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

Michelle Gorham
YMCA of Rock River Valley

Lori Diaz
Rockford Bank & Trust 

Co-Chair(s) Events
Barrie Carter Gibby
Chair Fund Development
Sarilyn Neiber
Illinois Bank & Trust

Chair Teacher Selection
Mary Ann Norwood

Chair Programs & Recognition
Lori Diaz
Rockford Bank & Trust

Past President
Jeff Powell
Reno & Zahm, LLP

Michael J. Born, M.D.
SwedishAmerican Health System
Gordon Eggers
Crusader Community Health
Eric Fulcomer, Ph.D.
Rockford University
Diane Graf
Graf's Lakeside Haus
Carrie Gulbrandsen Ed.D

Rasmussen College

RoseAnn Haedt
Chartwell Agency

Pam Keeling 

Thomas Kress
Associated Bank 

Mary Ann Norwood 

Dan Pickerill
UTC Aerospace Systems

Rich Rowlett

David Rydell

Officer Eric Thurmond
City of Rockford 

Frank Walter
Illinois Bank & Trust
Mary Ann Wham

Teacher Academy Representatives
Martha Kaiser
Mark Luthin

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

Executive Director
Jennifer Stark