Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award

The annual award recognizes the outstanding service and leadership in the role of a local district public school special education director. Nominations of deserving candidates are solicited and received by the local district Board of Directors representative.  The candidate of the award must be an approved Director of Special Education and must be employed (or function) as such in the LEA; demonstrate qualities of service, leadership, vision and collaboration; is a leader who has implemented innovative programming which contributes to the field of special education. Including in the decision are qualities regarding organizational involvement, volunteerism and years of service.  This prestigious award is presented annually at the June MAASE meeting. 

2018 Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award Winner
Marci Moloney
Position: Director of Special Education
District: Livingston ESA
125 S. Church Street
Brighton, MI 48116

This annual award recognizes the outstanding service and leadership in the role of a local district special education director. The candidate of this award must be an approved Director of Special Education, and must be employed or function as such in a local district.  The candidate must have a track record of implementing innovative programming which contributes to the field of special education. Criteria for this award also includes organizational involvement, volunteerism, and years of service.

The candidate for the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier award must demonstrate qualities in five domains, which are service, leadership, vision, collaboration, and lifelong learning.  I will now describe this year’s winner in each of these five domains.

Beginning with service

This person is an advocate for the students and families they serve. This person celebrates their successes by attending many activities outside of the school day. This person is an incredible role model to all of the special education staff that this person leads.  This person is patient, kind, respectful, and always there to support staff. This person works hard to build a culture within the organization that promotes educational excellence.

Over the course of this person’s tenure as special education director, this person has encouraged and continues to seek out opportunities for their team to volunteer at community service organizations. This person is known to bring teams of volunteers to local community organizations and knows that the success of the volunteer group is dependent on the collective efforts of team members. Giving back is a passion for this person and this person does whatever they can to make a difference in their community.

Next is Leadership

This year’s winner shines as a leader in special education.  This person has the ability to listen first and process information to act later.  This creates the cohesiveness and understanding necessary to work through tough issues surrounding the delivery of instruction for students with disabilities. This person is never over-confident but is able to reflect the degree of confidence required to ensure followers trust this person as a leader.

This person is a strong instructional leader. This is evident with the supports this person has placed within their district, the staff professional development this person provides, and their commitment to all student’s learning.  During meetings with parents for example, this person has the ability to make parents feel comfortable even when difficult conversations are necessary. This person is flexible when coming up with ideas to best support students. This person is an advocate for children and it is clear that every decision is based upon what is best for students.  

This person is always willing to jump into the trenches with their team, no matter what the circumstance. There are no issues too big or small for this year’s winner.  This person has been known to take the call when a staff shortage leaves a team in a lurch. This person can manage a behavior crisis like a pro and has been known to dry tears from a student’s face.


Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower. In order to get ahead in today’s fast-paced educational world, a leader must be creative and innovative at the same time. Creative thinking and constant innovation is what makes this person and their team stand out from others. One of this person’s most innovative initiatives has been their work with coaching at a county level. About 5 years ago, this person worked with colleagues to create a county-wide coaching program for all professional staff. The purpose of this coaching program is to provide a non-evaluative, structured, purposeful process to support professional learners throughout their careers. Participants of this program meet regularly with this person to co-facilitate their ongoing professional learning and growth.


None of the work this person does would hold ground without their unique collaborative skills. This person has a strong desire to create a collaborative culture in their district. This person welcomes conversations that challenge thinking and result in a mindset of growth. This person demonstrates a clear ability to listen, understand, problem solve, and share ideas. This person’s collaborative nature had been noted as an incredible quality that this person holds.  


Comments about this year's winner

“Upon entering an administrative position 8 years ago, this person was my mentor and this person continues to always be supportive.  “One of my favorite quotes is by Condoleezza Rice: "When you're in a position of authority, you need truth-tellers around you." When I think of this quote, I think of this year’s winner. When I need to reflect on something or need to problem solve, this year’s winner is the person I call.

“In my role as a principal, I can’t imagine not having this person as my partner in ensuring all students have access to a free and appropriate education. This person is an advocate for all students and this is shown by the way this person leads their team of teachers and support staff. I consider myself extremely lucky to be this person’s colleague. I am always learning from this person to be a better leader”

Life-Long Learning

This person possesses an apparently resolute thirst for knowledge on the topics that result in becoming more effective as a special education director. This person routinely exudes a passion for student protection and success, and provides resources and references to motivate their team and to assist in capacity building.

This person is very open to new learning from team members as colleagues, as well as maintaining this person’s own base of knowledge.  This person facilitates ongoing professional learning teams to dive deep into topics such as social-emotional learning and evidence-based practices.

This person has been a MAASE member throughout her fifteen years as a special education

administrator. This person has presented at the annual CEC conference and will be presenting at MAASE Summer Institute this August. This person has attended MAASE functions regularly and encourages other administrators of special education to do the same.


A few more comments written about this year’s winner

“This person’s support provides wisdom and encouragement. This person is our leader and a loyal teammate”.

“This person is a creative problem-solver, always striving to do what is best for students is their top priority. This person has the biggest heart for the kids”.

“Even in the most difficult situations, this person provides calm, student-focused leadership while showing empathy for the families this person serves”.

“This person knows how to keep us laughing. They are here because they love the kids and believe in our work and it shows in their smile.”

“This person never forgets the human side of leadership. This person buffers staff from outside pressures so they can focus on students.

“This person’s work with principals, teachers, ancillary support staff, and paraeducators speaks to their vision of improving student achievement for students with disabilities”.

Comments written by the person who nominated this year’s winner

It is my hope that this person will be the 2018 recipient of the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier award. Although this person is as humble as they come, I truly believe this person models and exemplifies what this award is about. This person has achieved excellence in this field of work which can be measured by multiple data sources. This person has broken many barriers and has touched the lives of thousands of students and their families by showing care and concern not only for educational excellence but the well-being of the whole child. This person is a special education administrator who demonstrates outstanding leadership in providing services to students with disabilities and whose work reflects the highest professional and ethical standards.

I am honored to present the 2018 Patricia Gilcrest Frazier award to the Director of Special Education at Brighton Area Schools, Marci Moloney.

Past Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award Winners
Year Award Winner
2018 Marci Moloney
2017 Deborah Koepke
2015 Dan Heitzman
2014 Wayne Abbott
2013 Sue Pearson
2012 Dr. Michele Harmala
2009 Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier
2006 Donna Tinberg
2004 Anthony Thaxton, Ph.D.
2003 Cynthia Smith, Ph.D.