Recently we held our 2014 Leadership Luncheon with 550 people, raising excitement around early learning in Washington state — and more than $247,000 to help us keep doing great work to support our state’s youngest children and their families.
Our favorite Tweet during the luncheon:
— Jen Staker (@JenStaker) April 25, 2014
The other tweets were almost as gushy, and I can’t thank enough everyone who attended and continues to value the role we play in helping every child get a great start in school and life.
This was our first luncheon after merging with the Foundation for Early Learning earlier this year. We picked the theme Stronger Together to celebrate this new partnership as well as all of the partnerships — across political parties, across sectors and across the state — that have helped make Washington state a nationally recognized leader in early learning. We know our collective contributions matter.
If you couldn’t be with us, let me share the highlights:
- Everyone is talking about the importance and value of early learning. Check out this inspirational video that led the program.
- With heartfelt tributes from John Stanton, we honored former Washington First Lady Mona Locke and Bill Gates Sr. for their contributions to early learning. Mona reminded us that, only 15 years ago, early learning meetings would draw more protestors than many other issues, and Bill made sure everyone in the room knew that early learning lays the foundation for everything else in life.
- First Lady Trudi Inslee talked about Washington state’s growing national leadership role in early learning thanks to the innovative science, policy, programs and practices happening right here.
All of that happened before I even walked on stage.
Together, we have a real chance to close the opportunity gap in our state, and I’m committed to challenging anyone who thinks we can’t.
With my now 21-year-old daughter, Nicola, smiling back at me from the table, I shared the story of how a 3–year-old Nicola and I used to take rainy walks in our neighborhood, relishing the opportunity to jump in puddles. As a duo, we enjoyed the puddle-jumping. And, because we had each other, we also braved the scary dog at the corner who always barked at us from behind a fence.
Nicola and I were — and are — stronger together. The same can be said of Thrive, where I am surrounded by board members, contributors, partners and staff who are incredibly smart, genuinely committed and share this belief: Futures should NOT be determined before first birthdays.
I’m honored to be leading Thrive, committed to working in partnership with all of you, and excited about the work that is to come in Washington state and the bright future ahead for ALL our state’s children.
Thrive is midway through a strategic planning process, and you’ll hear more in the coming months about our work as a newly combined organization. But for now, I encourage you to read more about our work statewide to help ensure that all kids, especially those furthest from opportunity, are ready and wanting to succeed in school and in life.