Lois J Pearson

Lois Pearson: 2022 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Alexis Plumb, MSEd, CCLS
With Co-Endorsers: Katie Glass, Ed.D, CCLS; Sue Berg, BS, CCLS; Alison Chrisler, PhD, CCLS

Lois Pearson is an outstanding member of our child life community – and has been for over 40 years. Her contributions to the field of child life and the number of lives she has and will continue to touch through the legacy of her work are what make her so incredibly deserving of the 2022 Distinguished Service Award. Over this period of time, Lois has proven not only her commitment to the field of child life but her willingness to stretch her practice beyond the walls of the pediatric hospital and into the realms of historical archives, academia, adult health care, and service to the profession.

Lois’ daughter had a hospitalization when she was young, and the experience she and her daughter had always stayed with her. While she was studying to obtain her Master’s degree, she became aware of the child life profession.  Even though child life was not well known in the Midwest at that time, she was determined to become involved. She proposed to Community Memorial Hospital, now Froedert Hospital in Milwaukee, that she initiate a volunteer position as a child life specialist on a pediatric unit. They accepted her, and after seeing the great need for child life services during her first year, the hospital hired Lois. Lois was later asked to write a letter of proposal for a child life program at Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee, now Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. That proposal was accepted, and Lois became part of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin staff for 25 years. Following her work there, Lois was the first CCLS to be hired into a position to support children of adult patients at Froedtert Hospital and tripled the size of that program prior to her retirement in 2016. For many years, in addition to her professional full-time work, she provided support for children from the greater Milwaukee area, facilitating two ongoing support groups for children. Even though Lois could have retired from her clinical work, she continued to provide child life services because of her love for her patients, families, and the job.

"I have been able to witness firsthand the integrity of Lois. Having her first as a mentor, second as a colleague, I have visualized the integrity she shows both within the child life community as well as her greater geographical community. If it wasn’t for the integrity and positive reputation that Lois demonstrated, her success in program development would not have been as strong.” -Sue Berg

Lois has also served as a strong leader in the Association for the Care of Children’s Health, then Child Life Council, and now Association of Child Life Professionals, for decades through her Archives Management work. Her vast understanding, knowledge, and early interest in the roots of child life have been instrumental in her involvement in the ACLP Archives committee, which she co-chaired and managed for a significant number of years. Lois has been committed to preserving the history of our profession as an influence on our future growth. Lois, in collaboration with Civita Brown, played a large role in the production of the series of child life videos documenting the history of child life (“Following the Dream”; “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”; “Celebrating 30 Years: A Monumental Year, A Monumental Profession”). This series is just one example of her commitment to preserving our professional history.

“It is through her commitment to our field that we as a profession will always know how our profession has progressed through the decades.” -Alison Chrisler

In 1985, Lois became an instructor at Edgewood College and assisted in the development of the undergraduate course curriculum for the child life program. During Lois’ tenure at Edgewood College, she taught six different courses, totaling 64 sections, and supervised hundreds of interns. Her last professional endeavor at Edgewood College was to create and teach the country’s first ever History of Child Life class. With Lois’ vast understanding of the child life archives and history of our profession, she created this course for both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She documented and taught our history to assure the interest of future child life specialists in how our field has transformed over time.

Very few of our child life pioneers have extended so far and reached beyond the parameters of child life practice to touch the minds of child life specialists everywhere. However, Lois can be credited with establishing a record of child life scholarship that most likely has influenced each and every member of the child life community. Lois Pearson has contributed toseminal child life texts, including the Handbook of Child Life (2nd Edition), Meeting the Psychosocial Needs of Children and Families Across the Health Care Continuum (2nd Edition), The Pips of Child Life: Early Play Programs in Hospitals, and The Pips of Child Life: The Middle Years of Play in Hospitals. . In total, Lois can be credited with the publication of 11 articles or chapter contributions. Her legacy lives, not only through her published work, but notably through the patients, coworkers, and students she has influenced.

“Lois isn’t a loud, in your face, “force to be reckoned with” type of child life specialist and leader. She is impactful, intelligent, motivated, insightful, and above all else selfless. As a quiet leader, she has demonstrated these skills to countless students, patients, families, medical team members, and child life specialists throughout her career.” -Katie Glass

Lois Pearson has demonstrated herself to be an exemplary child life professional who has made her mark on the field and contributed a lasting legacy through her work. She is a humble advocate, consistent in her determination to influence and enhance child life practice, education, literature, and the preservation of our profession. It is an honor to share Lois’ accomplishments and to have been personally impacted by her commitment to the growth and success of the child life field. 

Lois Pearson - Early years