Heidi May Wilson, Senior Manager, Media Relations
Honorees to be recognized at 2018 National PTA Legislative Conference
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 1, 2018)—National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2018 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor parents and youth from across the country for being a powerful voice for change for children and education. The honorees will be recognized at the 2018 National PTA Legislative Conference, Tuesday, March 13, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.
This year’s recipients are:
Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award—New York State PTA
New York State PTA has dedicated its efforts over the past several years to educating the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes and advocating for legislation to make it more difficult for youth to purchase e-cigarettes as well as to end the marketing of e-cigarettes to children. During the 2017 legislative session, PTA members met with over 40 state legislators and senior gubernatorial staff to advocate to protect youth against e-cigarettes. New York State PTA also posted on social media, in multiple e-newsletters, conducted several parent workshops and worked with other advocacy organizations during its campaign. New York PTA successfully advocated to impose a tax rate of $0.10 per milliliter on e-cigarettes. PTA members also successfully advocated to expand the definition of tobacco products to include vapor products used in electronic delivery systems such as e-cigarettes, hookah pens and vape pens in the Clean Indoor Air Act and ban their use on school grounds.
Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award—Huntsville Council of PTAs (Alabama)
Huntsville Council of PTAs conducted an advocacy campaign to educate voters about ad valorem tax proposals, which would have devastating consequences for school districts in Alabama if they were not renewed. Huntsville Council of PTAs partnered with other local non-profits and advocacy associations to secure the 200 signatures needed to request that the renewals be added to the ballot for a special election held in December. Once added to the ballot, PTA leaders sent information about tax renewal meetings to their neighborhood associations. Huntsville Council of PTAs and two other organizations also provided financing to purchase yard signs for families at each school as well as other community members. The PTA also promoted the importance of the tax renewal at meetings and leadership trainings as well as on social media, the radio and TV prior to the election. Voters overwhelmingly supported the renewal of the taxes Dec. 12, securing funding for schools in the area for another 30 years.
Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award—Angie Gallo (Orlando, Florida)
Among her many advocacy efforts, Angie Gallo worked alongside the advocacy organization “Recess Moms” to urge the passage of a bill to require 20 minutes of daily recess for all elementary students in Florida. She met with many Florida legislators on both sides of the aisle to gain support for this important piece of legislation, including the speaker of the house. The recess mandate become law in the summer of 2017, and Florida become the first state in the country to meet physical activity recommendations for its elementary school students. Gallo has served as legislative chair for Florida PTA for the past three years, working tirelessly to build relationships with legislators as well as with lobbyists and advocacy allies. Her efforts have changed the way many policymakers view Florida PTA, garnering new respect for the association’s voice and a seat for the association at many tables.
Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award—Eleanor Schoenbrun (El Paso, Texas)
Eleanor Schoenbrun dedicated her efforts to improving the courtyard at Franklin High School to make it a safe and welcoming space for students to gather and eat lunch. She began her advocacy campaign by writing and securing grants from Disney and generationOn. She also successfully advocated for Franklin High School PTSA to donate funds to purchase shaded tables for the courtyard. Through Schoenbrun’s efforts and leadership, the courtyard is now fit to hold school pep rallies and student bands performances and is a welcoming environment for students during lunch. Schoenburn plans to continue her efforts by meeting with administration and food services personnel to create a menu that attracts more students to stay at school and eat lunch in the courtyard.
“Advocacy is critical to make a difference for education and the health, safety and well-being of our nation’s children,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “New York State PTA, Huntsville Council of PTAs, Angie Gallo and Eleanor Schoenbrun exemplify what it means to take action and be a voice for change for all children and schools. We are thrilled to recognize them with the 2018 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 education legislation and policies before Congress as well as actively advocate to make every child’s potential a reality.
During the 2018 conference—themed “Get in the Game”—attendees will hear from speakers and participate in workshops focused on bringing their advocacy efforts and skill sets to the next level. Additionally, attendees will amplify their voices by meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 14.
“After 120 years, at its core, PTA is still about speaking for every child with one voice,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “Whether it is organizing a school meeting to discuss ways to keep students safe from gun violence or calling a member of Congress to talk about the federal budget and funding for public education, PTA members are making a difference for children and schools in their communities and across the country.”
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.