Mechanicsburg, PA, October 17, 2018 – The Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation (PaPEF) created the William Howard Day Award in 2015 to recognize outstanding contributions to public education by individuals, groups or organizations across the commonwealth.

The PaPEF board of directors is pleased to award the 2018 William Howard Day Award to Joan L. Benso, President and CEO, PA Partnerships for Children. Benso will be presented the award at the Excellence in Public Education Leadership and Awards Dinner during the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center.

Benso will join the company of past recipients Senator Patrick Browne and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale in receiving the award that was named in honor of the first African-American school board president in the United States. William Howard Day served the Harrisburg City School Board for six terms starting in 1878 and was a member of the Pennsylvania State Directors’ Association, the predecessor of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA).

Benso has dedicated her career to improving the health, education and well-being of the commonwealth’s children through her leadership as president and CEO of PA Partnerships for Children (PPC). PPC is a strong and trusted advocacy organization working at both the state and federal levels to provide policy solutions that positively impact children. She has tirelessly pursued PPC’s vision to position Pennsylvania as one of the top 10 states in the nation in which to be a child and raise a child.

During Benso’s leadership at PPC, the organization championed many child-advocacy issues and directed a broad range of coalitions, including those which yielded the passage and protection of CHIP and Medicaid, enactment and expansion of the Head Start State Supplemental Assistance Program and Pre-K Counts, development of Keystone STARS, expansion of child care subsidy, dedicated funding for proven education strategies such as full-day kindergarten and reduced elementary class size, a more equitable public education funding formula, special education funding reforms and much more.

In recognition of her contributions, Ms. Benso is awarded $5,000 as contribution to a public school foundation of her choice. The contribution will be made to the Bulldog Foundation of Big Springs School District for teacher grants in elementary education.


The Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation (PPEF) is a nonprofit 501c3 established to promote excellence in public education. By providing grant and scholarship opportunities to Pennsylvania public school students and leaders, we strive to pave the way for new opportunities and innovations that lead to the ongoing success of school districts across the state.

Media Contact:
Annette Gray
Director of Communications


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