Nominate a PTA or PTA Advocate Today for the 2018 Advocacy Awards!

Shirley Igo 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. In honor of her legacy, the National PTA Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award is presented to an individual PTA member, who through their leadership and advocacy efforts, affected federal, state or local policy priorities within National PTA’s annual public policy agenda.

As the 2017 Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award winner, it was my honor to attend the 2017 National PTA Legislative Conference where I spent three days in our nation’s capital.

At the conference, I was able to hear from Washington, DC influencers and get face-to-face advocacy training from experts to make my voice heard more effectively back in my community. With other advocates of the New Jersey PTA, I also had the opportunity to speak with federal policymakers about issues facing our schools and families for National PTA’s Capitol Hill Day. I was very excited to discuss these issues with members of Congress and their staff and was honored to be a part of such an historic legacy of advocacy.

This past year as I have continued my advocacy efforts on behalf of PTA, I have met so many selfless individuals and PTA groups that set out each day to move PTA forward. They work on behalf of all our children and deserve to be acknowledged for their strong commitment to PTA.

If you know of an outstanding youth or individual PTA advocate, or know of a local unit or state level PTA that has done great advocacy work, nominate them to receive an award for their efforts from National PTA! Winners will be announced in January and will get the opportunity to receive their awards at the 2018 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC and have an incredible experience like I did.

As in previous years, advocates may self-nominate themselves in the youth and individual categories. Nominations must be for efforts made in the last year and are due by midnight on Dec. 18. For more information about the 2018 Advocacy Awards, visit PTA.org/AdvocacyAwards.

Apply today and join a legacy of PTA advocates who have changed the lives of millions of students and families.

Rose Acerra is the 2017 Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award winner and the president of New Jersey PTA.

PTA’s Advocacy Efforts Ramp Up After 2016 LegCon

LegCon Around Conference Photos by Lifetouch-103-L

More than 200 PTA members nationwide attended National PTA’s 2016 Legislative Conference (LegCon) to hone their advocacy skills and learn new ways to strengthen their PTA voice. During workshops and panel discussions, PTA leaders heard from experts about best practices to expand their grassroots network of PTA advocates, build relationships with policymakers and how to amplify their message through social media.

On the last day of LegCon, PTA advocates met with their elected officials on Capitol Hill to discuss key issues affecting children and families, including obtaining funding for Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). PTA members’ dedicated advocacy efforts and collective voice resulted in 38 Representatives and 22 Senators signing on to a Dear Colleague letter in support of funding SFECs.

The bipartisan, bicameral support for the Dear Colleague letter is a great example of the power of our PTA advocacy efforts. That success is just the beginning of what the PTA can achieve when our 4 million members advocate for “Every Child with One Voice.”

To push back against the expected budget cuts to federal education programs, it is imperative for PTA members to continue to be engaged with Congress in 2016. The LegCon workshops and trainings have been uploaded to the LegCon website and can be utilized year-round to expand PTA members’ advocacy efforts at all levels of government.

The key to effective advocacy is building relationships with your Members of Congress and their office staff. Below are a few relationship building strategies that you can do throughout the year to develop a rapport with your Congressional offices:

  • Send letters to your member of Congress through National PTA’s Takes Action Center
  • Call your member of Congress’ office to discuss issues affecting children and families in your district and state
  • Meet with your member of Congress and their staff in the district office
  • Invite your member of Congress to visit your school and/or attend a PTA meeting
  • Engage with your member of Congress on social media

By developing a strong line of communication with your members of Congress and their staff, our association will be able to meet our policy goals that will help to improve the lives of children and families across the country.

Sign-up to receive our PTA Takes Action e-newsletter and follow @NationalPTA on Twitter for updates on National PTA legislative priorities.


Joshua Westfall is the government affairs manager at National PTA.