Achievers & Accolades

Community Members Receive Awards For Work With Children

By Staff Reports, posted Mar 28, 2023

At the Smart Start Breakfast for Children’s Champions held March 21 at the CFCC Daniels Hall, Heather Ratliff (pictured below) was named as the 2023 Children’s Champion, and  LeAnne Quattrucci received the Starfish Public Advocacy Award. 

Other honorees were Bonnie Harris, Karen Harum, Becky Frederick, Kendra Kellermann, Max Nunez and Tiffany Salter.

"All are individuals who have provided exceptional service to young children ages 0-5 and/or their families in New Hanover County," a news release stated. 

Ratliff has been the director of the Child Development Center, serving children with developmental delays, for 22 years.  At the CDC, children are provided an inclusive setting with access to licensed teachers and therapists. 

"No matter the issue, from children with cerebral palsy to severe autism to children with trauma histories, Heather makes sure every child receives the services they need," the release stated. "She says watching a child grow in confidence is all the motivation she needs for her job Under her tenure, she helped over 500 children to move into kindergarten with fewer special needs services, than when they started the CDC preschool program."

Quattrucci (pictured below) is described as "relentless in her goal to obtain safety and permanence for children in our community.  One of her two nominators says there is no child left in limbo when LeeAnne is assigned to them. Her second nominator says her specialty is securing children loving & appropriate homes in their first 2,000 days," according to the release. "LeeAnne has been with Guardian Ad Litem for almost 13 years and has finalized more than 800 adoptions. She also works outside of GAL, mentoring elementary school students and teaching at UNCW.  LeeAnne puts her beliefs into practice – she and her husband have adopted daughters who are now young women."

Each year, Smart Start of New Hanover County hosts the annual Breakfast for Children’s Champions as an opportunity to recognize New Hanover County citizens, nominated by their peers, for their outstanding efforts on behalf of young children, the release stated. 

"While the Breakfast serves as a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight the great work that professionals are doing on behalf of children and families in our area, it is also serves as our biggest fundraising activity and the main generator of private dollars," said the release. "Smart Start of NHC is still tabulating the total amount raised, which is expected to be over $60,000 in sponsorships, gifts and pledges. Funds raised through donations and sponsorships at this event are used to sustain and expand critical programs for young children in New Hanover County, preparing them to enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed in school and life."

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