Published: Jul 07, 2010 6:26 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 07, 2010 3:26 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE – State Board of Education Chairman T. Willard Fair will be recognized by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) with its 2010 Distinguished Service Award during the NASBE conference in Salt Lake City, UT, in October. The national award is given annually to select state board of education members in recognition of their outstanding service to public education.

“Tal has dedicated his life to be a fearless, ferocious, and effective leader in improving our children's education, and he has succeeded on a grand scale,” said State Board member Roberto Martinez. “This award could not go to a more worthy recipient.”

“For decades, T. Willard Fair has led selflessly to improve opportunities for Florida’s children. I am excited for Mr. Fair and for our state that he is being honored,” said State Board member Mark Kaplan.

"Chairman Fair is a bold and courageous voice for our young people. He believes in the American dream-and how it can be available to all boys and girls through strong and effective education," says State Board Member Susan Story.

Chairman Fair currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Greater Miami, Inc., where he has led improvement efforts in his community since September 1963. Fair has also served as an adjunct professor at the Atlanta University School of Social Work, Bethune Cookman College, Florida International University, and the National Urban League's Whitney M. Young, Jr., Center for Urban Leadership.

“T. Willard has been a longtime friend of mine, and a partner in advocating for improved educational outcomes and choices for Florida’s children,” said Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida from 1999-2007.  “Together we started one of the first charter schools in Florida, and as Governor, I appointed him to the first appointed body of the Florida Board of Education.  I know firsthand what a difference his leadership has made in the lives of Florida’s children.  I want to congratulate him on receiving this distinguished award, and I hope his example is an inspiration to many of the difference one reformer can make.”

“I continue to be impressed by Chairman Fair’s ideas, knowledge and utmost professionalism, and am delighted that his positive impact on Florida’s education system will be recognized on a national level,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “By recognizing his outstanding public service, I hope more states will have the opportunity to interact and learn from this great visionary.”

Chairman Fair graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. degree in sociology from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., in 1961. He also received a M.S.W. degree from the Atlanta University School of Social Work in 1963.