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Education Advocate Named Recipient of Carolyn Warner Legacy Award



Kim Graham | 480-421-9376

Education Advocate Named Recipient of Carolyn Warner Legacy Award

PHOENIX, AZ, OCTOBER 17TH, 2021 - Karen Butterfield, Ed.D, is the third recipient of the Carolyn Warner Legacy Award given by the Arizona Educational Foundation. Butterfield, who is the 1993 Arizona Teacher of the Year, now serves as State-Level Technical Assistance Specialist for WestEd, providing support to the Bureau of Indian Education and to the state departments of education in Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Caron Lieber, daughter of Carolyn Warner, presented the award to Butterfield during the Arizona Educational Foundation’s Arizona Teacher of the Year Awards on October 16th. “Like our mother, Karen’s lifelong dedication and advocacy for public education is inspiring,” stated Lieber. “Her career includes an expansive level of impact on teachers, administrators, and students, both in Arizona and nationwide. My family and I feel Karen is an ideal recipient and a great model of our mother’s legacy.”

Karen Butterfield is a recognized former teacher, administrator and public charter school founder. She is currently a State Level Technical Assistance Specialist with the Region 13 Comprehensive Center (RG 13 CC) at WestEd, providing support to the Bureau of Indian Education and to the state departments of education in Oklahoma and New Mexico. Beginning in 2016, Karen also provided several state education agencies, including Arizona, through the West Comprehensive Center (WCC) at WestEd support. Her prior educational policy background includes providing technical assistance and guidance to states on educator effectiveness priorities on the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO’s) Education Workforce team. Karen also served as associate superintendent overseeing Academic Achievement and the Highly Effective Teachers & Leaders Divisions for 10 years at the Arizona Department of Education between 2003-2013. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees (educational leadership) from Northern Arizona University (NAU), graduating with distinction, including having been the recipient of an honorary doctorate. She has been recognized numerous times for her work in education, including having been named the 1993 Arizona Teacher of the Year, the National Art Education Association’s Outstanding Teacher in the Southwest Region twice, A Disney America Teacher Honoree, NAU’s Outstanding Doctoral Student, the Governor’s Arts in Education Award (Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy: The Honorable Governor Jane Dee Hull), the Flinn Foundation’s Most Influential Educator (twice by two former students), including many other awards/recognitions. Karen is married with two grown daughters, Amanda (a physical therapist) and Katie (a 4th grade teacher in Flagstaff), including having four beautiful grandchildren: Braxton (8), Brinley (6), Sadie (3) and Ivy (2).

In her acceptance speech, Butterfield described Carolyn Warner as a role model and inspiration.

The Carolyn Warner Legacy Award is endowed by the family of Carolyn Warner and given as part of the Arizona Educational Foundation’s Teacher of the Year Awards, an annual celebration of public school teachers throughout the state. AEF was created by Warner in 1983 when she was a beloved Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Carolyn founded AEF because she noticed the only time a public school made the news was when something bad happened,” stated Kim Graham, executive director of the foundation. “She had the vision to see that a nonprofit was needed to celebrate the successes of public schools and shine a spotlight on the extraordinary work these administrators, teachers, and support staff do on a daily basis,” said Graham.

Just as their Carolyn Warner embodied the attributes of a servant leader, this $1,000 award given in Carolyn's name celebrates a former AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year, Finalist, or Semi-Finalist who has continued to make a difference long after their year of service as an AEF Teacher of the Year honoree or candidate was over. The recipient is someone who has remained active in elevating the teaching profession and continued to make an impact as a champion of education. Previous recipients include Dr. Pam Roggeman, Dean of the College of Education at The University of Phoenix; and Dr. Beth Maloney, 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year and Dir. of Arts Education for Act One in Phoenix.

For questions or more information, please contact Kim Graham at


Arizona Educational Foundation

Kim Graham

(480) 421-9376

About Arizona Educational Foundation:

The mission of AEF is to identify, support and celebrate excellence in Pre-K-12th grade Arizona public education through business and community partnerships. We do this through a variety of programs for teachers, administrators, and students. Some of our programs shine a spotlight on excellence; others provide a stepping stone to help support schools and educators on the road to awesomeness. In addition to the Arizona Teacher of the Year program, AEF also coordinates the Arizona State Spelling Bee, the A+ School of Excellence Award, the Principals Leadership Academy of Arizona, teachSTEM, and Take Your Legislator to School. AEF was founded in 1983 by then State Superintendent of Public Education, Carolyn Warner, who felt a nonprofit needed to be established to champion public education and recognize the great work of public school educators.


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