Vanessa Rich Leadership Award

This award celebrates the memory of Vanessa Rich and is intended for a new Head Start/Early Head Start Director (3 years or less) who is carrying on Vanessa’s legacy of “Head Start doesn’t stop on the front porch, it comes all the way into the house.”

This individual will be awarded a complimentary registration for and travel stipend to one of the NHSA Leadership Institutes where they will speak at the Head Start Spirit Rally or Congressional Breakfast to share how they are carrying on Vanessa’s legacy in the Head Start community.

The nominee must:

  • be a new director with three years or less experience
  • provide a letter of reference from each of two people who know the nominee in his/her current role
  • provide a personal statement addressing the following requirements:
    • Details about they intend to "build the next brick" for Head Start
    • Describe activities and efforts the nominee has made that demonstrate passion for serving through advocacy career growth, and being involved in Head Start, the community, or at the state/national level to benefit Head Start families

Past Vanessa Rich Leadership Award Recipients

  • 2021-22: Karen Pigues, Institute of Community Services
  • 2020-21: Kristen Jones, LEADS, Inc.
  • 2019-20: Tracey Johnson, Grand Forks Head Start

NHSA General Rules and Regulations

NHSA Scholarship and Award recipients serve as models and ambassadors for the Head Start community. Recipients will be encouraged to share successful strategies with others during NHSA conferences, institutes, and gatherings.

  • Applicant must be associated with a program that is a current member of NHSA.
  • An individual may not be nominated for more than one scholarship or award per year.
  • Local member programs may not nominate more than one person or program.
  • Applications must be submitted online and incomplete applications will not be considered; nominees will be contacted primarily by e-mail.
  • Individuals selected for an award or scholarship must be able to provide required information to redeem cash awards.
  • Applicant must be willing to allow NHSA to publicize their nomination.
  • NHSA board members, staff, and family members are ineligible.