Parent University founder and Savannah Early Childhood Foundation (SECF) Executive Director Michael O’Neal recently received national recognition for his work in the community as one of Fortune magazine’s “Heroes of the 500.”
The magazine’s second annual “Heroes of the 500” list features the stories of 55 “Fortune 500” employees who are giving back to their communities in extraordinary ways. O’Neal was the only recipient from the Savannah area and one of only seven honorees from the state of Georgia.
O’Neal’s profile for the feature cites his work to create and expand the innovative Early Learning College at Parent Universi- ty program for parents of young children in Savannah.
As O’Neal, a father of four and grandfather of 10 children, told the magazine: “ The most important thing is making the model engaging and making the environment feel safe and non-judgemental. Parents don’t feel like they’re being talked down to, and they feel like they’re valued.”
O’Neal was nominated by International Paper, where he worked as a maintenance electrician for the past 38 years. Since January, International Paper has awarded O’Neal a paid sabbatical so that he can work with SECF full time and scale up the Early Learning College at Parent University Program even further.