Children’s organization honors longtime education advocate

Bev Harad, a longtime advocate for education and children in Idaho, was honored Friday afternoon by more than 300 of the Treasure Valley’s most influential leaders in education and politics.

Idaho Voices for Children named Harad its “Children’s Champion of 2015,” an honor that has previously been awarded to Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, Gov. Cecil Andrus and educator-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan.

Bev Harad

During lunch at Boise State University’s Grace Jordan Ballroom, Harad received two standing ovations from an audience that included mayors, city council members, county commissioners, lawmakers, business leaders, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra and performing artist Curtis Stigers. Presentations about Harad were met with laughter and tears.

Skip Oppenheimer, the 2014 Children’s Champion recipient, introduced Harad and said he could have performed a roast as the two and their spouses are longtime, close friends. Oppenheimer then listed four characteristics that make Harad a valuable advocate.

  1.  “Bev is a dynamic force for good, most often dealing with children and education.”
  2. “She has an absolute commitment to children and education.”
  3. “Bev is creativity.”
  4. “She has a true, caring nature, demonstrated by her family.”

Harad has been married 49 years to her childhood sweetheart, George Harad. They were born and raised on the East Coast before settling in Boise in 1976 where George advanced through the corporate structure at Boise Cascade to become the company’s chairman and chief executive officer in 1995. Bev, a mother of two, became a full-time volunteer.

“They have a great partnership,” Oppenheimer said of the Harads. “They are a dynamic duo.”

The Harads’ adult children were unable to attend the luncheon, but George read a heartfelt letter from their daughter, Alyssa, and shared a video produced by their son, Matt, featuring performances by young grandchildren that had the audience giggling and clapping.

Bev shared her colorful history as a volunteer for Idaho education that started in 1981 with a grass-roots effort to boost education funding and continued by launching advocacy groups that still thrive today.

“The best thing about being recognized is being recognized for something you truly love to do by an organization for whom you have the greatest amount of respect — so thank you,” Bev said. “All of you in your own way are a voice for children.”

Bev Harad’s accomplishments include:

  • Co-founding the statewide group People for Schools in 1981, to bring attention to education issues.
  • Serving on Gov. John Evans’ Taskforce on Education.
  • Serving three terms on the Boise School Board, from 1984 to 2002.
  • Developing the Boise Public Schools Education Foundation, initiating the AVID scholarship to primarily benefit low-income students.
  • Initiating the first Boise College Fair, which continues to draw hundreds of students.
  • Serving on boards for the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, the American Association of University Women, the Idaho Botanical Garden, the Boise Art Museum and The Cabin.
  • Serving as a founding board member of Teach Idaho, a statewide support and resource network for educators.
Skip Oppenheimer, Barbara Morgan and Jim Everett, former honorees, present Bev Harad with her Children’s Champion belt.
Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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