After more than 35 years of taking action for children and leading the charge to build stronger family-school-community partnerships across the country, Warlene Gary plans to retire as the chief executive officer of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
Gary, who has been at the helm of PTA for almost five years, emphasized an organizational focus on equality for children’s health, safety, and education, as well as diversity and outreach to underrepresented families.
“When I came in to lead PTA, my goal was to involve more minority parents, continue to build partnerships with other organizations, and strengthen the PTA brand with innovative programs and campaigns to help parents across all socio-economic levels and culture get involved in their child’s education,” said Gary, a former teacher and PTA’s first Black national CEO.
“The PTA has made tremendous progress towards that goal, but there is much more to be done, if our nation’s children are to reach their full potential. I’m very proud of our accomplishments and confident that PTA will continue its focus on connecting to minority and urban communities that need PTA’s resources and strength to represent their children.”
Under her leadership, a variety of programs, campaigns and initiatives were strengthened and created. Among the new initiatives is the PTA National Emerging Minority Leadership Conference-an annual event that gathers minority local PTA leaders from across the country to address relevant issues affecting minority families and provides leadership skills to help them involve more minority parents in their children’s education.
“Warlene is a true champion of fighting for children and families. We were extremely fortunate to have someone in PTA who made advocating for children a lifetime vocation,” said Jan Harp Domene, PTA national president.
Gary, who set a tentative retirement date after PTA’s national convention in June, also was a key influence in establishing a diversity committee for the national board. Other programs, campaigns and initiatives created under her leadership include: Kids of Katrina Hurricane Relief Fund; PTA Goes To Work (funded by the U.S. Department of Labor); PTA Start the Art; PTA Ambassador for Youth; PTA Take Your Family to School Week; PTA’s Walk for Healthy Kids; Community Connections (urban outreach); PTA’s Commitment to America’s Children Award, as well as the revisions of the National Standards for Parent Involvement and PTA parent involvement programs.