The Hunt Institute and the BUILD Initiative Host State Leaders at 2019 Early Childhood Leadership Summit

June 21, 2019

New Orleans, LA – Supported by decades of research, the first five years of a child’s life are the most significant for building a strong foundation for learning and health. Children are born learning, but due to inequities in access to services, support and information, measurable gaps in cognitive development are evident as early as infancy. As such, the investment in early childhood programs and services has never been more critical for states.  

Policymakers and state agency leaders will join national resource experts at the 2019 Early Childhood Leadership Summit hosted by The Hunt Institute in partnership with the BUILD Initiative on June 24-25 at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, LA in advance of BUILD’s 2019 Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) Conference. 

“Prioritizing early childhood pays dividends for states, and this investment doesn’t stop when a child enters kindergarten; it can truly impact a child’s life through school, college and career,” said The Hunt Institute’s President & CEO Dr. Javaid Siddiqi. “Working with our policymakers, experts and partners, including BUILD, we will continue to strengthen this effort.”

The two-day Summit will engage participants in critical dialogue focused on the importance of investing in early childhood systems that support children and families. Cross-sector state teams will include representatives from governors’ offices, state legislatures, state departments and the advocacy and philanthropic communities.

“An investment in early childhood means an investment in the future of our society,” said Susan Hibbard, Executive Director of the BUILD Initiative. “We are thrilled to stand with The Hunt Institute to build our legislators’ knowledge and capacity, by highlighting early childhood programs and services that serve as examples and reminders of all that is possible.”

After welcoming remarks from Siddiqi, Ellen Galinsky, Chief Science Officer of the Bezos Family Foundation, will provide the opening keynote, speaking on early brain development and what it means for state policymakers.

Sessions over the two days will focus on public and private sources of early childhood funding, strategies to build an effective state early childhood system, and examples of states that have identified specific barriers and taken action administratively and legislatively to address them. Throughout the Summit, facilitated discussions and planning time will be provided for state teams with the goal of developing key action items and plans for next steps.

Monday’s dinner keynote will be provided by Mike Petters, President & CEO of Huntington-Ingalls. Leading the nation’s largest military shipbuilder, Petters thinks continuously of how to make America safer. It may be surprising to learn that he considers early childhood to be the nation’s most critical national security issue over the next 50 years.

Attendees will also hear from a variety of resource experts and education leaders from across the country, including: 

  • Kristin Bernhard, Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Policy, The Ounce of Prevention Fund and Former Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
  • Reggie Bicha, Former Director, Colorado Department of Human Services
  • The Honorable Jim Douglas, Former Governor, Vermont and Board Member, The Hunt Institute
  • Laura Fornash, Senior Vice President, McGuireWoods Consulting and Board Member, The Hunt Institute
  • Tonya Hall-Coston, Director, Division of Early Childhood, New Jersey Department of Education
  • Sherri Killins Stewart, Director of Systems Alignment and Integration, the BUILD Initiative
  • Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Director of Policy, Erikson Institute
  • Jovon Perry, Director of Children and Family Services, Minnesota Department of Human Services
  • Representative Dave Pinto, Minnesota, Chair, Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division
  • Karen Ponder, Special Projects, the BUILD Initiative
  • Tonja Rucker, Director of Early Childhood Success, National League of Cities
  • Rachel Schumacher, Senior Advisor, Early Childhood, The Hunt Institute
  • Jason Williams, Councilmember, New Orleans City Council
  • Tonya Williams, Director, Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Arkansas Department of Human Services

“State leaders from the governor’s office, legislature, and agencies have the collective power to lead the way in developing and strengthening early childhood programs and policies that truly make a difference for children and families,” said Former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. “I’m confident that this Summit will elevate critical dialogue for our state teams in attendance and spur action.”

In its second year, this Summit partnership between The Hunt Institute and the BUILD Initiative is designed to inspire and support elected officials and education leaders across the U.S. as they develop and strengthen early childhood systems.The event is being funded by Bezos Family Foundation, Brady Education Foundation, Pritzker Children’s Initiative, Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, The Duke Endowment, Altria Group, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Dominion Energy, SAS Institute and State Farm.

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