National PTA is now accepting applications for the 2014 Jan Harp Domene Diversity and Inclusion Award. This award recognizes PTAs that best demonstrate outstanding achievement in the areas of diversity and inclusion, as well as efforts to end discriminatory practices. The award will be presented to one state PTA and one local, council or district PTA at the end of the 2014 National PTA Annual Convention, June 19-22 in Austin, TX
The current focus on diversity and minority leadership began during the PTA presidential term of Lois Jean White. She promoted the Urban Initiative, supported a PTA program called Walk A Mile in My Shoes, and had a partnership with Ebony magazine. Shirley Igo continued this emphasis in her term with the Hispanic Initiative. Jan Harp Domene was an active participant of this program since California was one of the targeted states of the initiative while she was in a leadership position of the California State PTA. Shirley and Jan formed a strong friendship while working on this project. They both recognized the importance of involving all parents in the education of their children.
During my term as president, Jan and I worked with Warlene Gary, who was the National PTA CEO at the time, to develop an ongoing initiative to promote leadership among minority PTA members and to encourage them to take on leadership roles in their own PTAs, as well as at State and National levels of PTA. On October 27, 2006, the first Minority Leader’s Conference was born in Detroit, Michigan.
In Jan’s term, she continued to support PTA sponsored Minority Leadership Conferences. She also worked to include minority leadership at all levels of PTA. She identified and helped minority leaders to rise to state and national leadership positions. She recruited at-large National PTA board members so the National board was reflective of the diversity of our entire membership.
Jan was always passionate about including and involving parents who found it difficult to become involved or who did not always feel welcome in PTA. Those groups included military families, dads, and families of color. As a native of New York and long time resident of California, Jan recognized the challenges of minority families. She was a great connector. Everywhere she went Jan knew someone and brought them into the PTA family. Her values are reflected in her children who adopted minority children. She often showed us pictures of her multi-cultural family that enjoyed the benefit of her love and devotion as a grandmother. I am sure Jan is smiling down upon all of us, not so much for honoring her by naming this award for her, but for continuing the effort to involve every parent of every child with one voice.
Anna Weselak is a past National PTA president, 2005-2007.