CEO of Children First in Sarasota honored by National Head Start Association

Tavill recognized for ‘significant achievements in excellence in community service’

Philip Tavill, CEO of Children First in Sarasota, has been honored by the National Head Start Association (NHSA) for his significant achievements in excellence in community service, Children First has announced.

The NHSA represents more than 1 million children, 275,000 staff members and 1,600 grant recipients in the United States, a news release explains. “As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First ranks in the top 1% of all programs nationwide,” the release points out.

Tavill first was recognized by the Florida Head Start Association “for his impact in elevating excellence across the state’s Head Start community,” the release continues. He received further recognition at the Southeastern U.S. regional level, representing more than 170,000 children, 40,000 staff members and 300 member programs.

After being honored by the state and regional associations, Tavill received the Sargent Shriver Excellence in Community Service Award during the NHSA annual conference on May 10., the release points out

“Shriver was an American diplomat, politician, and activist,” the release explains. Not only was he the “driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps,” the release says, but he also founded the Job Corps, Head Start, VISTA, Upward Bound and other programs “as the architect of the 1960s War on Poverty. Shriver received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton in 1994,” the release adds.

“Philip joins a list of highly accomplished leaders making notable and significant contributions to improving the lives of children and families at the state, regional and national levels,” said the Rev. Brock H. Leach, chair of the Children First board, in the release. “Thank you for showing us what is possible when you care deeply, work tirelessly, and earn the enduring trust of people from all walks of life,” Leach added, referencing Tavill.

Founded in 1961, “Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being,” the release notes. At 15 sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, along with nutrition and health care assistance, to children from birth to age 5 who are members of low-income families, the release explains.

For more information, call 941-953-3877 or visit