Greetings from ECCLA’s New Executive Director
I am thrilled to be writing you my first newsletter update as Executive Director of the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA). I began serving in this role in early January and what a whirlwind the last (almost) two months have been! It has been wonderful meeting so many ECCLA partners, funders, and champions as I have been settling in. The Colorado network for early childhood is truly remarkable. There are so many people working together to improve the lives of Colorado young children and families. If I have not had the chance to connect with you yet, I hope to do so soon!
A little bit about me…I was born and raised in Oklahoma (which has universal pre-k and one of the first quality rating and improvement systems in the country!). I have worked on behalf of young children, families, and early childhood (EC) providers all of my life. I have lived and worked in the field of early childhood now in four states. Those include Oklahoma, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Most recently I was a faculty educator and researcher at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in early childhood development and education. I was also the Director of the Institute for Building Early Relationships (IBEaR) at OSU where I had the opportunity to work closely with community and state-level partners implementing large research grants and workforce contracts towards our mission of education, research, and outreach around the critical importance of attachment relationships in the early years. And now I am HERE, in Denver, CO, and I am so excited to be leading ECCLA and supporting Colorado’s Early Childhood Councils as they work to build and sustain a robust system of support for Colorado children, families, and early childhood providers across the state.
First, a huge THANK YOU to those who donated to ECCLA for Colorado Gives Day. This was the second year that ECCLA participated. I would also like to take the opportunity to publicly thank and elevate ECCLA staff for the remarkable job they did to maintain and grow the organization during the leadership transition. ECCLA staff are very committed individuals and phenomenal at the work that they do. I have enjoyed learning from and collaborating with them and am thankful to have such a competent staff as I fully integrate into my new role.
ECCLA has been busy over the last few months! A few highlights: 1) Advocacy – with the Colorado legislature in session, and so many EC focused bills that have the potential to impact Councils, we have been spending time advocating at the State Capitol as well as working to support bills that are in the best interests of Colorado children, families, and EC providers; 2) Resource Development – we have been working on priorities in this area that include diversifying funding and identifying potential opportunities and partnerships for ECCLA and Councils as we continue our important work; and 3) “Strategery” – I think that word actually originated from Saturday Night Live (and this is dating me), so not a real word, but I like the sentiment. With new leadership, organizations have great opportunities to evaluate policies, priorities, and goals moving forward. In collaboration with the ECCLA board and staff, I have been working on strategic priorities for ECCLA for this coming year and beyond. I will be excited to share more once we have had ample time to complete the current “strategery” process.
One goal I can share is the growth of our early childhood workforce support program. ECCLA currently administers the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® COLORADO Scholarship Program for early childhood providers who are in need of comprehensive scholarship assistance to continue their education. We are grateful to our current funders for this program – the Buell Foundation, Daniels Fund, Denver Preschool Program, and Mile High United Way. I am planning to work to grow funding for the T.E.A.C.H. program. I would love to see us be able to provide this scholarship to more EC providers statewide. This will help to meet the current critical need we are seeing for a qualified workforce to meet the child care needs for Colorado families while also improving education and compensation for our EC providers. It is a win-win and I am hoping we are able to garner resources to grow this program.
Other goals for the year include 1) improvements to our Council Impact Tool (in this age of “evidence-based” practice, I believe that the success of this tool is critical to our success moving forward) and 2) broadening and formalizing some of our work with community partners on early childhood initiatives. Currently, we work closely with the National Wildlife Federation: Early Childhood Health Outdoors and Mental Health Colorado, and I hope to continue and strengthen those partnerships, as well as explore new ones.
Thank you all for my warm welcome. I am so thrilled to be in this role supporting early childhood work in Colorado. It has been an amazing first couple of months and I am looking forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead in support of healthy and happy Colorado children, families, and EC providers!
All my best,