On September 24, Voices for Children in Nebraska will honor those who have made an exceptional impact in ensuring Nebraska is the best place to be a kid. Over the next several weeks, Voices will highlight the 2016 Spotlight Gala honorees. We continue our Spotlight Series today with our 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Dr. Ann Coyne.
Ann has been involved with helping disabled and disadvantaged children for over 60 years, beginning as a counselor at an Easter Seals Camp. After adopting a baby girl with a congenital amputation, she began to recruit foster families for children with disabilities and helped establish the Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parents Association. In the 1970s, she worked to place children with disabilities in foster homes. After joining the faculty of the University of Nebraska School of Social Work in 1975, she served as Deputy Director of the State Department of Public Welfare. During this time, she was able to access the data that showed the need for additional foster care oversight. As a result of her findings, she helped develop the Foster Care Review Board into a State agency with a computerized tracking system. In 1986, she worked with Kathy Bigsby Moore, founder of Voices for Children in Nebraska, to write Voices’ first grant. Ann served on Voices’ Board of Directors for several years.
Another pillar of Ann’s achievements is her work in Nicaragua. Since 1990, Ann has arranged for 16 Nicaraguan children with disabilities to be placed for adoption in the United States, including a girl who was adopted by her daughter.
While an administrative intern to the Chancellor of The University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), Ann was able to set up a sister university arrangement between UNO, The University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN-Leon). Since that time, Ann has taken UNO students to Nicaragua annually and has arranged for UNO’s English and Special Education departments to develop degrees for UNAN-Leon.
As a member of the Omaha Suburban Rotary Club, she helped develop a maternal and child health clinic in Managua, Nicaragua. In 2007, she founded a school for deaf children in Leon. In 2013, Ann brought fourteen UNO faculty to Nicaragua to teach 12 master’s level social work courses at UAN-Leon. Previously, no university in Nicaragua offered a Master’s in Social Work.
Dr. Coyne has spent her career improving the lives of children in Nebraska and around the globe. Ann’s humanistic spirit, paired with her tenacity to make measurable, systemic change for disadvantaged children, are reasons why we are honored to spotlight her as this year’s lifetime achievement award winner.
The Spotlight Gala, to be held on Saturday, September 24, shines a light on issues Nebraska children face and honors community members who continuously strive to improve the lives of Nebraska’s kids. The annual event includes silent and live auctions, dinner, and the 2016 Spotlight Gala Awards Ceremony. For additional information, or to purchase tickets, click here.