PHARR – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD's Parental Engagement Director Olivia Benford was recently named Exemplary Leader of the Year at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit in Washington, D.C. on July 27-28. 

Benford was one of five finalists in the nation selected for this prestigious award category that recognizes government leaders who have demonstrated benevolence, competence, integrity, dedication, and commitment to improve and inspire our communities. 

Since 2010, the NextGen Summit has inspired government innovation and provides training and leadership opportunities for public servants. Each year, the organization awards individuals from across the nation who are driven, positive and dedicated to making a difference in their communities. 

At PSJA ISD, Benford has spearheaded eight literacy centers that provide GED, citizenship, and computer technology classes for PSJA ISD parents through the PSJA Parental Engagement Program. As part of the program, more than 5,000 parents are able to participate in numerous free classes and even obtain certifications at six different Parent Centers thanks to partnerships with South Texas College and the Region One Education Service Center.  

Through her leadership, Benford ensures PSJA parents are provided with quality adult education that can help them become entrepreneurs, certified in a new trade for employment opportunities or learn the English language and skills they can use to help their children be successful in school.