National Child Passenger Safety Board shines a light on difference-makers


Seattle — The National Child Passenger Safety Board has named the recipients of its 2023 Child Passenger Safety Technician, Instructor and Team of the Year awards.

Managed by the National Safety Council, the board aims to save lives and prevent injuries by promoting child passenger safety through education, mentorship, engagement and innovation. It announced Victoria Chandler as the Technician of the Year, Clare Pfotenhauer and Claudia Summers as co-Instructors of the Year, and the Nebraska Child Passenger Safety Advisory Committee as the Team of the Year.

“I’ve heard it said that a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way,” board Chair Jennifer Pelky said in an NSC press release. “Well, that sums up this group. We’re thrilled to recognize these individual award winners and all those on the Nebraska Child Passenger Safety Advisory Committee, too. They’re truly difference-makers.”

Technician of the Year: Chandler, a resident of Wichita, KS, started at Ascension Via Christi – a teaching hospital in Wichita – as the injury prevention coordinator with the trauma services team. She became a child passenger safety technician and took over as coordinator of the Safe Kids Wichita Area CPS program. She quickly gained experience working alongside her team during car seat check events and built a reputation as a leader who adjusted when COVID-19 restrictions were implemented. More recently, she’s expanded Safe Kids Wichita Area efforts into Spanish and Vietnamese neighborhoods.

Instructor of the Year: As a result of a tie in the review and scoring of nominees, Pfotenhauer and Summers both received the award.

Pfotenhauer, from Lemont, IL, is recognized for her work as the child passenger safety coordinator for Rush Copley Medical Center – a grant-funded position supported by the Illinois Department of Transportation. She connects with the public in a variety of ways, including the distribution of car seats to low-income families.

Summers, from Waxhaw, NC, led nearly half of the technician certification training classes in North Carolina last year. She also assisted in the management of the state’s CPS program and promoted a CPS diversion initiative that enabled individuals who violated state child passenger safety laws to receive education from a technician.

Team of the Year: The 22-member Nebraska Child Passenger Safety Advisory Committee helped raised car seat use in the state to 95% last year – up from 56% in 1999. The committee accomplished this feat by guiding the state’s CPS programming and ensuring equal CPS training opportunities were provided in counties across the state. Today, 86% of children 10 and younger living in poverty in Nebraska are being served by a Safe Kids CPS program or fitting station.

“The thing each of these award recipients shares in common is a dedication and commitment to service,” Pelky said. “Because of their work, children are riding safer today. They will have an opportunity to grow into tomorrow’s leaders.”

The awards – sponsored by Toyota Motor North America – were presented at the Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, which took place April 2-4 at the Seattle Convention Center.

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