Trustee Joan Poliak honored with Fred Rogers Leadership Award

Casey Family Programs Trustee Joan Poliak has been named this year’s recipient of the Fred Rogers Leadership Award in Philanthropy for Children, Youth and Families.

Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families (GCYF) gives this award annually in memory of one of the country’s most beloved advocates for children, Fred McFeely Rogers — known by generations as the television host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The award recognizes outstanding contributions and leadership by grantmaking staff, trustees and donors in all fields of children, youth and family philanthropy.

Ms. Poliak received the award and the “Trolley,” the iconic symbol of the long-running children’s TV show, at GCYF’s annual convening November 3 in Washington, D.C. Joanne Rogers presented the award in honor of GCYF’s 30th anniversary and in tribute to her late husband’s legacy.

“As a social worker who worked with children, I appreciated the way Mister Rogers spoke to the children. I liked the kinds of things he helped them to understand and taught them, including ways to behave and ways to get along,” Ms. Poliak said at the event.

She also said that philanthropy has an important role to play in positive change in child welfare. “We must use every opportunity to be strategic partners, to provide our unique perspective, and to be advocates for change across all of the systems that touch children and families,” she added.

Ms. Poliak, who began her career as a social worker, has been a Casey Family Programs trustee since 1982. She retired from Family Services in Seattle as the director of family education and support services, with a strong emphasis on homeless children and families, outreach services and preventive education. She has served on prominent boards, including the Child Welfare League of America, Marguerite Casey Foundation and the King County Commission for Children, Youth, and Families.

Dr. William C. Bell, Casey Family Programs president and CEO, said: “I value Joan’s wisdom, counsel and leadership on the Board. In her every task, large or small, Joan has always been a focused, firm and effective leader on the Board of Casey Family Programs.”