Court seeks nominations for Daniel J. Wright Award

The Michigan Supreme Court has opened nominations for the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award to honor exceptional service to Michigan’s children. Co-sponsored by the MSC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the award is presented each year in conjunction with efforts to encourage and celebrate adoption. 

The award was established in honor of the late Daniel J. Wright, who, as special assistant to then-Chief Justice Maura D. Corrigan, led the state’s efforts to upgrade Michigan’s child support enforcement system by federally-mandated deadlines.

By meeting the deadlines, Wright saved the state $142 million in federal fines and earned the state a $36 million refund for fines it had already paid. Later, as director of the Friend of the Court Bureau and Child Welfare Services divisions of the State Court Administrative Office, Wright helped create the state’s “Adoption Forums” to address adoption barriers that were stranding children in foster care. 

“Dan’s legacy and devotion to giving foster children a greater voice in decisions affecting their own lives continues to make a difference in the lives of children and continues to inspire the Court in our work,” said Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, MSC co-liaison on child welfare matters. “Connecting children in foster care with safe and nurturing forever families is a goal shared by everyone in our justice system.”

Nominations are open to attorneys, judges, caseworkers, court staff, employees of public and private agencies, employees and members of nonprofits, and others who have a significant record of helping Michigan families and children. To be eligible, a nominee must have 10 years or more experience in the field and a record of achievements with demonstrable impact.

Previous recipients include:

• Judge Timothy Connors, Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court – 2021

• Judge Susan Dobrich, Cass County Probate Courts – 2020

• Judge Laura Baird, Ingham County Circuit Court – 2019

• Judge Robert Butts, Cheboygan County Probate Court – 2018

• Judge Kenneth Tacoma, Wexford County Probate Court – 2017

• Judge Duncan Beagle, Genesee County Circuit Court – 2016

• Steve Yager, executive director, MDHHS Children’s Services Agency – 2015

• Jeff Albaugh, Calhoun County Friend of the Court – 2014

• Judge Dorene Allen, Midland County Probate Court – 2013

• Thomas Haskell, Crawford County Court administrator – 2012

To nominate a candidate, complete the nomination form available at and return it by Friday, October 14. The winner will be honored during the Michigan Adoption Day celebration on Tuesday, November 22, at the Hall of Justice in Lansing. 

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