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National PTA Honors Outstanding Advocacy Efforts for Children’s Health and Safety

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Heidi May Wilson, Senior Manager, Media Relations

Honorees to be recognized during association’s 2023 Virtual Legislative Conference

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 14, 2023)—National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2023 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor state, local and individual PTA advocates for taking action to improve the education, health, safety and well-being of every child. The honorees will be recognized during the association’s 2023 Virtual Legislative Conference, Tuesday, March 7.

This year’s Outstanding Advocacy Award recipients are: 

  • Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award—Oklahoma PTA
    Oklahoma PTA’s 2022 legislative agenda had a strong focus on mental health, community gun safety and violence prevention. During their annual convention, held one week after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Oklahoma PTA passed an emergency resolution on Gun Safety and Violence Prevention, which allowed for collaboration with BeSMART, a program of Everytown for Gun Safety, to coordinate parent education workshops around secure gun storage. After reading their resolution on gun safety and violence prevention, state legislators contacted Oklahoma PTA to participate in an interim study on school safety, which received more than 1,000 responses from local parents. This data was then used by the Oklahoma State Department of Education Safety and Security Office as part of a $11 million grant for Oklahoma schools to use for safety, security and mental health.
  • Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award—Montclair PTA Council (New Jersey)
    Montclair PTA Council advocated and led a campaign for the very first bond referendum of $188 million to be put forth by Montclair’s first elected Board of Education in the 2021-2022 school year. Montclair PTA Council’s work focused on organizing information related to the bond referendum to increase access to information for every voter. This was followed by community engagement efforts in which Montclair PTA Council launched a video series with the State Commissioner’s Office to highlight the community investment plan, hosted a community conversation forum led by parent representatives, developed communication materials that were shared with local businesses and news outlets and organized more than 100 volunteers to spread the word and encourage a yes vote on the bond referendum. This historic investment for Montclair Public Schools was approved in November 2022, thanks to the passion and advocacy efforts of the Montclair PTA Council.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advocacy Award—Old Bridge Special Education PTA (New Jersey)
    Old Bridge Special Education PTA has grown from a small group to a well-respected, resourceful, knowledgeable and action-driven group that produces results that make a difference for all. In 2022, Old Bridge Special Education PTA hosted a Walk, Run, Roll to raise funds in an effort to update the communication boards in every park in Old Bridge (a 42-mile town). This was a community-wide effort—Eagle Scouts partnered with local landscapers and pavers to update landscaping at each park to allow for greater accessibility, a woodworking class from the local high school donated wood and built stands to hold the communication boards and the town mayor and district administrators joined to witness the first installation of upgrades.
  • Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award—Lorraine Gittens-Bridges (Queens Community PTSA, New York)  
    Lorraine Gittens-Bridges serves as president of Queens Community PTSA in New York. Throughout her term, Gittens-Bridges has committed to leading meaningful change by inspiring parent leaders and community members to believe that together they have an opportunity to make a fundamental difference for every child in the country. Gittens-Bridges co-developed the New York State PTA Citywide Leadership Team (CLT), which was established to ensure that parents’ voices are represented in all education decision-making at the state level. Gittens-Bridges’ advocacy and leadership on the New York State PTA CLT inspired state senators, city council and assembly members to introduce New York Senate Bill S2780, which intends to establish a citywide leadership team to ensure statewide education policies are conducive to promoting student achievement, enhancing the overall quality of education for students and including parents at all stages of the decision-making process.
  • Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award—Aspen Brinkerhoff (Spanish Fork High School PTSA, Utah)
    Aspen Brinkerhoff has been a force for good in her school ever since her involvement with the Utah PTA Student Leadership Committee beginning in 2018. Brinkerhoff is always finding new ways to give service to those around her, and in 2022, she led the opening of a school-wide food pantry that serves hungry students at Spanish Fork High School. Brinkerhoff has collaborated with community leaders and local businesses including the Utah Food Bank and local grocery stores to support and sustain the pantry for years to come. Brinkerhoff’s leadership around opening the food pantry inspired her classmates to prepare grab-and-go food kits to sustain students over weekends and longer vacation breaks, in addition to creating snack kits to help when lunch or dinner isn't available.

“There could not be a more urgent time to take action to improve the education, health, safety and well-being of every child,” said Anna King, president of National PTA. “We are pleased to recognize the efforts of Oklahoma PTA, Montclair PTA, Old Bridge Special Education PTA, Lorraine and Aspen with our 2023 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, and we look forward to celebrating them at our legislative conference.”

The Outstanding Advocacy Award recipients are selected by National PTA’s Legislation Committee. Oklahoma PTA will receive a $1,000 award to further their work and Montclair PTA Council will receive a $500 award.

Every year, National PTA’s Legislative Conference or LegCon brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to take action on the association’s public policy priorities. During the conference, attendees will hear from speakers and participate in workshops to expand their knowledge of federal law, grow their advocacy skills and learn how to shape public policy on Capitol Hill and at home. Attendees will also amplify their voices by meeting virtually with their federal representatives, Wednesday, March 8. The theme for this year’s conference is Health & Safety for Every Child.

“At PTA, we remain steadfast in our mission to make every child’s potential a reality, and we will never stop speaking loudly and demanding more for every child and young person across our country,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “Our children are the future of our nation, and it is critical that we ensure their health and safety to help them reach their full potential and carry our nation into a brighter future.”

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