Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald

The 2016 Winter-Reed Partnership Award was presented to Oleta Fitzgerald, director of the Children's Defense Fund's Southern Regional Office, during a tribute luncheon Aug. 23 at the Clyde Muse Center in Pearl. Throughout her extensive career in public advocacy, Fitzgerald has emphasized the role of education in strengthening Mississippi's communities and continues leading efforts to expand access to early childhood education for the region's most vulnerable populations.
    “Oleta Fitzgerald has devoted her life to helping people who all too often do not have a voice in our society,” said Phil Hardwick, MAPE president. “For decades she has worked tirelessly to break down barriers to opportunity while ensuring that more Mississippians have access to quality education, healthcare and other fundamental resources that are critical to the future of our schools, our families and our future."
    Through her involvement with the Children's Defense Fund, Fitzgerald serves as regional administrator for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice and principal for the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) initiative, which has operated in more than 12 Mississippi school districts.
    Read about the award ceremony honoring Oleta Fitzgerald in The Mississippi Link.