What an exciting and hopeful time to be alive working towards a bold vision for the children of North Carolina! Armed with brain science and the knowledge that brains are built, not born, NCECF convenes meaningful conversations, collaborating with partners around policy, practice, programs, and funding to make our collective dream that all children are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Reading proficiency at eight is a proxy for child well-being and currently, our state needs innovations and disruptions to make child well-being a reality for all of our children. Social change requires disruptions – disrupting the status quo, focusing on equity. Positive change feels possible. I am honored to lead the passionate and brilliant team at NCECF towards this positive change.
Community matters. It’s where dynamic change happens. That’s why I help strengthen the ability of communities to collaborate and accelerate – so they can accomplish what they set out to do. At NCECF, I support community collaboration and business and faith leaders to build a strong foundation for lifelong success for North Carolina’s children.
I’ve also worked with communities around the world, on environmental health issues, across Europe and here at home in places like Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana and Stanly and Bladen counties, North Carolina. I have fostered healthy and safe communities through many lenses – from changing policy with a focus on prevention of environmental health threats to enhancing what’s working.
There’s an African proverb that says “If you want go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” To me, this is the strength of collaboration; our ability to accomplish more together than any of us can do alone. Nothing is more important than going far to ensure that all children can thrive. In my previous work, I facilitated partnerships, and access to opportunities for families in East Durham. My experience spans community, school, and research settings. Now, I’m excited to bring people together to impact children across the state. I’m especially interested in dismantling structural barriers and amplifying family voices in our work.
When I was riding with my taxi driver, as he was taking me from the US Embassy to a doctor’s appointment, we passed by the University of Zambia. I thought of how Mr. Mwale put his kids and family first. “Why do you think education is so important?” I asked. He smiled and said, “for the future.” That’s how I’ve always felt, too. Early childhood is the beginning of children’s dreams for their future. When I was nine years old, I drew a picture of my plans for my own future: to be an actress, a teacher, and a writer. As it so happens, I’ve done those things, and it’s become my passion to use storytelling to educate, entertain, and inspire people about the issues impacting families all around the world and in my dear home state.
Having grown up in Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I got my undergrad and graduate education at East Carolina in Greenville, and have now called Raleigh my adopted hometown for 12 years. My husband, a Zambian immigrant, and I are excited to be starting our family, relishing in all the adventure, arts and natural magic our great state has to offer.
Kaylan serves as the Finance and Operational Manager for NCECF. With experience working in a similar organization in California, she is glad to be able to continue supporting the early childhood field. Kaylan started years ago in early childhood education as an Americorps tutor, went on to become an infant and preschool teacher, and most recently provided administrative and fiscal support to First 5 Mono County, a California statewide program that supports kids from birth-to-age-five.
Kaylan grew up in New Hill, NC and attended Appalachian State University, as well as Cerro Coso and Foothill Colleges in California. After living in the beautiful Eastern Sierra Mountains of California for more than ten years, she returned in 2019 to North Carolina with her husband and kitten.
I am still a relative newcomer in the non-profit world, but I am eager to make my mark on it and absorb as much as I can from those around me. I gain strength from my team’s diverse and extensive background to create a positive impact on the lives of children for the state of North Carolina. My passion for non-profits stemmed from an internship with Project Vote Smart in Montana, which led me to do a Master in Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Since then, I have worked for the North Carolina Humanities Council, Partners Ending Homelessness and Guilford Adult Health.