By John Sharp
Joe Carr, Center High School class of 2000, and Mark Garrett, class of 1985, have been selected by the Center Education Foundation as the recipients of its 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards.
The awards are given annually to Center High School graduates who have distinguished themselves through their careers and/or service to their communities.
After working for several nonprofits in the Austin, Texas, area, Carr started his own nonprofit Growin’ Together Hands-On Afterschool and Summer Program to teach children social skills, communication and cooperation and later founded AspiePower.com, an educational and coaching program to help autistic people and their families.
Carr is autistic and was not diagnosed as a child, which helped inspire him to become an advocate for autistic acceptance.
He and his wife Serenity founded Serenity Kids Baby Food in 2016 which makes baby food that is low in sugar and high in healthy fats, made from pasture-raised livestock and poultry and organic vegetables. It has won numerous awards for its innovative approach to improving babies’ health.
Garrett is vice president and chief human resources officer for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City and is chair-elect of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
He is also vice chair of Phoenix Family Housing, a nonprofit that helps people living in low income housing communities gain financial stability and become self-sufficient.
Garrett is a board member of Rose Brooks Center which provides emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence, their children and their pets and also offers outreach programs to help victims find safe and affordable housing and secure stable employment.
Carr and Garrett will receive their awards at A Center Celebration on Saturday, April 9, at the Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City. Tickets will go on sale in January.