(Pictured: NAFCC Executive Director, Lanette Dumas, and NAFCC Board Member, Dr. Valora Washington, presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award)
Saturday, July 10, 2021, the last day of our 2021 annual conference, we held an Awards Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana (the site of 2021 conference). During this Awards Luncheon, we inducted board members and our new state representatives as well as announced this year’s three award recipients. Learn more about the 2021 award recipients:
Lifetime Achievement Award:
In 2004, the NAFCC Board of Directors created a Lifetime Achievement award to recognize outstanding and long-standing leaders in the early care and education profession who have specifically encouraged and supported family child care throughout their career. Honorees of this award are true heroes within the family child care field, with career-long commitment to the power of family child care.
Leatha Chun, Federal Program Specialist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been a stalwart champion for family child care now into three Administrations at the federal Office of Child Care, and in her roles before this. Her commitment to the wellness of family child care providers, to equity and justice, and to a strong future for the field make her a clear choice for this award in 2021. At NAFCC, we are driven by family child care educators, and in our work we are led by them. We believe Leatha shares this dedication too. We can hardly wait to see what she brings next. Leatha was not able to join us in-person this year, but shared the following:
“I am humbled and overwhelmed with emotion right now and of course I accept this most important award. I’m not one that always works in the forefront, but when an issue warrants you to do more and you’re called to do it, it’s just time to step up. We do yet have work to do. But it’s encouraging to see that there are so many people committed to this work and are deserving of this award too. I stand with them to advocate, probe, and do what’s needed to ensure racial equity and access, adequate pay and support that acknowledges and respects the importance and uniqueness of the family child community’s work and their role in helping to educate and nurture our nation’s children. Thank you again for this great acknowledgement.”
Maria Otto Award:
NAFCC Board members’ thoughtful guidance and commitment to the power of family child care are crucial to supporting NAFCC’s success. Both present and past Board members play important roles this way. Maria Otto was an incorporating officer and the first Vice President of NAFCC. She was well respected and loved by the provider community. Maria demonstrated leadership advocating for the profession and leading as a trainer and mentor to family child providers. NAFCC commemorates her memory each year by identifying a former board member to recognize with an award in her name. Awardees demonstrate commitment to NAFCC’s mission during their board service and continue to do so in their efforts as leaders in the early care and education field. This year, we presented the Maria Otto award to Pilar Torres.
Pilar is co-founder and President of LUNA Latinas Unidas por los Niños de America which provides advocacy, professional and business development services to Latinix early childhood professionals. LUNA was selected as a Promising Ventures Fellow 2020 and the 2018 Harvard-Zaentz Early Childhood Innovation Challegent Pilot Track. Pilar Torres is also the CEO of Fathum: Learning Solutions an education consulting company dedicated to closing the achievement gap of low-income underserved children by developing innovative strategies, leveraging technology and providing cultural and linguistic translation.
Pilar has provided consulting services on early childhood policy, specifically home-based childcare, to national advocacy organizations, state governments in the USA, and national governments in Latin America. She has over twenty years of experience in education and human services program design and implementation. Pilar has served on several state/national boards and advisory groups including the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Her awards include the Maryland Governor’s “Women Who Dare”. Pilar is currently an Ed.D. candidate at the Johns Hopkins University-School of Education “Entrepreneurial Leadership in Education”.
Pilar’s wisdom and enthusiasm, commitment to equity, commitment to language justice and belief in the power of family child care made her a clear nominee for this award.
Ruby Brunson Award:
This year’s Ruby Brunson Award was awarded to all of the NAFCC membership and was accepted by Laura Butler, NAFCC Membership Council Board Delegate, on behalf of NAFCC membership. Here’s what she had to say:
“My heart is so full and so proud of our entire community. We have been here every day. We took care of our children, we took care of each other, we tried to take care of ourselves. We called Congress, we called state legislators, we pressed our cities and counties to do the right thing. Every story we told, ever email we sent, every tear we wiped and every moment we gave, it mattered and will still matter every day. Thank you to the NAFCC Board for recognizing our entire community. I know we made Ruby Brunson proud. We should each be so proud of ourselves and each other.”
We want to recognize the dedication and service all of our award recipients have shown and would like you to join us in congratulating them!