Helen Gym, a staunch public education advocate and founder of Parents United for Public Education, will be one of 10 community leaders to be honored by the White House as a Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change.
Named after the Mexican American labor leader and civil rights activist, the honor goes to those "who have committed themselves to improving the lives of others in their communities and across the country. At the core, all of our honorees represent the values and steadfast determination of Cesar Chavez to organize ourselves for a more just tomorrow," said a White House release.
Gym, the first editor and a current opinion blogger for the Notebook, is being recognized for her work in education and her work with Asian American and immigrant communities in Philadelphia.
Helen Gym is a community and education leader whose work across different organizations supports the right to a quality public education for all children. A former school teacher and journalist, she leads the board of Asian Americans United, a 28-year old organization serving Philadelphia’s diverse Asian American and immigrant communities. At AAU, she has organized against predatory gambling and led a campaign to address human rights issues in immigration and deportation practices. She helped found a Chinatown-based charter school serving many immigrant families and anchored a successful federal civil rights case focused on the responsibility of adults to create safe school environments free from bias and harassment. She is a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, a citywide parent group that has successfully advocated for millions of dollars in new revenue for Philadelphia public schools. She is a frequent writer and contributor in local media circles; helped establish the city’s independent education newspaper, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, as its first full-time editor; and is currently on the editorial board of Rethinking Schools, a social justice teaching journal.
White House officials will recognize the 10 honorees and engage them in discussion at an event that will be livestreamed on the White House website at 10 a.m. on March 31.