Ask a PTA Leader: Yvonne Johnson, National PTA President

By Kisha DeSandies Lester
National PTA President Yvonne Johnson

With a passion for advocacy, new National PTA president Yvonne Johnson lives by her motto to “Never underestimate the power of a parent’s voice.”

Johnson, a mother of three and a Bubbe, has been a staunch advocate for children during her nearly 30 years serving PTA. She helped pass several educational bills in her home state of Delaware and has been recognized for her work by the Delaware Senate and House of Representatives as well as the governor and lieutenant governor for Delaware.

Johnson has spent the last several years supporting children’s advocacy efforts with National PTA, serving as the voice for parents during her time as vice president of advocacy and chair of the Legislative Committee, NCAAC and Governance Policy Committee.

In 2014, Johnson received the National PTA Shirley Igo Award for leading a grassroots advocacy campaign around inclusive classrooms. She plans to continue being a strong voice for children and education as the 58th National PTA President and is committed to being intentional with PTA’s efforts to be more inclusive, diverse and equitable. She will also focus on advocacy, membership and volunteer development.

We recently caught up with Johnson to discuss her PTA journey and her goals for her term.

Why do you think it is important for everyone to be a part of PTA?

I feel it’s important for families, guardians and community members to be part of PTA because it makes you a member of the largest and oldest child advocacy association in the nation. It gives you a seat at the decision-making table on issues that directly impact your children and your school community.

What does the power of PTA advocacy mean to you?

The power is in our collective voices. When we ask our members of Congress to support our public policy platform, we bring the power of our millions of members nationwide. We have been advocating for all children in the nation for over 126 years and look at everything our voices have accomplished! PTA has been a driving force in ensuring that kindergarten is part of public education, improving child labor laws, launching hot and healthy school lunch programs, improving the juvenile justice system, pushing for more arts in education, improving school safety and so much more. With our collective voices, there is so much more work to be done. That is the power of PTA advocacy.

What is your PTA motto?

Never underestimate the power of a parent’s voice. It is what I live by.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing PTAs and PTA leaders today, and how do you think they can begin to overcome it?

The biggest challenge for our leaders is showing the value of PTA. By participating in our programs, marketing our grant opportunities, taking action on issues, and sharing our plethora of resources to help PTAs be successful, you show the value of our PTA brand, which will encourage others to get involved. No association does what PTA does!

How can PTA leaders be more intentional with their PTA’s efforts to be more inclusive, diverse and equitable?

To make everyone feel welcome to the PTA family, you must be intentional. It will not necessarily come to you. Get out of your comfort zone and seek those who may not be your typical PTA members. Invite everyone to join such as community members, elected officials and school administrators, and embrace diversity. PTA is for everyone. We want families to see themselves reflected in their PTAs. I challenge local PTAs to invite five new members to join your PTA. Think differently. Remember inclusivity and diversity is about welcoming and inviting everyone to join regardless of culture, race, gender, age, religion, economic status, ethnicity, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, organizational status, legal status, mental ability, political philosophy, and work experience.

What else do you want to share with PTA members?

As the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the nation, nothing is more valuable than our voice. From advocating for common sense gun laws, child nutrition, increased funding for Title I and infrastructure investments in aging school buildings to equity and social justice, protecting LGBTQ+ students and wrap around services that include supporting children with mental health needs. This is what PTA does best, and I am thrilled to lead the association and work alongside our members nationwide as we continue to speak for every child with one voice.

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