The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth honored several Tennesseans this week for their efforts on behalf of children.

Awards were presented at the agency’s annual Children’s Advocacy Days event, which serves as an opportunity for children’s advocates, service providers and others to come together to listen to speakers, leaders and peers who share the goal of improving outcomes for children, youth and families.

The following were recognized:

Carla Snodgrass, deputy director for child health under the Division of Family Health and Wellness at the Tennessee Department of Health, received the Sen. Douglas Henry Public Official of the Year Award. Snodgrass was credited with great perseverance and determination in her work expanding services and supports offered by the department.

Sandra Allen, a founding board member and former president of the Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee, was awarded the Jim Pryor Child Advocacy award. Allen serves as the senior adviser to the Early Success Coalition at Porter Leath in Memphis.

Judy Graham, who retired recently after a 43-year career in child advocacy, received the Linda O’Neal Lifetime Achievement Award. Graham previously served as a member of the state’s Young Child Wellness Council and was president of the Tennessee Head Start Association. Before retiring, she was the director of the Sequatchie Valley Head Start Program since 1985.

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey and the department itself were awarded the John Seigenthaler Making KIDS COUNT Media award, in honor of the department’s efforts to keep people informed throughout the pandemic.

Matthew Marshall, president and CEO of United Way of West Tennessee, received the new Friend of Children award. Marshall was credited as an increasingly critical partner to the commission, and previously was the executive director and head of school at Hands Up! Preschool in Jackson.

Recordings from the 2021 event can be found at

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