Each year through our Champion for Kids Awards, we recognize individuals who have demonstrated dedication and commitment in working toward preventing child abuse and neglect, by ensuring that children are living in safe, supportive and nurturing communities.
All are invited to join us in honoring Traci and Bernard at our fundraising reception in Fairbanks on Thursday, March 26. Learn more about the event and RSVP on our Facebook event page.
2020 Northern/Interior Region Champion for Kids: Traci McGarry
Traci has dedicated both her professional and personal life to preventing child abuse and neglect, and advocating for changes that improve the lives of Alaska’s children and families.
In her role as Child and Family Services/Child Advocacy Center director at Kawerak in Nome, Traci spends many hours working directly with families, assisting with court appearances, providing a safe and comfortable environment to ensure children are protected, and helping families return to a safe home situation.
Traci is also dedicated to seeking funding to improve and expand services offered to children and families in her community. Through grant applications and awards, Traci has grown her staff to include additional specialists to work with child victims of crime. She is currently seeking funding for a new and larger building to house the Child Advocacy Center, which was recommended for replacement in a recent facility assessment. The new building would help the center serve the growing number of children and families seeking assistance, which has grown from 59 in 2014 to 141 in 2019.
“Through her leadership, the Children and Family Services and Child Advocacy Center has increased staff and has increased services to our children in the region,” said Carol Piscoya, who nominated Traci for the award.
Outside of work, Traci still finds time to be an active advocate and member of the community, volunteering on many local and state committees, boards and commissions that focus on the safety of children and families. She is a volunteer DJ at the local KNOM radio station, a member of the local Rotary Club, secretary of the Alaska Children’s Alliance, and active with the Alaska Tribal Caucus group. She has also volunteered at the local elementary school and homeless shelter, serving as needed until positions could be filled by paid employees.
“Traci’s leadership skills are very strong, supportive and committed to our children,” Carol said.
2020 Northern/Interior Region Champion for Kids: Bernard Gatewood
It is said that one of the best ways to prevent child abuse and neglect is to find ways to address the cyclical nature of abuse. That is exactly what Bernard has focused on during his more than 30 years of working with Alaska’s children and families.
“Bernard’s 28 years with the Division of Juvenile Justice gave him the unique opportunity to counsel, educate and empower youth in the system,” wrote Taber Rehbaum in her nomination of Bernard for the award. “These youth were often victims of neglect and abuse themselves. Bernard’s efforts to provide them with the resources they needed to grow and develop positive outlets was a critical step towards healing and breaking that cycle.”
During his 15-year tenure as superintendent at Fairbanks Youth Facility, Bernard placed a premium on academic achievement and real-world skills, which could lead to a living-wage-paying job. Through diverse partnerships, Bernard led the development of an in-house culinary program, healthcare classes, automotive repair training, and a robotics program, among others. As a result, some residents became certified in first aid/CPR, others were certified as road crew flaggers and emergency fire fighters, and others earned high school diplomas or GEDs.
Bernard, known for his skills in securing necessary capital for projects, was also tireless in his work to obtain funding for various projects that would positively impact the residents. Examples included construction of a full gymnasium and building of a fence that allowed all residents – regardless of their security status – to work in the garden, growing flowers and vegetables, many of which were donated to the local food bank.
In addition to his career in juvenile justice, Bernard served on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Health and Social Services Commission, was elected to the Fairbanks City Council, and was co-founder of the Black Role Model Initiative.
“Bernard has proven himself as a community leader in Fairbanks and across the state,” Taber said.
Champion for Kids Award