Meritorious Service Award Honors Longtime Leader

Liz Thoman

Liz Thoman

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,” held recently 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,, 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 the “great honor” and reminded those in the room as well as the media literacy education community in general that “Media literacy education is critical to the transformation of education today.  I am overwhelmed that my contributions over the years have influenced so many of you.  I am excited by the new directions that are emerging and  I assure you of my continuing support of NAMLE for years to come.”


NAMLE’s Meritorious Service Award

In 2003, the AMLA Board of Directors created the 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 a NAMLE board award and is only given to candidates who receive a unanimous vote of the board.”

The first recipients of the 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

The award was presented at NMEC 2005 to:

  • Jim Ficklin for his work on the Media-L Listserv

At NMEC 2007, the award was given to:

  • Cable in the Classroom – for developing programs of professional recognition in the field, especially the annual Leaders in Learning Awards and the Media Literacy Research Award.

2 responses to “Meritorious Service Award Honors Longtime Leader

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