What We Do

Golden Apple Foundation is a volunteer-driven organization that celebrates, inspires and supports educational excellence in our community. Local founders, Don Zimmerman and Dr. Richard Novak, took a common passion for education and turned it into a collective community effort by mobilizing volunteers to recognize excellence in teaching.

Since 1997, the Golden Apple Foundation has grown from honoring teachers in one school district to honoring teachers, principals and volunteers in more than 140 schools, both public and non-public, in Winnebago and Boone counties.

Today, the Golden Apple Foundation continues its mission of inspiring, celebrating and supporting educational excellence in our community through four core programs: Awards & Recognition, Teacher Academy, Classroom Grants and Community Engagement.

The Foundation operates on the generous financial support of community businesses and individuals, as well as the more than 400 volunteers that donate their time and effort to make these programs successful each year.

Celebrating Excellence …Through the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Award Program, Outstanding Principal Award and Volunteer Recognition Awards, the Golden Apple Foundation recognizes influential citizens throughout Winnebago and Boone Counties.

Inspiring Excellence …Through the Golden Apple Teacher Academy where Golden Apple teachers mentor and share their knowledge with other teachers through our professional development programs.

Supporting Excellence ...Through Golden Apple Foundation’s Classroom Project grants and the Investing in Excellence: Assistant Principal Development Program enhance the collaborative partnership between teachers, community volunteers and local businesses in order to strengthen our communities educational system.

Who Leads Our Efforts

Golden Apple Foundation Board of Directors

Lori Diaz
Blackhawk Bank

Frank Walter

Chair Events
J. Earl Wilsey
Schmeling Construction

Chair Teacher Selection
Mary Ann Norwood

Chair Programs 
Lori Diaz
Blackhawk Bank

Past President
Michelle Gorham
YMCA of Rock River Valley

Gordon Eggers
Eric Fulcomer, Ph.D.
Rockford University
Lynn Gibson
Carrie Gulbrandsen Ed.D

Rasmussen College

Lisa Johnson
OSF Health 

John Kim
Barrick, Switzer, Long, Balsley, Van Evera LLP

Nellie Miller

Dan Pickerill
Collins Aerospace

David Rydell


Juliette Kalweit-Schmeling, M.D.
Amy Sola
Associated Bank
Patty Stadelman
Brad Zimmerman
Zimmerman Home Builders/Gambino Realtors
Teacher Academy Representatives
Rohini Gupta
Linda Julian

Emeritus Directors
Teresa J. Ingrassia
Dan Loescher
Richard Novak, M.D.
David Thompson
Don Zimmerman
R. Ray Wood

Executive Director
Jennifer Stark