Phil Pickens Award Archives
Posted on April 15, 2015, by GAPMP
History of the Phil Pickens Award
In late 2000, Phil Pickens, when he was the State Special Education Director for Georgia, met Patti Solomon, mother, advocate and newly-minted Family Engagement Specialist at the Georgia Department of Education. That meeting led to the creation of the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.
The GaPMP was modeled after a program in Ohio, which Solomon had been involved with prior to her family’s move to Georgia. Pickens liked the idea, but had a slightly different vision of what this new initiative could be. He wanted to take the program, meant to encourage parent engagement for families of students receiving special education services one step further. His vision was for those parents, or parent mentors as we are now known, to be considered more than volunteers… they would be trained professionals working in their local school districts.
In 2002, the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership began with six pilot counties. Since then, the initiative has grown to over 100 parent mentors who partner with special education directors in over 90 school districts to embed family engagement into school and district initiatives.
The work of the GaPMP has proven its sustainability, growing and adapting over the years. Parent mentors suffered the loss of their own mentor: with the tragic loss of Phil Pickens, who died in 2006 and became the first recipient of this award. Solomon retired from her post at the DOE in 2012.
This award is testament to that ongoing drive for excellence and leadership exemplified by the individuals recognized in the past, present, and future individuals to be added to the list of Phil Pickens award winners.
The following have been recognized in acknowledgement of their hard work and dedication in the role of a leader:
2005 Phil Pickens
2006 Ms. Clemene Ramsey Fayette County Schools SPED Director
2007 Dr. Julie Moilanen Grady County Schools SPED Director
2008 Mike Blake Clarke County Schools and Scott Crain Hall County Parent Mentor
2009 Dr. Mikki Garcia Chatham County Schools Ginger Henderson Meriwether County Parent Mentor
2010 Dr. Sue Carter Walton County SPED and Tracy Barber Seminole County Parent Mentor
2011 Joellen Harden Dodge County SPED Kim Chester Bartow County Parent Mentor
2012 Joan Baird Madison County SPED Pam Moore Madison County Parent Mentor
2013 Jennifer Mellor Jones County SPED Teresa Johnson Walton County Parent Mentor
2014 Ann Cross Gordon County SPED Carol Smith Candler County Parent Mentor
2015 Andrea Pender Barrow County SPED April Lee Wayne County Parent Mentor
2016 Sandy Malone Seminole County SPED *parent mentor tie Edith Abakare, Atlanta City AND Lisa Vaughn, Liberty County
2017 Dr. Mary Kay Berry White County SPED Jackie McNair Gwinnett County Parent Mentor
2018 Heidi Hill Clarke County SPED JoEllen Hancock Cherokee County Parent Mentor
2019 Audrey Walters Montgomery County SPED Juliet Hardeman Chatham County Parent Mentor
2020 Tania Amerson Bartow County SPED Amanda Locke Evans County Parent Mentor
Scroll down to get information on previous winners and award criteria
Click here to view the 2016 Winners page
Click here to view the 2015 Winners page
Visionary Award – What it is and why. Powerpoint from the 2011 Kickoff.