Q&A With State and National Executive Directors About Affiliates' Role
NAEYC has changed significantly since the first Affiliate was established in 1956. There have been innovations in membership, capacity, and in the relationship between the national and Affiliate components. Since 2011, NAEYC has been engaged in the National Dialogue—a discussion of how to strengthen the relationship between the national office and the Affiliates. As NAEYC looks to the future, it is also important to reflect on the past, highlight achievements, and consider what will make strong leaders in the future. Concentrated reflection can help members, especially Affiliate leaders, strengthen their leadership and focus.
Pat Minish, executive director of the Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC), and Keith Myers, executive director of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC), have each been involved with NAEYC for more than 35 years. As NAEYC welcomes its new executive director, Rhian Evans Allvin, we invited Pat and Keith to think about their experiences and share some thoughts about moving forward.
Q: Describe your involvement with NAEYC.
Pat: I joined NAEYC with my first paycheck as a kindergarten teacher in 1974. I became involved in my local Affiliate 25 years ago as a junior district representative on the GAYC Board of Directors. Within my Affiliate, I have held the positions of district representative, vice president for membership, president, and executive director. I have been executive director for the past 17 years.
Keith: I joined NAEYC in 1976. I got involved with my local Affiliate when I began my doctoral work at Wayne State University as one of the lab school preschool teachers. My supervisor was the president of MiAEYC at that time and I was “voluntold” that I would get involved with AEYC since it was the professional association for all early childhood educators. It was then that she introduced me to the state board and got me involved in the Association’s activities. After that I was hooked on MiAEYC, and I have been a champion of the Association ever since.
Within my Affiliate I have held the positions of vice president and vice president for membership on the state board. I began as executive director of the Affiliate on July 15, 1988, so 25 years.
Rhian: I have been a member of NAEYC since 2009, which is also when I became involved with all five Arizona Affiliates. I worked with state Affiliate leadership to obtain a $50,000 grant designed to align the Affiliates’ brands, build website and technology capacity, and conduct a strategic planning process. My policy firm at the time, the Brecon Group, led those efforts in collaboration with Affiliate leadership.
Q: Pat and Keith, what did your Affiliates look like when you first joined? What did the national organization look like?
Pat: When I became active in the Georgia Affiliate in 1988, it was about half the size that it is now, the board was entirely volunteers, and our primary projects were a journal, newsletter, advocacy, and an annual conference. I remember being in awe of the men and women on the board. They were so talented and dedicated, and they knew so much about what was happening for children in the state. That dedication has not changed over the years.
Keith: In some ways it looked like it does today. The membership was diverse in its makeup and still is today. Since then we have expanded our reach and are now serving more members through more Affiliates throughout Michigan.
When I first became a MiAEYC board member, all the work, even conference planning, was done by the volunteer board. As vice president for membership, I processed all membership applications for Michigan members. I reviewed applications, processed checks, entered data into a database (we didn’t have the national database like we do now), and sent payment and member information to NAEYC. No one would think of doing work that way today. Everything now is computer- and web-based.
NAEYC was much smaller then, with a much smaller staff. Since it was smaller, there seemed to be a more intimate relationship between NAEYC and the state boards and staff.
Q: Pat and Keith, how has your Affiliate grown and connected with other state organizations?
Pat: The scope and capacity of our Georgia Affiliate has changed. Our projects have always been done in cooperation with other organizations. Our constitutional motto is “Together for Children.”
GAYC reached a capacity-building turning point in 1993 when we took on our first grants, particularly one to develop Georgia’s professional development system. For years we sat at the table with 40 organizational leaders from across the state, during which time the professional development system became systemically embedded in what is now called the Department of Early Care and Learning. Most of the relationships we built then still exist today. As we work on projects together, often now with new partners, we have not only supported one another, but have helped each other accomplish objectives, initiatives, and in some cases systemic change for young children, early childhood professionals, and families.
As our strategic plan and project list grew, so did our staff. Since starting as a volunteer-run organization we now have five paid staff and eight training, coordination, and accreditation technical assistance consultants across the state.
Keith: MiAEYC has always been involved with other state organizations, but for many years it was the little sister to other organizations. Over the years, our Affiliate’s reputation has grown. We’re now recognized as a key voice for the early childhood community, and our board members and staff sit on important policy committees. . .continue to read