Paulette Fairbanks Molin graduated in 1966, receiving a bachelor of arts in French and English. She continued her education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she earned a master of fine arts in 1975 and a doctorate in 1987, both in educational administration. Her dedicated career in education included serving as director of an American Indian elementary curriculum project for the Minneapolis Public Schools and as assistant dean of the graduate college and director of the American Indian Educational Opportunity Program at Hampton University in Virginia.
Professor of History Wilbert Ahern nominated Molin for the award. He praised the noted educator and author's professional and civic accomplishments, especially noting Molin's "path-breaking" study of stereotypes with which Indian children must deal. He also stated: "As a charter member of the National Caucus of the Woodcraft Circle, Molin, a member of the Chippewa Tribe from the White Earth Reservation, has helped create a supportive climate for other native authors."
Molin is coeditor of American Indian Stereotypes in the World of Children , coauthor of Encyclopedia of Native American Religions , and the author of numerous articles, poems and stories. Molin has served as curator for several major exhibitions including Enduring Legacy: Native Peoples, Native Arts at Hampton and To Lead and To Serve: American Indian Education at Hampton Institute, 1878-1923, a traveling photographic exhibition which has been presented at numerous sites across the United States including Harvard University.