondary English education from the University of Mount Olive in 2013. In 2020, she graduated from Texas A&M International University with a master’s degree in educational administration. A member of the Texas Council for Teachers of English Language Arts’ 2022-2024 Rising Leader cohort, committee chair for the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee of Fort Bend Independent School District, and a contributing writer for Education Week, the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Teacher2Teacher and Principal Project, Atkinson advocates and leads with the inclusivity and representation of multilingual and neurodivergent learners at the forefront.

Meg Johnson

76th Utah Mother of the Year

Meg Johnson’s motto is: When life gets too hard to stand, just keep on rollin’! Meg was paralyzed while hiking and is a C-7 quadriplegic. Wheelchair bound, but determined, Meg played Murderball and was the winner of the Ms. Wheelchair America Spirit Award. Meg is dedicated to helping others recognize their purpose and potential, not in spite of personal disabilities, but because of them. She speaks often, has published many talks, and has authored five books. She partnered to create Jumping Turtle, a company that provides a platform for speakers. Meg founded the Princess Pageant, which strengthens girls in wheelchairs and their families. She is the recipient of the Athena Award. Meg continues to help people of all abilities keep on rollin’ with her newsletter, Meg’s Monday Message, which is read around the world, and as an online influencer. Meg and her husband have three daughters and many tea parties.

Dr. Frances Ann Bailey

62nd Virginia Mother of the Year

Born and raised on the eastern shore of Virginia, Dr. Frances Ann Bailey is a God lover, international Amazon best selling author, podcast host, international TEDx speaker, wife, mother, philanthropist, and an award-winning certified coach and certified Christian counselor. Dr. Bailey is the CEO of Frances Bailey Enterprises, LLC, and the founder of the nonprofit organization Red Door Empowerment. Frances seeks to help women who were once like herself to overcome life’s obstacles, break free from bondage, and recover from life’s setbacks to keep their zeal for purpose. Frances has her Bachelor of Science in criminal justice with a specialization in CJ management, a master’s in public administration, a doctorate in leadership, and a PhD in business administration and entrepreneurship. She is currently going for her master’s in Christian humanities and a doctorate in theology at the School of the Great Commission Bible College. 

Jamie Nicole Nadherny

Washington Mother of the Year

Jamie Nadherny is a loving and proud mother to her son, Micheal Buckingham, and an inspiration to most who meet her. Pregnant at a young age, she graduated high-school with honors. After the tragic loss of several family members and a survivor of domestic violence she continued her education and pursued a Masters Degree of Fine Arts. Nadherny is an entrepreneur and, against several hardships and all odds, she opened a versatile rental venue just outside of Prague, CZ, and a full-care horse-boarding facility near Portland, OR, in honor of her parents. She currently is a professor at Gonzaga University where she received special recognition for being a positive influence and making an impact in the student’s lives who attend there. Nadherny has also served as Vice-President on the board of directors for the Spokane Art School, a non-profit organization. Nadherny is dedicated to her family and helping others in her community.

Karen Connell

46th Wisconsin Mother of the Year

Karen Connell grew up on a small farm in southeastern Wisconsin. She started a sales career early by selling strawberries and sweet corn in a roadside stand. Karen attended the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and earned a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s in education. She taught high school business and economic classes for 25 years, and continues to be involved with young people by teaching Drivers Education and Behind the Wheel. Karen Connell has been married for thirty-three years and has five children. In addition to providing childcare for several children, her family was entrusted with caring for five foster children over the course of several years. 

For general media inquiries or to set up an interview with a Mother of the Year® honoree, email Nominations for Mother of the Year® are accepted annually, Mothers Day – September 15.