June 2022


Welcome to New Board Members

Georgia Appleseed’s Board of Directors provides essential guidance, support, and outreach. We are excited to welcome the following new members to our Board (clockwise from top left).

Board members volunteer countless hours and bring expertise from a range of fields, backgrounds, and organizations across Georgia. Visit our website to learn more.

26th Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum

According to a recent CDC report, almost 37% of high schoolers felt persistent sadness or hopelessness, and almost 20% considered suicide before the arrival of COVID-19. Executive Director Michael Waller participated in a panel at The Carter Center’s Annual Mental Health Forum on May 18 to discuss these findings. He described how Georgia schools that maintain a positive school climate (learning environment) teach and nurture resilience and self-control in their students. These two life skills play an important role in positive mental health.

Clockwise from top left: Eve Byrd, Director, The Carter Center Mental Health Program, Erica Fener-Sitkoff Executive Director, Voices for Georgia’s Children, Michael Waller, Executive Director, Georgia Appleseed

National Appleseed Network Meeting

Georgia Appleseed staff recently joined sister Appleseed centers at the national Appleseed Network meeting in Montgomery, Alabama. Held at the Equal Justice Initiative headquarters, the meeting included museum tours, presentations, and break-out sessions that inspired learning and sharing of successes, challenges, and collaborations.

All Appleseeds law centers – some of which are single-member and some of which have close to fifty employees –engage in nonpartisan research and outreach to advance sustainable solutions to systemic problems. Each law center develops unique programs to address the most pressing problems in their communities. While Georgia Appleseed focuses on children's housing and education, for example, other Appleseeds have programs prioritizing voting rights, immigration reform, consumer protection and food insecurity. Our Alabama Appleseed hosts presented on their prison re-entry program, and their extensive legislative efforts to end debt-based driver license suspensions, providing insights applicable to our foster care work and legislative approach.

The Appleseed Network is:

“145 full-time advocates across 16 states, DC, and Mexico, spanning the urban-rural and red-blue divides, investing $14.3 million annually in community-driven advocacy.”

Family Law Institiute Panel

From left: Moderator Audrey Bergeson (Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation), Suzann Wilcox (Parker Poe), and Morgan Bridgman (Georgia Appleseed)

Morgan Bridgman, Policy Counsel, recently presented to family lawyers from across the state about education law, specifically encouraging family lawyers to advocate for children in school disciplinary hearings. Presented by the Family Law Institute, the panel was an opportunity to share best practices and learnings from our FAIR Project (Fairness, Advocacy, and Individualized Representation for children in foster care).

June Celebrations and Happenings


Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received word they were free. At that time, approximately 250,000 enslaved Texans were still unaware their freedom had been secured, more than a month after the Civil War’s end and 900 days after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. Its official recognition has seen rapid progress in the past few years. Juneteenth was designated as a federal holiday in 2021. Governor Kemp recognized Juneteenth in Georgia via proclamation, but not as a paid holiday, since standing law bound Georgia to 12 paid holidays. Two of these were originally Confederate celebrations, which Governor Deal had renamed as “state holidays” in 2015. In Georgia’s 2022 legislative session, Calvin Smyre, the longest-serving member of the Legislature (48 years!), who had sponsored legislation in 1984 making MLK Jr. Day a state holiday, carried the bill expanding Georgia’s paid holidays from 12 to 13, effectively allowing for Juneteenth to be a paid holiday.

Find out more about Juneteenth events in Atlanta.

Other June and Upcoming Events

  • June is Caribbean American Heritage month. Read the President's proclamation, and learn about its history and celebratory events happening across the nation.

  • The Georgia Appleseed offices will be closed July 4-8 for our summer sabbatical.

Pride and Support for LGBTQIA+ Youth

As we celebrate Pride month, we recommit to advancing justice and opportunity for our LGBTQIA+ youth. Georgia Appleseed focuses on children most impacted by inequality and injustice. LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as children in foster care, where LGBTQIA+ youth are over-represented, are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm.

A 2019 study found 30% percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5% as transgender, compared to 11% and 1% percent of youth not in foster care.

Georgia Appleseed works with schools, foster parents, and local communities to address challenges, and ensure youth in care have access to strong, nurturing schools and a safe and healthy home.

Help us with a Gift to End our Fiscal Year June 30

Georgia Appleseed fights to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, promote behavioral health supports in schools, and advocate for healthy housing for Georgia's children. With nurturing schools, the behavioral and educational supports they need, and a stable, healthy home, all of Georgia's children will thrive.

Join us by making a donation and/or becoming a pro bono partner.

Donate Now

Connecting with you helps us build our community of advocates and amplify our mission to advance justice for children across Georgia. Follow our social media sites to stay up to date with resources, celebrations and announcements. View our video library on YouTube, be one of the first to follow our new Instagram account, and join us on LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter.