Since 2019, the Advocacy Champion of the Year Award annually recognizes an individual who has worked to elevate the voice and influence of school leaders in federal, state, and local policy and public discourse. The award honoree embodies the mission of NASSP and is committed to advocating on behalf of education and the school leaders within it.

Congratulations to our 2023 Winner!

The 2023 NASSP Advocacy Champion of the Year is Melissa Shindel, principal of Glenwood Middle School in Howard County, MD. Learn more about Melissa here.

Congratulations to our 2022 Winner!

The 2022 NASSP Advocacy Champion of the Year is Chris LeGrande, principal of Guthrie High School in Guthrie, OK.

Learn more about Chris here.

Selection Process

The annual award recipient is recognized for accomplishments and efforts aligned to the policy and advocacy goals of NASSP, including:

  • Increasing the number of advocates taking action on NASSP campaigns in every state to ensure active representation in all 435 congressional districts
  • Expanding NASSP’s direct influence on federal and state lawmakers and policies affecting school leaders and public education
  • Engaging student leaders in advocacy to broaden NASSP’s policy impact

Additional eligibility requirements:

  • Candidates must be a current or former principal or assistant principal who advocates as a volunteer and not in a professional capacity.
  • Candidates may not be currently serving on the NASSP Board of Directors, Steering Committee, or staff.
  • All specific accomplishments, actions, and work described should have taken place in the calendar year prior to their nomination. Nominees are reviewed January through March, and the winner is announced in April or May.

Nominees are selected by NASSP’s state affiliate organizations. If you would like to submit a nominee, please contact your state association to do so.

Past Champions

  • 2021: Derrick Lawson, principal of Indio High School in Indio, CA

  • 2020: Dr. Erika Burden, principal of Westwood Middle School in Spokane, WA.

  • 2019: Dan Richards, principal of Georgetown Middle High School in Georgetown, MA.