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Douglas M. Gravel Benefactor Award

The American Montessori Society acknowledges those whose generosity has contributed to the sustainability and growth of the organization through an annual award named in honor of Douglas M. Gravel, one of AMS’s most consistent and generous benefactors. A recipient of an AMS Lifetime Achievement Award (along with his wife, Maria M. Gravel), Doug provided strong and unwavering support to the American Montessori Society from its earliest days. AMS bestowed its first Douglas M. Gravel Award in 2017. 

2018 Award Recipient: Karen Kenison

Karen Kenison Douglas M Gravel Award RecipientKaren Kenison is managing director of Nienhuis Montessori USA, a leading supplier of Montessori materials and furniture. In her role at Nienhuis, Karen has made support of AMS a priority—for example, through generous sponsorships of AMS annual conferences, where you’ve likely seen her at an exhibit booth; providing underwriting for special events; and offering member discounts. In addition, Karen has secured donations from Nienhuis for our humanitarian relief campaigns.

Montessori has been an integral part of Karen’s life for as long as she can remember. Her mother, Vera, and brother Monte were AMI trainers for many years; her Primary Montessori teacher, Ms. Lena, worked directly with Maria Montessori; and Karen remembers Mario, when he was in town, stopping by for breakfast and a chat with her family.

In 1972, the Nienhuis and Kenison families met, leading to the founding of Nienhuis Montessori USA. Karen joined the business in 1975; her psychology and management degrees, along with her Montessori background, have served her well at Nienhuis, where her favorite part of her job is working with customers.

Her other passions include ballet, cars, helping others, learning something new every day, and traveling.

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