The Jo Cato Perseverance on Behalf of Children and Families Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated significant support of children and families. The award was established in 2000 to honor Jo Cato upon her retirement as head of the Department of Human Resources (under which the Child Care Licensing Office was located until the Office of School Readiness was formed) after 34 years of work. The award honors others who share her perseverance and long-term support of quality care for young children.

Award criteria

The Jo Cato Perseverance on Behalf of Children and Families Award is awarded to an individual who has significantly demonstrated support of children and families by having a:

  • Long history (10 years +) of service
  • Strong voice and work ethic
  • Commitment to lifelong learning
  • Commitment to diversity
  • Measurable impact

Recipients of the Jo Cato Perseverance on Behalf of Children and Families Award

  • 2016: Peggy Gallagher

peggy-gallagherDr. Peggy Gallagher is a Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Special Education at Georgia State University. Dr. Gallagher has been a consistent voice in Early Childhood Special Education for over 30 years.  During her entire career, she has been a respected voice in the ECSE community, sought after for advice, guidance, and help advocating and standing up for the needs of children with special needs and their families in our state, nationally, and internationally.  She has tirelessly served by teaching and mentoring countless graduating classes of new Early Childhood Special Education teachers, ensuring her students knew how to apply what they learned to help children. Her interest in inclusion has kept her active in Georgia where she served on all of the major initial task forces promoting inclusion at the state level. She has always strived to make sure that young children with disabilities are able to access and thrive in environments with their typical peers. Additionally, Dr. Gallagher has been active at the national level with the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children and has been a member of NAEYC/GAYC for over 25 years. At the international level, she has been an active member of the European Teacher Education Network (ETEN) and is the past Director of International Programs for the College of Education at Ga. State University. Throughout her accomplished and influential career, Dr. Gallagher has touched many, many lives and made a lasting impact on the field.

  • 2015: Nona Welch
  • 2014: Charlotte Wallinga
  • 2013: Donna King Martin
  • 2012: Laura J. Johns
  • 2011: Carol Hartman
  • 2010: Gloria Calhoun
  • 2009: Juanita Blount-Clark
  • 2008: Jackye Brown
  • 2007: Anita Smith
  • 2006: Mary K. Jackson
  • 2005: Elaine Draeger
  • 2004: Gary Larson
  • 2003: Gloria Johnston