I have always been an advocate — speaking up about unfairness I observed in the world — before I even knew what advocacy was. At the age of fifteen, I sat down, trembling and nervous, with the director of my soccer camp to discuss both the overt and institutionalized sexism I had experienced all summer. I wasn't intentionally branding myself an advocate; I simply seem to have a talent for sharing my opinion when I notice unfairness or room for improvement. I stumbled into the field of early childhood education (ECE) and made my way to Hilltop Children's Center somewhat accidentally — through the suggestion of a friend when my life was at a crossroads — and have found my home in both places.
My work with young children fuels my strong beliefs that children have a right to be at the center of their learning, that children are capable human beings, and that children deserve to have their experiences in early childhood education inspire them. As the Executive Director of Hilltop, I feel a strong responsibility to further the field of ECE by facilitating Hilltop's continued growth as a school of inquiry, by expanding Hilltop's professional development institute to reach, serve, and impact the field, and by advocating for young children and their educational experience in as many forums as I can.
The professionalization of the field is a priority for me, one which we are working on internally at Hilltop through the language we use to describe ourselves and our work, through values-driven systems and structures that support faculty's long-term commitment to ECE, and through programs we've developed that support and encourage leadership, innovation, and empowerment of educators and administrators. We hope to make a change in ourselves that will create positive ripples (or waves) in the field and society. Hilltop is, in many ways, positioned as a leader in the field, thanks to the work of countless outstanding, brilliant, innovative educators, administrators, and advocates who have come before me and who work alongside me now.
As the current leader (in the hierarchical sense, we are an organization of leaders) of the organization, that positioning feels like a precious gift and a profound responsibility: to the children and families in the Hilltop community to continually reflect on and improve our work with them; to the faculty to offer an exceptional work environment, career-long professional growth opportunities, and a healthy living wage; to the field not only to share what we have learned, but also to partner with organizations to continue our own learning; and to the larger society to continue to advocate for the rights of children.
My vision is to shift how society views children (from cute to capable) and what they deserve in their education (from vessels to be filled to partners). The pieces of advocacy I have lived throughout my life through work with underserved populations, by exposing unfairness or offering opportunities for growth in my workplaces, and in my volunteering outside of work, are now primarily focused on the field of early childhood education. I advocate for children, families, educators, and administrators, both at Hilltop and beyond. Little did I realize, as I sat before the director of my soccer camp all those years ago, that I would end up in a position to not only advocate, but also to build and influence systems of fairness and justice.