On Saturday, December 9th, a sense of accomplishment filled the air as Groundwork Ohio hosted the graduation ceremony for the Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship Class of 2023. The event brought together a diverse group of passionate professionals committed to making a difference in the lives of Ohio's children and families.
Celebrating Ohio’s Early Childhood Professionals
A highlight of the morning was the storytelling performances, where four Fellows shared their personal narratives about what motivates them to be advocates.
Crystal Ann Hall from Bright Beginnings and Dr. Andrea Weisberger from The Buckeye Ranch shared stories about what led them to their respective careers, while Sherrie Bair from Dayton Public Schools and Nitoriya Goff from Color of Love Child Care focused their pieces on the larger narrative of the needs of Ohio’s babies.
The stories highlighted how Ohio needs to invest in inclusive early childhood education, paid parental leave, better foster and kinship care policies, and more. With powerful stories such as these, we know the new Alumni are ready to go out and make a significant impact on our early childhood systems.
Senator Stephanie Kunze (R-Dublin) joined the graduation to celebrate the Fellows and their completion of the program. Sen. Kunze acknowledged the Fellows’ invaluable contributions to the early childhood field and emphasized the importance of policymakers hearing directly from those on the front lines of early childhood education.
Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship
Our Fellowship unites emerging leaders committed to advancing the movement and reshaping early childhood policy and advocacy. The Fellowship helps professionals develop partnerships, engage in professional growth, and have authentic conversations on early childhood issues, while also providing unique opportunities to enhance their advocacy skills.
The Fellows come from a wide range of professions within the early childhood sector, including home-based and center-based child care providers, home visitors, child development specialists, child welfare professionals, early childhood mental health providers, preschool educators, maternal, infant, and early childhood health professionals, higher education professionals, and more.
By placing early childhood professionals at the forefront of the movement for young children and families, Groundwork Ohio has heightened advocacy engagement among this community to work toward impactful policies for Ohioans.
A Legacy of Advocacy
The Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship not only equipped these professionals with the tools to advocate effectively but also provided a platform for them to share their personal stories more widely. Our fellows join 88 alumni and beginning in 2024, we will launch an Alumni Network. This network will provide a platform for our former and current Fellows to continue engaging with each other and Groundwork Ohio’s broader network in movement building, participate in leadership opportunities, and support the growing number of professionals who have the desire and capacity to advocate for the future of young children and families in Ohio.
As these Fellows embark on the next phase of their journeys, Groundwork Ohio wishes them continued success as leaders and change agents in the field. Their stories will undoubtedly inspire others to join the mission of ensuring a brighter future for Ohio's children.