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Distinguished Service Award

Bill Withers, M.D. from Waukon, Keystone Area Education Agency Board Member in Director District 3, was the recipient of the 2024 Distinguished Service Award by the Iowa Council of Administrators of Special Education (iCASE). The Distinguished Service Award is presented by iCASE to individuals making significant contributions to programs and service for students with disabilities. Annette Hyde, Director of Special Education at Keystone AEA nominated Dr. Withers for the honor. 

Dr. Withers was one of the original board members for Keystone AEA when Iowa’s AEAs were established in 1974. Sue Updegraff, President of the Keystone AEA Board of Directors, noted that Dr. Withers has been on the board for 45 years; in the mid 1990s his medical practice took him out of state for 5 years. When he returned to northeast Iowa he was fortunate to be able to serve education again by returning to the Keystone AEA Board.

“He annually attends a local board meeting in each of his assigned districts, currently five, to seek feedback and ensure open communication,” noted Pat Heiderscheit, former AEA Administrator in his letter of support for the nomination. “Most impressively, though, is his ability to consistently focus conversations on children and, in particular, those with special needs.”

The recognition of the award for Dr. Withers was made on May 21  by Keystone AEA Vice President, Nancy Bradley. “He is an inspirational leader and is a dynamic resource to the Keystone Area Education Agency’s mission and its work for the children, families, and educators of Northeast Iowa,” said Bradley. “He holds high standards for the agency and its staff, resources, and student outcomes. His wisdom and treasured vision for the organization and its work are inspirations for moving forward.”  


Keystone AEA serves approximately 32,000 K-12 students including 21 public school districts and 21 non-public school districts. In addition, nearly 3,500 educators rely on our agency for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 8 counties and nearly 5,000 square miles. Learn more at



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