National PTA Honors Outstanding Advocacy Efforts for Children and Education
Parent and youth honorees to be recognized at 2016 National PTA Legislative Conference
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 5, 2016) — National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2016 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor parents and youth from across the country for their leadership and commitment to being a powerful voice for all children and a strong advocate for public education. The honorees will be recognized at the 2016 National PTA Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 9 during a luncheon at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.
This year’s recipients are:
- Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award – Massachusetts PTA
Committed to speaking up for every child, Massachusetts PTA dedicated its efforts over the past year to advocating for the education, health, safety and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to ensure they have every opportunity to reach their full potential. As part of its efforts, Massachusetts PTA established a LGBTQ chair position on its Board of Directors and formed a committee comprised of LGBTQ students and parents. Massachusetts PTA also partnered with other local and national advocacy groups and secured a seat at the table to help shape policies impacting LGBTQ students and families. The association’s efforts and leadership contributed to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously passing a measure to update the school system’s handling of LGBTQ issues, which had not been updated since 1992. A key component of Massachusetts PTA’s LGBTQ advocacy plan also involved increasing family engagement and strengthening partnerships between PTAs, schools and the LGBTQ community across the state to ensure all families feel welcomed, supported and are empowered to support their children’s success.
- Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award – Rochester Community PTA Council (Michigan)
Rochester Community PTA Council is being honored for its efforts to educate families throughout the community on legislative issues impacting children and schools and the importance of getting involved. The Rochester Community School District proposed a $185 million bond issue for inclusion on the ballot in the November 2015 election. The passage of the bond was essential for the district to make much needed renovations and upgrades to school facilities, technology and infrastructure to ensure students are provided a high-quality education and have a safe environment in which to thrive and learn. Among its many advocacy efforts, Rochester Community PTA Council worked to educate all PTA members and families communitywide on the specifics of the bond issue and the importance of getting out to vote. With the efforts and contributions of Rochester Community PTA Council, the bond issue passed with 73% support.
- Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award – Joy Grayson (South Carolina)
Joy Grayson is a passionate advocate for education opportunity and equity for all of South Carolina’s children. As vice president of advocacy for South Carolina PTA, Grayson led the adoption of an annual legislative platform for the association; organized and moderated an annual state legislative conference; and revamped the state membership unit to become a state advocacy unit, engaging community members in PTA who had no affiliation with a local unit. The association also partnered with other education advocacy organizations in South Carolina to develop a Collaborative K-12 Public Education Policy platform. Under Grayson’s leadership, South Carolina PTA has had a significant presence at the table. Elected officials have asked for the association’s input on key issues, interest groups have attended meetings to present information, and state officials have participated in South Carolina PTA conventions and conferences. In addition to working at all levels to build and strengthen South Carolina PTA’s position as a compelling education advocate, Grayson has traveled throughout the state to empower all stakeholders to stand up for children.
- Outstanding Youth Advocacy Award – Brian Rodriguez (Florida)
Brian Rodriguez has worked to promote civic engagement and increase community involvement among youth of all ages in the Miami area. As a member of the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission and the Miami Lakes Youth Activities Task Force, Rodriguez has collaborated with city officials and education and faith leaders to offer new approaches to provide youth with avenues to be actively involved in the community. Rodriguez’s passion, dedication and leadership have increased youth engagement in the community, helped families grow stronger and improved the local economy. Communities and constituents across the state of Florida have sought Rodriguez’s guidance to help strengthen youth engagement and create a bridge between students, families, schools and civic leaders.
“Advocacy is critical to improve education and the lives and futures of our nation’s children. Massachusetts PTA, Rochester Community PTA Council, Joy Grayson and Brian Rodriguez exemplify what it means to speak up and take action,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “Their efforts and leadership have truly made a difference for children, families, schools and communities. We are pleased to recognize them with the 2016 Outstanding Advocacy Awards.”
Every year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to explore the association’s public policy priorities and actively advocate for the education, health and well-being of every child.
During the conference — themed, “Family Engagement Drives Student Success” — attendees will hear from speakers and participate in interactive workshops and advocacy skill-building trainings. Attendees will also amplify their voices by meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 10. For more information, visit PTA.org/LegCon.