2020 Iowa’s AEAs Awards

Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) are recognizing individuals who are amazing ambassadors for Iowa’s education system and Iowa’s Area Education Agencies. Each year, Iowa’s AEAs seek nominations for three awards as a way to celebrate those who are making a difference for kids, families, schools and communities. Whether it be helping keep our communities strong and thriving, volunteering in schools, standing up for causes they believe in, helping a friend or neighbor, being a mover, a shaker and a motivator, it’s important to honor and thank those who make a difference in the lives of our students. 

Dr. E. Robert Stephens Award

Carlene Lodermeier


Carlene Lodermeier

Known to many as “Dr. Bob” and the father of Iowa’s AEAs, this award acknowledges contributions in the area of innovation and support to local districts, AEAs, the Department of Education and other partners/organizations. This year’s award is presented to Carlene Lodermeier, (Regional Director) at Heartland AEA, who serves Des Moines Public Schools. 

Carlene’s nomination included a letter of support from many administrators with Des Moines Public Schools:

From Superintendent Tom Ahart: “Carlene’s leadership has been instrumental in establishing a relationship between Heartland AEA and DMPS that is more beneficial to our students and staff than it has ever been.”

From Brenda Colby, Chief Academic Officer: “Three words I would use to describe Carlene: dedicated, determined and devoted. She is a servant leader for all!”

From Gilmara Mitchell, Heartland AEA Professional Learning & Leadership Consultant who serves on Carlene’s DMPS team: “Carlene is authentic, honest and trusting. She rolls up her sleeves and works alongside us serving DMPS. We have reached unimaginable milestones in our partnership with DMPS under Carlene’s leadership.”

Friend of the AEAs

Aaron Cook


Aaron Cook, David Hammer and Jenny Ugolini

Each month, leaders from Iowa’s nine AEAs meet at the Heartland AEA campus in Johnston. From meeting room organization to tech support in two buildings to making catering reservations and assisting with meal set-up, we want to recognize three members of the Heartland AEA team for going the extra mile. Aaron Cook (Multimedia Specialist), David Hammer (Multimedia Specialist) and Jenny Ugolini (Executive Assistant/Board Secretary) may prefer to work behind the scenes and away from the spotlight.

David Hammer


The Friend of the AEAs Award is a fitting way to recognize this team for all that they do to support the AEA system. This honor is given to those who demonstrate strong support for furthering the mission of Iowa’s AEAs and who serve as an advocate on our behalf. Iowa’s AEAs are grateful to them, and the entire Heartland AEA team who welcome us each month.

Congratulations to our 2020 award recipients! 

photo of Jenny Ugolini




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