Q: (for Pat and Keith) Can you tell us about a project your Affiliate has done in the last few years that you’re really proud of?
Pat: In 2009, the Governor’s Office of Children and Families asked GAYC to chair and administer Strengthening Families Georgia (SFG). SFG is a voluntary partnership of over 50 organizations to embed Strengthening Families: A Protective Factors Framework into child- and family-serving organizations and agencies. The goal of the approach is to reduce child abuse and neglect and to help families create optimal environments for child development. SFG has trained more than 100 trainers to present on the program, and since 2012 they have trained more than 6,000 participants from early childhood and family-serving organizations. Through our partners, we also embed SFG into home visits, the Georgia Department of Education’s family engagement programs, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, United Way of Greater Atlanta, recent federal applications from the state, and other organizational work.
Keith: MiAEYC has always stood out for its professional development events. Our early childhood conference is the largest in the state, drawing as many as 4,000 conferees. I am most proud of not only the size of the conference, but also the quality of it. We strive to meet the needs of the attendees, whether they come for information, networking, or to contribute to the field. I always tell my staff, “If we are going to do it, then it must be with a high degree of quality, otherwise we shouldn’t do it.” Our reputation depends on it.
Q: Pat and Keith, we’re now engaged in Phase III of the National Dialogue, examining the optimal relationship among all NAEYC Affiliates and the national office. How do you envision the results from the National Dialogue impacting your Affiliate and/or members?
Pat: Our board has discussed the impact of the National Dialogue. We feel it will depend on how the focus on children, professionals, and families is envisioned. There is no doubt, though, that we all can benefit from relationship building. Relationships are built on shared values and joint efforts, in addition to a structure that fosters communication.
Keith: Members are sometimes confused about what it means to be an AEYC member. The Dialogue, I believe, will help clarify the roles and responsibilities of the local, state, and national components to each other and to the membership. There is only one AEYC; we just play different roles.
We also need to be clear about who we serve, how we serve, and why we serve. We can’t be all things to all people, so we must be clear and focused. All levels of the Association have limited resources. We must put those resources where they will do the most good. Ultimately, investing in our members leads to investing in children. That is the outcome we want.
Q: Pat and Keith, aside from growth, what changes have you seen over time in your Affiliate?
Pat: Although our core mission and vision have remained consistent for the past 25 years, GAYC has significantly increased its leadership and advocacy impact. The depth of our activities and outreach has also increased, thanks to partnerships, external funding, and increased fees for service offerings.
Since 2008, GAYC has offered annual accreditation facilitation project support to 22 centers. The rewards are tremendous for the centers, staff, children, families, and our technical assistance consultants. Our first online course was offered in 2012 through a partnership with Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning Quality Rated Program. We have just started our first project, Strengthening Families in the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood, that focuses on the community level in addition to our statewide efforts. We have also begun reaching out more systematically to students to help grow the next generation of early childhood professionals. We have added conferences at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, in addition to our annual conference, in order to meet the growing need for more in-depth professional development in Georgia. Lastly, social media is changing how we reach out to our members and the early childhood field.
Keith: We hired our first executive director (me) in 1988. Since then, MiAEYC has added three additional positions. In 2010, MiAEYC became the sponsor of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood MICHIGAN program, which added five more staff.
As our staff grows, we have been able to expand our services and events. Instead of one conference each year, we offer seminars, institutes, and conferences focusing on topics for specific audiences, such as infant and toddler programs or program administrators.
We also expanded our services to the local Affiliates in our state. Recognizing that the Affiliate leadership are all volunteers, MiAEYC provides the Affiliate leadership with guidance and support and helps keep them informed about legal and financial issues that impact them. . .continue to read
Pat Minish, PhD, has been executive director of the Georgia Association on Young Children (GAYC) in Atlanta for 17 years. Along with the board of directors, she has helped GAYC impact policy and practice in early childhood. email@example.com
Keith Myers, EdD, is the executive director of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC). He has served as the executive director of MiAEYC for 25 years. Keith serves on many state policy committees representing the views of the early childhood community. firstname.lastname@example.org
Rhian Evans Allvin will begin as executive director of NAEYC on August 12, 2013. She currently is the CEO of First Things First in Arizona. Rhian brings expertise in early childhood system building, policy development, fund-raising, and organizational development and management.