Just in time for Mother's Day, an Oklahoma City mother was honored recently as the national Young Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc.
Carrie Leonard, 38, was given the title at a “Mom-to-Mom” conference last weekend in Washington, D.C. The title was a result of having been nominated by her friend, Sandy Meyers. The organization accepts nominations for the honor each fall.
“I am completely shocked and very excited. It was a really neat experience,” she said in a phone interview. “I also think it's really neat for Oklahoma to be recognized as well. When I went to that conference, I was so proud that I was from Oklahoma.”
Leonard, who is the daughter of Gov. Frank and Cathy Keating, is the proud mother of four children: Catherine, 9; William, 8; Matthew, 2; and Mary Frances, 10 months.
Leonard attended the conference with her husband Ryan Leonard, 40, and her oldest daughter, Catherine. At the conference, Leonard gave a speech about her views on motherhood, the importance of sitting down together as a family for dinner and communicating with your children.
“Take time to get to know your children, their successes and their challenges,” she said. “I feel like if you start communication at an early age, you'll have a great relationship for years to come.”
“Mommy, I have never been so proud of you,” her daughter said to her after her speech. “I didn't know what it felt like to cry when you're happy.”
This was the highlight of the conference for Leonard, she said.
Leonard holds degrees from the University of Virginia and University of Oklahoma College of Law. She's an active volunteer, having devoted much of her time to Christ the King School, the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences, Lyric Theatre, Friends of the Mansion, the Junior League of Oklahoma City, Girl Scouts, the Annie Oakley Society and the American Heart Association.
In January, Leonard decided to quit her job as the director of development for White Fields, a home for neglected and abused boys, in order to spend more time with her family.