Yohana Quiroz: Candidate Statement
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My name is Yohana Quiroz and I am submitting my application and a personal statement to be considered for the student position on the NAEYC Governing Board. I have over two decades of experience in the nonprofit and early care and education arena, currently as member of the executive team as Chief Operations Officer at Felton Institute, one of the oldest and largest non-profits in San Francisco, CA. Founded since 1889, Felton serves clients across the life spectrum; we provide early care and education, family support, mental health, justice and aging services to over 11,000 at-risk and vulnerable clients every year.
I am a first-generation college student and earned my undergraduate degree in Child and Adolescent Development (with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education) from the San Francisco State University (SFSU) and my masters in Organization & Leadership in Education from University of San Francisco. Currently, I am pursuing an EdD in Educational Leadership at the San Francisco State University and will begin Fall, 2018. I am eager to be part of a platform that will allow me to leverage my own personal narrative, community commitments, academic achievements, and leadership roles. I consider the opportunity to be part of the NAEYC Governing Board representing a student, a place where I can continue to influence an educational movement of educators, leaders, administrators, and scholars committed to improving the conditions of our youngest learners, while also strengthening my network of other educational leaders to create coalitions and support systems change. I have devoted my career to impactful leadership in an organization that is purposeful, and mission driven to impact the fields of early care and education, human development and mental health services.
Over the last two decades, my focus has been on closing the opportunity gap, increasing equity, and access to social services with a social justice framework to underserved populations in San Francisco CA. I’ve been linking theory to practice, and practice to theory. My current position as Chief Operations Officer at Felton Institute, provides me with invaluable experience to witness firsthand how children participating in publicly funded programs [most who are predominantly low-income children of color and cared for by a workforce who is also predominately woman of color], have a much better chance of a leveled playing field; but in order to fulfill this promise, their individual needs must be identified and provided from the beginning, at the earliest stages of development. When this promise is fulfilled, children then have the best chance of thriving and reaching their fullest potential. Unfortunately, across the nation many of these programs that serve these families, are inadequately funded and face daily challenges with the increase number of mandates set forth by the Raise to the top, Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). Most ECE programs cannot pay their educators a living wage, hire qualified staff or provide adequate benefits. These programs may also experience high levels of staff turnover and struggle just to stay afloat. This problem is only magnified in high cost counties such as the San Francisco Bay Area. These systematic challenges place a huge burden on programs in being able to offer high quality services to low income families. This firsthand knowledge has had a profound effect on me and instilled a passion for advocacy, leadership, social justice and a focus on systems change. My belief is that leaders in education must have the pedagogical, business, and vision to link the theories and practices needed to navigate the political, legal, organizational, economic, and interpersonal dynamics in which our field currently operates.
My areas of expertise include:
1. Leadership— Through servant leadership, I take ownership and drive activities from inception to completion by monitoring, providing oversight and mentorship. My aim is to ensure that the vision, mission and core values of the organization are put into practice in all aspects of day-to-day operations.
2. Development and Execution of Strategic Plan—I can work in partnership with teams to develop the strategic and operating plans. This includes development, deployment, monitoring progress, and course corrections as needed.
3. Business Acumen and Financial Soundness—I work to understand the drivers of the organization which enables the organization to make intelligent timely business decisions through analysis. I can employ sound fiscal controls by effectively managing the agency’s resources to ensure the financial health of the multi-million-dollar budgets I am responsible for managing.
4. Business Development—My business development expertise and out-of-the-box creativity has allowed me to recognize and evaluate growth opportunities well. My goal is to create opportunities for sustainable services rather than one-time initiatives.
5. Change Management – Using data and identifying gaps have enabled me to recognize the need for change. Therefore, I can strategically and effectively marshal the resources needed to gain the buy-in needed to execute change while helping all stakeholders (internal and external) understand, embrace and navigate the change(s).
6. Service Delivery and Operations—Innovative and efficient when it comes to the oversight and delivery of programs. This includes oversight and management of multi- disciplinary, integrated, two generation service delivery programming.
7. Fund Development—Have led donor identification and cultivation and written small/large size grants.
8. Stakeholder Relations—Responsible for creating and sustaining sound, open relationships with major stakeholders including private donors, city, state, federal contracts, community partners, and school districts.
9. Advocacy – Ensured we use our collective voice to raise awareness on the importance of ECE and demand that our policies align with the research and best practices to support underserved communities.
In my leadership roles I have very successfully maneuvered the delicate balance between dedication to mission, the need for bold entrepreneurial initiatives, and the application of sound business management practices. In this experience, I have created new and innovative programs, extending from inception of an idea, to developing and implementing the programs and providing the ongoing supportive structure. Having the opportunity to bring my unique perspectives, experiences and skill set to help fulfill NAEYC’s vision and mission, would be an honor. I am hopeful that you will find me to be a stellar candidate and a catalyst for change needed to execute the organization’s mission.