People receiving an award during a fundraiser event

Firefly Award

The Firefly Award was created in 2021 by VOA Alaska to present annually to an outstanding community member who champions causes around youth wellness.

The name for this award was inspired by the hope and power of the firefly, who shines a light in the darkest of places. Individuals receiving the Firefly Award have a demonstrated history of being a shining light of hope for youth in Alaska.

Through their public leadership and service, activation of resources, and dedication to youth-serving causes, Firefly Awardees are community champions who are making significant strides in eliminating suffering for youth.

Two people stand close, smiling at the camera. One person holds a plaque with a printed painting of a firefly.
Michael Schmidt (left), the 2023 recipient of the Firefly Award, with Julia Luey, President & CEO, at VOA Alaska's 2nd Annual Fall Festival.

2023 Firefly Award | Michael Schmidt

The 2023 Firefly Award was presented to Michael Schmidt during VOA Alaska’s 2nd Annual Fall Festival.

Michael joined the VOA Alaska Board of Directors in 2018 and provided heartfelt guidance on VOA’s fundraising and development and how to increase VOA’s presence in the community. 

His passion and commitment to increasing access to essential behavioral health services for Alaska’s youth has been instrumental behind many of our fundraising efforts over the past 5 years. 

Thank you, Michael, for your service to VOA, to our community, and to Alaska’s youth and families. Your impact will be felt for generations!

2022 Firefly Award | Trend Alaska Committee

The 2022 award goes not just to one individual, but to an amazing team of driven and kind women from Alaska’s tourism industry, who worked tirelessly over the past two years to have a huge impact on Alaska’s youth through the Trend Alaska Fashion Show in February 2022.

This tremendous event brought nearly 400 Alaskans together to celebrate fashion in Alaska. Supporters from Trend raised over $125,000 to support essential mental health services for the youth who turn to VOA for healing.

We are so grateful to the women of Trend Alaska for choosing VOA as your nonprofit partner for this year’s amazing show.

Watch the presentation of the award to Trend Alaska during our 2022 Virtual Spring Social.

Group of woman in elegant dresses posing on a stage

2021 Firefly Award | Paul Landes

The VOA Board and staff are pleased to provide the inaugural award to Paul Landes.

Paul, thank you so much for your leadership as VOA Board Chair, all that you have done on behalf of the mission, and being a champion for youth.

After being invited to join VOA Alaska’s board and help steer the agency into a new chapter, Paul says he ultimately joined because he “found out just how wonderful and what an important role VOA plays in our community. Helping youth become successful is really our responsibility, and VOA is one of the conduits to doing that. The agency focuses on long-term health and well-being solutions, and it’s a trendsetter and a game changer.”

As the first recipient of the VOA Firefly Award, it is our pleasure to honor Paul Landes and his dedication to eliminating suffering for young Alaskans.

Man holding a plaque depicting a a firefly