Skip to main content

Award Winners

Our organization’s awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions by our members. Awards are presented annually at the May member meeting.

FCS Professional of the Year 

This award honors a member for leadership in their profession and outstanding service to this organization. This is the highest organizational award a member can receive.


The 2021-2022 FCS Professional of the Year is Jean Knaak!

It is with great pleasure to announce the selection of Jean Knaak for this award. Jean epitomizes the criteria for this award because she is a FCS Professional member who has continually given of herself within our organization. Jean has served as a leader, as a board member or committee chair in so many professional FCS organizations over the years. Some of her many leadership roles have included:
• President and board member, FCS Professionals
• President and board member, MAFCS
• President and board member, TCHC
• President and Board of Directors, American Vocational Association, 7 years (now ACTE)
• Treasurer and Board, AAFCS, 2008-2011
• President, Minnesota Vocational Association (now MNACTE)
• Presidential Appointment and Vice Chair, National Advisory on Vocational Education
• Chaired two national AAFCS conferences in Charlotte and Reno, 2006 and 2007
• Chaired MAFCS Centennial Convention
• Chaired Minnesota Excursions when AAFCS met in Minnesota
• Chaired Alumni Board of Visitors, College of Education and Human Development, NDSU
• Committee member for the International Federation for Home Economics, 2022
• Management of Vocational Education Curriculum projects including Jamaica, Honduras, Zimbabwe, China, South Africa
• First woman in Minnesota to be a vocational center director
Jean has truly made a huge impact with her time, commitment and leadership in FCS Professionals as well as many national and international FCS professional organizations. It is an honor to present the 2022 Outstanding Professional of the Year to Jean Knaak. Thank you and congratulations, Jean!

Emerging Leader Award

This award recognizes professionals who are new to their industry, have been members of FCS Professionals for 5 years or less, and have made a notable contribution to the organization.


The 2021-22 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award is Konnie Zimmerman!

The Emerging Leader Award goes to Konnie Zimmerman. Since joining our organization Konnie has jumped in to help FCSP in several ways. She assisted Marge Reyerson on the Membership committee in previous years. On this committee she shared great ideas on how to increase membership and did an outstanding job helping put together information on our new members for our newsletter. This was especially appreciated since it was during the time when all our meetings were virtual making it more challenging to connect with new members. Konnie also helped with scheduling our summer Huddle Up event at Psycho Suzi’s securing the location and private reservation.

This year Konnie stepped into the role of newsletter co-editor. Each month she has been diligent about soliciting articles and gathering pertinent information to share with our members. She is responsible, efficient and just a joy to be around!

We are very fortunate to have Konnie as a member of FCS Professionals and welcome her leadership in our organization. It is an honor to present the 2022 Emerging Leader Award to Konnie Zimmerman. Thank you and congratulations, Konnie.

Behind the Scenes Star Award

This award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation within the organization but aren’t in any formal position on the board.


The 2021-22 recipient of the Behind the Scenes award is Taryn Carlson!

The Behind-the-Scenes Star Award goes to Taryn Carlson. She serves as the communications and social media chair. Her posts are engaging, informative and professional! Taryn comes to our organization with a dietetics background which serves her well as she helps to educate our followers with her beautiful posts. Taryn takes initiative and is a go getter! She truly is a Behind-the-Scenes-Star as she autonomously plans her content. We are very fortunate to have Taryn as a member and to serve in this capacity for our organization.

Taryn is very deserving of this recognition for the hours she puts into keeping FCS Professionals social media accounts active and relevant. It is an honor to present the 2022 Behind-the-Scenes Star Award to Taryn Carlson. Thank you and congratulations, Taryn!

Spirit Award

This award recognizes a member that has shown championing behavior for our organization.


The 2020-21 recipient of the FCS Professional’s Spirit Award is Mary Levinski!

It is an honor to announce Mary Levinski as the recipient of the FCS Professionals Spirit award. Mary is a FACS teacher in the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District. She has received recognition over the years for her leadership and dedication to FACS education particularly as an exemplary culinary instructor coaching her students in numerous ProStart state national competitions. Some of the recognition and leadership roles include:
• 2021 ACF CHEFFY Award Winner
• 2020 ACF Chef of the Year
• 2018 ACF Educator of the Year
• MAFCS 2012 Outstanding Service Award
• TC HEIB 2014 Making A Difference Award
• Hospitality Institute Elite 50 in the Nation – 2017, 2016, 2015
• Hospitality Institute Top 100 Culinary Programs in the Nation 2013-14; 2010-11
• National ProStart 2nd Place Management Competition, 2014; 2022; 5th Place, 2016
• ProStart Invitational State Winners Management 2008-2017; Culinary 2010
• ProStart Educator of Excellence Award Winner, 2008
• MN FACS Teacher of the Year and National FACS Teacher Finalist
• MN FACSEd President and MAFCS President
• 2022 Taste of the Twin Cities, 2018 Taste of the NFL – ProStart Volunteer
• American Culinary Review (Fall 2021)– Chef Series “Tater Tot Hotdish”
• American Culinary Review (Spring 2021) – Teaching Culinary Online
• August 2020 “Teacher Hones Teaching on-line”, Foodservice News
• Video – Puff Pastry for CAW – Disney
Mary has truly made a huge impact with her exemplary FACS programs and service to FCS in Minnesota. It is an honor to present the 2022 Spirit Award to Mary Levinski. Thank you and congratulations, Mary!

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes a member who represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through community outreach/enrichment they perform.


The 2021-22 recipient of the Volunteer Award is Marie Winker!

It is with great pleasure to announce the selection of Marie Winker for this award. She absolutely represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through the many volunteer hours she has given over her lifetime.

Marie started with volunteering when she was in Senior Girl Scouts as a Program Aid at a day camp. When Marie graduated from college, she looked for a volunteer program to work in. She spent a year doing youth ministry through the St. Paul Catholic Youth Center where she was part of the volunteer staff in leading small groups on retreats for a few years.

In 1985, Marie spent 6 weeks that summer as a volunteer with the Christian Appalachian Project in eastern Kentucky and returned there in June of 1986 for a little over two years.

More recently, her professional related volunteering includes two years at VEAP helping with cooking classes. Serving in various ways on the boards of MAFCS (1½ years as secretary and then on the nominations committee), FCSP (continuing education chair for 4 years) and Twin City Home and Community (secretary for 9 years and continuing education chair for 6 years).

Marie also volunteers at her church – helping bag Panera bread for distribution and helping coordinate donations for the Appalachian Christmas Project. These go to the general area in Kentucky where she served in the eighties.

Marie has dedicated many hours throughout her life to volunteerism. It is an honor to present the 2022 Volunteer of the Year Award to Marie Winker. Thank you and congratulations, Marie!