AMTA Announces The 2021 National Awards Recipients

The American Massage Therapy Association celebrates the accomplishments of AMTA national groups and individuals whose dedication, enthusiasm and leadership have earned high recognition by bestowing a series of national awards. 

The association has announced the following recipients of its 2021 national awards for outstanding service.

Distinguished Service Award

The recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award is Joan Nichols.

For more than twenty years, Joan has dedicated her time and commitment to AMTA and the massage profession. She has owned and operated her massage therapy business since 1998 and has shared her expertise as a massage educator for over seven years.

As a champion for massage therapy and a long-time volunteer, Joan has served in leadership positions at the Chapter and National levels. Through her service as the Georgia Chapter President and Board Member, and her many years volunteering as a Board Member and the Past President of the AMTA National Board of Directors, Joan has demonstrated her passion for giving back to the profession.

The Distinguished Service Award is given annually to honor someone who has contributed to the massage therapy profession in an outstanding manner and to acknowledge diligent volunteerism done in an altruistic manner. Read more about this award recipient.

President’s Award

The recipient of the 2021 President’s Award is Cindy Steinberg. 

Cindy serves as the National Director of Policy & Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation. She is an advocate for, as well as beneficiary of, massage services for chronic pain issues.

In addition to being the National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, Cindy is the Policy Council Chair for the Massachusetts Pain Initiative and a nationally recognized leader in pain policy. As a frequent speaker in the media, her dedication to pain advocacy began when she sustained a severe crash injury that left her with chronic back pain. Cindy has been a long-time supporter of AMTA and consistently puts her experience with massage therapy at the forefront when testifying, presenting or engaging with policymakers. 

The President’s Award honors someone who has contributed to the massage therapy profession in an outstanding and altruistic manner, and is selected by AMTA’s National President. Read more about this award recipient.

Becky Schwoebel Making a Difference Award

The recipient of the 2021 Becky Schwoebel Making a Difference Award is Angela Barker.

As a strong, passionate and dedicated leader, Angela exemplifies the true nature of this award. She has selflessly served AMTA at the chapter and national levels with a special blend of sincere compassion and incredible strength. 

As the National AMTA President in 2020, Angela helped steer our association through an incredibly challenging year, seeking out opportunities for members to stay connected and remember the resilience of our massage community. Through her tireless efforts, Angela inspired us to adapt and create during a time of uncertainty.

The Becky Schwoebel Making a Difference Award is an honor bestowed on a long-term volunteer who has helped bring positive change and innovation to the massage therapy profession. This award recognizes Becky Schwoebel, a volunteer and valued friend to AMTA who left behind a legacy of integrity, professionalism, leadership, and volunteer services. Read more about this award recipient.

Humanitarian Award

The recipient of the 2021 Humanitarian Award is Terri Barton.

Terri is being recognized for her dedication to volunteerism within her chapter and community. She has been a member of the Outreach Georgia Chapter committee since 2004 and has participated in many community events. Terri has volunteered her time with the Northwest Georgia Parkinson’s Association and served on their Board of Directors for four years. Terri has also spoken and provided massage at the National Parkinson’s conventions.

During these conventions, Terri met with the country’s top neurologists – explaining the benefits of massage for those with Parkinson’s. And, at each Parkinson’s Association event, held in Georgia, she was there providing free massage to all that attended, often putting in 16-hour days. Prior to COVID, Terri also visited assisted living facilities to provide hand massage to residents.

The Humanitarian Award is given to a member nominated by a chapter colleague, who has demonstrated the “heart” of massage in action through volunteer work in the larger community.

Government Relations Activist Award

The recipient of the 2021 Government Relations Activist Award is Nicole (Nikki) Arel.

Nicole is being recognized for her instrumental work with legislative efforts for the Connecticut Chapter. She has built strong working relationships with state legislators, legislative staff, and the lobbyist. Nikki has also been involved in working with the Department of Public Health and the massage therapy schools in Connecticut to ensure their support for the legislative changes to the education hours and liability insurance requirement. 

Her passion for the profession of massage therapy, her effective communication, and her ability to make clear and concise comments have played a vital role in her legislative successes.

The Government Relations Activist Award is presented to an individual for exceptional accomplishments at the chapter and/or the national level of AMTA for their governmental relations activities.

Sports Massage Achiever Award

The recipient of the 2021 Sports Massage Achiever Award is Tama Mackay.

Tama is being recognized for being an outstanding ambassador for massage therapy within the athletic community. She is trained in a variety of sports and orthopedic techniques that give athletes a competitive edge, increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. Tama works with athletes and sporting associations at both the college and professional level.

She has also worked with Olympic athletes and alongside chiropractors, trainers, and physical therapists. Tama is passionate about sports massage and truly values the importance of communicating with her clients to provide the most effective treatment. And, she willingly shares her knowledge with those who aspire to follow in her footsteps in sports massage therapy.  

The Sports Massage Achiever Award is given to an AMTA member for accomplishments in the area of sports massage.

National Meritorious Award

The recipient of the 2021 National Meritorious Award is Becca Torns-Barker. 

Becca has left a permanent stamp on the Connecticut Chapter with her leadership, organizational skills and passion for the massage therapy profession. She has been a strong advocate for continuing education and has been a visible presence to chapter members during the pandemic.

Becca has served on the national governance committee, as a leader in the Chapter President’s Council and as chair and member of the policy review workgroup. She has also served at National Convention as a Chapter Leadership presenter. Becca exemplifies excellence and a desire to elevate AMTA members and the profession to a new level.

The National Meritorious Award is given for diligent volunteerism done in an altruistic manner.

2021 Chapter Innovation Award

The 2021 Chapter Innovation Award goes to the Washington, D.C. Chapter.

This Chapter’s pandemic era approach to engaging with members was the true definition of innovation. When DC members learned of a new CE license renewal requirement related to LGBTQ awareness, members were concerned as to how they could fulfill that requirement, especially with limited courses happening in the midst of a pandemic. 

The DC Chapter was able to step up to the plate and organize a virtual CE course on this topic. They even exceeded member expectations by providing this completely free CE course to 40 members (almost 1/4 of the chapter membership).

Congratulations to the Washington, D.C. Chapter!

Jerome Perlinkski Teacher of The Year Award

The recipient of the 2021 Jerome Perlinski Teacher of The Year Award is Jeannette Roach. 

Jeannette is a teacher who has impacted the lives of many through her passion and dedication to massage therapy. She has been a massage therapist for 23 years and is the Lead Instructor at Irene’s Myomassology Institute in Southfield, Michigan, the oldest and largest massage school in the Midwest. At the school, Jeanette teaches a range of subjects including hands-on classes, anatomy and applied myomassology bodywork.

Those who nominated Jeanette for the award describe how she has made a lasting impression on her students and colleagues. “Jeanette is so enthusiastic and focused in each moment she is teaching.” “The opportunity to learn from Jeanette is taken with unmeasurable gratitude. Her professional and classroom experience, and the education she passes on to us, is what will set each of us apart for the rest of our careers.” Read more about this award recipient.

Chapter Meritorious Award

The AMTA Chapter Meritorious Award is the highest award bestowed upon an AMTA member by a chapter.  This award acknowledges diligent volunteerism done in an altruistic manner.  Click here to view the 2021 Chapter Meritorious Recipients.