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National PTA Legislative Conference

Announcing the Recipients of the 2021 Outstanding Advocacy Awards

National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021 Outstanding Advocacy Awards!

The annual awards honor state, local and individual PTA advocates for taking action to improve the education, health, safety and well-being of every child.

New this year, National PTA is also honoring a PTA for advocacy specifically in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The honorees will be recognized during the 2021 National PTA Virtual Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 10.

Advocacy Award

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advocacy Award

Seattle Council PTSA (Washington)

Seattle Council PTSA demonstrated leadership and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion through their advocacy for better school policy. Specifically, Seattle Council PTSA advocated for an anti-racism policy in Seattle Public Schools, as well as an anti-racism resolution from Washington State PTA that was adopted by the 2020 Legislative Assembly. To accomplish the goal of creating an anti-racism policy, Seattle Council PTSA conducted a series of well-publicized and successful community engagement sessions to discuss the policy. Additionally, Seattle Council PTSA facilitated listening sessions in English and Spanish for Black, Indigenous and people of color with the Seattle Education Association as well as King County Public Health Authorities. The policy has been the subject of intense interest and discussion by their school board and is expected to be passed by the school board.

About the Award 

National PTA is proud to announce a new advocacy award this year: the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advocacy Award. This award will be presented to one local, district, council or regional PTA that through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy aligned with National PTA’s DEI Priorities. The recipient of this award will demonstrate PTA’s, mission, history, role and commitment to DEI by using authentic community engagement with underrepresented groups, actively listening to what is important to these communities, and has address barriers to more effective communication with diverse audiences through advocacy.

Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award

Jenna Alexander (Hamilton, Va.)

Jenna Alexander serves as vice president of advocacy for Virginia PTA. Throughout her term, she built an advocacy committee that includes representatives for each of Virginia’s active districts. During COVID-19, Alexander engaged the advocacy committee to focus on issues facing the community, organizing a series of webinars, developing a social media toolkit, initiating an email campaign directed toward the Virginia General Assembly and federal legislators, and launching a social media campaign and virtual rally to call on legislators to restore funding for education. Alexander makes sure that all voices are heard and valued. Her leadership, compassion and determination to make the lives of all children better is what makes her shine.

About the 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

Bailey Proctor (Elmsford, N.Y.)

Through leadership, dedication and creativity, Bailey Proctor raised awareness of social justice and education equity policies in the Elmsford Union Free School District. Proctor created a student activism club called R.E.A.C.H., which stands for Raiders for Education, Action and Change, and helped organize a Black Lives Matter rally for the Elmsford community. She is a member of the student-only District Equity Team, and serves as the 2020-2021 student representative for Elmsford PTSA. Thanks to her leadership, the PTSA has seen an increase in student membership. Proctor’s determination has inspired Elmsford PTSA members to hold difficult conversations about the practices that stifle the community’s growth. She has modeled and empowered her peers and community to speak on the issues that impact student life.

About the 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

New York State PTA

New York State PTA demonstrated outstanding dedication and leadership through their nimble and highly effective response to the many hardships wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. New York State PTA advocated on a multitude of issues relating to the pandemic and impacting students and families, while also forging new partnerships to ensure effective advocacy. Through a sustained and comprehensive communication, marketing and outreach strategy, New York State PTA members and non-members received multiple touchpoints and messages highlighting their advocacy efforts, detailing available resources, offering education on relevant topics, and targeting underserved communities and families. The advocacy plan was crafted to be holistic and serve all types of PTA units and members, including rural and urban communities, families with varying income levels, students with disabilities and their families, LGBTQ+ students, educators and their families, ELL students and families, documented and undocumented immigrant families, and other populations.

About the 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 Award

Fairfax County Special Education PTA (Virginia)

Fairfax County Special Education PTA demonstrated true dedication and leadership through their determined advocacy on the issue of restraint and seclusion in schools. The use of restraint and seclusion in schools has been shown to cause post-traumatic stress disorder, physical injury and even death. Additionally, these practices are disproportionately used against students with disabilities and students of color, making this an issue of racial equity as well as one of access to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To advance their advocacy, Fairfax County Special Education PTA collaborated with partners and adopted a position statement, utilizing National PTA’s 2015 resolution on restraint and seclusion as well as National PTA’s endorsement of the 2020 Keeping All Students Safe Act. Fairfax County Special Education PTA also engaged their community to call upon their school board for massive reforms regarding the use and documentation of restraint and seclusion in Fairfax County Public Schools. As a result of their advocacy, a new policy was passed on Dec. 17, 2020, banning seclusion and limiting restraint use in Fairfax County Public Schools.

About the Award 

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.