2019 Winners Announced
National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2019 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor parents and youth from across the country who have taken action on issues that affect the education, health, safety, well-being and long-term success of America’s children. The honorees will be recognized at the 2019 National PTA Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 13, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.
Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award—Missouri PTA
Prior to Missouri PTA’s advocacy efforts, Missouri was one of only five states that housed juveniles—some as young as nine—in adult facilities, even prior to their conviction. Missouri PTA worked with a coalition to plan and implement an initiative to support legislation that would make sure juveniles involved in the justice system are housed separately from adults. PTA members met with their local legislators, garnered the support of law enforcement and juvenile justice departments, and implemented a robust media campaign on the issue. Last year, after five years of concerted effort, Missouri PTA’s advocacy efforts saw success when SB 793 “Raise the Age” was signed into law. The new law requires that children be prosecuted in juvenile courts and ensures that no person under the age of 18 may be detained in an adult jail unless the person has been certified as an adult.
Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award—Austin Council of PTAs (Texas)
Austin Council of PTAs’ award-winning advocacy campaign began in spring 2018, when the district and the city's public transportation authority announced a pilot program to make rides for students free for the summer. The PTA raised awareness about the free summer ride program and encouraged families, students, teachers and school staff to write letters to the transportation authority, as well as testify in person about the impact of free rides. Austin Council of PTAs’ advocacy efforts then turned toward support for a vote to make the free ride program permanent, to ensure every child in Austin has reliable access to schools. Members continued to reach out to students, parents, teachers, service providers and others, encouraging them to share their personal stories and to ensure that advocates were speaking loudly and with one voice. With the measure passing unanimously, Austin Council of PTAs successfully advocated making public transportation free for all K-12 students in their district.
Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award—Janelle Sperry (Bunker Hill, W.Va.)
Janelle Sperry’s outstanding advocacy efforts span many roles and issue areas. Sperry has been a PTA member for 11 years and has served on the West Virginia PTA Board of Managers for seven years, including as president from 2015-2017 and currently as marketing chairperson. Among her many advocacy efforts, Sperry was instrumental in the formation of the West Virginia Coalition for Public Education, which is focused on preventing voucher legislation from being enacted in West Virginia. In this effort, Sperry met with the West Virginia state superintendent, associate superintendent of schools and the governor’s office as well as sent out letters to over 80 associations. Most recently, Sperry worked to draft a bill in West Virginia to define and establish the crime of cyberbullying. The bill was signed into law in 2018. Sperry has spent her entire life serving her community and continues to make the mission of PTA her focus by taking action to ensure every child receives a high-quality education.
Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award—Chloe Mattes (Racine, Wis.)
As Wisconsin PTA Youth Outreach Chair, Chloe Mattes decided to take action on an issue top of mind for most youth—college and career readiness. Through social media, Mattes reached out to students between the ages of 12-18 and their parents to spread the word about opportunities for students and their families to explore colleges, technical schools and career paths. She also interviewed high school students, teachers and college students about their college and career experiences. Using this footage, Mattes created YouTube videos and wrote articles that were sent to all local PTA leaders and community partners to raise awareness in Wisconsin about what it means to be college and career ready.
PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Senator Roy Blunt was elected to the United States Senate in 2010 with a background as a public servant, university president and history teacher. Blunt currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and the Senate Rules Committee. He is also the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Blunt’s leadership and support during the FY 2019 appropriations process was integral in funding the U.S. Department of Education and related agencies that impact the health and well-being of our nation’s youth. His diligent work during the appropriations process helped secure funding for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) in FY 2018 and FY 2019. Senator Blunt is married to Abigail Blunt and has four children and six grandchildren.
Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT)
Senator Chris Murphy has served as the junior United States Senator for Connecticut since his election in 2013. Murphy currently serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. Murphy has led efforts and supported important gun safety and violence prevention legislation, including a proposed amendment that would prevent Title IV-A funds from being used to purchase guns for schools. He has also supported the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program as illustrated by his signature on National PTA’s bipartisan SFEC full funding Dear Colleague letter for the past three years. Murphy has also led the effort for increased access to mental health services and pushed for effective, fair and consistently implemented positive school discipline policies. Senator Murphy is married to Catherine Holahan, an attorney, and together they have two young sons.
About the Awards
Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award
The Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award is presented to an individual PTA member, who through their leadership and advocacy efforts, affected federal policy priorities within PTA’s annual Public Policy Agenda.
Shirley was a model of public service and volunteerism throughout her life. She was an impassioned and compassionate leader, dedicated to moving PTA forward and committed to ensuring that others would follow.
Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award
The Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award is presented to a young person—who—through his or her creativity, leadership, and dedication, has positively affected policy or change in his or her school or community in a way that aligns with PTA’s mission and goals.
Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award
The Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award is presented to a state PTA that, through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy compatible with PTA’s mission and goals.
These efforts must be based on a statewide issue, involve working with multiple organizations or coalitions through grassroots collaboration, and contain a public awareness/advocacy training component for PTA members and the community at large.
Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Awards
The Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award is presented to a local, district, council or regional PTA that, through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy compatible with PTA’s mission and goals.
These efforts must include an education/learning component for PTA members and the community-at-large. Working with multiple organizations or coalitions through grassroots collaboration is preferred.
PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award
The PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award is given to two Members of Congress each year (bicameral, bipartisan) in recognition of outstanding leadership related to child and education advocacy.
Congressional award winners are nominated and selected by the National PTA Legislation Committee and National PTA President.