Making Connections: Reflections on the Past Year
You are here
As I reflect on my time to date as chief executive officer of NAEYC, I am in awe of all we have accomplished together. From navigating challenges and celebrating successes, the knowledge, commitment, and tenacity of our 60,000-plus members inspire me every day.
When I became CEO, I committed to spend time listening to our members and our field and to spend time understanding how and where NAEYC is supporting you and where you wish we could do more. It has been a joy to live out this commitment by connecting with so many of you in person and virtually. Together, we have engaged in conversations and discussions at conferences throughout the country. I have visited your programs and witnessed firsthand the work you do daily to advance our early childhood education profession and the impact you are having on young children and their families.
Through these interactions, I have been able to elevate you and your work in the halls of Congress, in conversations with state and local officials, in conversations with members of the press, and on stages of all sizes at events across the country. In our partnership, you have helped me understand the depth and diversity of our field. You live in rural and urban areas and work in family child care homes, centers, faith-based programs, and schools. You work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children and their families. You represent a myriad of individual and cultural identities. It is clear: our collective strength is vast, and together we are powerful.
Together, we are creating a common language that centers the learning and care of all children, and this impacts me deeply. I grew up in rural Virginia with immigrant parents, and I didn’t always see myself represented. I found support and comfort from my family’s values and the faith-based early learning program I attended. That program’s dedication to support all children and all families resonated with my Korean parents. It’s a dedication that NAEYC members share, and one that resonates with children and families today.
As I travel the country, I am renewed by your work and dedication to high-quality, transformative early learning experiences. I know that our challenges are real—early childhood education bears the burden of inadequate public funding that leads to low compensation and staffing shortages. You withstand questioning of your expertise and experience in ways that too often lead you to feel expendable, even when people call you essential. Yet your perseverance and optimism give me hope and confidence for the future that we are working toward, together.
Together, we are creating a common language that centers the learning and care of all children.
As I move into my second year as NAEYC’s CEO, I look back with appreciation and forward with great excitement. I appreciate that in partnership with our Affiliates, more than 18,000 of you answered our call last fall to tell us what you need and what you appreciate about your professional membership organization. We learned so much from your honest feedback. It affirmed some key areas for us—we have opportunities to enhance the value of our offerings, provide additional supports to educators from all different backgrounds, and grow our member base, thereby increasing the power of our voice and impact. I’m excited about the ways we as an organization will be evolving to better support you and ensure that we continue to center your work, expertise, and experiences in all that NAEYC does. From our work in partnership with 51 state and regional Affiliates to the content we produce and the convenings we host, you have a place within NAEYC, in your Affiliate, and in this profession.
As always, your experiences, expertise, and stories will guide NAEYC in this work. Together, we will continue to uplift the right of all children and families to have equitable access to high-quality early childhood education where and when they need it. We will continue to reach out and support all of the early childhood educators, in all states and settings, who are working to make that vision real. It is an honor to serve them and to serve you.
Copyright © 2023 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. See Permissions and Reprints online at NAEYC.org/resources/permissions.
Michelle Kang serves as NAEYC’s Chief Executive Officer.