2024 ENRICH Educator of the Year

Jeannie LaMotte Ford

Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR

Marian Wright Edelman has said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”  These words exemplify how Certified Christian Educator Jeannie DeMotte Ford lives out her ministry in the church, community, and world.

Jeannie was born and raised in the Presbyterian church, nurtured by congregations in Birmingham, AL, and Atlanta, GA.  She attended Huntington College where she double majored in Christian Education and Religion & Philosophy and continued her education at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education where she received a Master of Arts Christian Education in 1983.  She has served as Director of Christian Education at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock for 28 years, previously serving congregations in Fort Smith, AR, and Richmond, VA.  She attained certification in 2000.

Jeannie is well-known for her enthusiastic spirit and creative leadership.  From arts and recreation to lock-ins and service projects, Jeannie combines her love of people with a thoughtful theology to share the good news of God’s love with our hurting world.  Along with providing spiritual formation for her own congregation, Jeannie has also been a leader in the Interfaith community in Little Rock.  She was one of the founding organizers of the annual Interfaith Friendship Camp, which brings together children of diverse faith traditions throughout the city to increase friendship and understanding among Little Rock’s religious communities.

Jeannie has also made significant contributions to Christian Education at the presbytery, regional, and national levels.  She has moderated the Resource Center Advisory Board for the Presbytery of Arkansas and served on the Coordinating Team for the presbytery as well as numerous education teams and projects.  She has also provided leadership for Synod Schools and workshops and has served on the SCRAPCE council for 20 years, serving as president for one term.  At the national level, she served on a curriculum development team with Carl Horton for Officer Training/New Member Curriculum resources, and she has led APCE workshops.  She also served as Co-Chair of the Local Committee for the 2020 APCE Annual Event in Little Rock.

Jeannie is married to Collins Andrews, and in her free time, she enjoys spending time at the lake with their three adult sons, four grandchildren, and two grand dogs.

2024 SUSTAIN Lifetime Achievement Award
Phyllis Vos Wezeman, Mishawaka, IN

As a religious educator, Phyllis Wezeman has served as Director of Christian Nurture at a downtown congregation in South Bend, Indiana, Executive Director of the Parish Resource Center of Michiana, and Program Coordinator for ecumenical as well as interfaith organizations in Indiana and Michigan.

In academics, Phyllis has been Adjunct Faculty in the Education Department at Indiana University South Bend and in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She is an “Honorary Professor” of the Saint Petersburg (Russia) State University of Pedagogical Art where she has taught methods courses for extended periods on several occasions. She has also been guest lecturer at the Shanghai Teachers College in China.

As founder of the not-for-profit Malawi Matters, Inc., she develops and directs HIV & AIDS Education programs with thousands of volunteers in 200 villages and 1,500 schools in Malawi, Africa including “Creative Methods of HIV & AIDS Education,” “Culture & HIV-AIDS,” and “Equipping Women/Empowering Girls.”

Author or co-author of over 2,000 articles and books, she has written for over 80 publishers.

Phyllis served as President of Active Learning Associates, Inc., a consultant or board member to numerous local and national organizations such as the American Bible Society, Church World Service, and the Peace Child Foundation; leader of a six-week youth exchange program to Russia and the Ukraine; and Project Director for four Lilly Worship Renewal grants. She is the recipient of three “Distinguished Alumni Awards” and recipient of the Aggiornamento Award from the Catholic Library Association.

Wezeman holds undergraduate degrees in Business, Communications, and General Studies from various institutions and an MS in Education from Indiana University South Bend.

Phyllis and her husband Ken (who met when they were in second and third grade in elementary school) have three children and their spouses, Stephanie (Jeff), David, and Paul (Deha), five grandchildren, Quin, Ayle, Lief, Ashley, and Jacob, and two great-grandsons, Maddox and Troy.

2024 SUSTAIN Lifetime Achievement Award
Phyllis Vos Wezeman, Mishawaka, IN

Heidi Everhart is an educator par excellence for the Moravian Church and a faithful member of APCE serving on the Annual Events ministry team. She is married to Daniel Everhart and they have one son, Josh, and live in the Winston Salem area. She graduated from UNC-G with a degree in early elementary education and went on to teach first, second, and third grade. In 2012, she felt the calling to use her gifts in the local church scene and went to become the children ministry director at Friedberg Moravian Church where she still serves. She worked on and received certification in the Moravian Church as an educator in 2015. She is a ball of energy and works well with volunteers to coordinate her gifts to the church. Many of you have met Heidi through APCE as she has been integral in the marketplace area for the past few years. As her friend Joyce Vance noted, she has developed resources and programs for intergenerational interaction enriching and empowering parents and grandparents in the home and church. You might have met Heidi through one of her workshop options at APCE as she has taught “New To The Pew” and “Teaming Up With Parents” . Her ministry has reached beyond Friedberg to the Moravian camp center at Laurel Ridge. Colleague Scarlett Dowdy , the program director for Laurel Ridge, considers her to be the best support staff as she gives her time in planning and participating in numerous camping adventures. She is a dedicated member of the ecumenical educator group in the area. I can always count on Heidi and her support, advice, and involvement in many educator projects. We are thrilled to see Heidi Everhart be recognized with the EMPOWER award.