2010 Public Service Award


 The Georgia Chapter’s Awards Committee, chaired by past chapter president Ulf Zimmermann, has announced the selection of Gaye Morris Smith, executive director of the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, as the recipient of the chapter’s “Public Administrator of the Year” award for 2010.  This marks the first time in many years that the chapter is presenting this award.

“Family Connection is a statewide network of 159 county collaboratives in Georgia. Each collaborative serves as the local decision-making body, bringing community partners together to develop, implement, and evaluate plans that address the serious challenges facing Georgia’s children and families.”  It is a joint public/private initiative, created by officials of Georgia’s state government and private organizations in 1991 and legally organized as a private, nonprofit organization.  Fifteen counties signed on as affiliates when the organization went into operation.  It took 13 years to reach full-coverage affiliation of all of Georgia’s 159 counties.  “Collaboratives build a team of diverse partners committed to improving the quality of life in their communities. Each collaborative coordinates a planning process that identifies needs and resources, sets goals and priorities, evaluates programs and practices, and measures and reports results for their county.”1  This is what the collaboratives do:

The collaboratives’ “goals are focused on children being healthy, ready for school, and succeeding in school, as well as helping families be more stable and self-sufficient.”3

The organization has turned state appropriations into the basis for leveraging to private organizations.  In FY 2002, for example, the state government invested $10.3 million in Family Connection collaboratives.  As a result, the collaboratives leveraged an additional $25.8 million from other local, state, federal and private resources.4

Here is Gaye Morris Smith’s biography:

Gaye Morris Smith is Executive Director of Family Connection Partnership, Inc., in Atlanta, a public/private nonprofit created and funded by the State of Georgia and the private sector. She oversees the work of Family Connection Partnership in connecting local, state and national partners to support efforts to strengthen Georgia’s children, families and communities. Partners include: public/private foundations; human service providers; education, community and business leaders; state and local elected officials; and faith- and civic-based organizations.

Smith’s primary duties include: supporting Family Connection collaboratives in all 159 Georgia counties through technical assistance, peer learning, and replicating best practices; promoting local decision-making and community priorities; and overseeing the Partnership’s data collection and analysis of indicators of child and family well-being. She also provides support and leadership for the Partnership’s Board of Directors.

Smith joined the Partnership in November 2001. She previously served as President/CEO of Parent and Child Development Services Inc., a nonprofit agency providing Montessori child development, family counseling, and teen parenthood programs for families in Chatham and Effingham Counties. She also provided consultative services for the Casey Foundation’s Making Connections Initiative in Savannah. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Director and interim Executive Director for the Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority, a community-based collaborative responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring services to children.

Smith began her career in social services with the United Way of the Coastal Empire, where she was vice president of Planning and Allocations. She has served on the boards and as president of several nonprofit organizations, including president of the Savannah Jr. League. She currently is a member of the Board of Directors of Voices for Georgia’s Children, a statewide advocacy organization for children and families. She also serves as a board member for the GA Partnership for Excellence in Education and the Advisory Board for the RAND Corporation’s Promising Practices Network.

A native of Athens, Smith received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from North Georgia College & State University, Dahlonega, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia.

Gaye Morris Smith has done an exceptional job of administering the Family Connection Partnership since 2001.  The chapter is pleased to present the “Public Administrator of the Year” award to her on Friday, March 26.