GFA 2018 Director's Champion for Health Award

Meet the Nominees


View this year's award winners


Lois Arnold

Lois ArnoldLois’ desire to help people, volunteer and run athletic competitions has led to a lifelong career with the Special Olympics Michigan. For the first 13 years, Lois helped to facilitate different Special Olympic events throughout Michigan. Lois also created Sport Advisory Councils in all of the sports offered by Special Olympics Michigan. She served on the first National Sports Rules Committee for Special Olympics and then chaired the first International Sports Rules Committee. In 1990, Lois became the President and CEO of Special Olympics Michigan and has served in that role for 27 years. Under Lois’ direction, the program has grown to include Young Athletes, Unified Sports and Champion Schools, and free Health Screening through the Healthy Athlete and Community programs. The highlight for Lois has been not only working with incredible volunteers but the bravery of the athletes that compete and gain a sense of pride in their accomplishments.


LaVaughn Palma-Davis

In LaVaughn Palma-Davis’ role as the Senior Director for Health and Well-Being Services at the University of Michigan, she provides leadership strategy, program development and implementation, operations, marketing, financial management and evaluation of the award-winning MHealthy program. MHealthy is an ambitious effort to leverage the University’s resources to promote the health and well- being of over 60,000 faculty, staff, dependents, and retirees. LaVaughn guides and supports over 80 employees in numerous programs and services including wellness and risk reduction programs, employee assistance counseling services, occupational health clinical services, health culture and environment, and the highly successful university-community collaborative program Project Healthy Schools. LaVaughn has served on the national Health Enhancement Research Organization’s (HERO) Board of Trustees since 2010, including serving as Chair. She has over 25 years of experience in healthcare administration and health promotion.


Ty Schmidt

A Canadian import from friendly Manitoba now a proud Michigander, Ty came to beautiful Traverse City in 2006 by way of Tucson, AZ. Ty along with his wife, Johanna, a Leelanau County native, founded Norte in 2013 to advocate for more happy, healthy, strong communities. A physical therapist by training and recovering Cat 2 road/ elite mountain bike racer, Ty now works fulltime at the Norte Clubhouse and rides at a kid pace with his two boys, Carter and Jameson. Under Ty’s leadership and creative ideas, Norte has exploded from one single bike train to being the driving force behind everything biking, walking, advocacy for all, and neighborly living.