The American Cheese Society bestows awards upon individuals based on contributions to the industry, the support and promotion of American cheese, and volunteer service to the association.
Nominations open in in the Spring each year and winners are announced at the Annual Conference.
ACS members have an opportunity to nominate a candidate by presenting an application which demonstrates a nominee’s contributions to the criteria listed below.
Nominations for the ACS awards are accepted and reviewed annually by the ACS Nomination Committee and are approved by the ACS Board of Directors. Recipients are named and honored at the Business Luncheon at the annual ACS Conference, and in the ACS e-newsletter.
- Complete the official nomination form online during the nomination period
- Provide a one-page summary of the nominee’s demonstrated contributions, focusing on the above criteria
- Provide the nominee’s biography
- Provide two (2) letters of support for the nominee
Lifetime Achievement Award
The ACS Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 2006 by the American Cheese Society Board of Directors to honor an individual whose professional accomplishments have made a significant and lasting impact in the American cheese industry, and whose life and character have earned the respect and admiration of their professional colleagues. Nominees must have served the profession over an extended period and will be honored for their service and performance. Recipients may or may not be ACS members.
The ACS Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented whenever a worthy recipient is identified. This may or may not be an annual occurrence.
Nominees must have served the profession over an extended period of time. Recipients may or may not be ACS members. The award recipient must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be an individual whose professional accomplishments have made a significant and lasting impact in the American cheese industry.
- Be respected and admired by professional colleagues.
- Demonstrate strength in building, supporting and advancing the society and its membership.
- Have a minimum of thirty (30) years’ experience in a cheese-related profession.
Congratulations to 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients, David Gremmels and Paula Lambert
David has given of himself and his time over the years in so many ways and is emblematic of the kind of people that make our cheese community so special. Leaders who can raise others around them…are the ones who have the most far-reaching impact. David is one of those special people and deserves to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
We have had so many incredible leaders in ACS but of very few can it be said that without them we wouldn’t be here. I think without Paula’s vision and practicality guiding us as treasurer and secretary through those early years, we might very well not have survived as an organization.
Past Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
- Alyson Birchenough, 2021
- Debra K. Dickerson, 2021
- Marianne Smukowski, 2020
- Ig Vella
- Dan Carter
- Steve Jenkins
- Kathleen Shannon Finn
- John Greeley
- Daphne Zepos
- Ricki Carroll
- Ari Weinzweig
- Cathy Strange
- Mike & Carol Gingrich
- Sue Conley & Peggy Smith
Above and Beyond Award
Launched in 2012, this award may be granted to individuals who have made an outstanding volunteer contribution to a specific project for ACS, or who have played a key role in a noteworthy association initiative that has impacted the cheese industry in a meaningful way.
Current ACS members in all membership categories are eligible for this award. Award recipients should have made a real and impactful contribution to ACS and/or the cheese industry that is directly related to their project work. The contribution should directly advance at least one of ACS’s core values:
- Network and Communicate
- Education and Resources
While there is no minimum duration of service that is required, in general, award recipients have given in excess of 400 hours of volunteer time in support of a specific project.
Congratulations to 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Michele Haram
From her volunteerism (far exceeding 400 required hours), to her mentorship and call-to-action of countless cheese enthusiasts (myself included), to her improvement of safety standards and procedures, Michele is an ideal nominee and representative of all the “Above & Beyond Award” criteria.
Past Above and Beyond Award Recipients
- Sasha Davies and Sue Sturman for working to create the Certified Cheese Professional Exam
- Richard and Karen Silverston, for their development of the ACS Judging & Competition database
- Kate Arding, Dennis D’Amico, Marianne Smukowski,and Bob Wills for spearheading publication of the ACS Best Practices Guide for Cheesemakers
- Dr. Stephanie Clark, Craig Gile, Bill Rufenacht, and Vince Razionale for the development of the ACS Cheese and Dairy Product Lexicon and Glossary
Meritorious Service Award
Launched in 2022, this award will be presented to ACS Members who have distinguished themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service to ACS or the cheese industry as a whole.
2022 Meritorious Service Award Recipients: Patrick “PJ” Polowski and Anne Saxelby
Patrick “PJ” Polowsky
Pat was the kindest, most generous person with his time, expertise, knowledge, bad puns, and passion for the industry, the people, and the science! He would give everything of himself to anyone who asked, and he took the time to take concepts that were so difficult for so many of us and made them easy and fun to understand.
She was an amazing visionary, a sincere pioneer who taught us the meaning of American artisan cheese. She taught us to be champions of our cheeses and how to showcase the bounty of treasures that we are so proud of. She taught us to celebrate.
Academy of Cheese
The ACS Academy of Cheese (AoC) was created in 1993 to honor individuals who have made, or continue to make, valuable contributions that impact the American cheese industry. The charter induction honored ACS’s original founders and early supporters. Classes of inductees share a related industry vocation for their collective dedication to and passion for growing and supporting the artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheese industry in North America. Inductions can be made in any year, but emphasis is placed on marking anniversary years or significant events with inductions. Classes of inductees are based on a common theme among candidates. AoC provides an opportunity to honor and celebrate these exceptional individuals and raise awareness of their unique contributions to the industry.
Inductees may include cheesemakers, cheesemongers, supporting trade members, authors, educators, academics and others who, over the course of a career (generally ten (10) years or more), have demonstrated leadership and commitment to strengthening and contributing to ACS and the wider cheese industry.
Past Academy of Cheese Recipients
1993 Academy of Cheese (ACS 10th Anniversary)
Class: “ACS Founders”
Inductees include the original founders of ACS whose impetus led to the creation of the association in 1983 at Cornell University. Their vision continues to shape ACS today, as the organization reflects the core values and goals they laid out in the early days of the American artisan cheese movement.
- Frank Kosikowski
- Dick Kleyn
- Patrick Rance
2011 Academy of Cheese (First ACS Conference outside US, Montréal)
Class: “Pioneers of Goat Cheese”
Inductees are among some of the earliest and most successful producers of goat cheese in the U.S., leading the charge when goat cheese had not yet attained its current popularity among American consumers. They inspired the next generation of producers, and brought goat cheese to the fore.
- Jennifer Bice
- Laura Chenel
- Allison Hooper
- Mary Keehn
- Lettie and Bob Killmoyer
- Bob Reese
- Judy Schad
- Anne Topham